Following my time in the Harare area a 4 hour drive to Bulawayo took me to the farm of Peter Cunningham, successful ostrich farmer and visionary, who seeks to help empower the poor by ‘out-sourcing’ the husbandry of young ostriches to village people and then buying them back for processing. I was also amazed to hear of some of the ways in which he and his workers have been literally protected by angels from some opposition in recent years. What a mighty God we serve!
On the Sunday I visited Crossroads church in Kezi, a vibrant energetic church meeting in a tent (recently decimated by storms) and ably led by Stephen Manhanga. Over a hundred people attended (some having been unable to do so as they had to stay in their fields to chase the baboons away – not a problem I am familiar with in Brighton!) and were released in energetic worship and prayer. I was greatly encouraged to join them in about 20 minutes of sustained prayer for the nations, particularly Kenya and Ghana on this occasion. They do this weekly – they have mission in their DNA. Well done Stephen! Have a look at this short video.
Here too I was able to visit farms that have been helped by the crisis fund and saw healthy crops of maize, sorgum and sunflowers.
On the Monday I took a training workshop on the liberating role of administration in the church – how gifted administration releases leadership and members into their gifting – and some practical administration skills. It is always a joy to help people who are hungry to learn!
A few days later I was taken to the 8 hectare site of this church plant outside Bulawayo. Typical of the church planting strategy in Zimbabwe they are serving their community by training in Foundations for Farming. I saw the first impressive crop of maize on this recently cleared land, a wonderful example to those who live in the area and who have, until recently, been surviving on handouts from an NGO.
I then visited some of the members in their corrugated iron shacks, an experience etched in my memory. Ovens in the sunshine, fridges at night and sieves in the rain (re-used corrugated iron) these homes are unbelievable inadequate to a western eye. Add to that a 6km walk to collect water, 90+% unemployment and life expectancy of only 32 years across the nation, and it makes our personal problems seem like only momentary light afflictions. Yet in the midst of this I found a grandmother and neighbour sitting on the ground outside their home studying the book of Isaiah with 3 little children and umpteen chickens running around them. These were our sisters in the Lord – what an example they presented!
Zimbabwe is an inspiration. I can only reiterate the words with which I began part 1 of this report. Everybody says ‘what good can come out of Zimbabwe?’ Well, I believe a great deal can and that we shall be the recipients of much blessing from that nation in due course as we learn from the churches’ contribution to the rebuilding of the nation.