In 1998, a group of concerned Christians in Zimbabwe were inspired to produce the Kairos Document, which was published by Ecumenical Support Services (ESS).
Sunday Opinion with Pius Wakatama
It is a prophetic theological statement directly speaking to conditions of repression, lies and deceit characteristic of the Zimbabwean political economic and social life then.
The Kairos Document was seen by those involved in producing it as an opportunity to prepare Christians to identify critical challenges to their faith as we entered the millennium. The document spoke boldly on the conditions of tyranny, death and hopelessness prevailing in our country.
As we entered the millennium, the situation got even worse. We were subjected to rule by coercion, the chaotic land invasions claimed many innocent lives and also resulted in a massive shift of farm labourers into homelessness and destitution.
Operation Murambatsvina forced many into homelessness and resulted in loss of livelihoods. During elections political violence brought untold suffering and death to many of God’s innocent people. Justice, which our Lord demands, was trampled upon with impunity which was a clear affront to our whole faith and morality.
Many Zimbabwean families were split and family life was destroyed as many of our educated and talented young people ran away from Zimbabwe to other countries in search of personal and economic security as these could no longer be guaranteed by a reckless and murderous regime. Actually, it is these people in the Diaspora who are sustaining our wrecked economy by sending money home to kith and kin who would otherwise be starving.
At that time, the prophetic voice of the Church was clearly heard through the prayers, proclamations and activities of fearless individual Christians and organisations like ESS, Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) and others. Some were vilified, arrested, tortured and incarcerated in filthy cells but they did not give up. In time, God answered their prayers and for a while, the nation celebrated relative peace and an improvement in the economy brought about by the inclusive government.
Our prayers were that this new unity government would bring about real reconciliation and lasting peace and prosperity to the nation.
However, the structures of violence and oppression were still very much intact, ready to be activated when it became convenient for greedy and corrupt political murderers to do so.
Today the country is worse off than it was during the inclusive government. The suffering people of Zimbabwe are again crying out to God for relief. The situation prevailing in the country today is actually worse than it was before the inclusive government. The Kairos Document, therefore, becomes more relevant today than it was when it was written.
Unfortunately, the church had been effectively lulled to sleep. Instead of continuing to confront sin and to challenge the structures of death in our midst, Christian leaders started to preach a gospel of “engagement” with the government of the day. So-called bishops, reverends and pastors shamelessly joined the gravy train and were allocated farms, farming implements and cars and are now busy campaigning for the godless ruling political party which has brought so much hunger and suffering to the nation.
It was most embarrassing, for faithful but suffering believers, to see on TV some of their most respected bishops smiling foolishly at Grace Mugabe’s Mazoe rally as she castigated former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
For the true church of Jesus Christ, there can be only one kind of engagement as found in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul said, “Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full amour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore, put on the full amour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).
Just as before the inclusive government, Christian leaders in Zimbabwe need to be more visible as witnesses of hope in a hopeless situation.
The people of Zimbabwe have suffered enough and their cries have reached God’s throne of righteousness. Our engagement at every stage must be preoccupied with the need to bring about real transformation. Our challenge is to do away with injustice, oppression, and all manner of sin — not to come to terms with it. Our faith obligation is to oppose, confront and reject the devil and not to sup at his table. As “shepherds of the sheep”, we dare not sleep while evil principalities and powers are free to wreak havoc with the lives of God’s people.
Today, we have a rare opportunity to exhort our nation against oppression and to construct a peaceful and God-fearing democracy in Zimbabwe.
The prophetic gospel is not different from that proclaimed in the Old Testament. The duty of biblical prophets was not different from the duty of prophets today. Their duty was to call the people back to God, to denounce all manner of evil and to pronounce God’s judgement upon unrepentant sinners. But alas, today we have prophets whose duty is to perform miracles, to pray for people to become rich, to predict the deaths of presidents and to fore-tell results of soccer matches.
One area where Christian leaders are confused is around the issue of reconciliation. Our faith obliges us to work for true reconciliation and genuine peace. However, I am just bemused by the number of peace and reconciliation initiatives, conferences, workshops and seminars being held in Zimbabwe on a daily basis.
They are so many that if just a few of them had any success Zimbabwe would be heaven on earth today. If just a fraction of the thousands of dollars spent on these useless initiatives had been given to the thousands of children who had to drop out of school for lack of school fees, much more good would have been accomplished for Zimbabwe.