Imagine if your job was to head up relief work in embattled Zimbabwe. Can you dare contemplate the enormity of the task? Here is someplace where strong dynamic gracious leadership is needed.
I have just been reading of Tear Fund's insight into life at the frontline.
We all know how there has been a steady deterioration in that nation's circumstances, but how is one to react and respond remembering that it is always the poor who suffer most of all - in every crisis - no matter where that crisis erupts.
This however, is more than deterioration. Zimbabwe is on the brink of destruction. One Christian found it so hard to pray when visiting Zimbabwe and breathed these words - “Lord, is it okay to have an ache in your heart in place of words?"
The local aid workers who are in such a difficult environment are able to remain optimistic - although they experience that nagging aching too. Some say - “This is what God has called us to". Now, that is bravery of a unique kind - especially when it is said with a smile!
Hope and compassion and faith keep these aid workers going. They know that God loves the oppressed. Of course, that raises profound questions.
The aid worker visiting Zimbabwe on this occasion meets with United Nation agencies and other organisations in the network. More questions arise - what are you pressing needs - what do you think might happen - how can we help you in what you are presently doing with the little that is available?
I have always wondered how such aid workers can continue unless they have a very strong faith in Jesus Christ. How do you lead those who are reaching out to those who have nothing and whose lives are under threat?
Rain had fallen in the Bulawayo district, but has there been enough to encourage the crops to grow. The grass is green but is there enough to feed the cattle of the local villagers? From what we have learned recently it would appear that there has been insufficient grass! Cows and goats are dying.
A little girl of three is living with her granny because mother died a year ago. She is thin. She is not well. Her eyes carry a sadness.
Why do leaders permit this type of struggle to continue? Is the life of a child not more valuable than a man's position, reputation and politics? This applies to international leaders as well as those in southern Africa. We have a duty to care - to be concerned - and even to intervene.
I saw such need in Uganda and Kenya and it was good to intervene in a very minor way by giving a little here and there. I remember visiting an Orphanage on a beautiful hilltop seventeen miles out of Kampala, where the air is clean and free from the pollution of the city. There were five hundred girls and boys there, and receiving such good care and nourishing food. On learning of the lack of playing materials, I arranged for them to have some new footballs and skipping ropes. When these were taken out two days later the young faces were jumping for joy. One would think you had given them gold!
It is good to go and see what the actual needs are. Some little things can be resolved almost immediately. The weightier matters can be referred back to donor agency. That may be all right in Kenya and Uganda, but the problem is rather more difficult and complicated in Zimbabwe.
Sandy Shaw is Pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship, Chaplain at Inverness Prison, and Nairn Academy, and serves on The Children's Panel in Scotland, and has travelled extensively over these past years teaching, speaking, in America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, making 12 visits to Israel conducting Tours and Pilgrimages, and most recently in Uganda and Kenya, ministering at Pastors and Leaders Seminars, in the poor areas surrounding Kampala, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He broadcasts regularly on WSHO radio out of New Orleans, and writes a weekly commentary at http://www.studylight.org entitled “Word from Scotland" on various biblical themes, as well as a weekly newspaper column.
His M. A. and B. D.degrees are from The University of Edinburgh, and he continues to run and exercise regularly to maintain a level of physical fitness.