How Should the Church Respond to Zimbabwe?
“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them - those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3
Many Zimbabweans in that long suffering country have watched their homes and churches bulldozed and burned by Mugabe’s army and police.
People are dying of starvation in a man-made famine. Vast herds of cattle and wildlife have been slaughtered. Crops and stores burned. Many people beaten or murdered. 5000 productive farms have been looted by government organised mobs.
Not only did these farms feed the entire nation, but they also exported food, providing the highest percentage of foreign exchange earnings. These commercial farms were also the largest employers of labour in the country and provided homes for up to four million farm workers and their dependents.
The Black Hitler
Yet, President Robert Mugabe, needing a scapegoat for his failed socialism, played the race card and declared: “Farmers are enemies of the state! ... The revolution is yet to be concluded ...Those farmers who resist will die!” Mugabe declared: “We have degrees in violence!” and “I will be a Black Hitler - tenfold!”
While the country was spiralled downwards into lawlessness and savagery, Marxist President, Robert Mugabe, was being applauded as a keynote speaker at the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. At the same time his supporters were slaughtering endangered wildlife and destroying huge forests and game reserves in Zimbabwe. The brazen hypocrisy, of those who claim to oppose racism, enthusiastically applauding one of the most vicious racists on the continent of Africa defies belief.
“Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will make a stand for Me against the workers of iniquity?” Psalm 94:16
The human rights abuses and persecution of Christians by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime in Zimbabwe are well documented. However, the media coverage has been surprisingly subdued. Public outrage in neighbouring countries has often been absent and concern has been erratic and inadequate. Christians in Zimbabwe are shocked that so many of their African brothers seem unconcerned about their afflictions.
What Zimbabwe was
Initially optimism was high for Zimbabwe. The war had come to an end and a peaceful settlement had been enforced by Britain. Foreign aid, especially from Britain, America and the European Union flooded the country. Zimbabwe at Independence had so much going for it. It had one of the most productive and efficient agricultural economies in Africa. There was tremendous tourist potential with magnificent scenery, well stocked game reserves, spectacular tourist attractions, such as the Victoria Falls, tremendous natural resources, gold, platinum and other precious ores, a modern banking sector, skilled manufacturers, and an efficient road and railway network. The Zimbabwean people were also amongst the best-educated people in Africa. Today, 27 years later, that once prosperous nation has been impoverished.
A helping hand
Some churches, which have taken in homeless and destitute people, have experienced police raids in the middle of the night. Zimbabwean police have attacked women gathered for all-night prayer meetings and severely assaulted them, 38 were so severely injured that they had to be hospitalised. The focus of this womens’ prayer meeting was to pray for peace. Pastors have been arrested for “subversive prayers.” Many Christians have been arrested, tortured and murdered.
Collen Makumbirofa of the Foundation for Reason and Justice, reports: “the Zimbabwean Communist government is waring against God and His people. The Zimbabwean government is a criminal enterprise that is guilty of corruption, mismanagement, misguided policies, oppressive laws, murder, lies and institutionalised theft…the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed completely due to state terrorism, the expropriation of White-owned farms and massive corruption…the destruction of means of livelihood and homes, exorbitant import duties and quotas…freedom of movement and assembly has been curtailed…people are beaten and arrested for being seen in company of three. To those who work, more than half of their pay goes to the government through taxes…thousands are rotting in prison…thousands are being robbed of their possessions by the police, soldiers and militia, and have nowhere to appeal to. Thousands are dying every week…hospitals and clinics have no medicine. Millions are starving because their homes and means of livelihood have been destroyed completely…
“Robbing the poor is one of the greatest evils under the Sun…The selfish world is not interested in giving practical help to the sick, prisoners and starving. Even those in the ‘Free World’…are inconsiderate and have closed their ears to the cries in Zimbabwe. Women are being robbed and raped every day, men have been disempowered, children, suffer much pain as their mothers have no food...”
They love Mugabe more than their Christian brothers
Rev. Molefe Tseletse, at a prayer meeting for Zimbabwe in Johannesburg, declared: “It is a lie to say that there is no problem or crisis in Zimbabwe. The Church in South Africa must speak the truth even if there might be divisions among us.”
Collen Makumbirofa reports that more than 2 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa to escape the severe political and religious persecutions in Zimbabwe. He writes: “South African Department of Home Affairs is characterised by unprecedented corruption over asylum seekers and refugees. The Home Affairs officials demand bribes from poor asylum seekers…even the holders of asylum permits are required to pay bribes to the police…Those who fail to pay bribes end up in the notorious Lindela Detention Camp… Most of the people deported to Zimbabwe will be harassed, tortured and beaten by Zimbabwean authorities.
“What also causes much pain to Zimbabweans in South Africa is the carelessness and apathy of most South African churches. They love Mugabe more than their Christian brothers.
“A genocide is taking place in Zimbabwe. The African Union and United Nations are useless. They have ignored many genocides in Africa. Millions face starvation. What about those many slaves in Zimbabwe: do you care about us?
Fastest shrinking economy
“Since Mugabe came to power, Zimbabwe has been transformed from an African paradise with a 4.5% growth rate to the fastest shrinking economy in the world. Many hundreds of opposition members have been murdered by the government …The largest independent newspaper, The Daily News, has been bludgeoned, beaten and bombed into silence, as has the last remaining community radio station. ZANU has set up compulsory Indoctrination Centres for young people, teaching them blind loyalty to the ruling party and its leader and hatred of political opponents, especially Whites…and inducted into assassination techniques…in Matabeleland is the memory of the terrible massacres, purge and rape the Gukurahundi unleashed during the North Korean era by the Fifth Brigade. No one knows the number of the victims…a scorched land, a ghostlike land of silence and destroyed villages, and survivors too traumatised to speak.”
Church of England missionary, Rev. Arthur Lewis, who has served the Zimbabwean people for decades, reports: “Zimbabwe is now in a desperate and chaotic condition, apart from the tyranny and tortures which grows daily. Hunger stalks millions in the country. Commonplace items are unobtainable…garbage is not collected. Inflation rockets. Britain, colonialism and drought are blamed for everything.
Struggling to survive
The environmental devastation will take generations to repair. The farmlands are being wrecked, forestlands burned and the game in the reserves are being snared, shot and eaten. Many of the country’s assets are being sold off to South Africans, the Chinese, Libyans and other foreigners. And the Zimbabwean government’s filthy jails are filled to overflowing…a tortured, starving and unarmed people without friendly neighbours struggles to survive…prayer is strength for those who otherwise have no hope.”
“Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” Psalm 71:4
Food aid for a vote
People in Zimbabwe have been bluntly told that they will not get any food aid unless they vote for the party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plummeted to 34 years for men and 33 years for women – the lowest in the world. 24% of the population has been recorded as being HIV positive. There are already 700,000 AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe.
In a report by the European Community’s Court of Auditors, it was recorded that 89% of aid money from the European Union had been embezzled by Robert Mugabe and his cronies.
The latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index rates Zimbabwe as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, marked by “rampant” and “severe corruption.”
Amnesty International has documented thousands of cases of torture by the Zimbabwean government. Nearly half of the Members of Parliament belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have been assaulted, mostly by the police. Many of the opposition Members of Parliament have been arrested, some imprisoned and several have been murdered. A quarter of the opposition Members of Parliament have survived assassination attempts. Not only have opposition Members of Parliament been assaulted, but even their lawyers. Human Rights groups have documented literally hundreds of thousands of human rights abuses, including severe beatings, abductions, torture and murder, in the last 7 years.
Over 4 million Zimbabweans have fled the country. It is reported that 1.1 million Zimbabweans are now living in the United Kingdom. According to SAPA, 500,000 health professionals, teachers, accountants, scientists and engineers have left Zimbabwe. This massive brain drain of the most qualified Zimbabweans, particularly in the health and education sectors, undermines any possibility of reversing the catastrophic collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The state run media are continually broadcasting racist hate speech. The White population in Zimbabwe has been reduced from 300,000 in 1980 to less than 30,000 today. Many of those left are pensioners, economic prisoners whose pensions and savings have been wiped out by Mugabe’s hyperinflation.
Vast areas of forest and grazing land, billions of Dollars worth of coffee plantations, forestry, nature reserves and farmland have been destroyed by uncontrolled fires.
“How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished.” Jeremiah 12:4
Commentator Cathy Buckle fears “Zimbabwe’s natural resources are being looted and the environment is being completely destroyed… It’s one hundred times worse than reported…many of you have seen the film Hotel Rwanda and what happened there by the world turning its back on the horror. Please do something about it now…!”
Unjust reasons to hate
British Economist Robert Guest writes: “Tribalism, racism and sectarianism…bigotry: treating individuals badly, not because of something they have done, but because they belong to a particular group. People find all sorts of unjust reasons to hate, and unjust governments exploit them all.” Ethnic differences have been “deliberately inflamed by unscrupulous leaders…”
A press statement from The Churches in Bulawayo tells of night time raids on churches and forced removals of old people being cared for: “The churches in Bulawayo have been working hard to alleviate the suffering of the displaced people. The removal of the innocent, poor, weak, voiceless, and vulnerable members of society by riot police is inhuman, brutal and insensitive and in total disregard of human dignity. These people are not criminals, but bona fide citizens of this nation. It seems the crime they have committed is that they are poor…the destruction of their simple structures and meagre property they owned…people died, some are traumatised. The rule of law must be restored. The churches should be allowed to continue with their God-given mandate and mission…”
Government is the problem
All private and church-owned schools have been placed under direct state supervision... Many of the country’s schools have pass rates of only 3 to 8%. Thousands of children can no longer even afford to go to school at all.
Mugabe is now refusing food aid into the country…satan came to lie, kill and destroy. We are in a war with satan and his agencies. These dictators fight God and His people… The major problem of Africa is Socialism, an insane lust for power, unprecedented corruption and gross. We are a very rich continent, but our governments are our problem and the philosophy of Socialism.
The solution for Africa is the spread of true Reformed Christianity. Socialism is un-Biblical and it destroys society.
“Then you will know the truth; and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 Rescue those being led away to death (in Zimbabwe); hold back those staggering towards slaughter. Proverbs 28:10-11”
“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40
The only hope for Zimbabwe is sincere repentance, Biblical reformation and spiritual revival. We tend to get the governments we deserve. An immoral and dishonest people get a wicked and corrupt government. Many in Zimbabwe supported Mugabe even as he was massacring the Matabele and stealing farms from productive White farmers. Only as the economy has collapsed, and their jobs and livelihoods have suffered, have the bulk of Zimbabweans turned against Mugabe. There needs to be an honest admission of the selfishness, greed, covetousness and malice which is at the root of this disaster. Zimbabwe needs to repent before God and rebuild their nation on Biblical Principles.