Zimbabwe (MNN) — Government
politics are blamed for Zimbabwe's current tragedies of disease and famine.
According to the
United Nations, 5.5 million Zimbabweans
need food assistance. The country is
also struggling with a cholera epidemic. More than 1,100 people have died, and
24,000 others have been sickened since August.
humanitarian crisis deepened, pressure grew for President Robert Mugabe to step
down. However, this week, Mugabe
remained defiant, rejecting U.S. President George Bush's demand that he quit,
blaming his country's troubles on international sanctions.
While millions starve, the
rejection of critical food aid has Dave Bremner with SIM International (Serving in Mission) stymied. "Other products that we've found, when
they've been taken to Zimbabwean officials, have been met with the same
resistance and the same official rejection of the products. So we're beginning to wonder if it's got to
do with the product, or whether it's got to do with the desire to help their
people, or just keep their political positions secure."
Rather than wait, SIM partners Multi
and the Central Methodist Church of Johannesburg began distributions to Zimbabweans seeking
refuge in South Africa. With no relief in sight, the
most vulnerable parts of the populace, namely women and children, have been
crossing the border into South Africa in hopes of a better chance of survival.
According to their reports, there
has been a dramatic increase in the numbers of asylum-seekers as the crisis in
Zimbabwe failed to improve. Among those
fleeing are a growing number of unaccompanied children. Recent estimates
indicate it could be as high as 1,000 a month.
Bremner says the Gospel is
foremost on their team's mind. "The
biggest agenda for us, really, is to bring people to the knowledge of Jesus
Christ. In the situation where they're dying from cholera and starvation, we
have to attend to that urgently, and through that, show witness not only to the
individual that we're ministering to with physical needs but to the whole
community as they see love put into action."
The team hasn't given up on their
project in Zimbabwe. Although the food
aid can't be a part of it right now, they are hoping for a breakthrough that will allow their indigenous team
freedom to distribute aid. Meanwhile, they are continuing work on existing ministry.
This project will also strengthen
the efforts of their Hope for AIDS projects in Zimbabwe, including the Today
for Tomorrow program, home-based care, and orphan and vulnerable children
ministries. Keep praying for God to work
through this effort and soften the hearts of the officials in Zimbabwe. Pray,
too, that they will respond to the hope of Christ.