Thursday, December 08, 2011

As Zimbabwe's Anglicans are persecuted, their numbers grow

His Grace has received a further letter about the situation in Zimbabwe. Yes, he knows that many of his readers and communicants don't really care about the matter, and he is fully aware that when he turns from matters gay and Eurogeddon his hit-rate decreases significantly. But he really doesn't care about such temporal trivia. This is important. It concerns our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering, and we are commanded to remember them in our prayers, for their suffering is our suffering: we are one.

This letter from Bishop Julius gives some background on the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent visit to Zimbabwe and the spirit of hope which seems to prevail in the face of evil. As they are persecuted, their numbers grow. Bishop Julius is shown above knocking at the western door at St John’s Cathedral, to which he was denied access.

ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF MANICALAND CPCA
Pastoral Letter November 2011

To our Brothers and Sisters in the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland and to our friends further afield.

I write to you with great concern over the prevailing challenges and suffering the church is still going through in our diocese. I also write with great joy and hope when I consider the success stories in the diocese despite the challenges we continue to face daily.

We still do not have access to about 50% of our diocesan schools, clinics and hospitals and churches. This has hindered progress and development as opportunities have been lost and many lives badly affected. Despite the challenges we face, including our inability to pay stipends, legal bills and rentals, our congregations continue to grow in numbers outstripping the challenges. Yes we are concerned, “but we are not anxious but continue to present our plight before the Lord in prayers.” (Philippians 4:4-8).

In August, the diocese hosted a Zimbabwe Anglican Youth Association (ZAYA) annual conference. Youths from all the five Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe converged at Hartzell High School, a Methodist institution, from the 5th to the 8th of August 2011 for a vibrant and powerful conference. Regrettably, this conference could have been held at St Augustine’s Mission where the Anglican Church started in Zimbabwe but the youth were denied access to this conducive and historical venue. They were however, not deterred by the high costs of hiring the Hartzell High School facilities. About five hundred youths from all over Zimbabwe attended. This was a great success and they were highly inspired and strengthened. We value youth ministry in the diocese and should keep on supporting them in our churches.

From the 11th to the 14th of August 2011 the diocese registered another big success by successfully hosting the Anglican Mothers’ Union of Zimbabwe (AMUZ) annual conference at Mutare Teachers’ College. This was a well organized, spirit -filled and well attended conference. About five thousand ladies from all corners of Zimbabwe enjoyed the joyous and powerful fellowship. All the five Anglican Bishops in Zimbabwe attended the main mass on the 13th of August 2011. The bishops gave powerful messages of solidarity with Anglicans in Zimbabwe. Indeed this event was a clear demonstration of the strength of the true Anglican Church. It was an eye-opener too for those who have decided to follow Mr. Jakazi and Mr. Kunonga. Some of the misguided members attended the conference under cover of darkness to see whether it would be a success. They must have been shocked to realize that they are very much in the minority since almost ninety percent or more of Anglicans in Zimbabwe have remained faithful to the true CPCA. It is pleasing to note that despite the financial challenges in the diocese and the perpetual harassment by Mr. Jakazi and Mr. Kunonga’s supporters, sometimes with help from the police, true Anglicans have not despaired.

The diocese was highly privileged to receive the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, on the 10th of October 2011. He was accompanied by the Archbishops of Central Africa, Tanzania and Southern Africa, and bishops of Botswana, Harare, Manicaland, and Southwark. The Archbishop and his party visited the displaced congregation of St Matthew’s Parish, Rusape, where he worshiped with and encouraged the gathered faithful. It was touching to witness His Grace and other bishops join in worship with the displaced congregation in a town hall with poor ventilation. Their church stood locked and remained dark, only a few hundred yards away.

The next stop was St Paul’s, Christmas Pass, where displaced worshippers were gathered and are thinking of building a large church and conference centre. His Grace blessed the site. Next stop was the Mutare Showgrounds, where I was consecrated two years ago- how time flies! A gathering of about three thousand worshippers gave the Archbishop and the accompanying Archbishops and bishops a rousing welcome. Dr Williams gave a moving homily and encouraged all gathered to remain steadfast in the faith. He assured us of his and the support and prayers of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

From the Showgrounds, the visiting party made a brief stop at St John’s Cathedral. We were denied access but I managed to knock at the Western door with my Crosier and was joined in prayer by all the bishops present.

We had a welcome break at our rented diocesan office. There was much singing and dancing and photo opportunities – when the Archbishops were not swaying to the Manicaland Gospel rhythms!

St Augustine’s Penhalonga was our final stop in Manicaland. Rather than argue at the locked gates, we took a side entrance and walked up the hill to the church, then the CZR Convent where we spent time in prayer and reflection led by the Archbishop. This was indeed a poignant and memorable time.

From Manicaland we sped back to Harare where we met with President Mugabe. The meeting was cordial. The Archbishops and all the bishops were received well. The Archbishop presented the President with a dossier of abuses against Anglicans in Zimbabwe. The President professed ignorant of these abuses and promised to look into the matter. Throughout, the Archbishop was polite but firm and focused. We had a brief meeting with the Prime Minister in the evening.

Full marks for the Archbishop who dare enter the lion’s den to speak, firmly and without fear especially after his powerful sermon at a service attended by an estimated twenty thousand people in Harare the day before. Apart from highlighting our plight, the Archbishop’s visit showed unequivocally that Messrs Kunonga and Jakazi are not Anglicans, despite their claims to the contrary. A lot of their followers have since seen the light and left them. Secondly our plight is now out in the open and the authorities cannot profess ignorant anymore. The rest we leave to our law courts. The Archbishop played his part fully.

It is my encouragement to all of you to seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding as well as God’s guidance in all that we do in life. Choose to be an instrument of righteousness and not an instrument of wickedness.

Soon after the Archbishop’s visit the diocese hosted two visitors from, Southwark Diocese, Woolwich Episcopal Area. Fr Steve Cook and Fr Anthony Buckley were in the diocese from the 15th to the 21st of October 2011. There is a mutual link relationship between our diocese and the Woolwich Episcopal Area. Steve and Anthony were impressed by what they saw. They said that they learnt a lot from their visits to schools, churches and even families in Manicaland. “Our interaction with Anglicans in Manicaland at different levels or in different circumstances be it at a school, in church, or over a meal had a lot say about your faith, determination and hope in doing the work of the Lord.” said Anthony. We thank the Woolwich Episcopal Area for their prayers and support.

The diocese sent six ordinands to Bishop Gaul College in Harare and one Ordinand to Westcott House, Cambridge. We thank the Community of the Resurrection (CR Fathers) who helped the diocese to raise US$8400 for the college fees and Canon Martin Seeley who helped to fund the Westcott House Ordinand. This is a big step in an effort to increase the number of trained priests in the diocese. It is only the beginning. More ordinands should be sent for theological training because we are still very far from meeting the required number of priests in the diocese. This critical need calls for greater commitment and sacrificial giving to support the training of priests.

Whilst many churches have been unlawfully taken over by Mr. Jakazi we have had moments of great joy and celebration after lawfully taking back some of our churches. Tears of grief soaked the elderly ladies from All Saints Zimunya church when their church was unlawfully taken over by Jakazi’s priests with the help of the police. When the matter was taken to the High Court, justice prevailed unlike in many other cases where we have been denied justice. We got back All Saints Zimunya church on the 11th of October 2011 and this time tears of joy streamed down on the same faces where tears of grief had flowed. All our assets that had been unlawfully grabbed are being recovered lawfully. The process is slow. I know you have suffered, you have cried but our faith and hope is that soon we shall be rejoicing. Let us not forget that first and foremost, we are the church and that the risen Lord will break all the locked doors and open doors no one can shut. It is not the buildings, but us who make a true church anchored on the spiritual foundation on which our lives are built. God will restore all our property back as well as the peace and joy that we have lost.

St Peters Nyamandwe Church in Pafiwa area has suffered a series of violent attacks from Mr. Jakazi’s supporters. Like All Saints Zimunya, this church was unlawfully grabbed and CPCA members have been tormented. The worst incident happened on the 23rd of October 2011 when five of our members were viciously attacked by thugs who had been hired by Jakazi’s supporters. Some sustained serious injuries. Even when you go through such suffering, never give up. Just remember 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 and be strengthened. As we move closer to Christmastide let us be motivated by the fact that just as God gave His only son Jesus Christ as the savior of the world He will in the same way come to our rescue. A perfect solution is in His hands.

+ Julius Manicaland
7 November 2011

19 Comments:

Blogger William said...

Thank you for that YG

"I know you have suffered, you have cried but our faith and hope is that soon we shall be rejoicing. Let us not forget that first and foremost, we are the church and that the risen Lord will break all the locked doors and open doors no one can shut. It is not the buildings, but us who make a true church anchored on the spiritual foundation on which our lives are built."

A glimpse of the early church?

I am reminded of a recent visit to Liberia. Another country that has suffered terribly from violence. Many buildings and churches have yet to be rebuilt. I was humbled to witness their openness to the Spirit and the strength of their generosity and faith. And to see how earnestly they wanted the Gospel to spread; knowing that this is the greatest hope for their nation. Lest they slide into civil war again.

I believe that we westerners could learn much about living out our faith in the power of the Spirit from out African brothers and sisters.

8 December 2011 at 11:08  
Blogger bluedog said...

Well said Mr William. Archbishop Rowan showed himself to be a man of courage by visiting Zimbabwe and taking Mugabe on.

The report by Bishop Julius Manicaland can be described by Matthew 11: 1-10, 'The Kingdom of God is advancing forcefully, and forceful men are laying hold of it.'

A favourite quotation of the Zim Minister for Education, Senator David Coltart, as it happens.

8 December 2011 at 11:32  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

How can we not be interested in the plight of fellow Christians? The 'hits' go down because of consensus not because of a lack of interest.

May God's will be done in Afica and may His Kingdom come.

8 December 2011 at 12:05  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
I was privileged to have been a friend of Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa from Nigeria. He had sixty million members in his churches throughout Nigeria. In his day he suffered a lot of opposition from witch doctors and was famously reported as saying on television that he would cut of their head if they proceeded with certain actions. He also told the Muslims that disaster would fall upon them if they continued with building their Mosque near Lagos airport. Work stopped there until well after his death.
He was a man with Godly authority, knew his God and what he could do in God’s name. He was not immune from attack however. Muslims came to his home in Benin at night with their machetes and guns. They burst into his house and killed some of the guards and took others captive. Benson was able to jump from a balcony and made his escape over the boundary wall. Shortly after this he came to England with his leg in plaster from the break he sustained in his jump. The assassins were rounded up by the militia and shot. We are blessed in this country that we do not as yet have such behaviour.
There is still a continuing conflict between Muslims and Christians, particularly in the north where the Muslims are stronger, but direct reports from a Bible school in Jos, say that they are increasingly getting converts from Islam which for them is a very dangerous thing to do.
However, your Graces’ blog is a very different kind of conflict but I am sure that men of God will lead them through it by the grace of God and the support of prayer from the brethren.

8 December 2011 at 13:12  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

I feel ashamed of myself when I read of such bravery. May God protect them and deliver them from evil. Poor Zimbabwe doesn't deserve such treatment and the sooner Mr Mugabe and his cohorts are gone the better. Remember Mr Tzvangirai too, for he seems, from what I know of him, to be a good man too.

8 December 2011 at 15:24  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

William. I believe that we westerners could learn much about living out our faith in the power of the Spirit from out African brothers and sisters.

Well, the Inspector believes our African brothers and sisters could learn even more from the West regarding our spirit of cooperation and tolerance. There are after all enough of them living over here in exile to carry the message back if we could get them to leave. But they won’t, and who can blame them. To swop our desirable lifestyles for the cycle of civil war / unpopular government that so much of that continent experiences – would you ?

The West, nay the entire world could help, with a total arms embargo. Difficult to enforce, so a second device is needed: Not a single pound in aid to go to any government of any troubled state. Such Western help should only go to foreign aid agencies there. If they don’t have the millions to spend, the arms manufacturers aren’t going to be interested.

Ideally, if the world cared, there would be a United Nations invasion of a country each time a massacre occurred there. Chase out the rulers and impose Western administration. We might care, but the World doesn’t give a damn…

8 December 2011 at 17:36  
Blogger William said...

Inspector "Well, the Inspector believes our African brothers and sisters could learn even more from the West regarding our spirit of cooperation and tolerance."

You may be right Inspector. Let us hope and pray that this spirit of cooperation and tolerance prevails during the coming storm.

What?

8 December 2011 at 19:05  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I think it's good to have the other side of the coin presented to us via this article and lovely letter today. The press was full of negative verbiage about the ABC's encounter with Mugabe and his “pointless visit”. But this demonstrates that his visit bolstered the moral and gave the much needed support to those who are battling to follow mainstream Anglicanism.

8 December 2011 at 19:39  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

His Grace says, "Yes, he [His Grace] knows that many of his readers and communicants don't really care about the matter, and he is fully aware that when he turns from matters gay and Eurogeddon his hit-rate decreases significantly."

Such cynicosm and lack of faith in your communicants, Your Grace! As you may have noticed, Dodo offered the theory that lack of commentary indicates universal agreement with your post. I happen to think that your communicants are a little stung by your remark, and in any case they're furiously trying to get through to the Zimbabwean embassy (Tel: 020 7836 7755 and Fax: 020 7379 1167). Others are writing letters to the embassy and contacting their MPs by going to www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/. Those who think that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office may be able to accomplish something ...say a review of foreign aid policies ... between tea brakes and pub nights, might wish to check out its snazzy website their taxes generously contributed to at www.fco.gov.uk/en/. Also, if you open your window a tad, the wind might carry the sounds of crowds gathering in front of Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London, WC2R OJR!

After all, Your Grace, your Anglican communicants, as well as Christians of other denominations, have come to understand that issues such as opposition to Gay marriage, which appear to exercise them so much, cannot be successfully addressed without first building a culture of concern for their brothers and sisters at home and in far-off lands who suffer privations or are under attack. They know that developing the desire, ability and means to unite and to pursue comon goals in practical and effective ways may be the only way to stem the tide of profound indifference infecting modern Western society. Or something like that. You must be patient, Your Grace.

8 December 2011 at 22:46  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Avi

And don't forget the Vatican! Some of us have written respectfully to the Holy Father asking him to pray for the persecuted people of Zimbabwe and expressing our faith that, whilst recognising the complexities of the situation, he is doing all he can to assist his broters and sisters in Christ.

The Holy Fathjer's email address is: benedictxvi@vatican.va.

8 December 2011 at 23:15  
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9 December 2011 at 06:28  
Blogger Gnostic said...

It's not just understanding and more priests these people need, its an uprising. Unfortunately, these people are Christians and not Arab muslims and they have no oil so they won't be getting any help from the US or the EUSSR to shake off the yoke of tyranny like the Libyans did.

9 December 2011 at 08:41  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Dodo, I didn't forget the Vatican; I thought it was more in your department. The Holy See has an embassy in Harare too.

My recently elected MP, Joe Oliver, now the Minister of Natural Resources and our Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, have both been informed of my concern. It's a matter of time before my communication is confirmed when the motorcycle courier from Ottawa arrives, chilled and exhausted from avoiding my brother truckers on the highways and in sore need of nourishment in the form of single malt shots and a plate of shmaltz herring. It's the least I can do. With J.O. and J.B. on the job, things will get really cooking. Nothing can stand in the way of a Jew and a Scotsman united by their love of scotch and herring!

9 December 2011 at 13:43  
Blogger len said...

Christianity has always been persecuted and anyone standing for the true faith WILL face persecution from the secular World and from the 'counterfeit Church'.
Ans speaking of such has Benedict spoken against Mugabe yet as he seems to' have his ear'?

9 December 2011 at 19:46  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

len, why don't you email the Holy Father and ask him?

Feeling persecuted are you? I'm not surprised given your confusion about the Incarnation, the Passion and the Triune God and your evident reluctance to share your views. Perhaps you haven't got any and think they don'tmatter.

So if all organised religion is 'counterfeit' what doctrine is the 'genuine' church founded upon - and please don't bang on about 'solar scriptura' and individual inspiration under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We know where that leads.

9 December 2011 at 21:09  
Blogger len said...

And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.(Matthew 23:)

9 December 2011 at 21:28  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Better cancel 'Father's Day' then!

9 December 2011 at 23:07  
Blogger len said...

In Bennys`s case yes!.

10 December 2011 at 20:30  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Len

I presume you mean the 'Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles' held each year to commemorate the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

How small minded.

And you know too you have misrepresented Jesus' words Matthew 23:8 and taken the words out of context.

'Sola scriptura' read by impeeded eyes is a toxin indeed.

10 December 2011 at 23:56  

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