Church Matters Feb 2017

Within global Christian circles there is quite a remarkable woman called Heidi Baker. Heidi is a Christian missionary to the country of Mozambique, and with her husband Rolland set up Iris Global, which is a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to charitable service and evangelism. Through its work within Mozambique, Iris Global has provided orphanages, free health clinics, village feeding programmes, well drilling and operates primary and secondary schools. They have also created over 5000 churches.

Heidi was born in Laguna Beach, California in 1959. Having gained degrees in Arts she went on to study Systematic Theology at King’s College in London, emerging as a Doctor of Philosophy in 1995. Systematic Theology sounds a very highfaluting term – it’s basically a discipline of Christian theology that steadily works through things to provide an orderly, rational and coherent account of the doctrines of the Christian faith. To gain a Doctorate in such a discipline is no idle task. It speaks highly of Heidi’s academic prowess – she is well versed in rubbing shoulders with academics.

And yet her work in Mozambique is far removed from academia. In August last year I attended a conference in York where Heidi was one of the Christian speakers. The conference had already provided many positive and stretching things from a faith perspective, but when Heidi walked out on the stage and immediately knelt down in prayer you knew that this was going to be different. Heidi is definitely “out there” in terms of her relationship with God and devotion to Jesus.

After about an hour of being on her knees in extravagant prayer and worship, she went on to talk about her work in Mozambique, mentioning (almost in passing) that there have been times where she has been confronted by men with AK machine guns pointed at her chest (the work is obviously not for the feint hearted). And then she showed a video of her visiting a village and being challenged by a local witch-doctor. The witch-doctor was trying to disrupt things and had brought three puff-adders (venomous snakes) in his hands in order to provide a threat. In talking with the man Heidi felt a God prompt to say to the man “You’re tired of the darkness” – it was an inner insight that changed everything. The witch-doctor handed over the snakes to be killed and was baptised the same day. The video also recorded that as he was being prayed for, venom from snake bites on his hands began oozing out and his hands were healed. All in a day’s work, Mozambique style, I guess. But there’s more – on the same day he was married in a Christian ceremony to his girlfriend (who was also a witch-doctor). She was also baptised and has subsequently received healing from leprosy.

Heidi Baker may seem a little strange to many, but God works through her so powerfully to bring release and new life to the people of Mozambique – release and new life both physically and spiritually. It’s a little beyond what Systematic Theology might reveal.

There were many things that Heidi said from that stage in York that had me mulling over and wrestling with aspects of the Christian faith and UK church life. But she made the point that for all who have been baptised into the Christian faith there is a covenant relationship with God, a beneficial relationship to be had with him, even if that baptism came as a baby and the faith part has not (yet) been taken up. I’d gauge that there are many in the UK, even in our local communities, to whom this applies. You don’t need to be a witch-doctor to find release and new life. 

Rev Tony Stephens