August 15, 2004
FAITH, LOVE AND JOY IN
-- Francisco is smiling, seated comfortably on the
platform in a coat and tie, obviously very special for him. And this is
a very special day -- Resurrection Sunday! It's Easter in this poor
township in South Africa, and today Francisco is getting married. His
bride is beside him in white. All his church friends are singing and
dancing before him in their Sunday best. The weather is beautiful. The
music is spine-tingling. These people know how to celebrate, even in
poverty. (Pictured: Children responding
to the Gospel in a remote village).
29 June 2004
But this is no ordinary wedding. We leave room for the
Holy Spirit, and we take time to preach the Gospel with all our hearts.
Guests come streaming to the altar in tears and with joy, throwing
themselves at the feet of the King. We have been telling of His mercy
and grace, and His unlimited resurrection power. And our prime
illustration is sitting on the platform. Franzie, as we call him, was
resurrected from the dead last September after being beaten to death by
a gang that arrived to disrupt one of our township conferences (see our
21 October 2003 newsletter). One of the thugs was caught by the police,
but the church forgave him and refused to press charges. Not only was
Franzie resurrected and completely healed of his wounds in one day, but
the teenage killer was saved and reconciled to Franzie and the church.
Finally we move on to the wedding ceremony. Franzie and his bride
exchange vows and rings. I'm the wedding photographer too, and I
capture on film the cutting of the cake, the chicken dinner, and all
Franzie's family and friends. His life has been poor and hard, his
faith strong and his endurance unwavering. Now Jesus is loving him
richly and deeply with the desires of his heart even after suffering
the worst Satan could do. This is Franzie's day, and we are so happy
for him and his brand-new wife...
Franzie is a leading pastor among our hundreds of Iris Africa churches
in South Africa, all connected with us in Mozambique, Malawi and other
countries. He is one of a cloud of witnesses that are fueling revival
in our corner of Africa, another testament to the presence and glory of
God among us here on earth. Most who hear this story will hardly be
affected, but God has His people who will love Him to the death, and
know that His Kingdom is a pearl beyond price.
4 JUNE 2004
The dramatic granite peaks of Nampula Province loom out of the distant
haze one after another and glide by in our Cessna's picture window view
of the African wilderness. We clear ridges by hundreds of feet and
bounce lightly through turbulence caused by breezes deflected upward by
hillsides. We examine the details of the wild -- the evergreen trees at
higher elevations, the erosion trails, and the streaks and patterns of
minerals painted by the creator across bare rock faces. There are no
highways and subdivisions in sight. We are far from power lines and gas
stations. This is Africa, where life has hardly changed in centuries
for those living in the scattered huts passing underneath, barely
strung together by narrow dirt footpaths through the lonely countryside.
We are headed for yet another of our "bush conferences," central
gatherings of many hundreds of our pastors from the far corners of a
province, this time Nampula, Mozambique's second largest by population.
We were going to meet in the city of Nampula, the provincial capital,
but the government is staging a political campaign there, and its
people have taken every hotel room and rental vehicle available.
But most of our churches are out in the bush anyway, so we decided to
move our conference to the little town of Iapala, 75 miles to the west
on the dirt road to Malawi. That meant driving our own trucks down from
and Pemba and up from Maputo far to the south so our staff could go
ahead of us and begin preparations. We even bought a new 4WD pickup
truck for the occasion.
Today Heidi, Jill Austin and our preacher friend Lesley Leighton are
with me in our plane making the 35- inute hop from Nampula to Iapala, a
trip that is taking our mission team four or five hours on the ground.
We see the rough, narrow road they are on below, roughly paralleling
train tracks that also lead to Malawi. Small plots of maize lie near
huts, providing barely enough food for survival when there is rain.
Water is usually a long walk away. A few goats are the only livestock.
This is a quiet, remote, isolated corner of the world hardly ever seen
by Westerners. But Iapala is special to God, for in this area He has
chosen to raise the dead and fire a hunger for the living Savior among
a people who have been almost completely Moslem until recently. We have
come to encourage their faith in Jesus and pour even more fuel on the
fire of revival.
The road to Iapala wanders away from our direct path, so I follow my
GPS. Soon the tiny community materializes in front of a massive rocky
outcrop. A twenty-year-old U.S. Defense Dept. map says there was a dirt
runway here once, but our advance team found nothing but tall grass
over the head. Back in Nampula I got word by radiotelephone that they
hired twenty local men to machete a few hundreds yards of runway for
us, and soon we find the clearing they made. It doesn't look like much.
I sink down for a low pass to check out the surface. Thick clumps of
high stubble are left all over the "airstrip," and the ground looks
very lumpy and uneven, strewn with rocks and cut grass. But with our
big tundra tires it's good enough. We come in to land. Speed just
right. Full flaps with enough power for a 500-ft/minute descent,
flaring well before the strip begins. We set down firmly, shaking to a
stop just facing the tall grass at the other end. We are safe, having
arrived at the roughest airfield I have encountered yet in the bush.
And we have a welcoming committee! Hundreds of villagers, young and
old, mob our plane. They are jumping and shouting, laughing and
singing. Most have never seen an airplane before. The Christians have
come! The preachers have come! Let's have a conference! We load our
gear into our team's waiting truck, and with excited children racing
behind us, we head for our "conference grounds."
That's a story too. Moslems in town objected to our meetings, so to
avoid offense our church leaders found some land further away from the
central market and workers chopped tall grass again so we could put up
a crude platform, pitch our tents and make room to lay straw mats for
the people to sit on during meetings. Heidi, Jill and Lesley start
making camp until the main team convoy arrives, and I set up our
generator and sound/video system. By sunset the team has arrived and
put up their tents, and we are ready for more revival!
Our pastors have come from hundreds of miles around. Our own trucks
have pounded over rough roads for days gathering as many as possible.
Others arrive on foot, or by local transport -- dilapidated,
overloaded, sagging trucks and vans, a familiar sight in Africa. Wives
and children come too, spreading their grass mats on the weeds and dirt
before the platform and setting down their meager bags of belongings.
Local Christians are eagerly waiting. Moslems filter in from town.
Curious onlookers circle around us. Soon it's dark, we have quite a
crowd, and our first meeting in Iapala begins.
That night we arrange for workers to hack more grass at the runway
starting at dawn. I need another couple hundred yards to take off
safely from the rough, soft ground, even with a light load and fuel
tanks only half-full. I head back to Nampula to fly in Randy Clark and
my daughter and niece, who have just flown up by commercial jet from
Maputo. On the return flight I circle the conference field to get
attention, showing Randy and the girls the crowd on the ground and our
tents. Again we land before a surging throng, even more excited after
last night's meeting. Crystalyn and Marissa plunge in among the
children, laughing and singing with them. Randy knows he has reached
the ends of the earth...
And so we continue another of our many conferences among the rural poor
of Africa that we have been holding since 1998. We have had hundreds of
them, and they have been primary instruments of encouragement and
growth, along with our Bible schools. Each conference has its
uniqueness. Local languages change -- Mozambique alone has twenty-six.
Some are large, involving the feeding of ten or twelve thousand people.
Others are smaller, including mainly key leaders. Some are at main
bases with basic facilities and electricity; others are in open fields
where we need to dig toilets, clear grass, and put up tents and plastic
for protection from sun and rain.
We nearly always begin by showing a video of the Jesus Film, and more
recently Mel Gibson's The Passion. We sing and dance Africa-style until
we're ready to drop. We preach ourselves hoarse. We pray for the sick.
Our meetings vary according to the gifts of our speakers and visiting
short-term missionaries. Some are amazing musicians. Others are great
teachers. Some come with powerful gifts of healing and prophecy. Most
are humble, ordinary Christians with great hearts of love and
sensitivity who will do anything to help.
In our climate of revival in southeast Africa, nearly all who hear the
Gospel respond to Jesus and want more of Him. There is no point to an
"altar call" when the entire listening crowd wants salvation and the
Holy Spirit! Often the people are noisy and jammed tightly together.
Children press in around the platform, missing nothing. Usually the
nights are hot, mosquitoes are buzzing, and all of us are dirty and
dripping with perspiration. It is such a challenge to keep the
electricity on and the sound system working. And in all the stress and
chaos, God shows up, again and again.
Recently at an outreach among Moslems near Pemba, an invitation to
salvation was given and hundreds responded. Georgian Banov was playing
his intensely exciting violin music, and the crowd was electric. Then,
as she often does, Heidi called deaf people forward for prayer. She
took one little boy in her arms, a twelve- year-old deaf-mute since
birth, and just kept hugging and praying for him. After awhile his ears
were opened, and he began to respond to Heidi, saying simple
words like "Mama" and "Jesus." Someone ran to get his parents, who had
already gone to bed. They came out, and tears ran down their faces when
they saw what Jesus had done. "My boy! My boy! He hasn't spoken since
he was born!" the father cried in Makua. Both parents were saved then
and there. The people all knew the boy, and they were jumping and
shouting with wonder and approval. Then a young man brought out his
ninety-year-old blind grandmother for prayer. The Holy Spirit began to
work, and she could see light -- and then forms, and then she said she
could see everything clearly. "You're a white lady!" she cried when
Heidi came into focus! The people erupted with life- giving joy again.
We held this outreach right in front of one of our simple thatch
churches, a new church plant, and so we could introduce everyone
immediately to a pastor and church family. And so the revival spreads,
one person, one miracle, one act of love at a time. The Moslems cannot
resist the true and living God when they see His power shown through
Back in Iapala, we finish our three days with our provincial and
district pastors and leaders, church people and local villagers. Once
again the Holy Spirit comes and touches the lonely, lost, sick and
discouraged. How incredible that God Himself would pay attention to
this remote, dusty little town. How amazing that all these foreigners
would come so far and live in tents in the dirt to bring the love of
God to people they have never met. On the last day our Mozambican
pastors lay hands on Randy and pour out their appreciation to God for
him and all the missionaries who came to Africa with the Good News.
Crying with love and gratitude, Pastor Tanuekue and his wife and
brother, a family that has raised many from the dead in the name of
Jesus, tell us, "Thank you! Thank you! We didn't know! We didn't know
the love of God, and you came! You obeyed and came to us! Thank you!"
In the afternoon we fly out of our homemade airport with rich memories,
heading back over mountains, rivers and plains to relative
"civilization." And then we continue on to more locations, week after
week, month after month, energized supernaturally to spearhead the
Spirit's work more than a thousand miles up and down Africa's
southeastern coast. All our lives we have prayed to see and experience
an "open heaven," and now it is coming upon us. A refreshing, pure and
powerful Niagara Falls of God's grace is being poured out on the
extremely poor in all their hardship and suffering. The hungry will be
filled, and the hungry of Africa are running to Jesus for life
and love. In their humble faith they are tasting His mercy and joy, and
becoming more than conquerors in spite of all opposition.
May Jesus pour out His Spirit among us all the more as we take
increasing pleasure in Him and press forward to what lies ahead. He is
not tired; He is not depressed; He is not overwhelmed by our desperate
circumstances. He loves to respond to those who are happy with Him, who
delight in Him, and who come to Him for everything. Let's draw closer
to Him and love Him even more. He always proves Himself to be better
than we think!
We feel very loved by Jesus through all of you who know us, support us
and pray for us so fervently. It is always beautiful to watch how He
works through His Body to take care of so many. More power and glory on
all of you whose hearts are conquered by the King!
On we go in Jesus! --Rolland
A recent email message from Heidi:
The Lord has spoken to me about the Makua people. I will
be spending much more time in Pemba, teaching in Bible College, doing
outreaches and learning Makua. I have just canceled six weeks of
speaking trips this year so I can pray and concentrate on slowly
reaching the Makua people. It is very difficult to leave our children's
center at Zimpeto in the south near Maputo. However, Rolland and I have
been slowly transitioning for a year. My heart is so broken for the
people of the north. Please pray for a true transformation to take
place. I am believing for this tribe to be reached by the love of Jesus.
I want to share my thoughts on the last few days. I love what God is
doing here. Yes, there are trials and hardships, and warfare. We have
not had water for the last five days in our house. Electricity is
always off and on. Some pastors are angry and want to be offered jobs.
Witch doctors try to put spells on us. The new floods wiped out the
septic tank at the center. We still battle with character development
in the pastors and children. And there are so many needs it makes our
heads spin. And yet, God is so mighty!
He fills us with His glorious Holy Spirit and brings the lost into His
precious saving grace. Today was an awesome day. It was graduation day
in Pemba. You could feel the excitement in the air. We worshiped and
heard the pastors prophesy and share the dreams and visions God gave
them. I preached with all that Jesus has put within me from the book of
Timothy. Then it was time for the ceremony to begin. No cap and gowns.
Instead there were ragged shirts and worn out flip-flops. We met in our
unfinished building on the dirt floor. The breeze blew refreshingly
through our open sanctuary. Pastor Jose had a vision of doves flying in
with flowers in their beaks. They were bringing the joy of the Lord.
Another pastor had a vision of a very deep well, with fresh water full
of many fish. Another saw a brilliant white cloud filling our building.
Another saw a great multitude bowing before the Lord crying out in
The Holy Spirit fell in a tremendous way upon our humble pastors. You
could see the presence of God touch each one. This is the real thing!
Twenty-two months ago we had fifteen converts in this province. Today
another eighty pastors graduate. At the end of the graduation we had a
call for salvation and twelve more were saved!
It was now time for baptism. The church sang and danced down to the
crystal clear, perfectly warm Indian ocean. I had a blast swimming with
all our children. There is something so miraculous about previously sad
and abused orphans splashing around laughing and showing me all their
tricks in the ocean. They are free to be children again. I believe
Father God enjoyed this time as well. We then baptized fifty new
Christians, including twelve of our new children.
The day was not even over. I had several hours to spend in the Holy
Place with my best friend Jesus before going on outreach. Over two
thousand people showed up. We showed the Jesus Film and again I
preached my heart out. Hundreds were saved. We have just started
working with this community and will start a church there this month.
It was the girls' night at our house. We all piled into the Land Rover
and drove home with all our beautiful girls singing at the top of their
voices praise songs to the one we love with all of our lives. They are
still laughing with His awesome joy. See why I love this place?
A little time has gone by since I wrote this. We have been ministering
in Malawi, and God has poured out His glorious Holy Spirit in the
middle of Bangula. The blind saw, the deaf heard and many more were
miraculously healed. Around a thousand people responded to the calls
for salvation. We found out that beans were multiplied as well!
Please pray for the church leaders and missionaries.
Thank you for caring about us and being so kind to remember the poor.
They are indeed rich in faith. I pray you live inside the gloriously
loving heart of Jesus and run out to give his love away.
Be blessed! -- Heidi
Many have emailed us with questions about how to get
more information about our work, how to help us, how to begin planning
a visit, or how get started on a life of ministry among the poor in a
foreign country. We now have some books and videos that will give you a
great head start before you plan further with us. We suggest in the
Lord that those who are interested in working together with us read at
least my grandfather's "Visions Beyond the Veil," and our "There is
Always Enough." These will show you something about our background and
help prepare you for our situation today in Africa.
Both these books are available through our admin website at www.irismin.com. If you
cannot access the website, email Darrel Eldridge at email@example.com.
Otherwise, he can be reached at 513-777-5008. Our book is also
published by Chosen Books of Baker Book House under the title, "Always
Enough," ISBN 0- 007-9361-7, and is available at Amazon.com, Borders,
and Christian bookstores. A web page description of the book can be
found at http://www.thereisalwaysenough.com/.
"Visions Beyond the Veil" is also available at Amazon.com. Sovereign
World's new edition of this book is available from us.
Videos and a DVD about our work are available through Darrel Eldridge
at www.irismin.com. This
website also includes our itinerary (mostly complete) and guidelines
for long-term service with Iris Ministries.
Our past newsletters are posted on the web at http://www.irismin.org, along
with photos, and they will answer many of your questions. When you are
ready to make specific plans, you can contact our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROLLAND AND HEIDI BAKER began Iris
Ministries, Inc., an interdenominational mission, in 1980 and have been
missionaries for the past twenty-one years. They were both ordained as
ministers in 1985 after completing their BA and MA degrees at Southern
California College in Biblical Studies and Church Leadership. Rolland
is a third-generation missionary born and raised in China and Taiwan.
He was greatly influenced by his grandfather, H.A. Baker, who wrote
"Visions Beyond the Veil," an account of the extended visions of heaven
and hell that children received in his remote orphanage in southwest
China two generations ago. (Pictured:
Heidi with very happy boys she just brought in from the streets, after
giving them showers and clean clothes).
Note: Rolland was
a classmate of Across Pacific & Asia founder &
director, David Hall at SCC (now Vanguard University).
Rolland and Heidi Baker, Directors
Iris Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 385
Pemba, Cabo Delgado
Tel: +258-82-303-068; +258-82-316-656
U.S. mail and support:
Iris Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 339
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693-0339
Fax and voicemail: 1-213-330-029
Visitor inquiries (dates, travel, preparation, etc.):
Web site: www.irismin.org
Photos, past news, background, information for visitors, etc.
Administrative web site: www.irismin.com
Additional information, itineraries, products, online donations
Address for packages of donated goods sent by surface mail:
Iris Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 20017
West Acres 1211
Nelspruit, South Africa
3092 Shannon Crescent
Oakville, ON L6L 6B4
(905) 847-7749; fax (905) 847-7931
Contact Janis Chevreau, Trustee
Iris Ministries (UK) Ltd
PO Box 351
Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1WQ
ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126