Mozambican family life presents many challenges. Zito once told us, “My mom was my Dad‟s third wife and my dad was her fourth husband. Now she‟s married to Paulo, my step dad.” The youngest of his mother‟s six children, Zito had only half brothers and sisters. Zito led a rebellious life as a teen and was asked to leave home a couple of years ago. His real dad had nothing to do with him. Zito had no job to support himself, but was allowed to move into the vacant house that had been owned by his deceased sister.
A few years ago, Zito had been working at his high school studies in agronomy and was looking for opportunities to use his knowledge to meet his physical needs. Walking down our street one day, he noticed a yard that was badly in need of care. He offered his services as
gardener and was hired by our landlord. When we rented the house, the landlord asked if we‟d keep him on. Initially, Joel worked together with Zito in the yard.
“So, why would an American move to Mozambique?” Zito had asked from a treetop. “Great question,” Joel had answered. “We‟re here to help people have the certainty of eternal life. Tell me, Zito, do you know for sure that you‟ll go to heaven when you die?”
He wasn‟t sure, but he wanted to know. That conversation led to many more. Zito and Joel had weekly Bible studies. Around the lunch table Zito listened intently to Joaquin, Celia and Lola (other hired helpers), who already had a certainty of eternal life. Weeks and months passed. One day in July Zito announced that he had put his faith in Christ alone to be his Savior from his sin. He had gone home after a Bible study and kept thinking about it. Now he had certainty based on God‟s Word.
“My life was full of drinking and women and everything disgraceful,” he told me. “God has been so good to me! Before I knew Christ I would argue with my mom. She‟d never listen to me. We always fought.” Tears came to his eyes. “Now she calls me to ask my advice. Things are so different now!”
At 24 years old, Zito hoped to go to college someday. Reading and studying were hard for him, but last year he graduated from his high school level agronomy course. He completed an internship in the Maputo area, keeping him close to our church where he was involved. Zito‟s life was not without struggles and temptation. His real father stepped back into his life and offered him a job athis bar. Though in financial need, Zito wanted to please God with his time and testimony. He declined the offer.
“It‟s so good that Zito „found‟ God,” his stepfather once told us. “He used to be so hard to get along with. Now he‟s a joy to have around. He even says he may become a missionary.” Since our furlough began in late July, Zito was preparing for baptism and planning to join the church.
This last Sunday we received the sad news that Zito had been hit by a car in downtown Maputo on Saturday and had been killed.
We are so grateful to those of you who have partnered together with us to see Mozambicans like Zito come to know Christ. May God comfort the believers who knew him and help his family come to know Christ as their Savior. And may He use this event to remind us all of the brevity of life. Let us live each day for His glory.
Rejoicing in that blessed Hope, Joel and Joanie Troester