Go back to normal view
It was our last service with Anna Cox (Howard’s niece) before she returns to Zimbabwe briefly and then goes on to the USA to continue her studies there. Anna has been with us for 2 years and become a dear member of our church in that time. This morning she was kind enough to share her Faith Story with us – which gave us a very real insight to the realities of life with Robert Mugabee in control of the country but with God in control of his people.
Ellie led special prayers for Anna and Shirley presented her with a special present made of wood by Renfree from one of our old church chairs including the Cross emblem and an inscription.
Ladock Church 23rd July 2017
Identity and Forgiveness
I am Zimbabwean. I have always lived there and I have no claim to any other citizenship. And yet, after all these years, I am not really accepted there, set apart by the colour of my skin, branded by the actions of colonists half a century ago.
In 2014, our farm which had been my only home, was handed over to a youth minister who needed a reward for his loyalty to the political party. A single signature on a scrappy piece of paper transferring two decades of my family's hard work over to this man who didn't know the first thing about farming. We were given 48 hours to move what we could off the property. This grossly unfair act was carried out across the country, their slogan: Indigenise.
To these political leaders, we are not Zimbabwean, we are intruders, whites who have taken their land. Emigration is difficult and we aren't really welcome at home. I'm sure I'm not the first white Zimbabwean to struggle with this question of identity. Am I who others say that I am? Do I know who I am? Who does God say that I am?
As a Christian I have come to realise that I am first and foremost a child of the living God. This means I am loved, accepted and forgiven and am right where God wants me to be. When you believe this, the search for acceptance can stop. Nationality, race and gender don't define you. Your identity in Christ is permanent and steadfast, not affected by the fickle and changing opinions of this world.
I had a discussion with a non-christian friend of mine a few weeks ago – she is from Slovakia and makes sure you know it! She couldn't understand how I didn't have a Zimbabwean flag, she has several Slovakian flags draped around her room. Shouldn't I be more proud to represent my country?
I had to disagree, I am primarily representing God from day to day, my allegiance is to Him and what he stands for, not to Zimbabwe. Yes, an upbringing in Zimbabwe contributes to who I am, but it is being a Christian that influences my choices, actions and reactions. Its my faith that sets me apart and makes me different. To non-Christians I suppose this is hard to understand. God's nation doesn't have a flag or borders, but is no less tangible. We have a message to share, an incredible leader to follow, a sound truth to lean on, and it doesn't matter what our history is or what colour our skin is, all are accepted into His family through faith. Thats what I believe in and am proud to represent.
18th April was Zimbabwe's independence day – 37 years ago Robert Mugabe became the first president of Zimbabwe. He's still there by the way, at 93 years old. This day brings mixed feelings to me, yes, Zimbabwean people gained the right to govern themselves, but it is also the day that my grandparents resigned their jobs and made the decision to move to the UK. It is a reminder of the racial tensions that underpin the problems that Zim has had over the last 3 decades.
My grandfather never came back to Zim, and never really forgave us for staying on after they left. He couldn't bring himself to live under an African government. Mugabe and other politicians have been unable to accept the white population, their hatred for each other runs so deep, 30 years it has been festering.
This profound example of unforgiveness has been the cause of so much pain for me personally and I believe, has contributed hugely to the devastating situation in Zimbabwe.
It is unsurprising then, that I embraced the Christian teaching of forgiveness whole heartedly. Nothing is so damaging, to both parties, as a grudge. As we say so often in the Lord's prayer; forgive us as we forgive others. As Christians we strive to imitate Jesus, to do what He would do, to be reflections of His character here on Earth. Jesus is the model; He would forgive the man who took our home, and He is helping me to do the same. 3 years on I still get angry and upset about the whole situation and the stress it puts on my parents, but I am gradually coming to terms with it, and appreciating the opportunities that have resulted from our move, my coming here for one.
Although I'm told it was said even before I was born, change will come to Zimbabwe, and I'm confident that it will be for the better. It is chaotic, scary and seemingly out of control at the moment, but Jesus is all powerful, He has the final say and he's working for our good. If our God is for us, what can stand against us?
It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this congregation for the last two years. I'll be lucky to find a group half as friendly and welcoming in the States. I'll be sure to keep the church and you all in my prayers.
Thank you, or as we say at home: Ndatenda, Fambai zvakanaka.