Salt And Light In Zimbabwe
I [Dale Barlow] have recently returned from ten days in Zimbabwe, first visiting River of Life Church in Harare and then attending Disciple Nations’ yearly get-together called MegaVision in Bulawayo.
Over the last ten years, I’ve been to Zimbabwe when there has been food but no money to pay for it; when there has been money but no food to buy with it; but currently there is money and food, but most of it is in the storeroom and not on the shelves.
The government has printed Zimbabwe dollars and declared them to be worth the same as the US dollar, which of course they aren’t. This has brought real uncertainty where we’re seeing shops, businesses and petrol stations ‘protecting’ their stock by not selling it as they don’t know how much to price it at to cover their costs let alone make a profit.
When we were in Harare there was no diesel available for four days and when there was it took our host six hours of queuing to fill his tank.
It seems to me that for the average Zimbabwean the effect of this is threefold:
Frustration, as so much time is spent securing basic things like food and petrol
Fear, that a return to the very worst of days under hyper-inflation of ‘no food, no power and queues for everything’ might be just around the corner
Financial pressure – because the cost of basic essential things like food is doubling and trebling with no end in sight
It seems to me that the situation in Zimbabwe is as bleak as it has ever been in all the years that I have been going there. However, against this backdrop of real and severe difficulties, there is one beacon of light still shining in the darkness – the church.
River of Life Church, Westgate is still preaching the Word of God faithfully, still caring for and discipling Christians, still running a school for 80 local children who otherwise would have no access to any education, still visiting and supporting and training a number of churches in some of the most rural areas of Zimbabwe, still running small agricultural business, which enable local people to earn a living for themselves. In short they are still being salt and light in a nation where the salt has lost its saltiness and the lights are about to be turned off!
MegaVision was another example of the church of Jesus Christ in action. We were joined by believers from other African nations including Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
We visited Ebenezer College which is based on a farm and trains over one hundred 18 to 23 year olds in the necessary business and farming skills needed to run or work in that field.
We heard how numerous churches are reaching out and serving their local communities and together are planting churches across the nation. We heard stories of faith, stories of God’s goodness, stories that broke our heart and stories that made us scratch our head. But with every story there was a heart behind it that expressed a desire to serve the nation and to see it turn to Jesus.
On more than one occasion the story of Joseph was mentioned, because despite the difficulties and setbacks, he sought to serve and pray for Pharaoh until God raised him up to a position of influence from which he could bless God’s people specifically and the nation generally.
The church in Zimbabwe is clearly salt and light in a dark nation and my prayer is that they will be a ‘Joseph people’, who stay faithful, endure tremendous difficulties, but that they will be raised up by God to lead the nation of Zimbabwe back to fruitfulness and more importantly back to Him.
Source: New Ground