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Christians endure amid turmoil in Zimbabwecomment (0)

October 12, 2000

Screams pierced the air as invaders forced their way onto the farm just outside Gweru, Zimbabwe.

The attackers forcibly marched frightened farm workers to the workers’ living compound, where they beat the workers with axes, picks and heavy sticks. Others were forced to strip to their underclothes I the middle of the Zimbabwe winter and then sing and dance by the firelight.

The owners of the farm, Derek and Sandy Shaw, locked themselves in the main house and watched as the path of destruction headed their way. The couple had fully expected their farm to be forcefully invaded by the government-backed war veterans. But no one was prepare for God’ miraculous intervention when the invasion happened.

As the attack reached its climax, the phone that new worked rang. Sandy reached for it, totally surprised.

Chris Anderson, pastor of Gweru Baptist Church, wanted to know if there was anything he could pray about with the couple. Within minutes, a prayer chain started and spread throughout the community, crossing denominational and racial barriers.

“Chris told me on the phone to remember that miracles still happen. I told him, “I’m watching one right now,” Sandy Shaw said. “Right in front of me, I watched my family have a sense of peace and watched the attack end just as quickly as it had started.”

Political strife in Zimbabwe rages on as veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war, with President Robert Mugabe’s blessing, have seized nearly 4,000 white-owned farms since February. Thirty-one people have died in the chaos.

Mugabe says the land redistribution is necessary to address a century-old imbalance in land ownership in the country.

While this nation in turmoil struggles to find political peace, God is busy providing the inner peace found only through Him. Christian leaders say Zimbabwe – whites and blacks alike – never before has been so open to Christ.

“I’ve slipped and fell back from God, but this whole thing has let me know that God still cares for us. I see my need for God and want Him to take over my life,” Shaw added.

It was in the 1960’s that Christianity began to take root in Zimbabwe’s rural areas and gradually spread across the country. Now, just 40 years later, Christians are taking a stand despite open persecution.

The persecution began when Mugabe ordered all churches across the country to shut down on Sundays for political rallies supporting the ruling party, ZANU-PF.

Burning the buildings

Christians were warned that, if they worshiped, the buildings would be burned down and those worshiping would be severely beaten. Residents were ordered to attend the closest political rally or they would be beaten as well.

Some churches closed, but many more opened their doors and fearlessly worshiped and prayed for Zimbabwe.

Newly elected parliament member David Coltart said he sees a spiritual awakening taking place among his fellow countrymen.

“Usually the church does whatever the government wants, but now it has come alive and taken a biblical stance,” Coltart said. “I don’t think this is political in any way, but a spiritual awakening. People are holding fast to their beliefs and openly sharing it with others.”

Volunteers from the United Sates, working with International Crusades of Dallas, saw the openness firsthand. The volunteers teamed up with local Christians for a weeklong evangelization effort, visiting homes during the day and holding worship services at night. More than 4,000 professions of faith were recorded.

Saidi Alubi, assistant pastor of Gwenoro Baptist church works on a farm that was invaded by more than 200 war veterans. He now witnesses in their camp handing out New Testaments. “My job is to go and talk to people about God, whether it is dangerous or not. I am willing to sacrifice my life for God. I am not afraid,” he said. (BP)

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