24th January 2019
Deb and I first visited Zimbabwe in 2012, just as the country was becoming more stable following the currency crisis of 2008. Since then we have returned each year, including once with our three sons, our last holiday with just the three of them before our eldest son, Ben, married the lovely Alice.
Our last three trips to Zimbabwe have not been without incident. While we were there three years ago, one of the River of Life elders was arrested and placed in prison. We had gathered in the evening for a leaders’ meeting, when he arrived at the house having just been released quite unexpectedly. It really was like a scene from the book of Acts! Two years ago, we flew in as ‘the coup that wasn’t a coup’ unfolded. We witnessed people’s joy at being able to demonstrate peacefully and their very real hope for change. We were there again in November, just three months ago, and found the believers in good heart despite signs of hyperinflation, food shortages, and the possibility of economic collapse looming once again.
In the last couple of weeks, the situation in Zimbabwe has taken another worrying turn. The government increased the price of fuel by 150% overnight, meaning Zimbabwe now has the most expensive fuel in the world. This resulted in civil protest and a subsequent harsh crackdown from government authorities. Communication from Zimbabwe was hampered by the government shutting down the internet for some time. As the western media has been waking up to the deteriorating situation, we ask you to pray for our friends in Zimbabwe, the church, the government and the nation.
I have been in regular contact with Scott Marques, our dear friend and the leader of River of Life Church in Harare. He has asked us to pray along these lines:
- Pray for our Government and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness.
- Pray for Christians in all sectors of society to be salt and light, with Christ’s love and faith outworked in all they do.
- Pray for the individuals, families, businesses, schools and many communities suffering injury through beatings, shootings, looting and other forms of violence at this time.
We are still planning for Scott to be with us in the first week of March when he is due to speak at King’s on Sunday 10th March.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
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
1st November 2018
On Sunday evening, Deb and I will be flying to Zimbabwe to spend the week with friends at River of Life Church in Harare. We are very much looking forward to our trip, our seventh visit there – God has placed this amazing nation on our hearts and we are excited about the developing church-to-church relationship between King’s and River of Life. On this occasion, we are delighted to be travelling with a small team from King’s, William Dalziel, Simon Linley and Birgit Linley.
Scott Marques (leader of River of Life and the DNA family of churches) has planned a full programme for us, and we would appreciate your prayers as we travel:
Monday: Arrive in Harare around lunchtime. Evening with River of Life elders and wives.
Tuesday: Early start (they are a nation of early risers!) for a 7.00am flight down to Bulawayo, where we will spend the day with Renee Cunningham at the Ebenezer farming project. This is a fantastic initiative for young adults that offers Christian discipleship alongside training in business and farming skills. (Some of you may remember that King’s raised an amazing £35,000 in 2016 which went towards building much-needed staff accommodation and buying a new truck for transporting goods.) In the evening I will be speaking to a group of leaders from Scott’s DNA family of churches.
Wednesday: Fly back to Harare to visit The Michael Project (which includes a children’s home and several pre-schools) and to discuss Crosssover, the education project we are partnering with to write a curriculum - a great example of sharing resources!
Thursday: Spend the day with River of Life senior leaders. In the evening we will be speaking as a team to a group of students.
Friday: Flight back to Johannesburg.
Deb and I then have a couple of days holiday around Johannesburg before flying back on Monday.
You may have picked up from the news that Zimbabwe is once again facing huge economic challenges. With memories of the crisis caused by the hyperinflation of 2008 still fresh for many, people are naturally anxious. Please pray that we would be both a blessing and an encouragement to everyone we meet, that the church would continue to put their trust in God who works all things for good, and that the Gospel would continue to advance in Zimbabwe.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
12th April 2018
Our dear friend Scott Marques flew in from Zimbabwe yesterday morning, and it was great to catch up with him over breakfast. Even after a long flight and very little sleep, Scott never fails to bring his usual enthusiasm and positive energy! Our conversation ranged from catching up on family news and what is happening at both King’s and River of Life churches, to the political situation in Zimbabwe and developments in Scott’s crocodile and egg businesses – it is always stimulating spending time with this guy!
Scott will be spending the next four days with us at King’s and will be meeting with our staff and the Zimbabwe Partnership Team. I am very excited that he will also be speaking at our Kingdom Investment Seminar on Saturday morning. As well as leading River of Life in Harare and the DNA family of churches, Scott is a successful business entrepreneur and leader. The morning seminar presents a great opportunity to come and hear Scott’s story and catch his heart for finding kingdom opportunities in every area of our lives. The seminar is open to all and will run from 9.45-11.30am at our Catford site.
I am also glad to tell you that Scott will be our guest speaker on Sunday, which is Diversity Sunday at King's. King’s is committed to building a community made up of people from many different nations, races, ages and backgrounds, and this is a moment when we celebrate our diversity together. The service will be slightly different to normal and we would love everyone to come wearing national/traditional dress or to dress up a bit smarter than usual. I will be marking the occasion by bringing out my suit! I hear there are a variety of different things being planned, so I really encourage everyone to be there and not miss out.
We have an exciting weekend ahead at King’s, and I look forward to seeing you there.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham, Lee and Beckenham. 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.