Amy and I are leaving this morning for Zimbabwe - stopping in Limpopo and Johannesburg on the way home to see some new and old friends.
We have a LONG shopping list for the children in Zimbabwe - they are in need of many school supplies (no paper anymore in Zimbabwe) and some staple food items. Unfortunately, many of the 64 orphaned and abandoned children being cared for by our local partner church are still in need of a sponsor. We are praying that by our next visit in a few months all 64 children will be sponsored so that we will be able to bring all of the supplies and funds that they need to sustain the home during this terrible economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
While we're gone, why not consider how you, your family, your small group, or your church can help by sponsoring as many children as possible? It is only $30 a month, and your sponsorship will help a local church with the daily care, feeding, and education of these 64 beautiful children.
In other travel-related news, the exchange rate on the street is now Z$2225 to US$1, which amounts to 22,250,000,000,000 to 1 under the old system. If my math skills are up to par, I think that's nearing 22 1/2 trillion to one. But, we just spoke with a Zimbabwean friend who has recently returned to Cape Town from a visit home, and he reports that Zim dollars have all but disappeared from the streets due to a lack of ink and paper to print more notes. So South African Rand and US Dollars are accepted most everywhere, with petrol coupons being the currency of choice. These days, 1 British Pound is worth 1.282 litres, and this is quickly becoming the "real" exchange rate.
In Zimbabwe, where millions are hungry and suffering from the country’s current political crisis and economic collapse, ServLife is intervening to help care for and bring hope to 64 orphaned and abandoned children through aid to the Musha Wevana Children’s Home. Over the past two years, ServLife has been building a relationship with a church in the Marondera area as they care for these 64 children. Up until this point, they have been caring for the children almost single-handedly despite a devastating lack of resources and failed economy.
There are now sponsorship opportunities available to support these children in the Musha Wevana children’s home. For $30/month, your sponsorship will help supply food, clothes, schooling, and ensure that they are well cared for in a loving environment. This is a direct way you can get involved in bringing hope and empowering a new generation in Zimbabwe.
(In the “Comments” text box be sure to indicate you would like to sponsor a child from Zimbabwe.)
Read a glimpse of the stories of Tinotenda and Molline, two of these children who have been rescued and are now being cared for in Musha Wevana children’s home in Zimbabwe:
As a baby, Tinotenda was found abandoned in a toilet. Social Services searched for his family, but could not find them. He was brought to live at Musha Wevana, where he is now being cared for.
Molline has had a difficult life and is thankful to be living at Musha Wevana. Her father died and her new stepfather did not want her, so Molline’s mother tried to drown her. Out of guilt, her mother committed suicide, and Molline was brought to the safety of the home.
Thanks to all of you praying for the Umzimba / ServLife Missional Theology Conference that was held a couple of weeks ago. I've been horribly slack in posting an update, so I'll just post the report that I wrote for the ServLife website... a couple of pictures follow...
From July 10-12, 2008, ServLife worked with Umzimba, a new group of young African pastors and theologians, to present the first annual Umzimba Missional Theology Conference. Thirty participants from four different African nations came together to present both academic and practical papers on a wide range of topics including Contextual African Theology, Evangelism in Contemporary South Africa, Church Planting in Townships, Theological Education for Africans, African Death Rituals and the Resurrection of Christ, Social Development in a Globalized Economy, and more. After each paper was presented, an official response was given and the group engaged in dialogue and debate around the topic. Several business people, doctors, and students also attended and participated in discussions and presented their own papers from the perspective of young African Christians engaged in the professional world.
Vuyani Sindo from South Africa said, “The conference inspired me to further explore the issues Africans are facing. The community created a warmth and passion in me that makes me want more – it reminds me of the experiences I had upon first becoming a Christian.” One of the Zimbabwean presenters, Darlington Mushambi, described the conference as an enriching and valuable experience.
Plans are already underway for next years’ conference to be held once again in Cape Town, South Africa during the month of July. The organizers are hoping to expand the conference by adding more sessions and inviting international observers from the West to hear about theology and praxis from the African perspective and spend time living and ministering in the African context with some of the presenters. Umzimba leader and conference coordinator Mawethu Ncaca said, “This conference was a dream come true. Our hope for the future is that this journey will continue to include more people from different perspectives so that we can continue to appreciate and learn from them and their experiences.”
I'm about to head off to UCT for the second day of the Umzimba/ServLife Missional Theology Conference. Last night was a great start! Good food, provocative presentation on the future of theological education for Africans, and deeply challenging discussion and debate. In fact, it was just about everything we were hoping, except warm. :)
There are six (!!) sessions scheduled for today, so I'm praying for stamina both mentally and physically. So many interesting leaders here and so much stimulating conversation - I think I'll be fine!
Robert Mugabe certainly thinks he is the President of Zimbabwe. After returning from an African Union summit in Egypt, he said:"I am the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe and that is the reality. Everybody has to accept that if they want dialogue."
This is the strongest language used to date by the government of one of Zimbabwe's neighbors. American, British, and European statements or sanctions will not help - they only serve to reinforce Mugabe's position as a victim of imperial and colonialist forces. But whether Botswana's statement came as a result of international pressure or internal conviction, it is a bold step in the struggle against Mugabe.
On a more personal note, our friends in Zimbabwe continue persevering despite all of the hardships and they are continuing to plan for an income-generating home to care for an additional 100+ orphaned and abandoned children on top of the 64 already in their care. Twice-weekly meetings to train new pastors and missionaries continue, so that, in their words, "We will be ready to launch new global missionaries across the world as soon the situation here turns around. We want to use this time to prepare for the future." I am so thankful for these friends, for their sacrifice when they could have left the country for greener pastures, and for their testimony to me.
Zim Dollar Watch: The Zim Dollar strengthened (!!!) on the parallel market towards the end of this week, ending today at 45 billion Zim to 1 US - less than half of its value from two weeks ago.
Three items of note from the news out of Zimbabwe this week:
Robert Mugabe's paranoid government has banned all aid work by NGOs. Several million Zimbabweans are sustained by aid distributions by charities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This ban puts lives at risk in a very real way. On a personal level, we are concerned about Musha Wevana - the children's home with whom ServLife is partnering. During recent months, the children have received food distributions from a large NGO - we are scrambling to find out how this is being affected and what we can do in the meantime.
Zimbabwe's economy continues its record-breaking downward slide. Sadly, you can ignore all of the figures you read in the linked article - they were published yesterday and are already wildly inaccurate. For example, the article gives the exchange rate as 995 million - 1.45 billion Zim dollars to 1 US dollar. Today, the rate is 1.6 billion to 1. (When we traveled to Zimbabwe just three weeks ago, the rate was 187 million to 1.) Analysts suggest (official rates are no longer published) that the inflation rate in Zimbabwe is 1,800,000% annually (yes - 1.8 million percent inflation). Two liters of cooking oil costs more than the average monthly salary for a Zimbabwean worker.
Our main task was photographing and recording the stories of the now 64 children living at Musha Wevana under the care of Family Praise Fellowship. This is Tatenda.
And this is Nigel. Very soon, you'll be able to sponsor them through ServLife for $30 a month. That will help pay for their food, clothes, schooling, and ensure that they are well cared for in a loving environment. Send me an email if you want to be the first to know when sponsorships are available to you...