News from Zimbabwe - December 2019
In our last newsletter fuel had risen from 1.39 to 3.24 per litre. It now costs 17.44. Our churches along with the whole population are struggling with rampant inflation of prices without a commensurate increase in income. I did not write $3.24 because we are no longer operating in a multi-currency environment, in fact it is now illegal to trade in USD.
In these challenging times, many are finding it difficult to travel to church and our numbers at our Prospect Assembly have dropped. Our theme for 2019 is Living by Faith. In my preaching, I have been focusing on where we put our faith and what we have faith for and I have completed a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. At school, we continuing to emphasise and develop Biblical integration in all our teaching.
Two weeks ago at our Annual Conference we elected all but one of the men and women to serve on our national Conference Executive to serve for the next three years. The other member of the Executive is Dr Pious Munembe who continues as General Overseer until next year’s conference. Please pray for these men and women that they may lead the church forward through these difficult times.
The tiling project in our Prospect Church which had been taken over by the District leadership and reached an impasse has received fresh impetus following the Harare Men’s Conference. Inspired by a message on Nehemiah, the men have set a target to complete the tiling by the middle of February. Given the economic challenges we are facing this is a faith initiative.
At the Men’s Conference Geoff spoke on the dangers of pornography and how as Christian men we can find deliverance from it. Many men testified how they had been helped by this message.
Geoff Overseeing the Tug-of-War at the Men’s Conference
Earlier this year Geoff’s role in the church changed. He had been serving mainly as an advisor to Pastor Moses Gonya who was leading the Prospect Church. In response to the call of God Pastor Gonya transferred to Rusape and Geoff is back in a more hands-on role as the Pastor of that Church. Over the last year or more the attendance in the church has dropped. Geoff is now exploring with the church what we need to do to arrest the decline and be more effective in our ministry to the community to extend the kingdom of God. The book “Canoeing the Mountains” recommended to us has given us many valuable insights as we embark on a season of dynamic change.
Erica is continuing to see positive growth in the Emerald Hill Church as members deepen in fellowship and commitment to one another and the church. A recent couples’ trip to Kariba had a great impact in this regard. Meanwhile Elllis Robins School where they meet has increased their rent for one classroom on Sunday from $150 to $500 per month. Like many of our other churches in Zimbabwe they are looking for a place to build their own church to create a more permanent presence in their community and to be able to effectively run activities during the week in addition to the Sunday service. Accordingly, they have made an offer for a church stand in an Old Mutual development in Westgate on the north-western suburbs of Harare.
December is a month traditionally filled with weddings and this year is no exception, there are three weddings of members of our Harare Churches. Once the Christmas holidays arrive many will go home to the rural areas and our Prospect and Emerald Hill churches will combine their services over the Christmas period. Youths will go to a youth conference in Mutare and, the Emerald Hill Church is inviting all the junior church members to a Christmas Pyjama Party where they will prepare short plays depicting the nativity. To bring in the New Year we have an all-night praise and prayer service at the Prospect Church.
Gateway High School
Geoff has been kept very busy in the last several months as the school goes through the accreditation process with Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). While continue to update and improve our systems the accreditation team from ACSI has recommended our accreditation. Against this, the economic situation in the country has put severe pressure on the school community, many parents are struggling to pay their fees or even find fuel to drive their children to school. Staff members are struggling to cover their accommodation and travel expenses and four have resigned to take up jobs at schools offering better conditions.
The school’s trust is having many meetings in an effort to find a way forward that will improve that balances the needs of the students, their parents and the teachers.
Elizabeth is now in her second year at Berlin International University. She achieved a creditable 2.3 grade average, in her first year. During the annual break she had job as mentor on a youth camps in Switzerland. She has also completed the portraits of the university’s founder and two past presidents and is now working on a portrait the current president.
University Founder with His Portrait
She has also been working at two part-time jobs to pay her way through her studies. We are very limited in what we can send as we could buy US$1 for 1 Zimbabwean dollar but now we need 20 Zimbabwe dollars to buy US$1.
We praise God that the camps and the portraits will earn her a part of her university fees and expenses. Please pray for God’s provision and for Lisa to be able to cope with the workload.
Joseph was able to visit us with a classmate from his university for two weeks at the start of July. Together with another Zimbabwean friend they had a great time visiting Victoria Falls and Hwange Game Park among other place. We thank God for answered prayer as Joseph was given a second internship with Head in Austria.
Geoff, Joseph, Erica and Nicos Horseback Game Viewing
He finished at Head in September and now is living in Helsinki completing his degree thesis while supporting himself with two part time jobs. Please pray for him as he balances work and completing the work for his degree and for his search for job when he has graduated
Wonderful provision for Joseph and Elizabeth.
Exciting progress in the Emerald Hill Church
Progress with the tiling of the Prospect
Christmas Day Service
Watch Night Service
Complete the tiling of the Prospect Church auditorium.
Complete the installation of a water storage tank at the Prospect Church.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe.
Joseph to find a job
Elizabeth to produce excellent portraits for her university president
Ministry of God’s word to strengthen His people and bring hope to the hopeless.
Church Christmas Services and Parties
more about the Saunders
A very successful couples trip to Kariba
Elizabeth completing her first year at university well.
Joseph finding part time work while he completes his degree thesis.