“Don’t forget about my birthday,” his message read. It was Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, and as we navigated the Atlanta airport to get to our departure gate, I replied back, “Friday, right?”
“Yes,” Tony responded.
There was a tropical depression off the coast of Mozambique, and upon our arrival in Johannesburg, South Africa, we would discover that it had become a much larger threat during our trans-Atlantic flight. So much so, that by the morning of our flight to Mozambique, their government had closed the Beira airport and imposed a curfew on its civilians. The storm had been named Cyclone Idai, and meteorologists were saying it would be the worst storm to hit Mozambique in more than a decade.
“The weather is not good here,” he messaged, and after those words all communication with Tony went silent. For nine, long, agonizing days we did not know whether he survived the catastrophic cyclone.
Then…. finally…on March 23rd … we heard from him…
“Are you still in South Africa?”
“I went to the airport 4 times to look for you. Say something when you see this.”
“When are you coming?”
We cried tears of joy to discover that he was safe and unharmed!
When we first met Tony in 2009, my husband and I were serving as Interim Directors at a large mission base in Mozambique. Tony was one of the boys cared for on that base. The ministry had taken him in a few years prior after one of their missionaries had found him living on his own without parents to care for him. We enjoyed his visits with us then and getting to know him personally, and we are so blessed to still have him in our lives today. He has become like a son to us.
In more recent years, we’ve had the opportunity to help Tony finish schooling to become an English teacher. He is now serving Hope of a Nation as the teacher of our English as a Second Language program. Thanks to his English language skills, Tony has had opportunities to serve as a translator to various ministry and missions teams over the years. He is also able to communicate with Zimbabweans, South Africans, and other English speakers who operate businesses in Mozambique.
Tony is an active young man. He enjoys exercise and working out. He is a fantastic cook, a friend to many, loves to talk to others about Jesus, and enjoys going on evangelistic outreaches. One of his favorite things to do is to sing and lead worship. He especially enjoys playing acoustic guitar and hopes to own one of his very own someday.
When asked what excites him most about Hope of a Nation, Tony said it is what God is going to do in people’s lives through the ministry and the fact that many people will be blessed in so many different ways. He personally wants to be a part of this ministry because it will give him an opportunity to do something for his country, just like the Lord did for him.
“When I was young and lost my parents, I didn’t have any food or any education, but God put people in my life to help me.”
-Tony Armando Gonondo