In November last year, the world gasped as the military in Zimbabwe took charge, and veteran President Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in the role.
Langham Preaching has a large presence in Zimbabwe, with training events taking place throughout the year. Pastors Gary Cross and John Bell, both born and bred in Zimbabwe, are Langham Preaching trainers.
In December they gave an interview with UCB radio, a UK-based Christian radio station. They explained candidly their thoughts on what led to the downfall of Mugabe:
- The economic situation in the country – Zimbabwe’s currency was rendered nearly worthless by 2008.
- A breakdown of fear in the nation. People were arrested, but released, thus gaining more boldness to oppose the authorities. Church members spoke out more and more.
- The rise of Grace Mugabe: Robert Mugabe’s wife was set to succeed him to power. She had become known for lavish extravagance, and had alarming levels of political influence. Grace Mugabe became an enemy of the people and created divisions within the ruling party.
In the interview, John Bell said that the Church had been “extremely worried” about the rise of Grace Mugabe, but said: “The Lord turned what we saw as being a possibility of great evil into actually something that worked for good. It’s fair to say that without her involvement, Mr Mugabe would still be in power.”
What do you see as some of the biggest struggles for the Church in the future?
Gary Cross: “One of the biggest things that we’re looking at as the Church in Zimbabwe into 2018 is the issue of reconciliation.”
“Peace and reconciliation is really needed. We have so much pain and hurt in our past.”
John Bell: “We have also become a lawless people. Every man does what is right in his own eyes, and I think we need to establish the place of law. The Bible says that righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. It’s going to take a long time for our nation to re-establish its ethical conscience, its lawfulness, that’s a place where the Church needs to play a role.”
Gary Cross: “The third one that we’re really concerned about as the Church is the idea of corruption. Corruption is endemic here from the top to the bottom, everyone’s involved in it, and corruption is absolutely destroying the nation. 80 per cent of Zimbabweans say that they attend Church on a Sunday, and yet we’re one of the most corrupt nations on the continent. So we are challenging our people to live honest lives.”
What can we pray for the Church in 2018?
Gary Cross: “One of the challenges we face as the Church in Zimbabwe is to gain a voice in the nation. We’ve had 37 years where the Church has been marginalised, it has been looked at as an enemy of the state, and then ignored for many years. Now we’re trying to engage with the political part of our country, we’re trying to recover our reputation as God’s voice in the nation. Pray for the Church, that we are actually united as a church and we have a voice into our politics.”
How can we pray for Langham Preaching in Zimbabwe?
John Bell has provided some specific prayer requests about Langham Preaching’s work in Zimbabwe.
- Training material: “We are rewriting some of our training material to fit more consistently with the wider Langham body and it will be an adjustment for our trainers. We are also thinking of ways to maintain the standard of the initial Langham Preaching training, but make it a little easier and more appropriate to a larger number of people.”
- Leadership: “We are wanting to properly structure the national Langham leadership to meet the demands of growth in the years to come. We ‘older’ leaders need to balance responsible oversight with leadership development, there are some outstanding younger men. We are also concerned about a spirit if weariness which so easily creeps in and want to maintain personally and share with others, a steady enthusiasm for the work.
- New possibilities: “We are exploring possibilities of starting training in at least two other city venues and need both wisdom and resources.”
- The Bulawayo work: “Please pray for Langham Preaching’s work in Bulawayo, (a city in the southwest of the country). Pray particularly for John Stamboli and Kennon Mazonde as they balance opportunities with energies and time.”
For more information on Zimbabwe:
By Victoria Marsay, Digital Content Producer, Langham Partnership UK and Ireland.