By: Alliance of Baptists Staff
The leadership at Zimbabwe Theological Seminary are thankful they are able to continue with theological education despite the challenges in the country!
On Nov. 20th Zimbabwe Theological Seminary [ZTS] graduated 21 students at the seminary. The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches was their guest for graduation in a ceremony that was held at the Anglican Cathedral. Even though they were only able to have 100 people present because of the pandemic, the level of excitement at graduation
This year’s graduates come from many different denominations, and are going to serve in different churches, as well as serving as chaplains. The denominations represented among the student body include various Pentecostal churches, Anglican, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics – and Baptists!
One of the interesting things that is happening at the seminary is that they have students who come to them from the Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe! Even though the convention does not allow them to attend ZTS, they want to be private students so they will not get in trouble. Women are by far the majority of the student body now.
In the past some ZTS graduates would have become teachers. Since schools are not functioning at the moment, and teachers are not going to school, there were no teachers among the graduates. Also, ZTS makes sure their graduates develop skills so they can survive on their own. Along with academic preparation, they learn to farm, grow vegetables, and keep chickens, rabbits or ducks – so they can help themselves.
The economic situation in Zimbabwe is bad, and people are hungry. Unemployment is now about 95%, and inflation is about 700%. The World Food Programme is helping a lot of people, with families receiving about $12 per head in each family. Western Union always has a long queue of people getting their monies to go and buy food. Without that help, the situation would be worse. The African Baptist Churches of Zimbabwe [ABCZ] have been able to help in providing food hampers for people. ABCZ distributed maize seed to two churches. If they can grow their crops, then there will be food. Even though there has been some rain, more is needed. This year they are hopeful for a normal amount of rainfall that will aid in producing food.
COVID-19 is in Zimbabwe, and the statistics are going higher and higher on a daily basis. People are also bringing the virus in from other countries. People are urged to maintain all the health protocols to prevent the transmission. South Africa has the highest number of infections with COVID in all of Africa. It costs $60 USD to get a COVID test. Anyone arriving or leaving the country has to be tested. Zimbabwe’s hospitals are short-staffed because of challenges with salaries. Some hospitals have no medications, and patients are also suffering because of the shortages of staff with doctors and nurses on strike. All who qualify
for medical school have to be enrolled in the army – so they cannot go on strike. And the former military leader is now the minister of health.
Some people say they would rather die of COVID than die of hunger. When Henry and Hermina go to our church in the village – they try to get them all personal protective equipment and teach them about the health protocols to prevent this infection from spreading. Some people do not take it seriously and will say, “God will help us, and we don’t need to use all this.” Those who take it seriously are the ones who have had a relative get infected or die. It is important to keep educating people, because they know few people who have died of it.
Voter intimidation is no stranger to Zimbabwe! United States’ experiences of voter intimidation are mild compared to what has been experienced in Zimbabwe.
Most of all, Henry and Hermina expressed thanks for their friends and partners in the U.S. who continue to remember and support the work in Zimbabwe. And we in the Alliance of Baptists give thanks to God for the mission and ministry of Zimbabwe Theological Seminary and the African Baptist Churches of Zimbabwe!