Esaya Machava returned to his home near Chaimite, Gaza, in 1919. He had been saved on the East Rand, Gauteng Region, in South Africa, out of a life of drunkenness and sin. Soon he trusted the Lord to sanctify him. He became the first helper to work with Rev. Henry and Mrs. Lucy Best as they began their missionary work in Mozambique, going out to visit the surrounding homesteads every evening.
One evening they were having a service in Machava’s home when his seventy year old father, Grandfather Abraham Machava, came forward to pray crawling on his hands and knees. He did not know how to pray for himself but God wonderfully saved him and he never wavered or faltered until God took him home to heaven. After his conversion he brought a large basket full of paraphernalia for ancestral worship to be burned. Before they could set a match to it he told them to wait as there was more. In a few moments he returned with another large basket full of tobacco leaves. The nonChristians assembled to watch this were excited and dismayed. “You don’t want to burn that tobacco, foolish one,” they cried, “Take it to the store and buy yourself a coat and trousers. Whoever heard of a man going to church dressed in monkey skins.” Grandfather Machava replied with quiet dignity that what God had condemned him for he would not sell to others to ruin their lives. He said that if he needed a coat and trousers God would provide them for him. He was too old and feeble to walk to the river to be baptized, so he was sprinkled at home and he took the name Abraham.
Around that same time a lady with her two daughters came to the mission seeking help. They had passed by the hospital in Manjacaze to come to Chaimite. They said there was a sorcerer at Manjacaze who was placing a spell on them. With simple medicines her terrible sores began to heal. Estela, the eldest of her two daughters, responded to the gospel and became a wonderful Christian. A few months later she and Esaya were married. Their home became a beautiful example of a Christian home in the community.
One day sorrow came to their home. After a difficult time Estela gave birth to twin boys. One was dead and the attending ladies immediately dug a hole in the middle of the floor of the hut and buried it. The missionaries protested for health and sanitary reasons but were informed that this was customary. If the baby were to be buried anywhere else the other infant would soon die also. The following evening one of their other pastors on the district came to see them and protested that they had assented to such a nonChristian custom. So they spoke to the Machavas and they agreed to rebury the baby outside the house. It was a great shock to all of them to learn the next morning that the second baby had died during the night. They prayed and wept together but Estela and her husband never blamed God or criticized the missionaries. Later on God gave them another son.
Machava heard about a spiritually needy area where the gospel had never been preached. He and Estela offered to leave the mission at Chaimite to go there to minister. The people there were very difficult and the Machavas suffered great hardship. When the time came for Estela to give birth the women who had promised to help fled. Machava washed and tended to his newborn son, closed Estela’s eyes in her final rest, and dug the grave. He wrapped her body in a strong reed mat and lowered her into the grave. He was too heartsore to do more than pray in his heart. Afterwards some of the people returned to help and took charge of the infant.
For several years Machava laboured alone as pastor, cooked the food and carried water for the home. With his small salary it seemed impossible that he could ever have the money necessary for the lovola for another marriage. However, he met a man who had a sister who needed a good husband and God gave him Elizabeta as a wife.
Machava asked to return to Rehoboth Bible College at Modderfontein, Gauteng Region, South Africa, to take a preachers’ refresher course. After that he remained there for a time to preach in the mine compounds. He was a great blessing there to both the people and the missionaries and they enjoyed wonderful fellowship together.
Several months after returning home to Gaza he complained of pain. As it did not ease the men of the church carried him to the government hospital in Chibuto. He was then sent to the hospital at Vila de Joao Belo where he passed away. Mrs. Best closed her report about him with the words, “Salani kwatsi, Esaya, hi ta vonana nimisho (Remain well, Esaya, we shall meet in the morning).”
Paul S. Dayhoff
- Mrs. H. C. Best, “Tribute to Esaya Machave,” The Other Sheep, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, August 1955), 7. L. L. Best, “Evangelist Esaya Machava”, Africa Calling, (London and South Africa: International Holiness Mission, July -September, 1955), 6-7.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, (Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 2002), copyright © 2001, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.