The annual meeting of the Mbuma Zending, of Malawi, was held as usual on April 30, and the venue this year was the spacious Brabanthallen in the town of ’s-Hertogenbosch. This date is always chosen as it coincides with the public holiday observed annually in Holland in celebration of the Queen’s birthday. When presumably most people would be disposed to spend the day in pursuit of worldly, secular activities, it is remarkable that at least 4000 souls made their way to this location where the focus was on matters relating to the cause of Christ and, in particular, our mission work in Africa.
The Word of God was read, addresses were given by several ministers, the audience listening to each in turn with what appeared to be rapt attention. Children and young people were not forgotten, Mr den Breejen reading to them an account of some Christians who endured persecution in days gone by – such as let their light so shine before men that they, in suffering, glorified their Father which is in heaven. The Psalm-singing was impressive and made one pine for the arrival of the day when congregations of this magnitude shall be a common sight worldwide and 'all lands to God with joyful sound' shall 'aloft their voices raise'.
Ds Tj de Jong opened the proceedings, speaking first in Dutch and then in English. He gave a concise account of the work being done on the Mission field and feelingly referred to the loss sustained as a result of the removal by death of Rev Zororai Mazvabo. He then cordially welcomed the writer and invited him to speak.
After thanking the Mbuma Zending Board for inviting him to be present and for giving him the opportunity to speak, he referred to the shared desire to see souls converted and the need for the gospel to be preached to sinners in its purity. Even if we do have our portion allotted to us in dark days, we were not to lose sight of the facts that Christ was seeing of the travail of his soul, that his purpose would surely be fulfilled, and that the whole earth would yet be filled with the knowledge his glory.
The writer also referred to the historical link between Scotland and Holland. It was there, in days gone by, that Scottish ministers, hunted and persecuted in their native land, found refuge and some were even ordained to the ministry. Among such were the martyrs, Richard Cameron and James Renwick, the last named being the last to suffer in Scotland prior to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The extent to which the Mbuma Zending supported the work in Africa was referred to and the gratitude of the Foreign Missions Committee and of the whole of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was expressed. The prayers of those present were sought.
It was good to be among the like-minded friends in Holland again. Some of those who sat on the platform we were meeting for the first time, while others we could greet as old friends with familiar faces. The atmosphere throughout the day was what we might expect to find prevailing in a Christian assembly. During the interval, it was good to meet on the floor of the hall, among others, Mrs Nel van Vliet, Mr and Mrs Slabberkoorn, Mr and Mrs Beukers, the parents of Petra, who served the Mission faithfully for many years as a nursing sister; also Leendert Boon and Mr and Mrs Paul Backhurst from Nijmegen.
It so happened that the meeting was held this year on a Monday; so it was necessary to travel to Holland on the previous Saturday. Over the weekend I stayed under the hospitable roof of Mr and Mrs van Haaften in the village of Odijk, near Utrecht, and to them I anew express my gratitude for having so kindly entertained me. On Monday they conveyed me to the meeting at ’s-Hertogenbosch and afterwards took me to the Amsterdam Airport for my flight home.
That so many attended the meeting indicates that support for our African mission work remains strong; the sum of money raised on the day, amounting to €50 000 (c. £40 000), bears that out. It is, however, recognised by all who are discerners of the times we live in that, however useful and vitally-necessary material resources are, only an outpouring of the Spirit of God will turn sinners in Africa and elsewhere 'from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God'. For such an outpouring we are bound to pray.
Taken with permission from the Free Presbyterian Magazine, September 2012.