How do you deal with calamity?


The faith of many Zimbabwean Christians is being sorely tested by events in the country. What is God doing? How can such calamity happen to us? What is the purpose of it all? These are all valid questions for those who, like Job in the Old Testament, have lost much &#

8211; homes, families, livelihoods, wealth.

We talk about the farm invasions and somehow the true horror of what went on in those days fails to register. We forget that the men and women who owned those farms, in many cases, had moved onto them when they were just empty bush. They had worked together to carve them out of the bush living in pole and mud huts and cooking over wood fires before gradually getting onto their feet and building beautiful homes and raising families.

The stories are legion – gaining experience by working for other farmers, then buying your own place with borrowed money and the struggle – over many years, even decades to get out of debt and to build up what was eventually a productive farm in a remote area with dams, irrigation and all the other things that are needed to make a real go of modern farming today. To then go through UDI with 14 years of mandatory UN sanctions and then eight years of civil war.

Then after Independence in 1980, thinking that this was a new day – no more ambushes or land mines on the farm road, time to get back to real farming. Accepting the new realities and national leadership. Growing your enterprise to the point where you were making an impact across the world. Employing hundreds, providing a decent living for their families. Building schools and clinics.

Then out of the blue, the systematic, wholesale and brutal theft of your assets and livelihood and way of life – on a purely racist and corrupt basis. Some 4 000 farmers and their direct employees were affected by this act together with 350 000 farm workers, managers and skilled employees. At the time there were 10 000 white men on those farms – all armed, all trained and experienced and all determined people. But not a shot was fired, they accepted what was being done to them without violence and resorted to the law as a defence, only to finds that this line of defence had also been torn away from them by the State.

What we do not appreciate is the trauma that this process involved – for the men, their families and all those families dependent on them. The loss of everything they had worked for – sometimes for three or four generations, the loss of homes and all security. The loss of community and sense of belonging; these are the real losses. The rest we can replace – if not here then elsewhere, but the intangibles are lost forever. How does anyone get over such trauma? What do you do when confronted with such circumstances? Nobody ever said that the world was a fair place – Jesus himself said that “in the world you will face tribulation”, not maybe, will. So this is not an uncommon experience. We are not the first community to go through such circumstance; how we handle these situations is what sets us apart.

Remember that story in the New Testament where the disciples were crossing a lake in a small boat and a storm came up – ever been on Kariba when that happens? It is fast and nasty. Jesus came to them walking on the water. Peter saw him and asked, “If that is you, can I come and walk on the water with you?” Jesus said yes and Peter got

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