Tshego Motaung reflected on Zimbabwe earlier this year, and saw a dawning of a new season of restoration
As we have been watching the recent developments in Zimbabwe, I felt to share the reflections I wrote earlier this year after my first visit to Zimbabwe. I hope this contributes towards shaping the conversation on how to move Zimbabwe forward.
My prayer is that Zimbabweans all over the world, will be like the sons of Issachar who understood the times and knew what they ought to do. – TM
A long-awaited journey
On February 25 to 27 2017 I visited Zimbabwe. This was my first visit to Zimbabwe, over the years I had made plans to visit the nation but every time something happened, and I couldn’t make it. I was attending a meeting organised by Market Place Calling International(MCI), in partnership with World Economic Congress at Meikles Hotel in Harare.
The trip was special to me because my grandmother’s father was from Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). He went back home when she was still young and died shortly afterwards. My visit to Zimbabwe was almost 70 years since she last saw her father, who she speaks so fondly of to this day. I felt strongly that the word of Jeremiah 29.10-14, was being fulfilled I was being reconnected to the land of my forefathers.
For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
However, during the MCI meeting it became clear that this message of restoration was not just about me or my family, but it was the message for the nation and people of Zimbabwe.
I was so full of joy that day, it was just bubbling inside of me. I could see the new thing God was about to do in the nation. Everywhere we went I just saw beauty – not a physical but a potential beauty that was hidden beneath the old ruins and traces of destruction.
The reality of Zimbabwe
However, the next day was different. I was now becoming sober to the reality of the place where Zimbabwe was, where ZANU-PF was still in charge and Robert Mugabe still the president. He had just hosted a big birthday celebration a day before, and that Sunday morning all the headlines were about the president’s birthday party.
I suddenly found myself trying to analyse the political landscape to figure out possible solutions. As the reality of the complexity of the situation in Zimbabwe settled, a heaviness almost like a headache fell on me, I found myself falling into a space of hopelessness as I began to see that every possible solution I could think of had been tried and had failed. After we had discussed the issues a few times, Mrs Mandiwanza and I agreed the nation needed prayer and divine intervention.
It then dawned on me that the people who are supposed to pray are probably feeling like I was at that moment. Like me, they may have found themselves caught up trying to figure out a solution. Some may have believed that President Mugabe would lose power in 2008, or later years or the government of unity would be the answer, then focussed their energy in praying in the direction of what they hoped would be a solution. And now they were probably exhausted, disappointed and hopeless. The Bible says hope deferred makes the heart sick. In order to keep moving in such a situation, many had become numb to the pain.
The church gathering was at Harare Girls High, a building that you could tell was once beautiful and glorious, but seeing its current state deepened my sadness. Everywhere my eyes looked I saw ruins of what was once beautiful. I forced myself to focus on the church service, the warmth and smiles on the faces of the people, and not to allow my thoughts to keep me down.
I am raising a new generation
One of the first things that was done during that service was baby dedication. I felt so moved when they prayed for those two babies, especially the smallest one. A word dropped into my spirit, I am making all things new and raising a new generation and hope suddenly returned.
Apostle Linda Gobodo ministered on healing and restoration that comes after a period of shaking and wilderness, and the glory of the latter house that would be greater than the former. She had prayed earlier for a woman who had a mild stroke and in a gentle way spoke to her words of comfort. She encouraged her to focus on God’s purpose and calling for her life and not on the problems she was confronted with. She also reminded her that the body responds to the way we think. It is proven scientifically that many diseases are a result of negative thinking patterns.
This ministered to me as well — just a day before I saw the possibilities and believed that Zimbabwe would be restored. But the next day, I was overwhelmed by the reality of the streets and was losing hope. I too was comforted, and my analysis of the situation also changed.
I suddenly understood that when Ian Smith left office in 1979, it marked an end of an era of rebellion as he had unilaterally declared independence. Sadly, those who took over from him led the nation to a period of wilderness for almost 40 years. I was however encouraged by the fact that this season was now coming to an end.
God is raising a new generation of Joshuas
After the children of Israel left Egypt, God wanted them to enter the promised land, but their unbelief caused them to wander in the wilderness forty years. God was patient to wait for a whole generation to pass away in order to start with a new generation. This period in the wilderness was not necessarily to punish them but to teach them to trust in God. In that period they needed to unlearn the ways of Egypt and learn the laws Moses gave.
I believe this is God’s plan for Zimbabwe. Part of His purpose for allowing Zimbabwe to stay in the wilderness was to teach the nation to depend on Him. In the process He was raising a new generation of Joshuas that would believe Him and possess the promised land.
I sensed the time was now very near, and God was calling the Church to come to a place of healing because the Church must lead the nation out of the wilderness into the promised land. The liberation movement had its opportunity, but now it was the time for the Church to lead the nation to reconciliation, peace and prosperity.
I could tell that the end of the wilderness time was fast approaching, and this cycle of hopelessness would soon be broken. I felt to encourage people I spoke to not be afraid of those who had always seemed powerful or strong. God allowed them strength for a season, but that season was coming to an end. The things they could do before will not work in this new season, in the same way the food of the wilderness (manna) ended when they crossed the Jordan River, their power and strength will fail them because the seasons had changed.
Isaiah 43:18-19 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
A model of hope and restoration
I believe the Lord wants to use Zimbabwe as a model of hope and restoration after a period of calamity; an example that that a nation can be born in day. The Lord will bring exiles from the nations where they were scattered, and they will return with their silver and gold to rebuild Zimbabwe.
It is therefore crucial for the Church to forgive and receive her healing because the nation needs healing. Just like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a responsibility of the Church in South Africa, it needs to provide leadership on how to rebuild and reconcile the nation.
There are too many things that have happened in Zimbabwe, too many atrocities that have left people broken and wounded, and which have planted deep divisions, even in the Church. But as the season is changing healing must flow.
I left Zimbabwe, but a big part of me remained. I remember looking back at the Harare Airport as I was walking to the plane. It was around sunset, and there was a lonely old national flag flying over this tiny airport, which is in desperate need of renovation and investment to make it look like a 21st century airport. I felt a new day was indeed coming over this nation and all I could say quietly was:”God bless this nation.”
Immediately, I was so overwhelmed by the love and passion that God has for that land that I almost cried. I still don’t understand everything that happened on that trip, but I know the Lord is zealous for Zimbabwe and He will not let go until every promise He has made about this nation is fulfilled.