IN every society, itâ€™s the norm that the first people to condemn evil, sin and social, economic and political injustices are the “shepherds” or the God-fearing persons who have been called by a greater calling to serve and look after Godâ€™s flock.
This hasnâ€™t been the situation in Zimbabwe with many of the pastors and other men of the cloth of different religions and denominations. Throughout history it has been religious leaders and ordained pastors who have championed the cause of the people. Individuals such as Martin Luther King in America, Mahatma Gandhi in India and in apartheid South Africa, Desmond Tutu.
I have always believed and, l think a lot of other people share the same sentiments, that these people have the hand of the Almighty on them. They are just and fair and determined to see that their flock gets what is right, be it democratic rights, or other issues.
But in Zimbabwe, they have just been telling people to turn to God and their economic and political injustices and tribulations will be solved, avoiding the direct confrontation with the leaders causing the suffering of their flock.
Those who tried had shortcomings; most of them were partial or not bold enough to call a spade a spade and used the excuse that the religious principles donâ€™t allow them to be involved in political issues. Which I think is a hypocritical justification, because when John the Baptist was with the soldiers and taxmen who used to cheat the masses he spoke to them on sin and social injustices saying it was wrong and they should change their ways, were those not political issues he involved himself in? The Bible book of Luke 3:10-15: “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered: “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” Tax collectors also came to be baptised. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?â€™â€™ “Donâ€™t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him: “And what should we do?” He replied: “Donâ€™t extort money and donâ€™t accuse people falsely â€” be content with your pay.” The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
I truly believe if these men of God in Zimbabwe had boldly voiced the economic and social hardships which the people were facing and the recent political violence, their voices would have been heard by the concerned parties. But their religious convictions leave a lot to be desired. Where were the true shepherds when soldiers and the militia were harrasing people? Where are they now when people go for days without food in Zimbabwe?
If you are a shepherd in Zimbabwe, I think you have to examine yourself and ask yourself: Is shepherding not a holistic approach where it involves spiritual, social and physical aspects of your flock? What true shepherd are you when your flock is being attacked by wolves and you donâ€™t use your rod and staff to protect them? How do you give them the spiritual bread and not provide for their physical needs?
Most of the shepherds in Zimbabwe will have a number of questions to answer to God concerning the Zimbabwean flock.