Conflict and Strife
With the recent turmoil in Zimbabwe, the thought of increased police presence was always in the forefront of our minds. The news did not have many positive comments when it came to reporting on the protests that were taking place in the capital city. One reporter wrote that live ammunition was being used on the crowds of protesters. The mass demonstrations were in response to the empty lies that the government had repeatedly told the populace, but had never followed through, or at least never fully came through on. This was the situation when we went into Zimbabwe.
Having visited this country earlier in the year, and having counted 78 police stops on that Mission, I was rather surprised to count only about 19 this time around. The many road tolls that we went through did not give any problems, the people who were manning the different stations perked up when we handed them a Gospel tract to read. For much of these people’s lives, they either had things taken from them, or had to take items from people, but to receive something as a gift, was something new to them.
During an outreach we put together in one of the cities that we were doing ministry in, people eagerly took the different tracts that we were handing out, some would even stop and have a conversation with us. The most common question that we were asked was “what church are you from?” This question was probably asked with the intent of the individual wanting to go to the church we were representing. This kind of an attitude comes about when prosperity preachers come to town and promise “big” hopes. Our answer to this question was that we were not representing a local church, but seeking to promote the Church of Christ throughout the nation. This response normally earned a look of bewilderment.
During our Jesus film outreach the weather looked threatening and the clouds began to sprinkle. This gave us some concern for our equipment getting wet. During the setup we kept all the sensitive devices under a piece of plastic. With the prospect of rain and the rural setting of the location, we began to doubt whether this was a waste of time. The handful of people that were already gathering and the folks that had come to help us with the film, were a reminder to us that we should be willing to share the Gospel, in whatever form, to however many people show up. The rain only proved to be a passing shower and by the time the equipment was set up, the cloud had passed, providing a pleasant evening for the movie. Through showing this film we can share the Gospel account of Luke in the local language. At the very end one of us will stand up and give a Gospel challenge. When this time came about 50 people had gathered.
A New Drug - An Old Lie
Pornography and sexual immorality has been around since man first sinned and was kicked out of the Garden. In recent years, pornography has been investigated and has proven to be as harmful to your brain as actual drugs, cocaine, heroin, etc. The idea behind pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality and other perverted acts is the erosion, or destruction, of the Biblical family. This is an old tactic, which has regularly been used against Christianity because faithful followers of the Bible seek to conform to the standard of God’s Word. Even though the selling of pornographic material is prohibited in Zimbabwe, most of the people that we talked to had a cell phone, or even a smart phone, which could easily access porn through the internet.
The very first night we dealt with this problem, which is the number one contributor to the propagation of the HIV/AIDs throughout Southern Africa. Right after the Fight the New Drug presentation, I stood up and spoke on Genesis 19, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, explaining that if we do not run away from our sin and become children of God, the only way left is down into the pit of Hell. I pressed home the idea that “soft” pornography will lead to even more perverted acts, until you are in the same situation as the men of Gomorrah.
Suffering and Sickness
I once heard the comment that Christian people want a “spare tyre god.” A god that they can turn to when they are in trouble. On the mission field you better not have this attitude. The Missions that I have been privileged to be a part of, have always been surrounded by prayer. During the first week of ministry our team leader, started to experience some severe headaches. We thought it was dehydration, due to the high temperatures. We could give him some medication that would relieve some of the pain, but that only proved to be temporary. Half way through the first week, another member of the team had food poisoning, leaving him bed bound for the next few days. It is never pleasant to either get sick, or to be sick, let alone being sick in a foreign country, in someone else’s home. But to see the stalwart character that these men had in the face of debilitating sickness, spoke volumes. Our leader continued to be plagued by these headaches for the rest of our Mission, but toward the end something much more severe developed. When we arrived back in South Africa, we were told that he had developed a sinusitis infection.
“Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10
Teach it to Your Children
For any idea to have a long-lasting effect on society a proper and adequate education must take place. Pastors and teachers only have the students and their members for a very limited time, leaving most the teaching to the parents, or even grandparents. A consistent theme throughout our ministry in Zimbabwe was the need for fathers, mothers, family members, friends and pastors, to make a point and not only teach, by using a curriculum, but to also teach through consistent and God-honouring lives. It was a great encouragement to see quite a few of the youth come to several of the evening lectures.
Old and Trustworthy
“In the beginning….” These are the first words that anyone will find if they open their Bibles and read from the first chapter. One of the primary goals of this Mission was to speak at several Bible Colleges. There were a couple of presentations that we wanted to drive home, and they were: Expositional Preaching and An Introduction to the Old Testament. I was privileged to speak on the Old Testament, and how we should look at it in a Christo-centric way. With the Old Testament taking up to two thirds of the Bible, it is rather surprising that very few Christians make a habit to read through this portion of Scripture on a regular basis. A house only stands when the foundation is dug deep and properly built. The foundation to the Christian walk is the Old Testament, so it was a great honour for me to speak on the importance of Genesis to Malachi. My total time that I had to present this topic was about eleven and a-half hours. So basically, I only had an introduction to the Introduction of the Old Testament! There were a few younger men who commented after a session that they hadn’t thought of Christ being in the Old Testament.
Reforming the Mind for Reformation
In order for Reformation to begin, we need to get back to the Word of God. Reading through the Bible should be as habitual as getting out of bed, or making food to eat. The most prominent theme throughout this Zimbabwe Mission was to be re-shaping our minds after the will of God, to do that, we need to know His will and the only way to know what God would have us do, is to read from Genesis to Revelation. Reformation begins in the heart and in order to begin reforming our hearts, the mind must be renewed.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2
Prayer and Praise
With over 3,200 miles of driving, I am amazed and am thankful for how God kept the vehicle in good working condition. Not even one tyre puncture! When we drove through the rural area our “road” would go right through a dry river bed with large rocks sticking up in every direction, which made a possibility for the rim to snag and wreck our tyre. My constant prayer was, “Lord, please protect the tyres and rims.” When I crossed the borders earlier this year, there were a couple of times when I wondered if we would even make it. This time, however, was a different story. The three borders that we crossed didn’t take more than 1.5 hours. One specific crossing, which is notorious for how much time it could take to get through, ended up only taking about 45 minutes!
Please keep Zimbabwe in your prayers. It is a country that is in desperate need of Revival. Pray for the truth of the Bible to be taught in the seminaries, so that the new generation of pastors and leaders would not see preaching as a method of earning money, but would understand it as a Holy calling, given to them by God. Pray for the members of the different churches in Zimbabwe, that they would not see the pastor as someone who can manipulate God for their material prosperity. Finally, keep praying for the missionaries that are pouring their lives and energies into Zimbabwe, that they would not grow tired and give up.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
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Cape Town South Africa