Zimbabwe facing critical moment in light of crackdown.

By March 20, 2007

Zimbabwe
(MNN) — Zimbabwe
has banned foreign travel by government critics, adding to a deepening crisis
over President Robert Mugabe's crackdown. 

Mugabe's government is under increasing international
criticism for its treatment of the opposition, with activists alleging police
have disrupted their gatherings and beaten their leaders.

The regime refuses to permit foreign by leading government
critics and imposed other harsh measures. It's an effort to block protests over
economic mismanagement and to crush any political opposition, even as the
country continues to slide toward an economic abyss.

Neighboring Botswana
tightened its border security as fears of political unrest could lead to a
renewed flood of illegal migration.  In
the meantime, the African Union joined the United
States, Britain,
and the United Nations in criticizing the government crackdown, and called on Zimbabwe to
respect human rights.

Bible Pathway Ministries' Ken Sharp says this is similar the
crackdown of 2005.   In July of that
year, we spoke with their partner who told us that the suppression of poverty
was in an effort to secure an international aid loan.

"The government has been demolishing people's houses,
what they call 'illegal structures', and people's stores. This has displaced
close to one and a half million people. That also creates a humanitarian
disaster." Called "Operation Murambatsvina," or "drive out
trash."

The campaign came at a time when the farms, owned by white
citizens, were being seized.  At this
point, the BPM partner, unnamed for security reasons, stepped in.  This pastor had many of the effected families
in his congregation, and began offering them aid. 

"The church has been involved in taking care of the
needy. I think the last two months, numbers have swollen." Explaining how
their team works, the pastor explained, "When people are hungry, they are
really open to the Gospel. We don't bring the help saying, 'It is our help', we
say, 'The Lord has enabled us to help you'. 

But, when word got out that he was helping white families,
the threats began.  In fact, the
situation soured so much that their partner fled Zimbabwe.  Sharp says, "Our representative that was
doing so much mission work both in Zimbabwe and in surrounding
countries, has had to flee the country finally, after many death threats,
threats to his family, a lack of any assistance from the government or from the
police."

Sharp says they just sent in a large shipment of Bible
Pathway resources to Zimbabwe
and surrounding region. However, "We are trying to do the best we can,
right now, to get Bibles in while the door is still open somewhat. But, with
the political unrest, the way the government is going, it could very easily
close the doors down tomorrow to a lot of the materials that are going in."

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