Beach activity while waiting for our boat to come in…
In the midst of this idyllic place, cultural and religious traditions mixed with witchcraft and horrendous initiation rights for small girls and boys, rip into the interior of heart and soul. Just a stone’s throw from the church, the ground vibrated with drums and the sounds of shouting and chanting. The young boys from ages four to eight are undergoing six weeks of initiation to ensure that they grow up to be ‘real men’, supposedly. Gassite explained to us as follows:
“The parents pay the elders to take their boys and prepare them to be strong men that will be able to endure hardship. They are beaten several times a day and insulted continuously. They are taught to insult one another also, to be aggressive and to beat each other also. The songs they sing are chanted insults. They must learn how to insult each other in the worst possible way, to taunt and curse one another. They sit under a thatch shelter while they are being taught the traditions of men and then put out into the sun with no water at the heat of the day. If it rains they are put out to suffer the rain. They get very little food, sometimes no food. This teaches them to survive. If they are put in prison, beaten, left in the sun with no food or water, they will be able to survive life. They must be able to bear insults and give worse back without allowing weak emotions to affect them.”
Gassite and Sergio told us this was not done in the Central region where they come from but the North of Mozambique has the worst initiation for children. Thus theft, rape and violence is worse in the North. These children grow up to do the same to their children and the generational curse continues. Gassite’s face was sombre when he told us this, then suddenly his face brightened. “But at Youth Conference the young people were taught this is not God’s way and they have the power in the name of Jesus to break this stronghold and generational curse in their families. The youth responded by saying they have been through all this and they never, never want their children to endure such treatment. They will not do it, they are followers of Jesus.”
When someone takes the love of Christ into a community, the light begins to shine. We are so thankful for each church member, evangelist and missionary who works with Afrika wa Yesu, constantly encouraging the churches scattered throughout the nation and opening up new places with the gospel. In the North little girls undergo female circumcision together with their initiation, enduring unspeakable things. We are commissioned to carry life, hope and the love of Jesus wherever we go. We cannot change the traditions of men but it is the Truth (Jesus) that sets people free, and gives them the courage to bring the necessary change.