Zimbabwe’s problems pose ‘deep concern,’ missions chief says
Aug. 24, 2005
A UMNS Photo courtesy of UMCOR
By United Methodist News Service
The United Methodist
Church missions agency is trying to expand its humanitarian work in
Zimbabwe in response to the country’s food crisis and homelessness
problem, the agency’s top staff executive said.
“The current situation
in the nation of Zimbabwe is of deep concern to the United Methodist
family and other Christian churches worldwide,” said the Rev. R. Randy
Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries,
in an Aug. 23 letter.
members and ecumenical mission partners, Day responded to questions the
board is receiving about how it is responding to crises in the
sub-Saharan African country.
“A severe drought and
food shortage have gripped the land for more than two years,” Day said.
“More recently, hundreds of thousands of people — perhaps a million —
have been left homeless and jobless because of a government program to
tear down urban shelters and commercial stalls considered illegal
structures. We receive heart-rending stories of families and children
living in the open during the cold months.”
The board has
missionaries and mission volunteers working in Zimbabwe, as well as
church-related health care programs, humanitarian projects and
child-care ministries assisted by two of the board’s units: the United
Methodist Committee on Relief and the Women’s Division.
“One big concern is for
the safety of the clergy and other leaders of the Zimbabwean church,”
Day wrote. The board is guided in its public witness by those leaders
and has ongoing contact with them.
“We are working in faith and spiritual
solidarity with the Zimbabwean church to sustain the existing ministries
of preaching and service,” he said. “We are attempting to expand
humanitarian ministries in the light of both the food crisis and the
enormous number of homeless people.”
The Rev. R. Randy Day
UMCOR has spent
$234,000 in humanitarian relief in Zimbabwe since mid-2003, when the
most recent food shortage began, and it has sent $90,000 in assistance
for the homeless so far this year. The board is working to help the
homeless through the ecumenical agency Action by Churches Together
International, and Christian Care, a Zimbabwe-based relief partner “with
major United Methodist involvement,” Day said. Money also has been
provided to the Zimbabwe church for emergency needs, he said.
“We face restrictions
on what churches themselves can and cannot do in response to the
displaced people,” Day said. “Many Zimbabwean congregations do not have
buildings that could serve as shelters, even if this alternative were
International attention and action, along with the cooperation of the Zimbabwean authorities and people, are needed, he said.
Day said United Methodists can help by:
- Praying for the people and the church of Zimbabwe.
- Assisting those who are hungry and homeless.
- Monitoring social, economic and political developments in the country.
- Keeping “our hearts set on justice, mercy, and peace for our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters.”
People interested in contributing to relief efforts for Zimbabwe can make contributions to “All Africa Famine Relief,” Advance
No. 101250, or “Zimbabwe Emergency,” Advance No. 199456, and drop them
in local church offering plates or send them directly to UMCOR at P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Credit-card donations can be made at (800) 554-8583.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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