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08 July 2013

Churches asked to pray for Zimbabwe

Churches asked to pray for Zimbabwe

by Seb Turner

Tensions are rising as Zimbabwe nears its election – due to take place on 31 July.

The elections in 2008 led to the economy collapsing, critical food shortages and violence, and as the current elections get closer, it seems that the same may happen again. There has been conflict between the two leading parties about when the election should take place and political change might shake the country.

Churches have been asked to pray for Zimbabwe, that peace and stability will be found in the country, and that there would not be any violence.

The coalition government has brought some hope to Zimbabwe and the economy has somewhat recovered, but there is a widening gap between the rich and poor, and the country is unstable. Churches have been asked by Viva to pray for this, and to pray that Zimbabwe will reach a point where people are safe and not living in poverty.

Viva, a member of the Evangelical Alliance, is concerned for the safety of children in Zimbabwe and how the elections may shake their futures.

The co-ordinator of Viva network Zimbabwe (VNZ) has expressed how VNZ

requires global support.

Jonathan Chikumubu said: "We are not ashamed to say that we need our brothers and sisters, many hundreds of miles away from Harare, to work together with us to make this nation a place of hope where children can fulfil their God-given potential."

VNZ is working in four deprived areas in Harare, and is focusing on its three clear aims: to help children catch up on their education; to keep vulnerable children safe in a violent country; and to help families.

VNZ is achieving the first aim by setting up learning support centres, where children can catch up on lost schooling time. Farai is one example of how the VNZ can change lives. When both his parents died, he lost all hope, and because he didn't have a mother or a father, he couldn't go to school.

However, with the aid of a VNZ teacher at the Viva-supported Mbare Learning Support Centre in Harare, after only 18 months he was ready to re-enter mainstream school.

VNZ is trying to reach their second aim by offering training on child protection and the third by trying to help families and communities holistically support children.

The network plans to bring long-term change through the collective action of 31 organisations and 35 churches, which are already reach 4,000 children.

Viva's patron, Rev Stephen Gaukroger, has written to supporting churches. He said: "We are calling on UK churches to make Zimbabwe a focus for prayer at this crucial time. It's a call to pray against violence and fear, and a call to pray for peace and stability. We are also calling on churches to give towards Viva's projects in Zimbabwe so children there can grow up knowing they have a future and a hope."