Pray for Zimbabwe on Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prayers for Zimbabwe: Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43

Thank you, God, for planting your spirit within us. We nurture this seed as it sprouts and grows. Deep in your love, we send our roots. As our spirits blossom, may we offer the first ripened fruits of the season to you. May we also share our first fruits with those who suffer and live in hardship.  As people who have "enough," help us to be gracious givers to those in need, and to give in kindness. Amen.

Mission Stewardship Moment from Zimbabwe:

Father’s Day

It’s harvest Sunday.  People give a portion of their harvest to the church.  The church is filled with maize (corn), bananas and chickens.  Mr. Dhlkama, one of the church elders, encourages people to give their best.  He says, “Don’t give God rotten bananas.” 

The scriptures encourage us to give the first fruits of your harvest.  (Proverbs 3:9) Don’t give your leftovers.   If you give clothing to Good Will, be sure they are clean and there is wearable life left in them.  Pay your church pledge before you run out of money at the end of the month.  Don’t give God rotten bananas. 

What about serving in the mission field, far from home or next door?  Should we wait until we have enough?  Enough time, enough money, fewer family commitments?  Give the first fruits.  Begin mission work as soon as you can toddle.  Give to a mission before you give to yourself.  Get up early and go to the food shelf to stack shelves.  The laundry can wait.  Break your pattern, break your mold. 

In some countries, young people spend two years after high school serving their country, tutoring in poor schools, painting curbs, feeding the poor.  This is a lovely example of giving the first fruit of your harvest.  It puts into action the value of service, mission and giving your first, fresh fruit.  No rotten bananas. 

It’s easy to lecture and fill this page with “you shoulds” but it’s much harder to put faith into action.  I’m the first person to enjoy the comforts of life.  I can even convince myself I have earned my comforts.  I’m really not fond of hardship and discomfort.  But now I find myself in a society full of hardship and discomfort.  Yet I seldom hear the people here grumble and complain.  There is a cultural rule here in Zimbabwe that goes something like this:  If you have it and I need it, I just need to ask kindly and you must give it to me, but I must not take advantage of your kindness. Just try to imagine how this applies to me, the weathiest person in the community.  If I have it, I must give it. Try as I might to acculturate, I have trouble with this piece of the culture.  The culture in which I grew up values accumulation of wealth and only sharing that which doesn’t impoverish you.  So, I give the first fruit, as long as the lion’s share (African pun intended here) of the bananas stay with me.  Once again, living and adjusting to a new culture, new ideas, is challenging and thought provoking.  Does Jesus ask me to impoverish myself (yes, in some readings) or give the first fruit?  What does Jesus ask of you?  I continue to take inspiration from the scriptures and do my best to follow Jesus.  Don’t give God rotten bananas.

(Mission Moment by Maryjane and Don Westra)

Video Resources on Zimbabwe:

College of Mission Interns Pilgrimage to Zimbabwe – July 2010:

Global Ministries International Partners in Zimbabwe:

  • Christian Care
  • United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
  • Zimbabwe Council of Churches
  • Zimbabwe Synod-UCCSA
  • United Theological College, Harare

For more info about Zimbabwe:

Global Ministries Missionaries in Zimbabwe:

  • Mary and Dale Patrick, member of Glen Echo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Des Moines, Iowa, serves with the United Theological College of Zimbabwe. Mary teaches Greek and New Testament and Dale teaches Hebrew and Old Testament. 
  • Maryjane and Don Westra, members of Federated Church UCC, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, serve the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe. Maryjane works as a health and child care consultant at Mt. Selinda. Don works on the staff of the Micro-Enterprise and Strategic Planning/Management program at Mt Selinda.

For more info on Zimbabwe:

Pray for Partners without Global Ministries Mission Personnel: Togo

For more info on Togo: