The elephants are not the biggest thing in southern Africa. At least in Zimbabwe, one of the biggest things is the work of God among his people in this impoverished African nation. Some estimates put the unemployment rate at 90%, and it’s been that way for a long time. Resilient people in Zimbabwe give a new meaning to the term “just scraping by.” Life expectancy there has now improved to 51 years; an improvement from age 37 only a few years ago years ago! Orphans are numerous and ever present. But when our team returned last week from our most recent visit to my favorite African nation, we came home awe struck.
Sometimes God performs his miracles instantly. We prayed for healing for a shaken friend of ours who has been battling cancer and was diagnosed as being in stage four. Two days later, Geoffrey appeared at our door looking strong, vigorous and confident. He had walked several miles to say thanks-and goodbye till next year!
But sometimes God does great miracles more gradually. This year I was greeted by young, inexperienced and uneducated pastors whom I met at last year’s conference for pastors, The Falls. Generally underpaid and under appreciated, many of these young men brought enthusiastic reports of ideas that have worked and churches that are growing in attendance and maturity. This year, they once again sat through three days of instruction, note taking, and discussions about the role of pastor. Their enthusiasm and joyful anticipation of the the coming year in a desperate land were simply astonishing to my American mind!
I met with the leadership team from a church who had come to me for counsel. I offered them biblical principles that speak to their particular challenge. But I was blown away by their reverence for the Word of God, their confidence in his Truth, and their tenderness and patience in dealing with a troublesome brother. Three days later they were already making progress in solving their thorny problem! I thought about my conversation with them a year ago, and could scarecely believe how far God has brought them in just twelve months. They are different men- more godly, more resilient, even more determined.
They cannot even imagine how different local church ministry is in the USA. And here in America, we local church people honestly have no idea what overwhelming problems might actually look like. It requires only one trip to Zimbabwe to recognize the difference. And even there, Jesus Christ is far bigger than the problems that threaten to overwhelm his people.
Lift up the Cross!