Missionary couple share love for work in Africacomment (0)
April 20, 2000
By By Judy Woodward Bates
If missionaries Jim and Brenda Brock had their way, they would still be living in Africa today.
The Brocks, along with their daughter, Paige, returned to Alabama in January after serving as missionaries to the African nation of Lesotho since 1997. Prior to that, the family served for 10 years in another African nation, Mozambique.
“God used our time in Lesotho, and we’re thankful for that,” Brock said. “But in all honesty, if we could have made our own choice, we would never have left Mozambique. Unfortunately, the internal political situation and tribal tensions made it impossible for us to stay.”
Expressing the belief “God is still there,” Mrs. Brock said believers in Mozambique are continuing to spread the Word of God.
“Paige will always consider Mozambique her true home,” Mrs. Brock said. “She was 3-years-old when we arrived. She grew up there. Jim and I loved Mozambique, too, and knew that we were right where God wanted us.”
Mozambique was at war for seven of the 10 years the Brocks served there. They said there were besieged areas, like little islands or pockets, that were under attack at all times.
‘Blazing a new trail’
Yet the Brocks knew they were where God would have them to be. “In many ways, it was a terrible situation,” Brock said, “but it was a unique opportunity. The war moved Mozambique’s entire population of 11 million people into city centers where we could reach them and share the gospel.”
“We were basically blazing a new trail,” Mrs. Brock said. “[The gospel] was all new information.”
“Rather than focusing on pastors and church leaders doing the job, we wanted all the people to know how to witness, pray, study the Bible, everything,” Brock said. “We developed training programs for new Christians; and from that group the Lord raised up leaders for the church.
“Once a leader was trained, his job was then to train new leaders,” he said. “The key was establishing a repeatable process.”
Mrs. Brock said there is no doubt God blessed their work.
“In our 10 years in Mozambique, we saw the church grow from 200 to about 11,000,” she said. “We didn’t do that; God did it through the people.”
For the Brocks, missions work came naturally, though each of them were exposed to it at different times in their lives.
“I grew up as a part of Calvary [Baptist Church, Warrior],” Mrs. Brock said. “My mother was a WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) lady. Even as a little girl I knew about missions; Calvary was always a missions-minded church, especially foreign missions.”
She had already graduated from University of Montevallo and was teaching when she heard a representative from the then-Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board, IMB) speak. She said that was when she knew her calling in life.
“I ended up in Kenya as a journeyman,” she said. “After that experience I knew for certain that God wanted me in missions. I enrolled in seminary at Fort Worth and was about to finish when Jim arrived on the scene, fresh from two years as a journeyman in Tanzania.”
Brock said he became involved in missions work through the Baptist Student Union at Fort Worth. He said he worked in summer missions programs doing Vacation Bible Schools and also worked alongside migrant farm workers. One summer he did missions in Israel.
“I still couldn’t say I felt a definite calling into missions,” Brock said. “But as graduation came along, I decided that if I was ever going to experience anything like the foreign missions field that now was the time to find out. I applied for the journeyman program and ended up going to Tanzania,” he said.
The two were married in July of 1979, and Mrs. Brock took a position teaching school in Fort Worth while Brock completed seminary. He finished seminary in 1981, and their daughter, Paige, was born the following year.
“During this same time some changes were made in the requirements for serving in the missions field and one of those changes was to require two years of pastoring experience,” Mrs. Brock said. “God’s plans are always so perfect. Jim was called to pastor my home church (Calvary), and we were able to be here for the last two years of my dad’s life.”
First to go
After about two years at Calvary Baptist, the Brocks contacted the IMB and within five months the young family found themselves appointed to Mozambique.
“It was a communist country, and there were no missionaries in there. It took quite a process to get us in,” Brock said.
His eyes fill with tears as he recalls the day then four-year-old Paige scampered into his office. Brock said his daughter was learning to write and wanted him to help her make messages to hand out telling people Jesus loves them.
“I can’t begin to tell you how it hurt to have to say to her, ‘Sweetie, that’s a wonderful idea, but in this country, that’s against the law. They won’t let us do that.’ My little girl broke down and sobbed when I told her that,” Brock said. “Already at four years old, she had such a heart for the message of Christ and the people of Mozambique.”