Voices from the Field

A Pastor in the Family: Rev. Alzira Isaac from Mozambique

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A Pastor in the Family: Rev. Alzira Isaac from Mozambique
Reverend Alzira Sebastião Isaac

When asked what career she dreamed of as a child, Reverend Alzira Sebastião Isaac said, “Our education doesn’t really allow us to dream beyond our surroundings. When I was growing up, girl children learned early from our culture, family, churches and schools to be wives and mothers first and then maybe teachers, nurses, secretaries and not much else.”

 “My desire was to be a teacher because it was the only profession that I knew and I almost became a teacher, but my grandfather, my father’s father, wanted to see at least one pastor in our family. As you may suspect he was hoping that it would be one of my brothers.”

An Education in Theology

Born and raised in Inhambane Province in the South of Mozambique, when Rev. Alzira completed tenth grade, she learned of a vacancy for a teacher’s course. Instead, her childhood friend, (now also a reverend) Hortencia heard that there were vacancies in the theology department. She convinced her friend to apply with her. They both were accepted. Their names were read out loud at the annual conference in 1990, and in January of 1991, off they went to the United Seminary of Ricatla, an ecumenical theological institution in Maputo-Mozambique.

When her family found out that she was studying theology, there were mixed feelings. “My father became very emotional, he supported me and to this day I am grateful to him. Sadly, my grandfather had already passed away and didn’t get to see me fulfil his dream. My father has also since passed. I owe everything I am to him,” she said pensively.

Rev. Alzira met her husband, Reverend Hilário Torres Machauene, almost as soon as she arrived at seminary. “We met there, started dating right away. When he finished, he went to work in Chokwe and in the following year we got married in Xai-Xai,” she reported.

The First Woman Pastor

Rev. Alzira began working immediately upon graduation from seminary. In 1995, she was assigned a parish in Xai-Xai in Gaza Province where she worked for five years. To this day, she’s the only woman to head that parish. In 2000, she was nominated as the district superintendent for Manica Province, a position she held for six years until she received a scholarship to study for a bachelor’s degree at Africa University in Zimbabwe.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in three years and received her master’s degree in two more. Upon her return to Mozambique in 2013, she was nominated as executive secretary for Mozambique’s North United Methodist Women Annual Conference and in 2014, began working in the role that she has successfully carried out to this day.

Rev. Alzira and her husband currently reside in Chimoio, the capital city of Manica Province in the North of Mozambique. Their four children, ages 28, 24, 21 and 17, currently live at home. One can only imagine how boisterous that home must be.

United Methodist Women Projects

As executive secretary for the Mozambique North Annual Conference, Reverend Alzira Sebastião Isaac connects with local and international United Methodist Women. Rev. Alzira also manages a fish farm and a sewing project geared toward empowering girls and women on behalf of the United Methodist Women of Mozambique North.

With support from United Methodist Women internationally, the projects have economically empowered girls. By simply equipping girls with sewing skills, she says, they are spared from early childhood marriage, giving them an education and hope for a brighter future.

“Since joining team Mozambique, I have learned a lot of things, such as how to work as a team member and to value the life of a woman. I have noticed that United Methodist Women projects are geared towards giving women wings to fly. Women are empowered, not to feel as low as some community members thinks we are. Our desire is for more training because, through these, women become equipped with the knowledge to deal with their challenges and look for joint solutions in community instead of seeking solutions in isolation.”

Angelina Mbulo is the Mozambique Pilot Country Team Local Journalist.

Posted or updated: 12/1/2021 12:00:00 AM