By God's grace we returned from our Mission to Zimbabwe.
Our team consisted of my wife and two of my children. Because of my wife's presence, we had many more counselling opportunities. We were asked numerous questions on Home schooling, child raising, family life, marriage, adoption, and more. A vital part in Africa that needs reformation is the institution of the family. Biblical principles for the roles of husbands and wives, marital love, the blessing of children, child discipline, responsibility of teaching children, love between parents and children, servanthood, and family unity need to be established, if we want to see blessed families, Christ-centred congregations and prosperous communities. One rural pastor commented that no one had ever come to minister in their church with their family before, as it is too big a sacrifice. None of our team really thought that we were making any sacrifices and our sons thought it was an exciting adventure. Our family was warmly received by our hosts and every effort was made to make us feel welcome and appreciated.
We ministered in a high density area as well as in three rural villages. It was interesting to compare the life of the squashed-together suburbs with that of rural Zimbabwe.
High Density Areas
In the "high density" area, the risky security is further compromised by the inconsistent electricity supply, the air is polluted by burning domestic waste, and the irregular water supply complicates life. Work is scarce; crime is high and living conditions very expensive in the towns. Health risks also loom over these areas where the water supply is polluted when taps are left open for most of the day when the supply is cut off. As the water system drains, all kinds of germs are sucked into the open taps and can be spread to a large area.
The rural areas, where most of the Zimbabweans come from, normally have a consistent water supply, living seems uncomplicated and safe as all visitors need to report to the chief and village head. The people are also better prepared for the fluctuating economic situations as they are subsistent farmers. I believe that it might be more viable for the poor to survive in a rural area than a "high density" suburb of a town. Although the people are more aware of the drought, with their humble way of life they always seem to have food and water right on their doorstep. They might have little hope for the future and for prosperity, but the hard-working farmers will not starve. They have very fertile ground and many had a decent harvest even amidst a severe drought. Unfortunately, the men go to places away from their villages to seek employment in town, and an income, and their families are left to fend for themselves.
Evangelism and Church Planting
A pastor we visited and ministered with in the high density area has planted two churches in rural villages. While we did door-to-door (or hut-to-hut) Evangelism with him in these rural villages, we had many productive conversations with men and women who eagerly listened to the message about God's character and His Ten Commandments, man's depravity and sin, judgment and the Redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
In the evenings we showed the Jesus film in the villages and I preached to large crowds afterwards. In one village we had some opposition from the patrons of the local bar while we were setting up the equipment. However, at the start of the film, they turned their music off and sat on the veranda of the shop and silently watched the movie. After returning home, I received a message that new faces appeared in both of this pastor's rural churches, due to our Evangelism efforts. We pray that he will do effective discipleship with these people using the teaching and materials he has received from us in the past.
We stayed in a third rural village where I did Evangelistic preaching to the congregants, as well as to many visitors. Over the next few days, we also had a conference with pastors, leaders and congregants from this church, and others from nearby towns and cities on: Salvation, Evangelism, Discipleship, BiblicalWorldview, and the Family. When we showed TheHope film one evening, the local Chief also came, and saw and heard the Gospel proclaimed.
Reforming a Local Church
I was encouraged by the courage and devotion of a local pastor in one of the towns who has a desire to see his church Reformed. His congregation's theme for 2015 is "Back to the Bible." He started this Reformation by cancelling the whole congregation's membership and gave all adherents an opportunity to re-apply for their membership. He desires to see more devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door, he started a purification process of True believers. His idea was not new, or radical, but a return to Biblical standards for all of life. A true believer will have a desire to see the Lordship of Jesus Christ displayed in all areas of life. Please pray that the Lord will honour this pastor's bold stand.
Boxes with Love
We had an opportunity to give Boxes With Love to pensioners. During the past few months, three dear friends passed away who were amongst these. It was a blessing, as always, to spend time with some of the pensioners and we were encouraged by their peaceful dependence on the Lord.
We were shocked to learn that a sly Zimbabwean man is trying to take over the residential property of one of the widows of the above mentioned deceased. The day after her husband was killed in a motor car accident an article appeared in the local newspaper claiming that her house rightfully belonged to him and was apparently bought for cash a few years ago. The case is with her lawyers. She is taking strain as she has to deal with not only the unexpected death of her husband but also the looming takeover threat to her property.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ in all Areas of Life
During our ministry, I emphasised the fact that the Lordship of Jesus Christ determines every area of life. The Bible is the highest authority of a believer and it gives us God's Commandments to reform every area of life. Both of my sons had an opportunity to recite the Ten Commandments at the conference. After speaking to a small group of pastors, one of them made this comment: "We cannot give that which we do not have. Pastors are 'running on empty', we don't have anything to give to our congregation. Our culture has lost the discipline of reading; even reading the Bible… even pastors don't read the Bible…! Pastors merely copy what they see others do. When they shout, we shout…"
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Many Questions after Teaching on the Family
Additional opportunity for questions and answers on family life was given on a Sunday morning before I preached on Christ's Resurrection. Our hosting pastor commented: "You have managed to drive the point home that the father is the pastor of his own family." In reality the family is in disarray, however, we aim to establish a Biblical vision for family and congregational life so that this generation will, by God's grace, pass Biblical living down to many coming generations. May God get the glory from every believer and every family for many, many generations to come.
"...tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a Law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments." Psalm 78:4-7
Wisdom and Discernment
I was encouraged by some of the pastor's knowledge and sober understanding of the Word of Faith movement and the detrimental effects it is having on many believers in Zimbabwe. I urged them to educate themselves and warn their congregants against this false religion.
The Needs of Zimbabwean Pastors
One pastor mentioned how necessary it is for pastors to be:
Challenged on their personal devotion and
Taught sound Biblical teaching.
During our mission to Zimbabwe, this is what we aimed to do. We still have many invitations to minister in different places as the need for reformation is enormous. We are thankful to the Lord who protected us and gave us a time of fruitful ministry and relationship building with the pastors and leaders. May they be true to their calling as shepherds of their flocks through the study of God's Word, the implementation of the Word in every area of their lives, and the reading of the many books donated to them during this Mission to Zimbabwe.
"…Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Luke 11:2