Gerhard ‘Geraldo’ Erasmus
“He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30)
Growing up as a missionary kid, regularly hearing prophecies of God having great plans for him, Geraldo Erasmus rebelled against his path for as long as he could. But by the age of 17 he had succumbed to fate- he had given his life to God and became a devoted follower by studying theology for 5 years and now serving 13 years in full time ministry.
He started first by working as a youth minister in Johannesburg and later planting churches in townships alongside African leaders and developing youth ministries in the townships. Yet he sensed God as preparing him for missions in Africa. These plans developed on his first outreach to Manica, Mozambique in 1997. When he graduated from Bible School he founded MOZaic Upliftment Trust to do community development through local churches in Mozambique. In 2002 he moved to Mozambique and worked alongside Mozambican pastors, farmers and other missionaries, learning a lot about African culture, agriculture, construction and various needs and skills needed in rural African life. Until God called him to the Gaza province
He met Pastor Daniel, of the Assemblies of God- Back to God church, whilst doing his research on Leadership Development in Mozambique. While interviewing numerous leaders from different church denominations, missionaries and Bible schools and pastors along the way, God showed him the need to establish a support base for rural church structures in the interior of the Gaza province. In 2006 Geraldo and Pastor Daniel travelled the rural parts of Gaza, visiting 26 communities where they ate and slept in the local communities and got first hand insights into rural living in Gaza. There were so many needs, mostly related to food-, water-, and health security. “I was shocked! I asked people what they ate as I couldn’t see any production on the fields…” One man replied: “Aqui não comemos”- “Here we don’t really eat”. Visiting communities, agricultural offices, schools, clinics and churches, Geraldo quickly came to the realization that there was hardly any support for spiritual and social development in the province. It was isolated and unreached.
It was also on this trip that he met Pastor Eduardo from the Apostolic Faith Mission and Pastor Ricardo from the Centre of Praise Ministries, both of whom were to play an important role in MOZaic. At the time Geraldo knew God had a plan to attend to the primary needs of Gaza, but was still not sure what God had in mind. He knew God had called him and made the move to Gaza with only one church supporting his vision. He lived in a tent under a cashew tree in Manjacaze for six months while finding land and built a reed house. His hope was to serve the local community by living like them and try to understand the local community and its needs. Within a couple weeks God send more churches to connect with Geraldo and buy into the dream. Within 2 months NG Weltevreden Gemeente came on outreach to help Geraldo build a house and help pastor Ricardo finish his church building.
“The way God sent churches to get on board confirmed to me that God was completely in control.” From these humble beginnings, MOZaic has gone from strength to strength.
MOzaic has become a network of churches that support Mozambican church leaders to realize their visions. Currently four South African churches are committed to the calling and serve on the board of Mozaic Upliftment Trust.
It is a system based on community ownership and local empowerment where the specific local Mozambican communities are helped to attain their own vision, as the incentive of all projects have to originate from within.
History of Mozaic in Gaza:
With 2006 being the year of setting up a base and planting the three churches in Mozambique, 2007 was a year of numerous church plants all around the Gaza province. Geraldo was lucky to spend a week home per month, with the rest of the time spent planting churches, training pastors, learning from the community and networking with Mozambicans. “Everywhere we went; people were so hungry for the Word.”
In 2008, Geraldo, with several volunteers joining the team helped develop an agriculture resource base in Manjacaze from where research is being done on plants, varieties, nutritional values and propagation techniques. Mozaic started building the capacity of local churches and help leaders in Mozambique discover their gifts and callings. Also several church constructions were undertaken.
In 2009 Geraldo took a break for several months and based himself in White River South Africa, working into Mozambique on a monthly basis. After 7 years in Mozambique, having survived 15+malaria attacks including cerebral malaria, numerous tick fever and Bilharzia attacks, faced many unknown parasites that kept him in bed several times for weeks at a time, then being held up with a K47 to his head and robbed of all his valuables, he decided it was time for a long break. During 2009 God restored him, confirmed the vision and prepared him for a new journey.
The new journey came in 2010 in the form of God answering prayers and provided resources to construct a training centre in Manjacaze. In 2010 and 2011 Geraldo headed several construction projects to create facilities in three communities from where training can be provided. 2012 will be about education and training of trainers from rural communities. MOZaic is involved with 25+ church plants in different communities from 7 districts. These leaders and others will be trained from Manjacaze to go back to their communities to bring change, growth and a better future.