Zimbabwe – hope, in spite of destruction

“He raises up the poor from the dust; He lifts the needy from the ash heap…” 1 Samuel 2:8

“We are not sure if we can believe the stories the boys are telling us about the camp you ran for them. The stories seem too good to be true!”

“Cozmore, we cannot wait for two weeks for you to come back to Gwayi River! You have to come back this weekend! The boys want to start an interdenominational youth outreach!”

“I want to teach husbands to take Godly responsibility for their families!”

“I have been lazy!”

These were comments received after we completed our weekend camp for young men from Gwayi River and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe – 27 young men and 4 leaders from 10 churches took part.

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My missionary friend Daniel arrived from Victoria Falls and Pastor Nyoni from Gwayi River – with young men. Travel to and from the camp was onerous for these really poor youngsters.

The camp was held in Hwange Game Reserve Main Camp – where antelope, giraffe, warthogs and elephant roam and sleep freely between the administration buildings at night.

My Zimbabwean missionary friend, Cozmore, sons Jason, 15, and John-Marc, 13, and I set out by car and trailer on the 1,800-mile journey from Cape Town.

Cozmore put in a lot of effort to organize this outreach – everything in Africa takes effort and nothing runs smoothly. Satan’s spiritual attacks work out in the physical; but the armor of the Lord is much stronger.

I knew God was going to do something special in the hearts and minds of the young men who would attend our camp. I knew this because everything in the preparation period was going wrong!

At the camp I spoke on the Biblical response to issues that cause the most havoc in any young man’s life: cultural chaos, sex and relationships, money and hard work, and, of course, the big one, When is it right to fight?

I stressed that blessings are promised for obedience and curses are associated with disobedience to God’s Word.

The young men got a sparkle in their eyes when they learned that if they caught a man beating a woman, which often happens in their society, they have a Biblical duty to step in and “lay hands” on the attacker to stop the assault.

Apparently the youth have never in their lives been exposed to such direct, and controversial, teaching.

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Strange, but true

Cozmore went checking on the boys at bed time. He found one youngster, in bed, freezing to death under a thin duvet. Having come from a distant village he has never seen a bed with folded sheets and a blanket, so climbing in between the sheets had never occurred to him.

Sure enough, he wasn’t the only one.

Other interesting concepts were also dealt with, like, why there is a white cloth (napkin), twisted in the shape of a hat, next to my cutlery? Nobody wanted to touch their napkins because they might dirty it!

“Uncle, uncle, did you see me? Did you see me?” asked a young man, speaking to Cozmore. “I used a knife and fork to eat with at dinner!”

Things are tight

Businessmen in Zimbabwe are not banking their US dollar cash because of the government threat of printing a new currency. The state will then just take the banked US dollars and replace it with their new zero value money.

Everyone remembers all-too-well the peak month of inflation, estimated at 79.6 billion percent in mid-November 2008. Yep, that is no misprint.

The population would rather stick with their US dollar currency used at present.

The lack of funds in the banks has led to civil servants not receiving their salaries and the population, having had enough of a corrupt government, are revolting.

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.” Proverbs 14:31

Living and ministering in a police state is treacherous to say the least. We endured 10 police roadblocks in less than 125 miles. Each one asking for the same paper work – like you were able to cross the border in your car without getting the necessary bureaucratic red tape being done!

And then there is the checking on the road worthiness of the car – like foreigners can drive over bad roads for thousands of miles with an un-roadworthy vehicle!! What they want to find is that one light bulb that blew, or loosened, while your car was bouncing on the uneven roads, so that they can issue a fine (or get a bribe) so that they can buy some food.

Food is scarce. The drought has made things worse.

One of our young men, fishes illegally in a local river to provide food for his elderly grandparents. Almost every family does some small scale farming to feed their families. Many walk 6-7 miles carrying the heavy bags of maize, to have their maize milled for safe consumption.

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We’d love to purchase a maize mill. This not only creates employment, but also encourages subsistence farmers to plant more maize to sell to the mill. This extra cash will make a huge difference in sustaining the local church ministry. Also in helping the widows who have some maize but cannot afford to have it milled – the benevolent fund will change the lives of the widows and orphans.

Maize milling is most welcome for these families struggling with extreme scarcity, but we know what they really hunger for is the nourishment of the Gospel.

Thank YOU!

A very BIG thank you to the ITMI partners who, through prayer and faithful giving, made this camp a milestone for the furthering of the Gospel and discipleship of the Zimbabwean youth.

“Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:4

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Jason commented: “These boys have absolutely nothing, but they are happier than anyone I know!”

They have nothing physically, but they have Jesus!

Charl van Wyk

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