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A Human Tsunami

Written by Jim & Jayanthi Wilson
August 9, 2007

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.   - 1 Corinthians 15:58

It has been described by some as a "human tsunami", as thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe flood into neighboring Southern African countries on a daily basis, including Botswana. Once considered the bread basket of Africa, it has been widely reported that the shelves in most stores across Zimbabwe remain bare of mealie meal (corn meal), bread, meat and other staples; there are persistent fuel shortage and its government hospitals have insufficient medical supplies and a lack of necessary medical personnel to run them. With an annual inflation rate reaching somewhere between 5,000 and 9000 percent, a daily newspaper in Zimbabwe is reported to cost as much as 25,000 Zimbabwe dollars. The high inflation levels in Zimbabwe have grossly eroded the purchasing power of most urban and rural households.

For those of us living in Botswana, no one can be oblivious to the human suffering transpiring across the border. There remains a constant stream of Zimbabweans who knock on the gate of residences here in Gaborone, asking for work and handouts; the local newspapers are awash with daily reports about the political and economic upheaval in Zimbabwe along with a underlying xenophobic message that the increase in robberies, murder and rape across Botswana are the result of their presence; many Botswana businesses in border towns make a killing as droves of cross-border shoppers come to do their shopping. In Botswana, Zimbabwe refugees are often used as domestics as well as in other labor intensive jobs in the nation's workplaces.  Nobody can remain immune to human suffering. The churches in Botswana, in particular have organized marches, distributed food and tried repeatedly to influence government policies relating to neighboring Zimbabwe. The words found in I Corinthians are a constant reminder to the Church to remain "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."

The Kgolagano College of Theological Education where I work continues with its effort to update and contextualize its certificate and diploma programs in Theology, as well as to develop new programs as needed. A case in point is the desire by many of the college's stakeholders to institute new certificate and diploma programs in Children's Ministries as well as Preschool and Early Childhood Development. It has been projected by some that within the next ten years, one fourth of all the children in the country will be orphans, as a result of current HIV and Aids pandemic. On a practical level, many churches throughout the country are being made to care for this growing numbers of children and have a desire to learn more on how to better serve them. One of the major challenges facing the college is a lack of books. Nonetheless, through a concerted effort by Global Ministries the library now has a number of academic journals and has coordinated with those churches in North America who have wanted to donate books to the institution. The need for books in pastoral counseling, children's ministries as well as childhood development remains constant. Also, the Richard Sales Scholarship Fund, funded through Global Ministries, has helped many needy students who would not be able to attend otherwise.

Sedibeng, a training center for where Jayanthi works, is going through a period of tremendous uncertainty- with the resignation of it coordinator, a shortfall of donations to run the institution and questions being raised about its future viability. The center and its mission- to empower disadvantaged and marginalized young people to become productive members of society remains. Please keep this institution in your prayers.

Francis De Sales once said, "We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God." it our belief that those words remain equally true today. Thank God.

Jayanthi and I are appreciative of your prayers and letters of support of our work in Botswana. God bless you all.

Jim & Jayanthi Wilson

James & Jayanthi Wilson are missionaries with the Kgolagano Theological College in Gaborone, Botswana.  Jim serves as a teacher of theology at Kgolagana Theological College.  Jayanthi serves as seconded staff to the Mabogo Dinku Advice Centre in Gaborone, Botswana.  She works in community development at the Mabogo Dinku Advice Centre.

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