By George Thomas — Originally published in CBN News
Heidi Baker lives in one of the poorest countries on earth – a country that’s now considered to be one of the most dangerous. But you wouldn’t know it by talking with her.
“This is the greatest time to be alive, for such a time as this,” Baker told CBN News during a recent interview.
The 61-year-old American missionary lives in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province where, since 2017, ISIS-linked militants have killed more than 2 600 people and displaced 700 000 in their quest to establish an Islamic caliphate.
“If you are a believer in Jesus you are one of the first who is right on the list,” Baker said.
A group known as Al Shabab is responsible for dozens of terror attacks.
“Churches have been burned and anyone who is not agreeing with this specific group of terrorists, whatever faith they have, their homes are being burned as well, their crops are being burned,” Baker said.
On March 24, 2021, Al Shabab conducted one of the worst Islamic terror attacks in all of southern Africa, as hundreds of fighters stormed the town of Palma, north of Baker’s home, sending thousands running for their lives.
“I was working in a company when the attack took place. I escaped and went into the forest to hide,” Allue, a displaced resident from Palma, told reporters.
Dozens of civilians, including 12 foreigners, were killed, some beheaded on the beaches of Palma.
“They were killing us, they were burning houses, and they were taking our children,” Nina Diadara, another resident of Palma said after escaping the attack.
Government forces recaptured the town from the Islamists following a 10-day siege.
Two months later, tens of thousands of Palma residents have yet to return.
Islamic militants have launched several more attacks in recent weeks.
“Al Shabab, they are a frightening bunch,” warned Baker. “I’m not going to be phony, I don’t want to get chopped up, I don’t want to be kidnapped, I want to continue to preach this glorious gospel for many more decades.”
Baker, who runs Iris Global, a Christian humanitarian organisation, has lived in Mozambique for over 25 years, seeing firsthand the devastation and pain.
Yet she says the Lord is moving powerfully across the country.
“I’m telling you in the midst of the tragedy, God is doing the most incredibly beautiful things and He’s wiping away the tears,” she added.
Baker has heard countless stories from survivors who’ve escaped the clutches of the jihadists.
Like a woman named Amina whose husband was murdered by radical Muslims because he refused to deny Christ.
“He was killed in front of her and the neighbours were told, and the cousins and other family members, that they needed to bathe in the blood of her husband or they would have worse torture themselves,” Baker recounted to CBN News.
Then there’s the miracle of Feli Zardo whom Baker says was crucified, then set on fire, but miraculously survived the torture.
“They thought he was dead,” Baker said. “They got him down from the cross. He’s very, very scarred, physically scarred, but now he leads logistics for our team.”
She’s preached the Gospel across much of Cabo Delgado and surrounding provinces with hundreds of thousands of people accepting Jesus Christ.
Baker firmly believes the Lord moved her to Mozambique for such a time as this.
“Not knowing that God would be preparing us to be the right people in the right place at the right time to share the radical love of a beautiful Saviour Jesus who asks His people to be His hands and His feet extended on planet earth.”
More than a year after the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the terror group is turning its sights on Africa, especially Christian-dominated countries like Mozambique.
“We always kind of look at ISIS and Al Qaeda as parts of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq but what you are seeing now is that the rise of radical Islamist terror is in Africa now,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told CBN News.
McCaul is the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
He says a lack of security across much of Africa is a chief factor in fuelling the jihadist movement.
“Anywhere you have a failed state or a weak governance, it gives them safe haven for terrorist activities to prey on the young people as well, they recruit them, and ISIS is more than happy to give them their banner in their cause against their own governments,” McCaul said.
Mozambique is now among a handful of African countries witnessing a spike in terror attacks.
U.S. Special Forces are engaged in the fight, deploying troops to Mozambique last month to help the government there battle the Islamic insurgency.
The EU and 16 African countries are also preparing to send troops.
Meanwhile, the March attack did little to deter Baker’s humanitarian outreach as she continues to minister to thousands who fled Palma.
“We’ve ramped up our efforts so now we are feeding 34 000 individuals a day and mostly comforting the broken, holding them in our arms, praying with them,” Baker told CBN News.
She says that when threats of danger rise, she tells her team to be wise, take necessary precautions and “Don’t be afraid but fix your eyes on Jesus, He takes away the fear and puts relentless courage in you.”
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