“Selling Salt” in Mozambique
FRANCISCO COANA, a member of the country committee of Mozambique, spent ten years in “reeducation camps.” He tells his experience: “I knew we were going to be here for some time, so I asked the circuit overseer if I could continue as a regular pioneer. But how would I be able to devote enough time to the public ministry, since almost everyone in the camps was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? I said that I would go out to Milange, a town 29 miles [47 km] away, to find people to preach to.
“Although we were not officially allowed to leave the camp, this rule was not strictly enforced. I can remember going into the bush, kneeling down, and praying for a way to preach to the local people. Jehovah soon answered.
“I contacted a man who owned a bicycle, and I struck a deal with him. He agreed that if I cultivated his two acres [3/4 ha] of land before the rains came, he would pay my wages with this bicycle. So I spent each morning cultivating his fields. Jehovah blessed this arrangement, since I finally obtained my bicycle.
“The result was that I was able to get to the large town of Milange and carry on my pioneering effectively in this fruitful field. Since our work was under ban, I had to devise a plan to introduce people to the truth. With books and magazines tucked under my shirt, I took some salt in a bag and went about the business of selling salt. Instead of selling it for 5 meticais, I charged 15 meticais. (If it was too cheap, people would buy it all, and I wouldn’t have any salt to use for preaching anymore!) My conversations went something like this:
“‘Good day! I’m selling salt today.’
“‘No, no. That is much too expensive!’
“‘Yes, I agree it is expensive. But if you think it is expensive now, just wait awhile because it will be much more expensive in the future. Did you know this was predicted in the Bible?’
“‘I’ve never read that in my Bible.’
“‘Yes, it’s there. Bring your Bible, let me show you.’
“With that a conversation would ensue using his Bible, so mine could remain tucked under my shirt. I would refer to Revelation chapter 6, concerning critical conditions and food shortages. If I sensed a favorable response, I would take out The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life or Good News to Make You Happy and start a proper Bible study.
“The result was that I was able to start a group of 15 interested ones in Milange. But it was not long before the authorities caught up with us. One day while I was conducting a Bible study, the police burst in and arrested us. All of us, including the small children of the family, were taken to the local prison. After spending a month there, all of us were sent back to the camp again.”
These experiences did not diminish our brothers’ zeal. On the contrary, Francisco and his family, along with thousands of their brothers who were in the camps, now worship and preach under conditions of freedom in Mozambique.