Rolland and Heidi began Iris Ministries in 1980, and have been missionaries for thirty years. They were both ordained as ministers in 1985 after completing a BA and MA degrees at Vanguard University in southern California. Rolland majored in Biblical Studies, and Heidi in Church Leadership. Rolland is a third-generation missionary born in China, and raised in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. He was greatly influenced by his grandfather, H. A. Baker, who wrote "Visions Beyond the Veil," an account of the extended visions of heaven and hell that children received in his remote orphanage in southwest China two generations ago.
Heidi was powerfully called to the mission field at age sixteen when she was living on an Indian reservation in Mississippi as an American Field Service student. Several months after she was led to Jesus by a Navajo evangelist, she was taken up in a vision for several hours and heard Jesus speak audibly to her and tell her to be a minister and a missionary to Asia, England and Africa. When she returned home to Laguna Beach, California, she began ministering at every opportunity and leading short-term missions teams.
Rolland and Heidi began by working with the poor in the slums of central Jakarta, Indonesia, and then among the forgotten street-sleepers and elderly in the most crowded urban area in the world, central Kowloon in Hong Kong. Jackie Pullinger's work among drug addicts in the Walled City was a major influence in their lives.
In 1992 they left Asia to do PhDs in systematic theology at King's College, University of London. But they couldn't stop ministering to the poor, and so at the same time they planted a warm and thriving church community for the homeless of downtown London, joined by a kaleidescope of students, lawyers, businesspeople and friends from many countries. They learned the composite beauty of the Body of Christ!
For years they longed to get to Africa in fulfillment of our calling to prove the Gospel in the most challenging situation they could find. They wanted to see a continuation of "Visions Beyond the Veil," and believed like Rolland’s grandfather that the most likely place to see such revival again was among the most unlikely! So they were drawn to Mozambique, officially listed at the time as the poorest country in the world.
A few days into Rolland’s initial visit to Maputo, Mozambique's capital; he was offered an orphanage that no one could or would support, not even large churches in South Africa or European donor nations. It was horribly neglected and dilapidated, with eighty miserable, demon-afflicted orphans in rags. He thought it was a perfect test of the Sermon on the Mount.Today they now have networks of churches and church-based orphan care in all ten provinces in Mozambique in addition to our bases in main cities. In recent years Heidi and Rolland have concentrated on the Makua, a people group of four million in the north who were listed by missiologists as "unreached and unreachable." With tremendous help from missionaries and nationals, around two thousand churches have been planted among these people in the last eight years.