A long time before mega-churches and miracle weight loss on live TV, there were pastors and evangelists and teachers and prophets and apostles at work in Zimbabwe. People that did grunt work to spread the message of God in times of hardship and joy, always expecting no reward yet knowing that they were building a far better treasure for themselves.
Long after the pastors who spray insect killer on their congregants are known to either be true or false, the houses that Ezekiel Guti, Durajadi Simba, Andrew Wutawunashe (and others) built will remain sanctuaries where the Word of God in preached and people worship in spirit and in truth.
In fact, it is one of the most enduring truism about our country that no matter how hard things get, we will never despair, and never descend to the depths of depravity that we witness in other failed states (we are a failed state) because when everything is said and done, we are largely a God-fearing people.
Devout people like Strive Masiyiwa and Nigel Chanakira and Durajadi Simba navigate the world of business with a compass set firmly on a higher power, and their lives inspire those who get to know them. You needed to be convinced that Durajadi Simba was a high flying banker when you listened to his sermons at Glad Tidings in Mufakose (l have been away from home way too long! How can l sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?) and heard him preach the word over a two hour stretch that felt like 30 minutes.
In fact, it is partly because of the work done by ZAOGA-FIF, AFM, Family of God, Glad Tidings, Awake Grace Ministries and others that some people are taking advantage of the fertile ground they cultivated and starting money spinning ‘churches’, but that is a discussion for a different forum. After all, who is to say that they are false, the bible teaches that the falsity of a prophet will be seen when what they prophesy does not come to pass. So we shall see.
Yet, endowed with the embarrasment of riches that is our pastors and evangelists and teachers and apostles and prophets; with captains of business that fear the Lord, we have not had political leaders of the same hue. I do not know why, but will share an anecdote.
It was not strange for people at the Christian Union at UZ to approach SRC leaders and point out that demos (and all politics anyway) were against the Lord’s commandments. If you attended a service you would be accosted and be told just how much help you needed. Politics was not the province for true Christians, it was argued.
This is made worse in our country by the fact of Robert Mugabe. The idea of a Christian being a politician is not as strange as that of a Christian being a revolutionary. If our politics involved a fair and reasoned exchange of ideas, with mature and civil discussions around how to make our society more just, fairer and equal, Christians would thrive in such a world.
However, Robert Mugabe and his system of government, with the unyeilding hold on State power and denial of the basic tenets of democracy, means that Christians are caught between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, how can a true Christian participate on his side, given the allegations of abuse, including murder, against his government? Does the bible not say that the Lord despises those “who oppress the poor, who crush the needy” (Amos 4:1), and those “who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth!” (Amos 5:7)?
How then can a true Christian stand with Robert Mugabe? How does one honour God and ignore the injustice that his government does?
On the other hand, and perhaps as a concequence of long missionary school teaching, we have always been told to obey our rulers and pray for them. The standard prayer in many a Lutheran, Anglican, Dutch Reformed (etc) hymn book contained such lines. The idea that one could become a revolutionary, speaking truth to power and challenging ‘elected’ rulers seems to be one that was bred out of our psyche by this indoctrination.
This is why the graduation of munin’ina wangu Nelson Chamisa as a pastor carries specific significance. As a young man with a background in student politics and a stellar career in the opposition, he is admired by many and is no doubt a role model for many young people. The idea that one might serve God and still be able to stand against earthly rulers is one that needs currency.
Many Christians choose not to vote, or particupate in demos and rallies, reasoning that they have more important pursuits. The idea that one of the leaders of such rallies and demos is a man of God ought to go a very long way in reminding those people that the Lord expects, nay demands that Christians must be a force for good on earth:
“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord , the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord , the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”(Amos 5:14-15) and “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
One person cannot win a revolution, but he certainly can inspire one. Given a choice, l would follow a revolutionary whose most important literature tells him that “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24)
As a Christian nation, and as prayerful people, we need to pray for more servant leaders. While supporting the ones we already have. The fact that Chamisa is now a pastor is a cause for celebration. And much rejoicing. The hope is that it inspires more Christian leaders to take positions of leadership and serve the people with the humility that comes from serving a higher power.