My history, when it comes to Bibles in Mozambique is not a very happy one. I am constantly reminded of more than one occasion where pastors pleaded for Bibles and where I was not able to provide any due to a lack of scarce Bibles or money. Many times pastors would see me from afar …… go on their knees in anticipation of Bibles. They would crawl in the dust ……… calling for a Bible. My reaction is pretty much the same everything ………. I just cry.
It seems absurd that in the 21st century people deep in Africa are still crying to own a Bible in their mother tongue. But it is a fact that tens of thousands in Mozambique do not have a Bible of their own in their mother tongue. As westerners we own not only many printed versions but they are freely available on our i-pods, Internet e-sword downloads and other formats. We don’t even think that others are still desperate to read a Bible and to perhaps find the Saviour they have heard so much about.
On my recent outreach to Sena I was confronted again with a lack of Bibles. I heard word like – “Preacher my family are dying without these transforming words – help us.” We could find no Sena or Shona Bibles – not even in South Africa with its printed media. We constantly were given the answer that Zimbabwe who has the printing rights did not want to release their printing plates for the Bibles. It left me pretty much without hope for the last 3 years ……. but …… things were about to change.
After leaving Sena with a few words of encouragement to the pastors that I would return with some Bibles, I arrived in South Africa. Still looking for Bibles and making phone calls I received a phone call from Cape Town, RSA. A friend, Raymond Lombaard (Word on Wheels) told me as only he could that a batch scarce Shona Bibles somewhere “hidden” was found. A wrong order via the USA was made and the Bibles belonged to no one. I made a few calls and there it was …………. 30 000 of them. Although we could only afford 223 Bibles it was like gold. God surely makes a way where there seems to be no way! I didn’t even need any printer, printing rights or Zim plates after all! Awesome!
SMUGGLING IN THE 21st CENTURY? POSSIBLE?
After receiving the Bibles I knew my problems were only starting. I still had to smuggle the expensive Bibles over the border through 2 countries. Why smuggle? The import duties on Bibles are so expensive that it would be impossible to pay the amount required. I am sure God could rain dollars for import duties …… but today ….. it didn’t. The borders I cross are extremely difficult with custom officials worse than hungry rottweilers. (For those who don’t know – they are dogs with vicious jaws and sharp teeth – with probably a nasty rabies disease!) I stop with my vehicle at the checkpoint. I give my biggest smile. The customs officer looked at me …… “get out” he barked. He looked at my overloaded vehicle. Then he said: “Do you have a Bible for me?” I said ….. “hey believe it or not I do ….. Shona ….. your mother tongue!” His face changed. “That is not possible … they are not available anymore.” I took out the Bible – he looks bewildered. “God bless you – don’t worry – go through.” The gate opens – and I still have another 222 Bibles available. A sight of relief escapes through my dry lips.
One more to go! I do not mention any countries in this mail – although its quite obvious. Not sure what custom official is reading my blog – but hey ….. if you are reading …… God bless bro – I need to bring in another 29 000 Bibles! Thank you for being gracious.
The last border crossing is not that easy. After some harassment I still had to open my vehicle and unpack my goods. When I reached the Bibles he said something about 25 % import duties.
I nearly cried when he refused our entry …… but somehow he turned around -looked at the boxes of Bibles and said: “Ok …. this time …..!” “Go!” I looked towards the sky and thought I saw a cloud hovering. Oh well ….. must have been my imagination! We left the border singing …… another day survived. I could almost hear the pastors calling from afar, “preacher do you have a Bible?” This time I could say “Yes, my friend, yes”.
I seriously need to thank all who helped me to get these scarce Bibles and those who supported us to pay for these. You are serious transformational agents – may God bless ya all:
Johan (Wheels for God)
Nuwe Hoogte, Robertson