In Zimbabwe: strength to climb the mountain

Chabadza” — it’s one of the best words I’ve heard recently. It’s from Zimbabwe and has no English translation.

Suppose you’re walking down the road and you stop to greet someone working in his field. “Hello, how are you doing? What’s up?” all these are typical American salutations. But, in Zimbabwe they say, “Chabadza,” which roughly translated means, “Greetings. Let me stop and while and help you with what you’re doing. We’ll work together, we’ll talk a bit and and then I’ll be on my way.”

Chabadza is the sharing of a a moment, a participation in the task at a hand and an acknowlegement that life is best when it’s shared.

Life in Zimbabwe now, as we read about it in news reports, provokes many causes for concern. Hyper-inflation, the AIDS pandemic, poverty that is denuding the country of hope, and fearful political uncertainties.

United Methodists from the Baltimore-Washington Conference share a partnership with Zimbabwe. We’ve said “chabadza” to one another.

According Ecumenical News International, outdoor prayer service have been banned in some parts of the country.

This ban has been tied directly to the balloting for president. Post-election violence is reported to have left at least 50 people dead and displaced thousands of villagers.

In May, goverment leaders and police attempted to prevent worshippers from entering Harare’s Christ Chruch. Riot police blocked the entrance of the congregation, who were attempting to attend a worship service. Civic leaders report on their blog that “the women, in their anger, broke down the fence to get in.” Up to 80 of these women were arrested. 

In the presidential elections on March 29. President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party lost its majority in parliament. According to the official results, which have been disputed, none of the four presidential candidates managed to get the majority vote required to avoid a second round.

Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party, are to participate in a runoff election June 27.

The U.S. State Department has curtailed nonessential travel of Americans to Zimbabwe. In this time of hardship, our partnership will have to be heavy on prayer.

One United Methodist leader from Zimbabwe, who has visited the Baltimore-Washington Conference, looks at the challenges facing his country with eyes of faith.

“Confronting hardship head-on and finding hope has produced a new kind of disciple,” he said. “It’s no longer, ‘God remove these mountains,’ but rather, ‘Give us the strength to climb our mountain.'”

It’s a climb we should be making together.

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