Zimbabwe: Building a Nation that Forgives

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HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Two years ago, Zimbabwe was one of the most unstable countries in Africa. A wave of politically inspired violence left hundreds dead and divided the nation.

Now Zimbabwe has a new government and is on the verge of writing a new constitution.

Zimbabwean Christians are using this time of peace to lay the groundwork for what they hope will be a model nation for reconciliation and healing. CBN News was there as this network of believers embarked on their quest to restore their country.

Big Moment for Zimbabwe

The dignitaries are seated. The foreign diplomats are in place. The press corps make their final checks. The band leader gets his cue.

Seconds later from a side door, the president, prime minister, heads of cabinet, members of parliament and other high-ranking government officials file in. 

This is a big moment for Zimbabwe. The African nation is launching a three-month outreach to get the views of ordinary Zimbabwean citizens on the writing of a new constitution.

Mobilizing the Church

Sitting in the audience is Alex Chisango. He's a little nervous. This is also a big day for him. He takes one final look at his notes.

Moments later he's on stage delivering the opening prayer standing next to the president and prime minister.

"We pray Lord that out of that product the sons and the daughters of Zimbabwe will have a reason to praise and glorify your name," Chisango declared to a packed auditorium.

Chisango is on a mission to mobilize Zimbabwean Christians to get involved in the drafting of the country's constitution.

"This is really one of the greatest windows of opportunity," said Chisango.

U.S.-Zimbabwe Partnership

Chisango is chairman of the African Centre for Law and Justice, an international branch of the American Center for Law and Justice.

Recently a team from America joined Chisango in Zimbabwe to discuss the constitution with top government officials.

"This unity government did open the window for us and groups like the ACLJ to be here and be involved in the constitution process," said Jordan Sekulow, who directs international operations for the American Center.

Constitutional Challenges

But writing a new constitution is not going to be easy. Zimbabwe has had its share of economic and political upheaval.

Although the economy is stabilizing after years of rampant inflation, unemployment remains at a staggering 90 percent. And the two political parties that share power in government are often at odds with each other - resulting in a nation that's deeply divided.

"The nation has come from a season of confrontation and counter-accusations," Chisango said.

So, Chisango is teaming up with local church leaders to lay the foundation for what he says is much-needed healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe.   

"My message is the message that Christ gave to the church when he said 'blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God,'" he said.

Power of Forgiveness

Shingi Munyeza, director of African Sun Limited, is one of those peacemakers. He's a successful Christian businessman who owns numerous hotel chains throughout Africa. He regularly networks with other businessmen and women sharing about the power of forgiveness.

"And that is the key because no one can build if they are not strong enough," Munyeza said. "If they are not well enough, so that's where the faith comes in to bring God's healing upon a nation."

The latest statistics show that close to 80 percent of those who live in Zimbabwe call themselves Christians. Consequently, those who are involved in the healing and reconciliation of the country are hoping to use those statistics to help rebuild Zimbabwe.

Church's Spiritual Role

"We are ultimately the answer," Chisango said. "We should not be part of the problem. Neither should we just sit there as part of the victims. But we should rise above the bitterness, rise above the wounds and woundedness, and actually become the solution."

It was a sentiment echoed by Zimbabwe's prime minister during a meeting with both the American and African Centers for Law and Justice.

"You can't have healing without the church playing a very moral role, a leading role," Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said. "I think it would be a misplacement of priorities to play the church as a political organization rather than as a spiritual organization which has an important place in a country where 80 percent are Christian."

Keep Zimbabwe Clean

To improve the country's image, the African Center for Law and Justice is sponsoring a country-wide cleanup campaign to rid the streets of trash. On a recent Saturday morning, dozens of local churches, aid groups and government agencies joined in the initiative. 

Joshua Chiweda of Revival Ministries International coordinated the cleanup effort. He's been talking with churches about doing more for the rebuilding of Zimbabwe.

"Christianity is not just people going to church but it is a way of life which must be seen and must be a reflection of their daily practices," Chiweda said.

A Model Nation

As Zimbabwe prepares to write a new constitution, Chisango and others are busy laying the spiritual foundations for what they hope will one day be a model nation of reconciliation and healing.

"We believe that Zimbabwe ultimately will be a nation that will forgive," Chisango declared.

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CBN News
George Thomas

George Thomas

CBN News Sr. Reporter

CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming 24 hours a day by cable, satellite and the Internet.