When a crisis happens, we need to step outside normal ministry patterns and get involved in community ministry. After Cyclone Idai ripped through parts of Mozambique and the eastern mountains of Zimbabwe in mid-March, Zimbabweans sprang into action. One Challenge workers followed the peoples’ lead and worked alongside them to assist those areas experiencing crisis.
“Torrential rains, causing huge landslides down the mountains, obliterated residential areas and swept many to their deaths. Whole communities were stranded for days as most bridges were destroyed,” says Sarah, who works in Zimbabwe.
A week later the worst areas in Zimbabwe had been identified, and relief supplies were trickling through, but southern Africa is not prepared for such calamities. So how did the nation respond?
A local Zimbabwean’s Reflection: Gemma Campling (used with permission)
- “In a country where you queue for hours just to get petrol, where there are food restrictions, nation-wide shortages of baking flour, sugar, and maize, and the price of luxury items like chocolate is 4x higher than prices in the First World …
- “Where 72 percent of the population lives in poverty and trades with a false money system just to keep things ticking; where daily power cuts and water shortages make life exhausting; where the import tax and shortages force people to shop in the NEXT DOOR COUNTRY for food and clothes …
- “In that country, ZIMBABWE, you see this reaction to a natural disaster, ‘Hurricane Idai.’
- “Thousands of people have donated precious food, clothes, and sanitary supplies. My friends have all but emptied their wardrobes to clothe the 400,000 displaced people.
- “Companies have donated thousands of tons of food, water, and essential supplies and provided the trucks and their staff to pack, load, and drive it to the affected areas. Many have been working dawn to dusk for days now, just so our people stand a chance of survival, recovery, and dignity.
- “And all this in a country in economically dire straits. This is why I love my home.”
A community pulling together
“I spent the week following the disaster assisting in Bulawayo’s relief efforts,” Sarah says. “To see the community pull together was so encouraging, and I have many heart-warming visual images of those days.”
The contribution of the community may have been small but still valuable. “Our contribution was a drop in the bucket in terms of the need, but prayerfully enough to make a genuine difference in some of the victims’ lives,” Sarah says.
The relief effort is far from over. Over the past 6 weeks trucks have been consistently dispatched with additional needed supplies.
“Their plight is still real,” Sarah says. “It is our prayer that in the months ahead the nation’s and, particularly, the church’s love, expressed in action, would help these people rebuild their lives, their families, their homes, and their livelihoods.”
Pray with One Challenge
- Pray the church would be light and salt in the nation, expressing Christ’s love through its actions.
- Pray for the OC workers there, that the Lord would give them wisdom in where to invest their time and energy.
- Pray for the ongoing ministry in Zimbabwe. Pray the Lord would draw people closer to himself and that they would be mobilized to make disciples in their nation.
*Photos by permission – Terry Kaschula photos