Rhonda and I served in Malawi for 13 years. We grew accustomed to petty thievery in the neighborhood. To help discourage thieves, we had dogs. Our last dog was a beautiful bull mastiff who was an excellent watchdog and deterrent to those who wanted to enter the yard without permission.
Even though we have not had any thievery problems in Zimbabwe, and we feel safe, we think it is a good thing to have a dog on the premises. We decided, in honor of Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia), to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback. The search began and we finally found someone who could get a Ridgeback puppy for us. We paid the deposit and waited… and waited… and waited. We sent text messages and emails to the guy we had contracted with, no answer.
I told Rhonda, “We’ve been swindled!” According to the dictionary, swindle, as a verb, means use deception to deprive (someone) of money or possessions. Alas, it seems that is what happened to us.
However, a larger swindle takes place every day in Zimbabwe. According to the World Fact Book*, 75% of Zimbabweans are not Christian (25% are Christian in name, if not actually followers of Christ). They are syncretic (mixing Christianity with ancestral religions) or indigenous (ancestral religions). Every politician makes some allusion to God when they give a speech or interview. Every business person talks about God is some way while doing business with others. Every policeman knows something to say about God. All around God is invoked in some fashion. And that is where the swindle comes in.
The largest of the syncretic groups have deceptively named themselvesthe Apostles. They claim to have knowledge derived from many sources, sometimes including the Bible, that will help people find God. Mostly, they are filled with people who want to hold sway over the minds of others. They meet in fields, wear white robes, and perform a variety of ritualistic actions – letting their “righteousness” be seen by all who pass by.
More dangerous are the crop of “prophets” that are rising up in the nation. These individuals, who are nothing more than fortune tellers, lead people astray with their often bizarre “prophecies.” One recently told a large gathering that soon the people of Zimbabwe will be picking up gold off the ground. It will simply come to the surface for them to collect! To poverty-stricken people this may sound wonderful, but it is a sham and an attempt to swindle people out of their possessions. Yet, people flock to these false prophets by the thousands hoping that something they say will actually come true and benefit the hearer.
Some question the need for missionaries in Africa, and elsewhere. Some think missionaries should only go to the 10/40 window and to unreached people groups as defined by the Joshua Project. When so many people are being spiritually swindled – deceived to deprive them of the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ – in a nation rocked by political chaos, the HIV/AIDS crisis, and trying to recover from an economic meltdown, there is a need for the Gospel to be preached to each and every person, regardless of their tribal affiliation, economic or educational status, or religious background.
Your partnership with us enables the Kingdom of God to advance in Zimbabwe as we reach out toallwho are unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your partnership helps the General Council of the Assemblies of God, Zimbabwe to grow, one person at a time and one church at a time. Your partnership provides opportunities for those who are being spiritually swindled to have their lives transformed by the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Together we make a difference!