October 27, 2003

Contrasts of the Church in Zimbabwe

Thugs in Mugabe's Zimbabwe sometimes where clerical collars or even bishop's mitres. Nolbert Kunonga, the Anglican Bishop of Harare has seized a white-owned farm and his son has moved into the farmhouse. His abuse isn't limited to just white people, though. Apparently believing in equal-opportunity victimization, he has thrown out 50 black workers and their families to make way for his own staff.

The property is quite conveniently located just about 10 miles from his cathedral, so he will be able to communte easily to work, where he can resume committing sacrilege and shaming the name of Christ.

As an outspoken supporter of Mugabe, it would seem the farm was a reward to Kunonga from the dicator.

On the other hand, for Christian leaders who speak out against Mugabe, there is a whole other approach. Merfyn Temple is a retired Methodist minister who spent 31 years as a missionary in Africa. Now 83 years old, he decided to go to Zimbabwe. Not wanting to arrive empty-handed, according to The Sunday Times "he packed 15 kilos of organic flour into a 90-year-old suitcase and attached the casters from his wheelie bin to help transport it."

But the gift of flour to a starving people was not the primary reason for his journey. He had a message for the vile Robert Mugabe. He got up in the Holy Trinity Methodist Church in Harare and read a letter he had written:

Dear Mr Mugabe, The sufferings of the people of Zimbabwe are an abomination in the sight of the Lord. I am praying that the British government arrest you and charge you with crimes against humanity.

Yours faithfully, Merfyn Temple.

He then left the church and walked to Mugabe's residence to deliver the letter. As he approached, he was arrested and thrown into a jail cell designed for six people with 17 occupants. He was accused of being a spy for Tony Blair or George Bush.

The intellectual fortitude of Mugabe's officials can be no more clearly demonstrated than by the next episode which I will quote from The Sunday Times intact:

When Temple was questioned the next day, a police officer who said he had been trained by the FBI in methods of interrogation told him: "We think you are a spy for three reasons. You are tall and you look like a retired brigadier. Your arms are very brown and so you must have spent many years in Africa. When you gave us your coded address in Honiton you said: 'Hotel, hotel'. That is the kind of language the army uses when it relays messages."

He was interrogated further two days later. He daughter in England got worried because she had not heard from him, so she got in contact with a lawyer in Harare who managed to get him out of jail and deported back to Britain.

Seems like God was looking out for him.

Posted by david at October 27, 2003 02:06 AM | TrackBack

What is this darkness cast over Africa? It seems Africa will implode if God does not intervene in a massive and extreme way.

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Posted by: aaron at October 27, 2003 08:54 PM

I think it is because Africa is a great spiritual batteground. At the same time the Devil seems to be winning so many skirmishes, the Church (if I can set aside for a moment the concept that Holy Orthodox is the Church) continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.

For every Nolbert Kunonga, there is an Emmanuel Kolini (Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda and Bishop of Kigali) and John Rucyahana (Anglican Bishop of Shyira). Even in Zimbabwe, while the Anglicans have Kunonga, there is Pius Ncube, the Catholic Archishop of Bulawayo who rightly said that the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe has aligned itself with the “forces of evil”.

If Orthodoxy took a more active missionary approach, no doubt we would participate in harvesting the ripe fields of souls.

Posted by: David Holford at October 27, 2003 10:32 PM

The bravery of Merfyn Temple is quite incredible. To take such risks at his age for the sake of speaking a few still small words of truth is incredible and to think of taking flour for the hungry instead of getting caught up in his own bravery is a sign of saintliness.

Posted by: Havdala at October 28, 2003 08:40 PM

I agree with you David. Bp. Pantaleimon of Ghana came and spoke at our parish...apparently Orthodoxy is growing rapidly where he is working. He has only been there since 2000.

I am just blown away by the suffering that continent has witnessed. And yet i never pray for the country.

Posted by: aaron at October 28, 2003 09:15 PM