This blog, written by Ian Weeden, refers to a couple we had the honor of knowing and ministering with when we would go into Zimbabwe. He has simply referred to them as N and W. They were true examples of Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
“It was rightly said, at that time in Zimbabwe, that everything was not as it seemed. Great trauma was being experience through the often violent and intimidatory land invasions. Livelihoods were destroyed overnight. Inflation was rampant, peaking in November 1984 at around 79,600,000,000% (It’s true – Google it) and those who had prepared for their latter years found they now had nothing. If you did not spend the money you had today, it was often more than half its value tomorrow. Most basic foodstuff was unavailable, as was petrol and diesel and other basic necessities.
Whilst leading the church in Harare, and overseeing both the Mvurwi and Raffingora churches that were slowly disintegrating because of the land invasions, we were invited out to N and W B’s farm. In the early 1980’s they had purchased virtually virgin land and turned in into a highly productive cash crop farm. They had purchased it legitimately, obtained the title deeds, and had received a ‘certificate of no interest’ from the Government.
Now, 20 odd years later (and they were into their 60’s in the 1980’s) they were forced to leave their farm. About 18 months prior to this a number of 5 ton trucks, sponsored and encouraged by Government, arrived on the farm depositing land invaders amongst the farms abundant wheat and cotton fields. The invaders quickly established their Kraals and pens for livestock and immediately shut down all commercial farming activity. N and W, with great integrity and compassion kept their labor on staff, anticipating that this madness could not be allowed to continue. Sadly it did and they were now forced to vacate their home and farm to the invaders with little savings and no prospect of further employment due to their age. They asked me to come out to the farm and lead a ‘thanksgiving service.’
A number of friends and family had been invited to the farm that day. On arriving early I watched their gardener mowing the lawn and watering the roses. It seeming strange to me that they would have him continue as they would vacate the farm the following day and within a week the grass would be unruly and the plants would be dying. About 15 or 20 family and friends gathered in their lounge and N and W knelt on the floor and prayed. Even today as I write this I am greatly moved by all that took place. God too was present and bore witness to all these events. In prayer N and W reflected on the many years God had given them the privilege of being on this farm. The amazing crop harvests, family times, children put through university and many of their momentous memories. They reflected on the good and the bad and in it all God was glorified and their gratitude towards Him was evident.
N and W concluded their lengthy prayer by thanking God that He had given them the privilege of stewardship of this land for those many years, and now it was their time to leave. They trusted that they had served God well in caring for this property, and the many lives on it, for their tenure. Over the lunch table I asked N why his gardener was mowing the lawn and watering the roses considering they were leaving permanently the next day. He said “Ian, God gave us this land to steward all those years ago, we will do so properly and to the best of our ability until the moment we leave.”
I knew many devastated farmers and their lives – mentally, physically and emotionally – were destroyed by the bitterness of losing ownership of what was rightfully theirs. The root of bitterness grows deep. It was different with N and W. They understood God’s perspective. They held onto things in this life lightly. And whilst they were traumatized at the changes forced upon them, because they realized that in this life we are but stewards of God’s provision, they were able to live ‘healed’ until their deaths some years ago. It was through their lives and lifestyle that I learnt the difference between perceived ownership in this world and the reality of Godly stewardship. I am eternally grateful and I salute them for teaching me a significant lesson in life.”