Did you know some churches in the Diocese of London are partnered with churches in Angola and Mozambique? This link is called ALMA, which stands for Angola London Mozambique Association. The word “alma” also means “soul” in Portuguese – the language spoken in those African countries. St John’s has had a link for many years, and our link is with a parish in a place called Ngofi, on the coast of Lake Malawi in the country of Mozambique, in southeast Africa.
The link is one of prayer and partnership. Recently, I have become more involved with ALMA (it helps that Rachel and I speak Portuguese), and I have wanted to revive our link with the parish of Ngofi. I have now started exchanging regular What’s App messages with Rev Nacumu who serves in the parish as well as Archdeacon Ernesto (their English is better than my Portuguese!) The good news is they have been praying for us! And this last week, they told me about how they and other clergy have been meeting with the local Bishop to plan how they use Facebook and the internet in their ministry. They also ask for prayer as, similar to us, the church responds to the reality of Covid. Christians there have also had to contend with extreme weather leading to famine and flooding in recent years.
It is my dream that our ALMA link can be further revived in the next few years. Who knows – maybe some of us will be able to go out there to visit? We don’t want a situation where we see them as a charity case, a faceless community who just need handouts for projects. In my life, I’ve seen how this way of thinking erodes real relationship and can add to dependency and guilt. Rather, the vision for ALMA is that the link is one of a genuine relationship of equals within God’s church. So we will dialogue and listen and commit to pray for and with our friends in Mozambique as the partnership progresses, and we will no doubt learn a lot from them about how to worship, love others and live out our common faith.