15th November 2018
Deb and I have just returned from an excellent week in Zimbabwe. Our days there were busy but fruitful, and I thought I’d give you a few of the highlights.
Scott and Claire Marques and River of Life
It is always a joy to reconnect with dear friends Scott and Claire, and it was good to catch up and hear more about the ongoing situation in Zimbabwe. River of Life and the DNA family of churches are doing well. They recently held their Megavision conference for all the DNA churches in the southern region of Africa, and returned with a fresh sense of hope and faith in what God has called them to do.
Please continue to pray for this nation: their economy is in crisis and everybody is affected by it. Many are experiencing difficulty finding food, fuel and essential medicines. There is no government ‘safety net’ here, and inevitably, those who have least suffer the most.
Despite an early start, our short flight down to Bulawayo to visit Ebenezer was a real highlight of our trip. Deb and I were last there five years ago, and we were excited to see how much progress they have made since then – a dairy has been added and new farm plots cleared. Ebenezer is a farming project which trains young Zimbabweans in farming and business skills and equips them to start a small agricultural business of their own. What makes it unique is its holistic approach to training, offering Christian discipleship alongside practical training as well as numeracy and literacy classes. Many of these youngsters are from impoverished backgrounds with little or no family stability, and the pastoral care they are given is impressive.
It was great to see the new staff house and truck that were bought with money raised by King’s – help with capital investment like this has a big impact on what they are able to achieve here.
We also visited two Ebenezer graduates who are now married and running their own chicken-rearing business nearby, and who are actively involved in the local church. As well as raising 1000 chickens of their own, they oversee several other smallholders in the local area. We visited one of these and spoke to a woman who said that life before the chicken business had been very hard. Now she has a stable income, but Deb and I were still challenged to see that she sleeps outside next to her chickens, in a makeshift bed, to protect them from potential thieves and predators.
Crossover is another project that King’s has recently been involved with, and Deb and I had the joy of visiting this for the first time while in Harare. This is a Christian school run by members of the church. They currently have about 70 pupils who would otherwise have no school to go to. Two former pupils have recently started as students at Ebenezer and we also heard from one young man, who had come to them at fourteen with little schooling, who has just been accepted for teacher training college. Along the way he has become a Christian and turned his life around.
Crossover are developing their own curriculum, and members of King’s are involved in writing the English and Maths parts for them. This is a very exciting development in our church partnership, and a great example of sharing resources for the benefit of the wider church.
• Meeting a group of about 20 young adults from River of Life (RoL) to talk about ‘how not to waste your life’. What an impressive group they were!
• Finding time to fit in nine holes of golf one afternoon – sadly King’s were narrowly beaten by the RoL team.
• An evening with the leaders of the Bulawayo DNA churches.
• A fruitful morning spent with the RoL Senior Leadership Team.
• A good time with the RoL elders and wives, who Deb and I have got to know well over the years.
This was a very different trip to last year’s, which coincided with 'the coup that wasn't a coup'. Although there were no tanks on the streets this time, the country is still facing major difficulties. The church in Zimbabwe is a beacon of light in that nation. Their efforts to alleviate poverty and improve the lives of the people around them, to preach and demonstrate the Good News of Jesus Christ, are inspirational. It is a huge privilege to partner with them.
Please continue to pray for River of Life and the DNA churches, for all the projects they have initiated and for the Kingdom of God to advance in Zimbabwe.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.