I received a forwarded report from a Zimbabwean man just yesterday, corresponding on behalf of a preaching school. He writes, in part:
“We are grateful for the Lord’s grace that showers our lives as we are going through difficult times in this country. Our beautiful country is going through turbulent economic difficulties with people failing to get enough to eat. However, this does not discourage us to continue preaching and teaching the message of Jesus Christ . . .
“During the past three and half years, our school took a deliberate shift towards producing as much food as we can for our own consumption . . . we now have six head of cattle and we are already using the ox as draught power in our rented field . . . . During the last agricultural season, we managed to produce two tonnes of maize (corn). . . . During the first half of this year, we had 500 [laying hens] producing an average of 450 eggs every day. These were slaughtered in July after reaching the end of their laying period. Unfortunately, we have not been able to replace these layers because of the unavailability of chicks. . . . Our vegetable garden that was thriving during the first half of the year is now under moisture stress because of the unavailability of water. As we are writing this report, we have not had any running water in our [taps] during the first two weeks of September. Fortunately, most of our greens are under drip irrigation; therefore, the beds retain moisture for at least a week. We are now ferrying water from other sources to sustain this project.
“The economic situation in Zimbabwe is difficult to comprehend because fundamentals have been twisted. In July 2007, the government decided to control the rate of inflation by slashing the price of all goods resulting in producers failing to produce at the government given prices. This tinkering resulted in acute shortage of nearly all products and services. Literally most of our shops are empty even clothing stores. Queues are a common sight. [We have] managed to source nearly all our basic groceries from South Africa and Botswana . . . . These days one will be considered a connected person if found drinking a soft drink like coke or having bread for breakfast. Please pray for our country because only a divine intervention will save us from this economic quagmire.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but never, in my wildest imagination, would I consider a Coke or bread for breakfast a symbol of my success.
Our team of six—we’ve added one to our group just this week—is about to embark on a journey that pales in comparison to that which the gracious, dignified people of Zimbabwe are living each day. Sure, in this oppressed nation there are plenty of thieves, violent men, corrupt leaders, and people who stir up strife, but the men and women I know are resourceful, strong, hopeful, and generous even in their poverty.
And knowing them makes me feel very well-connected.