As followers of Christ, we are all called toward compassionate action. General superintendent Jerry Porter once said, “Compassionate ministry is not optional or secondary. It is the tangible expression, through us, of God’s love for our neighbor.” But what does compassion in action look like? Well, one of the best ways to capture an idea is through stories. Here’s one story of how the church in Zimbabwe, Africa, is living out compassion. This is the church in action!
In Southern Africa, times are tough. The region is experiencing a massive drought this summer, considered the worst drought in a century. Over 10 million people across the region will need food aid in the coming year because of the drought, according to the World Food Programme. In Zimbabwe, more than a quarter of the rural population — about 2.8 million people — do not have enough to eat. This food instability has particularly affected the Gweru Province in Zimbabwe.
Faced with this troubling reality, local Nazarenes decided to do something to show love and compassion to their community. Rev. Noah Sibanda envisioned starting a farm in order to provide for the needs of the community, not just an individual or a family. Last year, a friend, who is also a member of his church, invited Rev. Sibanda to his farm.
Rev. Sibanda shared his vision with this friend, telling him about the compassionate ministry idea he had. The friend agreed to allow the Mkoba Church of the Nazarene to use part of his land for this farming purpose. A borehole (well) was drilled and the planting began. “So far, we have planted more than a hectare (about 2.47 acres) of green vegetables and tomatoes,” Rev. Sibanda says. “With so many vegetables, we decided to fulfill part of our vision. We have started to donate our vegetables to the hospital in our community.”
This hospital can have anywhere from 750 to 1200 people hospitalized and bed-ridden on any given day. With drought and hardships facing many people, there is acute food shortages at this hospital. “Our vegetables came in handy to the hospital,” Rev. Sibanda says. “For the last two weeks we have been taking these large amounts to feed the sick people at both the hospital and the isolation hospital here in Gweru. We call it compassion in action.”
In addition to their work at the hospitals, each Sunday they are able to provide vegetables to widows and orphans in the church and community. “The principle is simple,” Rev. Sibanda says. “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”
Nazarenes in Zimbabwe are living out compassion. Thanks to their work, many are experiencing God’s love and grace. We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something. Together, we can change the world. How are you doing what you can, where you are, with what you have? Share your story of compassion with us.
This blog is adapted from an article that originally appeared in the Out of Africa newsletter.