Cecil The Lion, 10 Reasons Why It Matters

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I am going to premise this blog by indicating to you, that there are many different views on this issue right now. The views have two common denominators, firstly, there is the western media perspective and those inclined to that disposition, who are apoplectic with rage concerning the untimely death of Cecil the lion. Secondly, there is another demographic of people who are angry that the other group is angry about a “mere” animals’ death, while ignoring the many issues that plague Zimbabweans and Africans. My take is, both sides of the argument have probative value.

  1. Is it fair to judge people based on what grieves them? A lion gets killed in Zimbabwe, a huge outcry ensues…an MP (who is a human, Itai Dzamara) in Zim is abducted no similar outcry. Personally I found myself affected by both. It’s my first time to feel sad about the passing of a lion I never met nor saw, nor knew about until today. I am not going to pretend to be an  animal activist but I found myself touched by the killing of Cecil. At the same time I am saddened that many pertinent issues affecting Zimbabweans and Africans at large, rarely get a similar global response. But I will not judge those saddened by Cecil the Zim lion’s killing, nor will I equate animal life to human life.
  2. A burden for an issue cannot and should not be forced. Personally I have a burden for Africa particularly the upliftment of every one on this great continent. But guess what, not every one has that burden, and it’s fine. It is not my place to force it down the throat of my fellow Africans. Even if I forced it on someone, they will never get it. Likewise I don’t’ really have a burden for animals,and  it can’t be forced on me, but I felt something today. Feeling it for a moment doesn’t make it now a burden nor a personal crusade, it’s just a subjective reaction and there is nothing wrong with it.78b4f865a46a2a4cdce4a621da87d538
  3. This “hashtag” generation we live in has a very low attention span. We move from one hashtag to another hashtag. Our daily agenda is now dictated by twitter trends and social media buzz. There are many evils which have transpired on our beautiful continent this year, but unless it’s a hashtag, nobody cares. If they do care, it’s for a moment and then off to the next twitter trend.
  4. Too easily offended. The number one pass time on social media is offence. It’s almost like, people are looking for something that will make them angry. In this case, some are angry because Cecil got killed, some are angry that people are angry that Cecil got killed. Here I am, typing this blog angry because I understand why they are angry that Cecil died and I also understand why the other side is angry that they are angry about Cecil. Less anger and more understanding is needed.
  5. We love extremes. What if I told you it is possible to understand and feel both sides of the argument? It is possible to feel for and understand what the Cecil sympathisers are dealing with at the same time feel the pain of people who feel as if an animal is being valued more than a human being. It is possible to feel for the death of a lion and at the same time not lose your burden and compassion for the African plight.
  6. African lives matter. After the Cecil dust settles, there is still a continent that has more problems than Cecil. Indeed and in fact, Cecil’s death is just a tip of the iceberg of the problems we are facing. The offence with many Africans relates to the global outcry of the death of an animal, while other pertinent issues affecting humans go ignored. We matter too.
  7. The Esau mindset. In my earnest view, the hunting business though lucrative to an extent, is us, as Africans again, selling our birth right for a bowl soup. How do people from abroad come, and kill the animals we have been entrusted by God to keep? They must view them and leave them alone. I don’t see the sport in killing our animals for sport.
  8. We must champion our own issues. Neither the west nor the east are called to push our agenda, they push their own agenda on the world stage. As Africans let us not get discouraged when people push their agendas and issues to the forefront of our consciousness. We have to keep our issues on the forefront always. They can ignore us for a while but not forever. Keep making noise about the issue you feel is pertinent. 6a20e5476fb64de08f0b74bda757fc85
  9. Prayer still works. No matter what gets thrown our way, we have to always find our strength and guidance in prayer. If I was to pray into this situation, my prayer would be, Lord bring Africa to a place where our tourism doesn’t need hunting business to survive and thrive. Bless our nations so that we don’t sell our birthright for a bowl of soup.
  10. Find a calling to pour your life into. Do not allow your life to be swayed by social media trends. Find your calling and focus on it with all your might. You were not by God,  created to just exists and react to media headlines, you were born to solve a problem in the earth. Find it and dedicate your life to solving it!

In conclusion, RIP Cecil, and for the rest of us in Africa, we keep pressing forward to achieving our destiny.

 

 

 

God Bless You,

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Pastor Israel Phiri

 

10 Reasons Why BIZARRE Prophets Thrive In Africa

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Bizarre is defined as “very strange or unusual, especially in a striking or shocking way” (Free online dictionary.) That is the only word I can use to describe some of the acts we are witnessing by some Prophets in South Africa. I will not name any of them, because this blog post is not directed at any personality but at the misconduct  not the man. It is very possible to tackle the ball without harming the man.

I will not go as far as calling anyone “False Prophet”, its a heavy accusation to level against any man, who you don’t  know personally nor have personal access to, so that they can defend themselves in light of such an accusation levelled against them. What I will call it is simply Bizarre…very strange, unusual, especially in a striking or shocking way. The major concern is it doesn’t seem to add any value apart from shock and awe.

Here are some reasons why Bizarre Prophets Thrive in Africa.

  1. Our history. We come from a culture of spirit mediums, sangomas, juju, and superstitious beliefs of good luck and bad luck. In some of our cultures, the sangomas were given tremendous authority by the chiefs, to even decide legal disputes, by merely reading bones. Majority  of their functions were fortune-telling, predicting the future and identifying spiritual causes of misfortune. It’s this cultural backdrop which paves the way for a ministry expression that mirrors those same functions to thrive. “Tell me my future, tell me ID number, tell me why I am having bad luck” these ideas make the right atmosphere for the Bizarre to manifest.
  2. Desperate times. Desperate situations open up people for desperate solutions, which open them up for  the most bizarre methods to solve their problems. The poverty in Africa is well documented, in terms of its brutality to our people. Most of these people fall victim because, they are looking for drastic measures to solve their drastic situations. Simple solutions like read your bible, pray everyday are viewed as weak and ineffective. Those same bizarre things we don’t understand from the outside, those  who are inside that world,  want exactly that.  Fans at rock show
  3. Naive audience. The majority of the audience who fall victim to this brand of Bizarre ministry, demonstrate shocking levels of naivety. It can be attributed to a childlike, unbridled trust in the spiritual leadership, performing the acts. No one in their right mind, would allow themselves to be treated like how we see them being treated. Some of it is just a shortage of common sense.
  4. Biblical illiteracy. We are in a church generation that is biblically illiterate. Bibles are now just decorations, that gather dust or apps in a smartphone which only get opened in a church service. Our generation is very lazy to read the word of God for themselves. Lack of a personal relationship with the word of God, opens them up to believe anything done in the name of God, even if it doesn’t align with the word of God.
  5. A lust for quick fixes. Our people seem to have an insatiable lust for quick breakthroughs, quick miracles, quick money, everything must be quick. Sorry to burst your bubble, but many things in the Kingdom of God are subject to a process. Don’t desire in an instant what God has set to deliver to you through a process. Drill Sergeant and Businesspeople
  6. Heavy handed church leadership doctrine. We are seeing the role of a minister moving from being a servant to a ruler. A lot of the doctrine being preached globally is very heavy handed in terms of issues of submission, honour, rebellion etc. These subjects are precision instruments but are being used like blunt tools, indiscriminately in our churches. That applies not only to the ones where these Bizarre acts are occurring. This heavy handed leadership philosophy sets the stage for the Bizarre to thrive. Any place where power has no checks and balances, abuse flows.
  7. Silent prophets. Sometimes the Bizarre thrives because the Bizarre is not afraid to make noise, but the real authentic ministry choses to hide its light under a bushel. The silence I am speaking of here, is not in terms of speaking out against the individuals, but the passivity in terms of sharing your authentic gift, sermons and teachings to the world with greater intensity than the bizarre. You can fault the Bizarre prophets on many things but one thing you can’t fault them on, is that they push their product to the world. Sometimes they gain milage because you are silent and sitting on your gift.
  8. Personal Ignorance. The scary part about this whole issue, is that the Bizarre prophets actually believe they are in the will of God and doing ministry that is helping and blessing people. If you tell them, your concerns they are shocked that you cannot see the good job they are doing. Some of it is personal ignorance. Man walking with billboard of himself strapped to his shoulders
  9. Personal arrogance. The other issue is, some of them are beyond correction, they believe that they are right and everyone is wrong. Anytime you want to correct them, they pull out the persecution card or the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” card or the don’t judge me shield. They are not open to hear the opposing view, its viewed as either jealousy or demonic attacks
  10. US. Yes you and I, in this social media generation contribute to making these Bizarre prophets thrive. Every-time we come out in with panic mode “Jesus Must Come NOW!” statements, every-time we mention them by name, retweet and share their tom-foolery on social-media , we give them free publicity. In that sense we are hypocritical , in that we complain about them but don’t work to reach out to them, nor pray for them, nor simply teach our people how to discern and test ministry with scripture. Let us saturate the airwaves with the truth and not give them free PR.

In conclusion, I don’t know any of these men personally, but I apologise on their behalf to the body of Christ globally. I stand in the gap and repent on their behalf before God, and pray that they come into order. To all those affected negatively, I pray that you do not lose faith in THE Church, because of A church. We are all seeking to be leaders who represent God, with sincerity and integrity.

These few are not a reflection of us all, we stand in opposition against their practices but not against them as human beings created in the image of God. Some of the acts performed really go against the human dignity, that is enshrined in us all, through being made in the image and likeness of God. We pray for change, we pray for restoration and we pray and believe that God’s plans for us in Africa are greater than the misconduct of a few mortal men.

 

God Bless you!!

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Pastor Israel Phiri

Keep Calm…God is not American

 

 

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The Supreme Court Decision to legalise gay marriage in America has sparked many responses and reactions from Christians both, the laity and the clergy in America and the world at large. It is in light of the attention that this issue has garnered, that we took to write a position paper to share our perspective in the conversation. (here is link10 Thoughts : Same Sex Marriage is here…Now What? )

In the various responses and reactions,  there is one in particular I would like to address, and that is the notion that because of the Supreme Courts’ decision, the world is coming to an end. Many Christians are reacting to this event by saying “it’s the last days” and “Jesus is coming”. The objective of this paper is not to dispute that, “these are the last days” nor the second coming of Christ, but to push back on the ideas and notions that the Supreme Court’s decision is the trigger event or catalyst to speed up the Second coming of Christ.

1. The Influence of The American Church.  God is not American. The American Church has a lot of influence in particular in the evangelical world. This is because of , of their impressive media machinery and their incredible generosity in terms of their many philanthropic endeavours, that have blessed many impoverished nations globally. The Church in America has effectively used media and technology to spread the gospel and touched and transformed many lives. But along with it has come a mindset that God is with, for or more involved with America than any other nation. This is not accurate, no one has the franchise to God, He is with, for and involved with whomsoever believes. Geography does not limit God.

 

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2. God is Global. God is not American, He is global. The spiritual challenge America is going through because of this new legislation is  not a reflection of the whole body of Christ. They are in a battle and we must stand with and pray with them, but to now conclude that the whole world is now in a crisis and Jesus must come now, because of the challenge the American church is in, is to think that God is American and His entire agenda revolves around what transpires in America.

3. The BIG size of God’s Agenda. God’s agenda is bigger than America, He is moving all over the world and doing amazing things. One such place is Africa, where we are seeing God raise up a generation that keeps growing in the faith. Churches are not closing down, many churches are opening and growing. To equate the end of the world with a problem that the church in America is going through, is to discount what God is doing elsewhere in the world.

4. The Last days in Perspective. The last days began the same day that Jesus ascended into heaven. Indeed and in fact, we are in the last days. This is not because of gay marriage in America but because Jesus is indeed coming again. His second coming is not activated nor accelerated by legislation passed to legalise gay marriage. In fact He said no one knows the day. He is coming, but lets not now say because of gay marriage in America God is now in panic mode and wants to come back because of what happened in America, the whole body of Christ is doomed because of the crisis in America. To that notion I respectfully place no weight nor probative value to that opinion.

5. The Government of the people. The American government is a Democracy not a Theocracy. They do not run according to the bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit. They run according to the constitution and the leading of the evolving values of their electorate. It is folly to place Church and biblical expectations on a democratic government, they will not legislate scripture, they will legislate according to the evolving values of the culture they govern. Most democratic constitutions rest on two legs freedom and equality. A government of this world, for this world,  will act according to what the world views freedom and equality to be. In this case freedom and equality according to this world involves gay marriage.

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6. The Many Evils Africa has faced. There have been and are many evils which have been perpetrated against the people of Africa and there has been no clarion call nor alarm bell nor a Jesus is coming, it’s the end of the world gospel in response to these tragedies. Between 1525 – 1866 we had 12.5 million shipped like cattle into slavery. About 2.5 million died on the journey. No one preached it’s the end of the world. Since 1981 39 million people have died of AIDS,  majority have been African. Out of the 34 million HIV-positive people worldwide today, 69% live in sub-Saharan Africa, 91% of the world’s HIV-positive children live in Africa. With this scourge ravaging Africa we have not heard the Jesus is coming panic. We have people who die from curable diseases, families living on US$2 a day, wars and rumours of wars, coups, unstable governments and  for years  no clarion call. We believe that Jesus is coming, but not because of gay marriage. We have many challenges as the church in Africa and we are not pressing panic buttons, we are working hard to solve them. We believe we shall solve them, by the grace of God and pray and believe that the church in America will rise through this current battle too.

With greatest respect and humility, I would like to submit to you that America is not the WHOLE body of Christ it is a part of the body, and God’s plans for His church in the WORLD and America will continue with or without this Supreme Court Decision. We will continue to pray with the church in America but we will not go into a panic frenzy in terms of our assignment in Africa.

 

 

God bless you

 

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Pastor Israel Phiri