Prayers for Zimbabwe: Luke 21:25-36
Revealing God, we thank you for this time of Advent when we wait expectantly for your coming into our world. Help us to discern the signs of your presence and the workings of your reign among us. Today we think of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. We thank you for their vigilance and discernment during these tough economic and political times in their country. We thank you for their contribution in making your presence known and felt in the everyday lives of Zimbabweans. We ask you to continue to give them courage and strength as they await the full manifestation of your presence and might in their midst. We pray as well for Maryjane and Don Westra as they begin their ministry at Mt Selinda. Empower them to discern their place in walking with our brothers and sisters of Zimbabwe. Help them to be a critical presence in your name. We thank you also for Mary and Dale Patrick who will be serving as Bible teachers at the United Theological College beginning in January of 2010. Prepare them also for this time of volunteer service in your name. Help us all to be alert and prayeful servants in this world you love so much. Amen
(Prayer by Bob Shebeck)
You know I didn’t go to preacher school. You know I can’t say those fancy preacher prayers. I never get all the thou’s and thee’s in the right place. You and I have always had an understanding about that. You don’t seem to mind that I don’t close my eyes or fold my hands when we talk. So here I am again, my jaw dropping at the wonderment of your Creation. I walked to a village today along the ridge overlooking the valley. I’m sure you know the place. Thank you for showing me the lush, deep green color of the tea plants, the tiny village on the reservoir and the border with Mozambique where only a few years ago there was war and violence but now there is peace and beauty. Thank you for making the monkeys and boabab trees. Thank you for making little children who yell greetings to the stranger. Thank you for making spiders, snakes and cockroaches .. But if you could keep them far away from me, I would be oh so grateful. You have somehow put me in this place, far away from my family and everything familiar. (Just how did that happen? We‘ll discuss that later.) Now that I am here, I am begging for the wisdom and discernment to do the work you ask of me. It is not hard to love the people I walk alongside (literally and figuratively), but help me, God, to go to a deeper level of love, honor, respect and understanding. Give me guidance in ministry to the sick, heartsick and grieving. Help me as I comfort a woman in labor with a too-big baby. Stand by me when I hold a dying child. Guide me as I comfort a mother, whose words I don’t understand, but whose wails are understood universally. Thank you for trusting me to do your work, God. I won’t let you down. Amen.
PS The music, dancing and drumming is great! Keep up the good work!
(Prayer by Maryjane Westra)
Global Ministries International Partners in Zimbabwe:
- Christian Care: Christian Care was formed in 1967 by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches tasked to improve the quality of life of the disadvantaged, including refugees. As an arm of the church Christian Care is called to witness the presence of God among the poor and disadvantaged who are burdened by oppression, poverty, ill health, lack of freedom or knowledge to make sustainable life-supporting choices. Before Zimbabwe's political independence in 1980, Christian Care was concerned with relief of families of political prisoners and the prisoners themselves. This program reached out to about 5000 people. Other relief program included drought relief, special emergencies, an essential service for people displaced by escalating war which peaked around 1975 with the establishment of protected/consolidated villages. Shortly after independence, Christian Care was heavily involved in post war reconstruction. In 1985 the organization broadened its mandate to include rural development. Projects to date have included disaster relief programs, dam construction and irrigation development, integrated rural development programs, water and sanitation, livestock restocking, HIV/AIDS, gender, advocacy and income generating projects.
- United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe: The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) was founded in 1893 by the American Board of Foreign Missions, predecessor mission program of the United Church of Christ. Global Ministries works closely with this partner church in the many facets of its ministry in Zimbabwe. The denominational membership today is approximately 30,000 people in 47 churches and several preaching points and worship groups. The UCCZ has worked ecumenically on important efforts in Zimbabwe and is responsible for many schools and several health institutions in the country. The church's mission is to promote Christian living and to relate humankind to the larger body of Christ through teaching, healing, stewardship, preaching, and farming. The church revolves around the core values of hard work and self-reliance, and works to eradicate poverty and disease through technical and vocational life skills training for survival, and integrated participatory community-based development.
- Zimbabwe Council of Churches: The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has been in partnership with Global Ministries since 1964. The council has twenty member churches, nine associate member churches, and two observer members. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches' mission is to meet the needs of their communities, proclaim the gospel, develop their capacity to be self-sustaining, and to speak with one voice on issues of national interest.
- Zimbabwe Synod-UCCSA: The Zimbabwe Synod is one of five synods comprising the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa. It is located in Bulawayo with congregations and schools throughout Matabeleland. The church's greatest constraint is the economic and political situation prevailing throughout the country. As a result of this situation, ordinary Zimbabweans suffer greatly. The migration of the youth and other members of the work force is taking its toll on the church and communities where the churches are located.
- United Theological College, Harare: United Theological College is an interdenominational institution whose purpose is to train quality pastors and teachers of the Christian gospel for churches in Zimbabwe and the region. The College seeks to prepare students to understand and articulate the Bible's transforming holistic and prophetic message to individuals, families, groups and society at large. The college recruits qualified and experienced Christian lecturers who are committed to excellence in teaching and research. United Theological College is the largest ecumenical theological training school in Zimbabwe run by seven participating churches namely: Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, United Congregational Church in Southern Africa, Uniting Presbyterian Church and African Methodist Episcopal church. United Theological College (UTC) was founded in 1954 as an institution of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, situated on part of the Epworth Mission Farm and named Epworth College. It became an Ecumenical Protestant Seminary in 1955 when the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (therein called the participating churches) resolved to co-operate in sponsoring the college for the training of pastors and other church workers. In 1976 the name was changed to United Theological College.
Global Ministries Missionary in Zimbabwe:
Maryjane and Don Westra, members of Federated Church UCC, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, serve the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe. Maryjane works as the Hospital Administrator at Mt. Selinda Hospital and Daisy Dube Children's Homeas. Don works on the staff of the Micro-Enterprise and Strategic Planning/Management program with the Eastern Conference of the UCCZ.
Mary and Dale Patrick, members of Glen Echo Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Des Moines, Iowa, will serve with the United Theological College beginning in January 2010. Mary will teach Greek and New Testament. Dale will teach Hebrew and Old Testament.