Interview with Rev. Semente Serenguana and Mrs. Cristina Fernando of the United Church of Christ in Mozambique
Water shortage. Food and job scarcity. HIV/ AIDS. Few schools. Extreme poverty all around. Normally problems like these can overwhelm us, but when a person knows the Lord and that God is on that person’s side, hope overrides those problems. Such is the case with pastor and president of the UCC in Mozambique, Rev. Semente Serenguana. Pastor Serenguana has been pastoring 25 years, living into his call identified by a couple of faithful, spiritual women in his congregation who began calling him pastor long before his formation. He has always had a heart for his people and a strong desire to help the community rise above their circumstances and be the people God created them to be.
Serenguana’s courageous wife, Cristina Fernando, also shares his passion for ministry and has created opportunities to empower women and strengthen the family unit through a microcredit enterprise project. For Fernando, one practical solution to these aforementioned problems overwhelming their communities is the empowerment of women. In her community, women have always been treated as second class citizens, portrayed in a picture in which men sat in chairs separated from the women sitting humbly on the floor. However, these women are building their self-worth by using their gifts and skills for sewing and knitting to create money, saving a portion and pooling their resources. As a result, their pooled resources have been able to pay for a church building project, which has been a great contribution to their community and also a confidence builder for each woman. This edifying witness demonstrates a new day in Mozambique, where women are acknowledged for creating something of value and thereby valued. Together, they are achieving more and share a powerful testimony, “We are doing something!”
With the help of the Lord and partnerships like their longstanding one with Global Ministries, Serenguana and Fernando are beginning to see their hope fulfilled. Fernando would like to one day have a women’s center and include programs for youth that teach them how to sew, cook, build, and protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, a disease threatening to make their people extinct. Likewise, Pastor Serenguana wants to see his people fed, clothed, and safe from hurt, harm or danger.
The couple wants to deeply thank the Africa Office and Global Ministries for their continued moral, spiritual, and financial support. Partnership has afforded Mozambique critical presence of several missionaries, volunteers and interns, and Pastor Serenguana and his wife Cristina a safe partner in which to disclose their dreams, concerns, challenges and successes. They ask that we continue to pray in agreement with them for God to work through them, for God to make a way out of what seems to be no way, and to empower the UCC church in Mozambique to demonstrate the witness of hope and human dignity as the Church God intended, remembering that the people are the Church.