We've been thinking a lot about Zimbabwe in our house at the moment. On the one hand there all the horrendous news currently about prayer meetings stopped with beatings, mass inflation, etc
On the other hand, there is hope and fellowship and so many stories of people overcoming despite everything. My town Stevenage is twinned with a town in Zimbabwe, called Kadoma. For the last 10 years Cornerstone (inter-church youth organisation) has been developing a relationship with a similar organisation in Kadoma called Sungano (meaning unity). Below is a quote from a local news article following their previous trip:
Aids and unemployment are both rife, often with tragic results.
Andy said: "One of the strangest experiences for me was when we went into a carpentry workshop.
"You couldn't initially tell what they were making but then it became clear there were making coffins."
Among the hand-made coffins Andy saw were child-size versions.
The group did not directly discuss Aids with any Zimbabweans but the shadow the virus casts on the country was obvious.
"Walking around some of the outlying country areas, we saw malnutrition and people who were thin, which could be Aids related. What one notices, particularly in the youth centre, is that the information that they've got in there for young people is all Aids advice.
Despite the problems the country faces, not everything looks gloomy for the future.
In a bid to improve communication with Kadoma, the Stevenage visitors took a laptop over as a gift, and it is already helping improve the link.
"We've had some tremendous contact. It's almost been continuous which is something we've never had and is a real bonus," Andy said.
The Cornerstone contingent used the trip to see if it would be appropriate to take a group of young people out to Kadoma, as they have done in the past.
Because they were all welcomed so warmly, a group will be heading out later this year for three weeks. As part of their trip they will live among the people of Kadoma and the neighbouring township of Rimuka and work on various projects to help their Zimbabwean friends."
When we prayed, my daughter felt Mugabe was like king Saul and so we are praying for a new David to arise. Pray for Zimbabwe, a country full of amazing beauty and history, and amazing people.
As part of lent, let's not just look up and in. The bible seems clear to me that a huge part of living a God-centred holy life is looking out. Praying and doing- seeking justice.