Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness – A Message from the UCCSA
From the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
Grace to you and peace from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause untold suffering to our people in the region and globally within and outside the Church. We have lost our loved ones who have succumbed to the pandemic. Although our loved ones have departed from this life, we remain solid in our hope and faith that God shall deliver us from this novel virus. Our widows, orphans, people living with disabilities among many vulnerable groups need our support as the economy has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is indeed a heavy load for our people. Our Sovereign, Holy and Almighty God bids us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
We have this hope in Christ that one day we shall be free from this scourge because our Lord God remains omniscient and omnipotent. Governments within the SADC region are also trying their best to curb the COVID-19 pandemic albeit challenges. The death rate is worrying especially in countries where the health systems are in dire straits.
We call upon all Christians and people of goodwill to complement all risk mitigative intervention efforts and also adhere to the health counsels from professionals within their countries as we jointly fight the pandemic.
We call upon the church to continue to minister in all circumstances and be a source of livelihood to the communities that are living in despair. We are indebted to the work of our ministers and laity in serving God under such dire straits. Let us be each other’s keeper, let reach new frontiers and bring hope and healing to the hurting world.
Violence in Mozambique
While we are all confronted by the huge challenge of Covid-19, our brothers and sisters in Mozambique have a double tragedy of COVID-19 and also of the insurgence allegedly led by ISIS. Reports of serious violence and capture of certain areas in the northern Mozambique are worrying. The suspected ISIS have further sent threats to neighboring countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe. The alleged Islamists are tormenting citizens north of Mozambique and further scaling-up to claiming territories along the coasts north of Mozambique.
- We call upon our members to pray for Mozambique and seek Lord’s mercy to save God’s people from the insurgence and to ensure it does not spread rapidly across the region.
- We urge all our members and Christians to bring the gospel of hope to the suffering masses in Mozambique.
- We pray for and implore the SADC region to respond in a way that will bring peace and healing in the region.
Human Rights Abuses
Human rights abuses reflect a deep spiritual problem of the perpetrators whose true humanity is altered by the evil acts. They depart from true humanity to inhuman behavior and cause serious pain to innocent souls. We are aware of the challenges some of our countries in the SADC region face. There are reports of gross human rights violations, socio-political and economic instability which have affected citizens and threatens the regional stability. We are concerned by the lack of seriousness in some of our countries in addressing the emerging issues that cause serious pain. We remain affirmative that injustice to one is injustice to all. The ongoing attack on political opponents, activists, journalists and besmirched attack on the church in Zimbabwe is a disgrace and deplorable. The voice of the Church was clear and audible seeking internal solutions led by the same government. Rejection of the Catholic Bishops pastorals letter is the rejection of: a) Victim led process in dealing with challenges, b) Constitutionalism and rule of law, c) Inclusive national economic vision and its social contract, d) national humanitarian and emergency response, e) mending regional, continental and global relations. The people of Zimbabwe deserve better. This is a clarion call to the government from people who want better lives which when you provided, brings peace, stability and progress.
We are aware of scapegoating of blaming external factors without introspection and internal correction. We are concerned by the catch and release of those connected to the political elite and the incarceration of those perceived to be opposition. The people of faith should see these acts of Government as fighting the Lord instead of serving God. We call upon the government of Zimbabwe to refrain from such acts and vitriol language and open dialogue with stakeholders for a broad national settlement on the challenges bedeviling the country.
Gender Based Violence
Our society is so broken that we find people killing their loved ones. We have witnessed children and women becoming victims of serious gender-based violence. All this speaks to the nature of the brokenness within our society. Gender based violence is a symptom of a deep-seated problem in our social construct and orientation. It indicates the absence of Christ value system in our grooming and etiquette. The gospel is needed at home, market place and the society.
We appeal to all members to desist from any form of violence and to be peaceful in dealing with each other and families. We call for love in families and society. As our Lord taught us “A new commandment, I give unto you, that you love one another, as I have loved you. By this all people shall know that you are my disciples of you love one another.”
Let no violence be named among the children of God. Let us exhibit the highest moral standards and enable our Church to stand on the high moral ground to challenge exploitation of women and girls and the vulnerable. May the Church say “No to Any Form of Violence.”
Our Hope of Glory
In the midst of all this, our forbearer and brother Paul would say, “We are hard pressed on every side (we can’t breathe), but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body (and help us to remove the knee on the lives of the people).” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV).
As people of faith, we believe that rebuke is our role as brothers and sisters and as the body of Christ. Those who listen and repent, theirs is the kingdom of God, but those who become arrogant await their condemnation. To all the children of God, remain faithful to the Lord our God, remain well-intentioned in all your endeavors. Be one another’s keeper and pray for one another and all God’s people.
As the UCCSA continues to grapple with the several challenges identified above and the COVID-19. We have to accept the new normal her ecclesiology is equally challenged.
We are aware of the following challenges:
1. Constitutional provisions and timelines around issues of leadership succession and governance issues to be determined during conferences.
2. Lockdown restrictions which have forced the Church to conduct virtual services with challenges on administering holy communion.
3. Failure to pay of stipends to ministers and assessments to other courts of the Church.
4. The high levels of poverty and the suffering of our members due to COVID-19 which has caused economic paralysis.
The UCCSA September 2020 Executive Committee that will be held virtually will reflect on ways in which the governance and administrative work of the UCCSA could be handled going forward. We encourage local churches and ministers and Interns to continue with the services in the best manner in which their contexts demand. In the midst of all these challenges and others, let us remain in the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us remain positive and in faith that God is in control. Let us mean well for our families, our neighbors, our Church and society. Let us be the perfect examples of Christians in such a time as this.
In Christ we commit and commend the entire UCCSA family and all saints.