The Zimbabwe Partnership Trust was formed in July 2011 as a result of visits to the country by Derek French, Maciek and Mary Stolarski, Chris Boyes, and Roger and Gill Prime.
While in Zimbabwe, we saw the desperate needs among many of the Lord’s people caused by the economic crisis the country has faced for a number of years. This has left 90 per cent of the population without regular employment.
The Lord laid on our hearts the burden to set up the Trust to partner with churches and individual believers in Zimbabwe, to achieve the objectives of supporting the churches in their ministry and mission, and relieving poverty among the churches and their communities.
As a Trust, we seek to raise awareness of the needs of our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe among UK churches and provide a channel whereby gifts can be sent to meet these needs. The funds we receive are apportioned equally to meet spiritual and humanitarian needs.
The main area in which support is given to churches is through training pastors in their understanding of Scripture and the principles of its exposition.
The background to this training, and a report on a visit by Derek and Maciek to lead the ‘Training of Trainers’ can also be found in this months ET.
Many believers in Zimbabwe are too poor to own a Bible and we have been able to purchase and distribute a considerable number of Bibles to individual believers, in either the Shona or Ndebele languages.
We are also grateful to the Trinitarian Bible Society who have made available to us, free of charge, Ndebele Bibles and New Testaments to distribute among the churches. One pastor wrote: ‘Thank you very much for your love and generosity. The gift of the Bibles came at the time when we really needed them most’. It is difficult for us in the UK to imagine how valuable such a gift is to believers in Zimbabwe.
High unemployment means that the majority of pastors have no financial support from their churches and are unable to find regular employment to support themselves and their families.
We have been able to give financial support to a limited number of pastors and, while the amounts we are able to give are small, this has often been invaluable in providing for basic needs in life. We can purchase seed for growing maize for the family, assist with school fees for children, and pay rent and medical bills.
We have also been able to respond to specific needs among the pastors’ families, giving support in bereavement and covering hospital bills.
The churches in Zimbabwe are surrounded by huge humanitarian needs which they are ill-equipped to meet. Our desire is to identify situations where we can partner with local churches and Christian organisations seeking to engage with their communities in showing Christ’s compassion to the needy. In particular, there are many widows and orphans because of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the country.
Support has been given to churches that run regular feeding programmes for widows and orphans, and provide school fees and uniforms for orphans they care for within their communities. We have also supplied funds to purchase seed and fertiliser for believers in rural communities so they can grow their own crops.
We are concerned to help local churches set up livelihood projects that will assist needy families and make them less dependent on overseas support. One such project that we have been supporting in the Mt Darwin area is known as Tariro Yeupenyu (Hope for Life).
Initially, 50 goats were purchased, which were then distributed among orphan households — either grandparents or other relatives looking after orphan children, or in some cases the oldest child caring for younger siblings.
Two goats were given to each household, so that young children could benefit from nutritious goat’s milk. They could also breed them and sell the kids to provide income for basic needs, and even use dung for fertilising crops.
When Chris Boyes, one of our trustees, was over in Zimbabwe in May last year he took the opportunity to visit James Kambudzi, a pastor who heads up this Hope for Life project, to see for himself the impact this project is having. We have since given more funds for the purchase of goats for needy families and will continue this support.
As a result of the visits Roger and Gill Prime made to Bulawayo, we have established contact with two children’s homes in that area, who are caring, not only for orphan children, but also for those who have been abused.
We also facilitated arrangements for Anna Stolarski, the daughter of one of our trustees, to spend three months last year working in one of these homes — the Sandra Jones Children’s Centre. We would like to see other young people taking opportunity to serve the Lord in a similar way.
As trustees, our vision is to see churches in the UK becoming involved as partners with a church or specific need in Zimbabwe.
We were thrilled to see this happen last year when Meadow Way Chapel in Norwich offered to provide funding for a borehole to be drilled for a rural community, to give a supply of clean, safe water where there was none.
That borehole was drilled last autumn and arrangements are now under way for a second borehole for another needy community. In addition, the church has sent two members over to hold teaching workshops for believers in these communities.
We are grateful to the Lord for all that has been achieved over the past four years in giving support to our needy brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. We are thankful for the generous and sacrificial support of churches and individual believers here in the UK that has enabled us to carry out this ministry.
Please pray for the Lord’s people and his work in Zimbabwe, that the Lord will strengthen and prosper the witness of his church, and comfort and encourage believers in their daily struggle to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
Further information about the work of the Trust can be found on the website www.zpt.org.uk .