While in the West Bank just a few days after Christmas handling the matter of Pauline Ayyad and the Ayyad family, Lisa Bourland, Co-Director of The Fathers House International and Women, Weapons of Warfare, asked me and our team to travel with her to Zimbabwe in March. Without hesitation or knowing exactly what the ACLJ could do in Zimbabwe, the team and I committed to make the idea of the trip into a reality.
If you arent familiar with Zimbabwe, formerly known as Rhodesia until independence from white rule in 1980, it is a country where 80% of the 13 million population is Christian and a land full of natural resources sought after by nations around the world. Currently, as youve likely read in the news, the people and politicians of Zimbabwe have come together to form a new Unity Government comprised mainly of the two main political parties President Robert Mugabes Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais MDC (Movement for Democratic Change). These once fierce rivals are attempting to work together to help their troubled nation an economy that has experienced a 231,000,000% inflation rate, an outbreak of cholera, a population where an estimated 25% (and probably many more) are infected with HIV/AIDS, food shortages, lack of clean water, and as most well-know, political unrest.
You may be familiar with the violence that occurred during the 2008 Zimbabwe elections that resulted in now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai withdrawing from the race so that the people would not have to face the violence that would come with a run-off election. What you probably arent familiar with is the people of Zimbabwe, millions of our Christian brothers and sisters now working together for peace with a common hope that is greater than can be described in words.
The United States government currently sanctions most business activities in Zimbabwe, does not yet have faith in the new Unity government, and provides only minimal humanitarian assistance while warning any US citizens not to travel in Zimbabwe (our diplomatic relations are strained to say the least). As you can imagine, we were expecting to find a situation much different than what we found. As a team of four white guys nervous about the news reports of the violence, disease, and unrest in Zimbabwe, we were welcomed with love, treated like family, and stood in solidarity with the people at various meetings, Sunday church services, and conferences. In fact, the political leaders of Zimbabwe made an effort to meet with us. [ZIMBABWE PHOTO GALLERY]
In the coming days and weeks, well be posting footage from our trip, producing television programs about our work in Zimbabwe, and calling on your support in a petition asking President Obama to support the new Unity government and people of Zimbabwe by strengthening diplomatic ties and easing sanctions. As youll see from our reports in the coming days and weeks, without Western assistance, Zimbabwe will rely solely on the aide of Iran, Pakistan, and other Islamic nations. This Christian country, once full of Christian mission's schools, is now full of Islamic schools, Islamic missionaries, and Islamic aide workers.
Over the course of our mission to Zimbabwe, we created new bonds with Church leaders like Dr. Goodwill Shana (Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Council of Churces) and Rev. Alexander Chisango (ZNRI), Pastor Vicky Mpofu, and Petronella Maramba. We also had an opportunity to meet with government leaders like Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at his home [ZIMBABWE PHOTO GALLERY], whose wife was recently killed in a car accident where he also suffered injuries an accident reported in the news around the world Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office Gorden Moyo, Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga, and former High Court Justice Leslie George Smith. Well be bringing you footage of all of these meetings so that you can hear directly from these leaders as they call for support from the Christian community in the United States.
The ACLJ has committed to the new Unity Government and people of Zimbabwe that we will be their representatives to the United States both our government and the Church. As youll see and hear, if we dont support this government soon with assistance, infrastructure, and investment, unity will crumble, schools will close again, AIDS/HIV will continue to spread, cholera will continue to kill, and our Christian brothers and sisters will continue to suffer while being forced by necessity to turn to Islamic nations for support.
Over the course of this trip, we have hours of footage, hundreds of photos, and various commentaries that well be putting together for you. I ask you to join with us and review the information with an open mind, knowing that these are our Christian brothers and sisters in need of our support economically and, most importantly, spiritually.
The Importance of Christian Broadcasting: One of our new friends from the trip, Dr. Goodwill Shana head of a Church organization in Zimbabwe that consists of over 10 million people, an attorney, and powerful leader in Zimbabwe immediately began helping us during our trip because he was already very familiar with us. In our first meeting on our first day in Zimbabwe, Dr. Goodwill Shana, who had waited for us because of flight delays, informed us that he watched ACLJ This Week, our television broadcast, every week on the Christian satellite network Daystar. Because of this familiarity and trust in our organization, we were granted access to leaders in Zimbabwe and created new relationships that we could not have even imagined before this trip.
The ACLJ: Special Operations Unit did some things youll probably be a bit surprised about in Zimbabwe -- like spending times with AIDS orphans and widows through the Be Heard Project.
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