The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia from the South Africa Company in 1923. A 1961 constitution was formulated that favoured whites in power. In 1965 the government unilaterally declared its independence, but the UK did not recognize the act and demanded more complete voting rights for the black African majority in the country (then called Rhodesia). UN sanctions and a guerrilla uprising finally led to free elections in 1979 and independence (as Zimbabwe) in 1980. Robert MUGABE, the nation's first prime minister, has been the country's only ruler (as president since 1987) and has dominated the country's political system since independence.
Information and Demographics
Languages: English (official), Shona, Sindebele (the language of the Ndebele, sometimes called Ndebele), numerous but minor tribal dialects
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The Brethren In Christ in Zimbabwe
1898 - A team of five hardy North Americans travelled to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) to play an instrumental role in establishing the first Brethren in Christ conference outside of North America. They pioneered the way for Brethren in Christ World Missions, establishing schools, clinics and hospitals, distributing Christian literature to countless people, evangelizing the villages and planting churches.
More than 100 years later, the Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe boasts the largest national BIC membership worldwide. Triggered by the end of the war for independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean church has experienced rapid and dynamic growth, especially in the city of Bulawayo, where there are now seventeen BIC congregations, including the largest BIC congregation anywhere in the world.
Church planting and church growth have not come without significant challenges though. Now characterizing the nation is political unrest, economic hardship and the continuing AIDS crisis. Countering the difficulties is a thriving church characterized by increased giving, increased spiritual depth, and a sense of maturity and concern in the midst of turmoil. As a church body, they are currently working with key individuals and organizations in Zimbabwe to bring about political change. Additionally, in response to the AIDS epidemic now infecting one of every three adults in Zimbabwe, congregations have become involved in a program to provide increased AIDS awareness, home-based care for the infected and support for the large number of AIDS orphans.
The role of missionaries has changed over the years since Brethren in Christ entry into Zimbabwe. Since the Zimbabwean Church has been autonomous from the North American Church for more than 25 years, missionaries serve at the invitation of the national church. They are involved in education, medicine, leadership training, and have more recently been asked to participate in leadership.
Leader Bishop Danisa Ndlovu
(From the Brethren In Christ World Missions Website http://www.bic-church.org/)
IMHA in Zimbabwe
The IMHA was invited to partner with the Mtshabezi Hospital in funding hospital equipment for the Brethren In Christ administered hospital.