By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
MOZAMBIQUE – Modern day miracles are taking place in Mozambique and Lucas LaCour is thankful he and his fellow church members have a front seat to the revival happening in a cluster of villages.
Since their first mission trip to the country in 2015, Alpine First Baptist Church team members have witnessed more than 40,000 people make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and seen the number of church plants grow from zero to 41.
“It’s miraculous,” Lacour said. “And it’s encouraging and convincing of the power of the Gospel. To see them hear it for the first time, there’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Christ is on the move in Mozambique.”
Alpine First Baptist has taken at least three mission trips to Mozambique each year since 2015. They are in the third of a five-year commitment to take teams to an area of the country that is home to Nsenga people, one of nearly 3,250 who the International Mission Board classifies as an Unreached Unengaged People Group. A people group is unreached where the number of evangelical Christians is less than 2 percent of a country’s population and are deemed unengaged when there is no church planting strategy consistent with evangelical faith and practice under way.
For four years prior to 2015, Alpine First Baptist had taken teams to Malawi, which borders Mozambique, but sensed God leading them to explore additional missions possibilities.
Through prayer and research, LaCour learned that the IMB desired to reach the Nsenga people group but lacked the necessary resources to do so.
LaCour was encouraged by the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s LA-340 initiative for 340 Louisiana churches to engage an Unreached Unengaged People Group and sought God’s will for Alpine to take part in the work in the country.
Mozambique is one of the partnerships that span at least 50 countries for which Louisiana Baptists are a part.
Wayne Sheppard, executive assistant to the executive director for Louisiana Baptists, has traveled with LaCour and others on multiple occasions to see how God can use churches in Louisiana to help share Christ and plant multiplying churches who have a great evangelical impact.
“I will never forget the experience of being awakened in our tent from the clamoring of voices,” Sheppard said. “People in the village had gathered before sunrise to hear from this team of Malawians and two white Americans. The excruciating hunger to hear the Word of God reverberated as we arose and immediately began to share the Lord with this village of Nsenga peoples.
“I had the opportunity to venture into the bush of an UUPG on just the second journey among the Nsenga of Mozambique,” he continued. “Already the one church that started on the first journey had multiplied to two. Now as we journeyed from village to village we had the opportunity to see five more begin. I will always cherish the joy of dedication Sunday and preaching to the new believers of a brand new church that sprang up in that village during the previous week.”
From the time they stepped foot into the country, God’s miraculous hand has been at work.
Prior to crossing the border from Malawi into Mozambique during their first trip, the team was warned about corruption by guards, who could possibly throw them into prison or sentence them to death, recalled Kevin Billiot, pastor of evangelism for Alpine First Baptist.
As they approached the border, the first two people they met were two guards.
After a brief conversation, the team led the two men to the Lord, including one of the guards who had a vision only 30 minutes before that he would receive a visit from some white men.
The guard led the men to the village chief in Chi-limbu-limbu, the site of their first church plant.
More than 50 people attended the first four-hour service of Alpine Baptist Church of Chi-limbu-limbu. One month later, they baptized 184 in the river nearby.
Billiot said that story is one of many where God was with them throughout their journey.
“The corrupt officials were no match for God who desires to see these people come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Billiot said. “In the same way God gave Joseph favor with Pharoah, He has done the same for us repeatedly. Every single border guard, every government official, and every village chief we met heard the Gospel; and every one of them gave their lives to Christ.”
While their work includes door-to-door visitation, the largest number of conversions are seen when they show the Jesus film.
When a time of invitation is offered at the conclusion of the film, between 100 and 1,500 will come forward to profess their faith in Christ. At the conclusion of the Jesus film is when many have come forward and asked for a church to be planted in their village.
Among the members who have taken trips to Mozambique is Brent Nation, who has visited Mozambique twice and Malawi four times on mission.
Nation said despite the 40,000 who have accepted Christ, the harvest still is plentiful there.
“Two years ago I was at a leadership training meeting and a pastor said one mission trip will impact your life more spiritually than 52 sermons will,” he said. “This is a true statement. Not taking away from the sermons preached and lessons taught but these mission trips to Mozambique are life changing. My prayer is for you to join us as we strive to reach people with the gospel and make disciples.
“When you truly grasp that there are actually people that have never heard the Gospel it will set your soul on fire,” he said. “God has given us a heart to share the Gospel and make disciples.”
Their involvement with Mozambique reflects the heartbeat of Alpine First Baptist Church – missions and evangelism.
Of the 200 who attend Alpine First Baptist Church, 120 have taken a mission trip.
In addition to Mozambique and Malawi, the church sends teams to reach people attending the annual Tarpon Rodeo in Grand Isle.
And the others who may not participate in a mission trip take part in local evangelism efforts, such as a monthly outreach to homeless people in downtown Alexandria and the Pineville Project, a systematic approach to reaching everyone within five miles of the church with the Gospel.
“One thing I always keep in mind is our people here have embraced the vision to reach the people,” LaCour said. “They have been shown in scripture the commandment to embrace it but they continually hear the power of the Gospel.
“They give, they pray, they encourage, they go,” he continued. “They see people come back from the mission field on fire for the Lord. I’m extremely grateful for the people of Alpine.”