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'His heart, His hands, His feet'

"'His heart, His hands, His feet'" Continued...

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

On a more objective note, let me briefly describe the situation in our country. If demoralized is right to describe the people, then I suppose collapsed is the word to describe the society. To all intents and purposes, the Zimbabwe dollar economy has collapsed, the informal market has been running for months on a US$ and South African Rand basis, and recently the governing powers, never ones for keeping up with reality and acting proactively, have capitulated and allowed trade in dual currencies.

On one level, this has helped businesses, who can stabilize somewhat, and customers who have access to hard currency. On another level, it has simply added to the burdens of those who cannot either trade in hard currency or access hard currency. The vicious cycle of inflation has changed color now-it is green-we are now experiencing US$ inflation. Though doctors and hospitals now can legally charge in hard currency, the prices being charged are well beyond the reach of the average person. Already we are seeing an acceleration in the already rapid disparity between the rich and the poor. Added to this is the almost unbelievable estimate of unemployment in the mid 90%s!

As the economy has collapsed, so have other sectors of the society. Government schools have ground to a halt, teachers are refusing to come to work, headmasters are trying to charge in hard currency to entice teachers back, while the Ministry of Education drags its heels on urgent changes needed in policies. School parent organizations charge informal levies on parents in hard currency, but have to do so at a rate that the vast majority cannot afford; anything less would be too little for the school to operate. The National University has been closed. University students recently rioted when told they would need to provide USD400 within a week if they wanted to write their exams, students whose average family income for a month is probably well below USD40.

The medical sector is in disarray, hospitals and clinics with closed doors, doctors not to be found for even the most urgent of needs, nurses on strike. And of course, cholera. Cholera is an embarrassment to a government, for it points to poor sanitation and the lack of providing even the most basic of services in a city. But what is an embarrassment to a government is a death sentence to thousands. And were it not for aid agencies and churches, so many more would die.

Roads have collapsed, literally, pot holes opening up in even our busiest streets and not being repaired. The electricity system is collapsing, as is the water system and sanitation, refuse collection is a thing of the past, though still an item on a monthly bill from the city council. The telecommunications system likewise is in growing disrepair. One wonders how any individuals within a government that has presided over such a wanton destruction of a nation and such a vicious impoverishment of a people can stand in the morning and even look at his or her face in a mirror without shame.

The result is a growing national need, a growing mass of people in need, and a growing challenge to our fledgling Government of National Unity. But also, greater opportunity for the people of God to be His Heart, His hands, His feet and make a difference. And by His Spirit and through the heart of His Son, people of God are rising up to meet needs-providing food for thousands each month, coordinating food distribution to sister churches, helping with fertilizer to rural communities, providing, through a volunteer, 80 year old doctor, free medical service to poor people once a week, using medicines donated from friends outside, assisting people with payment of school fees, and hospital bills, cleaning our local streets and seeking in a variety of ways to be salt and light as our Lord desires.

A pastor in Zimbabwe
A pastor in Zimbabwe

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