It is easy to grow numb to the suffering in Africa. There always seems to be a famine or pestilence or war there. Yet, this continent is the home of millions of people, people with children, people for whom Christ died. Right now Zimbabwe is in a terrible crisis. The All Africa Conference of Churches declared January 25 to be a day of prayer and fasting for the land of Zimbabwe and has asked Christians around the world to partner in seeking God’s face on behalf of this country.
Zimbabwe was once the breadbasket of Africa, a land of plenty that fed itself and its neighbors. Zimbabwe was once a well-developed nation with advanced medical facilities. Now, this southern African country is on the verge of complete meltdown.
The suffering in Zimbabwe is unimaginable. The unemployment rate is over 80 percent. Malnutrition is rampant. People are dying of anthrax after eating the decaying flesh of infected animals. A cholera epidemic is raging through the country and an estimated 37,000 have been infected. Schools are shut down. There are no running public hospitals; they’re closed for lack of plumbing and sanitation. Doctors and nurses try their best to help people without running water and few medical supplies. According to the director of one mission hospital:
“A major problem is the loss of life and fetal wastage we are seeing with obstetric patients. They come so late, the fetuses are already dead. We see women with eclampsia who have been seizing for 12 hours. There is no intensive care unit here, and now there is no intensive care in Harare. If we had intensive care, we know it would be immediately full of critically ill patients. As it is, they just die.”
Any woman who has ever been in labor can catch a glimpse of the horror. Any father can consider the despair of parents who watch their children die for lack of simple surgery.
The despotic and irrational rule of Robert Mugabe has destroyed the country, yet he refuses give up his death-hold. His supporters continue to threaten and attack people who speak against the government. While a power-sharing agreement was made in September, Mugabe made his true position clear when he said last month, “I will never, never, never surrender … Zimbabwe is mine.”
The churches of Africa ask for our help. January 25th has been set aside as a day of prayer and fasting for the people of Zimbabwe.
general secretary Dr. And Karamaga said, “The call is to join our Zimbabwean sisters and brothers in prayer and in fasting, in words and in deeds, in contemplation and in action.”
He continued, explaining that the day of prayer and fasting “is first and foremost a call for all of us to come to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with a humble heart, in sincere love, spending time with him to get in tune with His sovereign plans and visions for his people and for the world. It’s about allowing Him to speak and to share His heart that bleeds for the suffering of our world.”
Karamaga referred to Isaiah 58 as the key passage for the day of prayer:
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cord of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.” – Isaiah 58:1, 6-9.
While we pray for Zimbabwe, also pray for the Democratic Republic of Congo, where villages are being burned and civilians slaughtered by a marauding rebel army:
A rebel group that goes by the name “Lord’s Resistance Army” set fire to a church full of worshippers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday. The LRA is well-known for attacking villages, raping women, murdering men, and abducting children to be forced soldiers or sex slaves. Since Christmas Eve, the LRA has murdered at least 620 Congolese civilians and kidnapped more than 160 children.
The LRA’s violence has flared up since a cooperative effort between Uganda, DR Congo and South Sudan began to root out this destructive outlaw group. Operation Lightning Thunder has been answered with vicious attacks on civilians. The community where the church was burned is 80 miles from Dungu – the military base of this multi-national offensive against the LRA.
Felicien Balani, an official in Dungu, told Uganda’s New Vision newspaper: “The LRA entered around midnight. They surprised the faithful of the church who were in a prayer vigil. They burned them in the church.” Survivors tell of people being hacked to death with machetes or beaten to death with bats. Two church members who tried to stop the LRA after two boys were kidnapped had their legs and hands chopped off and were beaten to death.
The day after Christmas, the LRA attacked a village in eastern Congo and over a hundred houses were set on fire. When people fled to a church to hide, the LRA went in and slaughtered them. “The scene at the church was unbelievable. It was horrendous. On the floor were dead bodies of mostly women and children cut in pieces,” said Ugandan Army Captain Chris Magezi.
The LRA has been fighting in Uganda for more than 20 years, but now operates mostly out of DR Congo’s Garamba National Park.
Please pray for Zimbabwe on January 25, and remember the DR Congo as well. We would covet the prayers of our brothers and sisters across the oceans if we were suffering in their shoes.