“Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8
Fruit of Failure
“Those countries that enjoy the most civil liberty are those societies where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most. The worst violence and oppressionin the world today is raging where Biblical principles have been rejected or neglected.” (Tom Barlow, South Africa: Renaissance or Reformation)
When we study Zimbabwe and its history, since its “liberation” in the 80’s and its decline from then till now, we are struck by the oppression and the country’s deterioration from being the “bread basket of Africa” to being dependent on international aide.
It is clear that most Zimbabweans’ hope is not in God but in a man, whether it is the current president or a new “liberator” who will bring them prosperity. We need to ask, “How deep have the roots of Christianity penetrated? Have Zimbabwean Christians been informed by the Word of God? Do they truly possess Biblical insight? Are they merely slaves of popular political ideologies?”
Currency in Short Supply
From our recent mission to Zimbabwe we sensed that the country was more desperate for money than ever before. With 90% of Zimbabweans unemployed, the regime is so short of money that it cannot even pay teachers and civil servants.
The Zimbabwean authorities are planning to bring back the Zimbabwe Dollar, in the form of “bond notes”, on an equal value with the US Dollar, in fact “bond coins”, claimed to be equal in value to US Dollar, are already in use. At present public resistance against bond notes still prevents such a treacherous move.
According to statistics, 4 million citizens live outside Zimbabwe’s borders, but in reality, many more try to survive as illegal immigrants elsewhere.
Dependable Electricity Supply
When I was surprised to find that the supply of electricity was very consistent, a pastor politely reminded me that most of their industries - the biggest electricity consumers, have totally shut down. This kind of collapse had been predicted in 2014 when the “Indigenisation Act” was introduced. This act was supposed to empower a selected group of ZANU-PF members as it forced all businesses to hand over at least 51% of its shares to a Zimbabwean partner. Obviously this act negatively influenced many businesses and potential investors and it would seem that the only object “empowered” by this act are the thousands of television sets in the homes of the unemployed…
Zimbabwe now depends on South Africa for 70% of their imported goods. Farm confiscations and total incompetency on the side of those now controlling farms have destroyed the “bread basket of Africa” to the point where it cannot supply its own basic needs. The surprising fact is that Zimbabwe still has the potential to provide for its own needs in the midst of chaos, confiscations and corruption:
Before Zimbabwe’s productive farming community was destroyed by farm confiscations, its commercial farmers developed 80 percent of Africa’s irrigation dams backed by the stability of their property rights. A total of 10,747 dams and reservoirs covering an area of 3,910 km² enabled Zimbabwean agriculture to become the most important economic sector, despite the country being prone to intermittent drought conditions. Today most of these dams still exist and hold sufficient levels to irrigate vast tracts of land. On 26 August 2016, the status of some of these dams were:
In Mashonaland East:
· Mazvikadei Dam - 85,5% full,
· Manyame Dam - 80,9%
· Biri Dam - 87,5%
In Mashonaland West:
· Nyambuya Dam - 90,5%,
· Kushinga Phikelela Dam - 45%,
· Rufaro Dam – 81%,
· Wenimbi Dam - 90,2%
In the Midlands:
· Mundi Mataga Dam - 89,2%
· Matezva Dam – 59%,
The Herald of 2 September 2016 said: “These are some of the dams whose levels are sufficient to sustain fully fledged irrigation activity”. However, Mugabe and his government once again blamed the country’s dismal agricultural performance on the drought. But socialism is all about manipulating people and not serving them. A starving nation can be manipulated by food-aid.
A Chinese farming company has recently taken over at least five confiscated tobacco farms in Mashonaland, a region North-West of Harare. Apart from paying enormous rental for the farms to the “political” men who now control the farms, they also spent millions of Pounds to create a new infrastructure with internationally manufactured equipment. Zimbabwe cannot guarantee any degree of protection to the agreement, other than Mugabe’s political ties with China. Mugabe would easily adopt the Chinese Yuan as legal tender in Zimbabwe. The Telegraph of 10 September 2016 said that the five Chinese-run farms aim to produce1,500 acres of tobacco this year despite their limited experience. While millions of Zimbabweans face starvation, the politicians controlling confiscated farms like these seem to be interested only in filling their own pockets (no one will even think of depositing real money into a Zimbabwean bank account).
This farming arrangement will not necessarily aid Zimbabwe’s economy. In Zambia there are similar arrangements and the Chinese farming companies do not buy anything from the local businesses. They rather import all their building materials, vehicles, supplies and food in huge containers. Then they sell their fresh produce to the local market and so benefit only themselves and those from whom they rent.
The Chinese grown tobacco in Zimbabwe will obviously be exported to markets which will guarantee business. This kind of farming agreement strongly disproves the claim that Zimbabwe’s “fast track land reform programme” is a success and confirms the fact that a devastating new colonization is taking place.
The immediate need in Zimbabwe is that farmers would produce vegetables, maize and meat - produce which will benefit the country. They obviously do not need more tobacco!
That which people embrace as their ultimate authority will influence a country’s direction. Who decides what is right and wrong, the Bible or “politicians”? My observation is that Biblical principles have been accepted and embraced only as far as the society accepts and embraces them. However, when public opinion does not embrace a certain standard, it is quickly rejected or neglected. Unfortunately, the worldview of most people in Southern Africa has been influenced more by the state controlled media and socialist propaganda than the Bible.
In 2017, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses nailed to the Castle church door in 1517. This act birthed the Reformation, meant to expose and stop un-Biblical and pagan practices in the Roman Catholic church.
The Reformation was a reaction to the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a rebirth of paganism and humanism. The Renaissance ushered in a time during history, when human life was cheap, when people were concerned more with human approval of their behaviour than God’s approval, they preferred tyranny and were drawn to humanism.
Many Africans would fit the description above. The focus is on ‘self’: self-enrichment, self-glorification, self-love. While we would expect that such an attitude should yield a free, decentralised society with a great emphasis on self- government, it is surprising to note how the politics of self-worship actually gravitates towards dictatorships. Whenever this individual’s comfort is threatened in any way, he will quickly defer to a ruler that offers “protection”, or provision at someone else’s expense. The Bible condemns self-love or self-glorification and it commands submission to and love of God, love for neighbours and also responsibility to practice self-government, family-government and church-government.
Zimbabwe consists of only a few large metropolitan towns with mostly rural townships. This does not mean however, that humanism hasn’t found its way into the core of people’s beings. This is highlighted by the number of television satellite dishes seen on the roofs of homes in destitute villages.
A few years ago, we witnessed a comical, yet sad incident in a rural area where we were showing the Jesus film (powered by our generator). Load-shedding power failures was a daily reality and that meant the township was without electricity. After about three quarters of the film, the electricity came on and immediately there was a great shout of jubilation and we lost half of our audience as people rushed home to watch their favourite TV shows; TV shows designed to fuel the worship of man and never mentions God – except maybe to blaspheme His Name.
The Reformation was a Scholarly Undertaking
The Reformation was led by University professors teaching people how to implement Biblical principles in every area of their lives. It was a time of thinking and coming back to Bible-based learning as opposed to empty, time-wasting philosophical speculation.
During our mission to Zimbabwe, we had the opportunity to minister to pastors, who are also studying at a seminary and a Bible Institute. We lectured on Expository Preaching, Introduction to the Old Testament and African Traditional Religions. It was a valuable time of not only conveying information, but also exchanging ideas and giving encouragement to these community leaders. Unfortunately, many people think that if you want to hear from the Spirit, you must “switch off your brain!” or “stop thinking!” The Bible teaches the exact opposite – we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). We should never switch off our minds. No, our mind must be renewed (Romans 12:2).
Sometimes the Reformation is portrayed as an unpopular movement which caused destruction and division in the church, but history proves quite the opposite; the Reformation was widely supported by many true Christian princes and citizens who were hungry for the truth and life found in the Bible alone. When people read the Bible for themselves they are converted and transformed.
The Reformation united many Christians who were disillusioned with the Roman Catholic system and who were ready for the truth of the Bible. The Reformation’s greatest success was seen in the countries where people resolutely resisted the corrupt church of Rome which enslaved and deceived its adherents.
In spite of great poverty and a struggle for physical survival in Zimbabwe, many people are still enslaved to the “prophecy, healing and deliverance” movement that is sweeping across the country. People are willing to give their last dollar to purchase salvation, healing, deliverance and prosperity. This is not freedom, it is bondage.
Reformation never brings degradation, it brings unity. However, false doctrine divides and destroys!
The truth is that Zimbabwe does not need a new political leader to bring freedom from oppression, bondage and poverty; they need to seek God, repent of their sin and acknowledge Him as their Lord. They need to apply Biblical Principles to their personal lives, their families, churches and societies.
“…Teaching them to Obey…”
Statistically Zimbabwe’s population is 78% Christian. However, some pastors informed us that many “church members” would in fact observe syncretistic religion. They will visit a witchdoctor when calamity strikes in one form or another. They will pay a witch doctor to “protect” their property, to guarantee their prosperity, work their healing and give guidance.
In a more civilised setting, people will “consult” an apostle, prophet or pastor (who now takes the role of the witchdoctor) to provide healing, protection, prosperity and guidance. For this reason, these people will not think it strange to take large sums of money with them to rallies hosted by visiting prosperity preachers (“If you want a big miracle, plant a big seed”).
In our African Traditional Religions classes, I compared the god of traditional religions with the God of the Bible. One of the participants thanked me for this comparison and told me that it is generally taught that missionaries like Robert Moffatt did not introduce God to Africa, but that the people already knew Him. The pastor was grateful for the revelation that traditional religions have a concept of a god, but do not know or worship the true God of the Bible.
During our lectures, it was very meaningful for our team to present and study the Bible. The Introduction to the Old Testament lectures showed how the Old Testament introduces the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was approached from a Christological perspective: examining the pictures and types of Jesus Christ and proving that Christ is revealed in every Book of the Old Testament.
During our lectures on Expository Preaching, we challenged the pastors to commit to teach and preach from the Biblical text. Every Bible passage should be read in context, it has a message, structure and application that should be studied and used for the sermon.
During question and answer times, we demonstrated how the Bible is our standard and our final authority. Sola Scriptura is one of the battle cries of the Reformation.
Our team was uniquely suited to do different kinds of ministry. We ministered to youth, families, pensioners, and ministries. Families are the basic building block of society, not the “community”, therefore we addressed the youth, the parents and we visited some of the elderly at their homes, blessing them with Boxes with Love.
While some countries call for the murder of old people (the “burden on society”), through euthanasia, Christians still take responsibility for and care for their fathers, mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers.
Hope for Zimbabwe
God rules over the governing of countries. Zimbabwe does not need a new deliverer, or dictator, it needs wise and Godly leadership which will seek wisdom and understanding from God. Let us pray that the people of Zimbabwe will become in practice what they declare: Christians and children of the Almighty God.
“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:20-21
“Oh how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep Your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Your Word. I do not turn aside from Your rules, for You have taught me.” Psalm 119:97-102
Rev. David Frew
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Africa Reformation Overland Mission
Biblical Preaching Handbook
Old Testament Survey
Mugabe Tsunami in Zimbabwe
The National Suicide of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe - A Lesson on How to Destroy Christian Civilisation
95 Theses for Reformation Today