Located in southeast Africa, Mozambique is a sparsely populated country of 309,493 square miles (801,590 square kilometers)--slightly less than twice the size of the state of California. It was a Portuguese colony for 470 years and gained independence as a Marxist Leninist state in 1975. Mozambique is one of the world's poorest countries, the result of centuries of colonial negligence, over hasty application of Marxist economics, and 30 years of guerilla warfare. At the height of the civil war in 1992, 40 percent of its people were refugees and a million lives were lost. The depth of poverty is illustrated by the child mortality rate: 15 percent of children born in Mozambique don't live to see their fifth birthday. The government policy from 1975 to 1982 was to eliminate all churches and "religious superstitions." Christians suffered tremendously. Religious freedom was granted in 1990 and has resulted in healthy church growthÑ40 percent of Mozambicans now identify themselves as Christians.

The Reformed Church in Mozambique is the RCA's partner church in Mozambique. It is a small church that survived the difficult years of communist persecution. It is very "resource poor"because of the persecution it went through, but it wants to address the urgent needs of the people living in poverty. In partnership with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, RCA mission personnel assist the Reformed Church in Mozambique in implementing community development programs that address the needs of the poorest of the poor. Literacy training is a high priority as only one in five women in Mozambique can read; agricultural, health, and economic development needs are also being addressed. Evangelism and Christian teaching are essential components of the projects.

Chad & Dara Vanden Bosch

As Chad Vanden Bosch walks on the dirt path through the fields, his steps kick up dust. This area of Mozambique hasn’t seen rain in months, but the irrigation ponds are full, thanks to natural springs. A palm tree marks the corner of New Harvest Farm, where crops are growing: pineapple plants, banana trees, peppers, tomatoes, and greens. In another field, black-eyed peas grow, enriching the soil with nitrogen while providing a crop. In an adjacent pasture, six speckled goats graze.