Wednesday, June 8, 2011

111. Zimbabwe: Anglicans evicted from churches and homes (plus Pakistan)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 111 | Wed 08 Jun 2011


By Elizabeth Kendal

RLPB 110 on Zimbabwe was issued last Wednesday 1 June after news emerged that churches were facing escalating levels of political violence (see also Religious Liberty Monitoring). This political violence is doubtless intended to inject fear into the churches and to silence them ahead of what are likely to be rigged elections. The regime aims to force the churches to adopt a position of compliant subjugation if they want to survive. On 2 June the Bishop of Harare, the Rt Rev Chad Gandiya, issued an urgent appeal for prayer, detailing more persecution.

On Sunday 29 May a priest belonging to the pro-Mugabe faction (led by excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga) broke into the home of the Rev Charles Muzanenhamo, an Anglican priest in the Mubayira area of Mhondoro. Muzanenhamo was away visiting rural parishes at the time. When Bishop Gandiya alerted Muzanenhamo he returned home immediately and expelled the intruder. However, when the police subsequently arrived they arrested the pastor, charging him with assault. Muzanenhamo had to spend the night in detention before the bishop could bail him out. That same evening, a newly ordained deacon, Noel Magaya, was also illegally and forcibly evicted from his home-church. Once again, when the police arrived they sided with Kunonga's criminals. On 30 May when Rev Julius Zimbudzana tried to notify the police about Magaya's eviction they refused to open a docket, so officially the incident never happened.

On the evening of Wednesday 1 June Bishop Gandiya's congregation was holding a church wardens meeting when they were told that thugs from Kunonga's faction were breaking into Zimbudzana's home. Some of the church wardens ran to stop the break-in but all the assailants managed to escape, except one who was caught by members of Zimbudzana's church. These members and the church wardens took the apprehended attacker to the police. When they returned from the police station they found Zimbudzana's home was surrounded by riot police who then arrested all 16 present, including priests and three women -- even Zimbudzana's elderly mother. All were released on Friday 3 June when all the false charges levelled by the police failed.

Bishop Gandiya's 2 June email reports that many believers are 'greatly traumatised by all this'. Some of his priests have shared with him that their children are affected, becoming exceedingly anxious about the safety of their fathers. 'Please continue to pray for us as a diocese,' he asks.

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:11 ESV)


* God our loving Father will instil peace into the hearts of all Zimbabwe's burdened yet faithful believers, particularly threatened church leaders and their vulnerable families; may they be assured of God's everlasting love ('hesed'), and may they find rest in God's everlasting arms (Matthew 11:28-30; Deuteronomy 33:27).

* the Holy Spirit will wield, as a sword, the gospel message preached and lived by his faithful ones, so that it might be powerful and effective in convicting of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:5-11), and powerful and effective in personal and national transformation (Isaiah 2:1-4).

* our LORD Jesus Christ will build his Church in Zimbabwe; for (as we prayed last week) 'Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning' (Psalm 30:5b ESV). May the LORD hasten Zimbabwe's 'morning'.



The Bishop of Harare, Rt Rev Chad Gandiya, issued a prayer request on 2 June for the Anglican Church in Harare. After seizing control of 40 percent of all Anglican properties in Zimbabwe, the pro-Mugabe faction led by excommunicated bishop Nolbert Kunonga has begun forcibly evicting Anglican pastors from their home-churches. Kunonga is supported by a totally partisan police force. On 1 June police arrested 16 Anglicans, including priests and three women, who had helped Rev Julius Zimbudzana resist a totally illegal forcible eviction from his home. This was the third time within a week a pastor had been illegally evicted. All those arrested have been bailed. However, there is growing concern that the situation is deteriorating. Please pray for the Church in Zimbabwe.



At a press conference in Lahore on 30 May 2011, the leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, appealed to the Supreme Court to ban the Christian Bible on the grounds that many of its 'insertions' were pornographic and blasphemous and thus offensive to Muslims. Ominously, Farooqi suggested that the ban was necessary to prevent a clash between the two religions. This is highly provocative, creating a most dangerous, incendiary environment. Please pray for the Church in Pakistan.