Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Backlash against ONE campaign

I've seen 2 articles in major newspapers taking a position against how ONE portrays Africa...as a dark hole of disease and death. The claim is made that western celebrities hype the disaster to further their own careers and minimize the work of Africans. To offer another perspective, here's a message about Africa from an African. My colleague, Lawrence Temwfe, urges Christians to be make their voices heard in their democracy. In his piece to fellow Zambians, he cites the problems they face in terms not unlike what I have heard from the ONE campaign. Their problems are real whether told by Mr. Temfwe, Tony Blair or Bono. We should listen to their appeals for help and act!
The Constitution Making Process

The church has, for some time now, been reacting to the Constitution-making process debate rather than leading the course to work and make sacrifices toward a good and just nation. As we read of the new developments in our papers and watch the discussions on our screens we are confused, alarmed and worried. As church we ought to be concerned for issues of justice and mercy which may lead to economic security, health care and educational opportunity. As most of the churches in Zambia are doing ministry among people living on $1 per day, we find ourselves in the midst of death and orphans and vulnerable children, of increasing violence against women, drug abuse, prostitution, and rising hopelessness among our youths in our communities. We are faced with these issues of injustice and oppression as we preach the gospel in our communities.

Through out the history of this nation, the church has been doing something to alleviate the sufferings of our people and has contributed to the quest for social justice. We have assisted victims of calamities in our country in relief and development. We are caring for orphans and vulnerable children and their families, preparing them for responsible and productive citizenship. In development programs, the church is laying down the foundation for a effective long-term involvement by integrating courses and workshops in community development for its members. We are doing something. We are establishing the groundwork for the future.

We should consider doing much more than the present scope of our developmental ministries. We believe that Christian involvement in the Constitution making process is not only a missiological option. It is not just a citizen duty but a theological responsibility that can help determine the destiny of our nation. In the coming crucial months in our political life, we need to face the unavoidable reality that we are both Zambian Christians and citizens.

These times call us to reflection and action. As we do, let us remember that the church is called to meet people’s needs through loving them in the way that God loves them. Charles Colson in his book Kingdom in Conflict states that ‘a patriot sees the flaws of his country acknowledges them, weeps for them, but remains faithful in love.’ Let us also remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Whom you would want to change, you must first love” (1987:247). Such an insight brings profound understanding to our minds through the challenge of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave us his only son.” And Jesus’ statement that, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

As we advocate for a just and good Constitution, we must submit voluntarily and peacefully to the process and penalty of law. Our response must be done in love, in order, and without violence.

Lawrence Temfwe

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