Bob and Patty Bollinger and their two teenage children Wesley and Lily took ﬁve weeks of their summer and traveled to Mozambique in Southeast Africa and neighboring South Africa to share the gospel and Christ’s love in the work of Iris Ministries.
Bob explains that Iris Ministries was founded in 1980 by missionaries Rolland and Heidi Baker, who have been given a specific ministry. “The heart of Iris is to serve the Mozambican people by helping them reach their destiny with God,” Bob said.
It was Patty’s heart for the Baker’s mission at Iris which led to the family’s trip this summer. “I had heard of Iris about 10 years ago,” Patty said.
Since that time she has been supporting the Bakers’ work and praying for them. The Bollingers had the opportunity to meet Heidi Baker in 2003, “and the Lord put it on my heart that our whole family could go to Mozambique,” Patty said.
With more prayer, a reading of the Baker’s book “There is Always Enough,” and information from Iris Ministries DVDs, soon the plane tickets were in hand and the whole family was on board with Patty’s vision for the May 29 to July 2 trip, and three full weeks scheduled for working with Iris Ministries.
The experience was “life changing,” says Bob. For him and Patty and their two teenagers, experiencing a totally different culture and people with different life experience and expectations was eye opening.
Bob said, “They are a people who focus more on relationships, and their family life is extremely important to them. Also, they lead very simple lives. Yet we still have much to learn from these people because they have a passion for God that is unrivaled.”
Patty said, “The people are so friendly and sweet, so kind, and they appreciate what we in the western world would consider small.”
For Patty the trip was a life-changing experience, she said, “Because we met people there who we got to know very well. We lived with them and ate with them, mainly rice and beans, etc. We worked with them and served them.
“Bob and Wesley washed and painted a house, took kids on horseback rides, and we all prayed with the people there and saw with our own eyes that they were healed by Jesus. There were many miracles!”
Wesley helped by working in the kitchen and tells of seeing a miracle of food multiplication take place as they served from a large bowl to dozens of people.
“Even church was different in Mozambique,” Patty said. “Children sat on our laps and we danced and sang. The Makua people love to sing and dance. They know how to worship God by dancing in perfect rhythm and singing together in beautiful harmony that I had never heard before traveling to Mozambique. Church went on for hours, and we didn’t want to leave!”
In a certain way, the Makua culture combines with the simple and sometimes desperate living conditions of Mozambique to prepare people for openness to God and hearing the gospel.
Bob explained, “The leader of the mission outreach in Mieze told us that orphans there had never seen a sink or toilet or had even seen their own faces in a mirror. Perhaps it is only having food for one meal a day and sometimes living on the edge of hunger that makes people’s desire for God stronger.”
Patty said, “Mozambique is a poor country, and the average per capita income is less than $300 per year. Some people earn nothing, so the results of this can be seen there.”
Patty explains further that there was a 16-year-long civil war in Mozambique, and a Marxist government aligned with the Soviet Union. The war finally ended in 1992. “There have been struggles for the people of Mozambique for many years, and most of the people there never complain, though they have very little.”
Patty also sees the Makua culture with deep roots in “spirituality” as something that contributes to a readiness to accept God. “Their faith is incredible,” she said. “The people of Africa have lived for many centuries with a belief in the supernatural. So when it comes to believing in what they cannot see with their eyes right away, they can believe.
“There is no shortage of faith and the miraculous in Mozambique. Many people who never before believed in Jesus came to believe Him, as they experienced ﬁrst hand His blessings and healings.
“We witnessed something amazing happening every day in Mozambique. We were all astonished and forever grateful to Jesus for this, as every sick person we prayed for was miraculously healed by Jesus, every time. Jesus has told us that what he went through is enough for healing. I really believe Him, and so do the people in Mozambique. We hope and pray for this kind of faith here in the U.S. We have a lot to look forward to here. We just need to believe.”
Iris Ministries has planted many churches and operates schools and orphanages. “We spent most of our time at Iris Ministries, in Pemba,” Patty said. “We enjoyed meeting students at the Harvest School of Missions, led by Heidi Baker.”
The family’s mission trip to Africa has become a part of each of them, and memories of the people and experiences there will be with them all for a lifetime.
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Patty explained, “Just to spend time with new people has made our hearts sing. Of course there were challenges, such as ﬁve-day jet lag each way. But it was all worth it. Our trip to Africa has been life changing for each one of us, for Bob, Wesley, Lily and I. We’re thankful to Jesus for taking us to Mozambique and to our friends and family who prayed for us during our trip. We will always remember in our hearts the people of Mozambique and South Africa.”