The Zimbabwe Conference For Reconciliation and Healing seeks to encourage pastoral counselors to create processes for healing and reconciliation within churches and communities torn apart by the tensions that erupted last year between supporters of the established government of Robert Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Although much of the violence has subsided due to an agreement last January to form a coalition government, there remains deep scares and divisions within churches and communities who have suffered violence. Many supporters of the MDC suffered unimaginable violence: beatings, torture, and even death. What’s most tragic is that victims and perpetrators were often members of the same community, and in some instances, members of the same church. Here are a few examples of the kind of suffering that many Zimbabweans have undergone:
- A young man is tortured and beaten by a local war veterans for his support of the MDC.
- A young woman tells of her kidnapping and rape for opposing the Mugabe government.
There is incredibly disturbing video collages of victims of torture on youtube. I was unable to watch them in their entirety without being overcome by both tears and nausea. Here is just one video news story, without disturbing images, in which a woman describes the suffering of one family.
Counselors and pastors within Zimbabwe are seeking to explore questions such as:
- How do we respond to the pain and suffering of victims within our communities?
- How can churches become places of safety, healing, and reconciliation?
- How do pastors and communities respond to past perpetrators of violence? (Most perpetrators have not suffered any legal ramifications and still remain free, causing enormous suffering and anger for victims).
- How do we work with victims and perpetrators without allowing our own reactions/history/emotions to get in the way?
Please pray that we might be of service in helping to mend relationships in Zimbabwe.
*For an overview of Zimbabwe’s history, politics, recent violence and political tensions as well as news updates check out the BBC’s Zimbabwe page here.