Advance Magazine
Spring 2024

Religious but Lost

Joanie and her husband, Joel, served as church planters in Mozambique from 2009 to 2023.

It was 2017 and Railina sat beside me as I drove her to the hospital. We hadn’t known each other long and an awkward silence hung in the air. After several questions, Railina offered, “I left the witch-doctor church that my family goes to. I went to another one, but now I don’t go to that one anymore.”  

Arriving at the heart institute, we filled out paperwork and found our way to the examination area. Railina had confided to the girls at church that she had found a lump on her breast. We were at a private hospital now to check it out, as it would take months to be seen in the government system. 

For the price of a US co-pay, Railina had an exam by a doctor from the first world. His thorough exam was encouraging and follow-up revealed that, though she had many more lumps than she had detected, she appeared to be cancer-free. We returned to her home and I met her mom, stepdad, and siblings. Great relief replaced fear for her and her parents that day. 

Railina continued to grow. One day she said, “When I first came to know Christ as my Savior, there were a lot of outward things that needed to change. God convicted me of my clothes, my temper, the way I talked. For a year He worked on those things ... the outward things. But this year, He is working on things on the inside. He is helping me grow in my prayer life and the balance of helping my family and spending time with God. I know I need to study my Bible every day. I want it to change my life!”

In 2019, Railina’s dream of having her own beauty shop became a reality and her fingers created amazing designs with the hair of her family, friends, and strangers. With her income, she helped support her family.

“God is helping me with my motives,” Railina said. “And He’s helping me control my temper when my sister screams at me, or when no one helps and the work at home is all left for me to do. I want to reflect Christ in the way I handle life—every minute!”

Over the years Railina served at our church in many ways: making tea and bread for the children on Sunday mornings, teaching the “littles,” then the adolescent girls, and then as a leader among the women. It was about this time that a young man became interested in her: Fernando, the national pastor of a church planted by our colleague Pastor Divino. About 18 months later, Railina and Fernando were married in our church!

As God was transforming Railina’s life, He was also working on the hearts of her family. Months and years passed since that first outing with Railina, and several visits had been made to Dona Palmira, her mother. By then, the visits were no longer to Palmira just because she was Railina’s mother. She became our friend.

“It was after the wedding,” Palmira says now. “God used hearing again the story of the two men that went to the temple to pray. Finally it all made sense … I could see that I was just like the first man: religious, proud, and lost but I didn’t know it!”

Trials began to grow for Palmira. Medical facilities had reopened after the pandemic, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had chemotherapy and then a breast removed in the public healthcare system. We considered the fact that she survived a miracle. Another round of chemotherapy was given to her and she is doing well today.

“I can’t believe that we trusted in such lies!” Palmira says often. “I am so grateful that God showed me the truth of God’s Word. He gave me the faith to trust Him! God is so good!“

Our church performed the cantata entitled “Ten Thousand Hallelujahs” last Christmas, and Palmira loved it. “I want to be just like Maria (Mary) in the play,” she said. “I don’t know how much time God has for me here, but I want to share my faith with as many people as I can!” And she does just that, along with inviting many to church. Often on Wednesday nights, Palmira will stand and give a testimony about something she has learned or someone she’s talked to.

Four years after meeting Railina’s mother, she has become a dear sister in Christ. Since that time, Manuel (her husband) has been saved and they were both recently baptized. And since the time we left Mozambique in June 2023, their youngest son, Nelo, has also come to Christ.

As Railina watches God’s hand at work in her family from a distance, she oftens repeats those simple words—God is so good!

Related Pages

Spring2024 thumbnails Ripple Effect
Ripple Effect

When missionaries plant a church, the impact affects generations afterward.

Spring2024 thumbnails Trois Baptemes
Trois Baptêmes (Three Baptisms)

Baptisms are a joy for missionaries, evidence the gospel is taking deeper root on mission fields.

Spring2024 thumbnails Full Circle Prayer
Full-Circle Prayer

Two prayers changed the course of two generations of a family in Haiti.

Continue browsing

Your cart is empty.

Browse missionaries and projects.

Choose an amount:

Between $5 and $250,000