Election tensions prompt a call to prayer in Zimbabwe

By April 14, 2008

Zimbabwe (MNN/BP) — Southern Baptist missionaries and local Baptists in Zimbabwe are appealing for prayer amid mounting tensions as the country's electoral commission delays release of March 29 election results.

Many of the country's residents are nervous and angry about the delayed outcome as the country's economy spirals out of control. There also have been reports of militants raiding white-owned farms in rural areas.

"There is an uneasy calm and a growing sense of frustration … as we await news of the outcome of elections," said one International Mission Board missionary in the capital city of Harare.

"The people's lack of access to media that they consider reliable is keeping [them] on a knife's edge emotionally."

Meanwhile, people struggle to get by as living conditions worsen.

"Once some of the best in Africa, the roads are beginning to wear thin," the missionary said. "Some high-density areas do without water for weeks on end."

As inflation continues to swell, people are struggling to have even simple necessities. Buying a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk or a repair part from the hardware store has become nearly impossible in some places. Cornmeal can be found only on the black market. Some gas stations have been out of fuel for weeks.

"People just can't keep up," said another missionary in Bulawayo. "Wages don't go up fast enough, and when they do, prices go up faster."

"This has been going on at this pace since the beginning of the year."

Schools turned away students after teachers went on strike because of low wages. Hospitals struggle to provide simple things such as running water or aspirin.

"How do you react when you are told you need a shot of medicine and then you are told by the doctor to go find your own medicine and bring it back so he can give you the shot?" a missionary asked.

The country's troubles also are taking a toll on pastors. Finding ministry supplies and materials is a constant challenge. Many of the pastors are ministering to the needs of orphans and widows in the area in spite of their own hardships.

"People are hungry for God and for understanding the circumstances that we are in," one missionary said. "[We] lead Bible studies, and those involved really want to have these times of sharing and hearing from God and learning more about trusting Him even when circumstances are hard to understand."

Missionaries ask Christians to continue praying for a peaceful resolution to the election stalemate and economic woes.

"Pray for wisdom for our missionaries as we seek to give counsel and assistance to those most in need," the missionary said.

"Most of all, pray that we would be able to present the hope of Jesus Christ to a hopeless and frustrated people."

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