I WAS intrigued, but not too surprised, by the donation of $30 million to President Robert Mugabe by Hear The Word Ministries.
Last year the Daily News published
a lengthy feature on this church (business?). As usual with such features it was little more than a friendly public relations piece. In response I wrote a letter to the Daily News which was not published.
In view of the furore raised by this organisation’s donation perhaps you might publish it now – and perhaps seek some answers to my questions from Pastor Tom Deuschle.
Frankly, I have yet to be disabused of the notion that such organisations are anything other than religious businesses whose main beneficiaries are those who own and operate them.
Attempted justification of this donation to Mugabe may have been made by some spurious reference to Biblical texts but many may see it as simply an attempt by a presently very successful business enterprise to buy favour with the ruling regime.
I have my own vision of what Jesus Christ would do if he were to visit Zimbabwe today – and donating $30 million to Mugabe is not part of that vision.
The following is the text of my letter written to the Daily News in May 2003:
I had long wondered who was constructing that huge building along the Borrowdale Road. I had mistakenly assumed it to be some new family mansion for one of the obscenely affluent nouveau riche that our corrupt country has created.
I was wrong as your 16-page special feature explains. It has been built by the Hear The Word Ministries. Pastor Deuschle is quoted as saying: “From the beginning we wanted the new building to be a centre for reformation of nations – a community centre that would serve as a platform to serve not only Harare, but also the rest of Zimbabwe and the neighbouring countries with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In your extensive feature excerpts from Pastor Deuschle’s book Building People, Building Dreams are also quoted. They relate to having a vision: “Make sure your vision is from God…Write the vision… Expect God to intervene…Expect attack. Any vision worthy of heaven will experience an attack from hell…To obtain your vision, you will be stretched. You will be put into situations where other people have failed, and you will be tempted to give up…Be passionate about your vision…Consult others who are successful and wise…A person without a vision is a person without a future.”
A number of questions are raised in my mind as a result of reading this special feature which perhaps Pastor Deuschle can answer. My questions fundamentally originate from my vision of a Zimbabwe free of violence, corruption and dictatorship. A Zimbabwe that more closely corresponds to Christ’s vision of how man should live together in society.
Has his ministry spoken out on the reformation that this nation needs – in particular the need to remove the violence, corruption and dictatorial tendencies that are tearing our country apart; and if not, why not?
Has his ministry spoken out unequivocally on behalf of the poor, downtrodden and oppressed masses in this country; and if not, why not?
What is his ministry’s vision for Zimbabwe (in line with the excerpts from his book quoted above?)
Does his ministry emphasise the material in terms of having a vision? (I ask this because of several aspects of your feature article: the emphasis on the impressive material aspects of this huge building: the suggestion to “take a rich man to lunch” as a way of consulting “others who are successful and wise” (I can’t quite imagine Christ telling his disciples to consult the rich – or implying that the state of being rich is proof of success and wisdom); and the ‘Victory Business Forum’ which seems to be an organisation based on Christ’s instruction to his disciples to “go forth and establish profitable businesses” (I’m still searching for such an instruction. As yet I haven’t found it in my Bible.)
How do members of the Victory Business Forum succeed in what is now one of the world’s most corrupt economies without participating in that corruption?
As a “non-profit developmental organisation whose mission is to meet the needs of poor people” what percentage of compassion ministries income goes directly to help the poor as opposed to being swallowed up by building costs, staff salaries and expenses, administration costs, etc? I ask so that I might be encouraged to contribute to meeting the needs of the poor through this ministry.
I trust that the above will not be dismissed as “an attack from hell”. What it is is a genuine desire to understand what is God’s vision for this country and what role the churches, and specifically Hear The Word Ministries, are playing in achieving that vision.
For myself, my vision is based on Christ’s exhortation to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (one of the two most important commandants). I undoubtedly fall far short of this ideal, but this vision certainly leads me to condemn the evils that are daily perpetrated by those in power on their fellow countrymen. Does Heal The Word Ministries similarly condemn these evils? Or is that not the “business” of the church?