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Africa Christianity Today Published Articles

Vaccine Campaign at Zimbabwe Churches Praises What’s Done in Secret

Yvonne Binda stands in front of the congregation, all dressed in pristine white robes, and tells them not to believe what they’ve heard about COVID-19 vaccines.

“The vaccine is not linked to Satanism,” she says. The worshipers, members of a Christian Apostolic church in Zimbabwe, are unmoved. But when Binda, a vaccine campaigner and member of an Apostolic church herself, promises them soap, buckets, and masks, there are enthusiastic shouts of “Amen!”

Apostolic groups that infuse traditional beliefs into Pentecostal doctrine are among the most skeptical in the southern African nation when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, with an already strong mistrust of modern medicine. Many followers put faith in prayer, holy water, and anointed stones to ward off disease or cure illnesses…

Integrated into the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHCD) in 1993, the Apostolic churches cooperate alongside the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the mainline Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

“God has given us science and intelligence, in addition to divine intervention in healing,” EFZ president Never Muparutsa told CT. “People must not shun vaccines based on 666-style conspiracy theories.”

Binda is one of nearly 1,000 members of various religious groups recruited by the Zimbabwean government and UNICEF to try gently changing attitudes toward vaccines from within their own churches.

Muparutsa, however, is hesitant about this approach.

As vice president of the ZHCD, he estimates 30–40 percent of evangelical and mainline Christians are “skeptical” about the vaccine, and told CT it is not his place to take sides. He “encourages” Zimbabweans to do as he and his family have done—but will not “promote.”

“That sounds like marketing,” he said. “I do not preach about vaccines; I preach about Jesus.”

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on October 15, 2021. I contributed additional reporting. Please click here to read the full text.

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Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Oxygen

God,

Syria sent oxygen – Syria.

Syria in civil war. Syria in disarray.

Syria helped Lebanon.

Bless them for it.

But some say Damascus is behind many ills.

Smuggling in medicine, dollars, and flour.

Sending back refugees while Cesar Act smothers;

The least they can give is a few tanks of air.

Syria also needs prayer, God.

Raise up intercessors.

But so do the COVID sick struggling to breathe.

Their numbers keep rising, striking down Easter.

As restaurants open, the churches are squeezed.

Permission is needed to enter for worship

With gatherings nixed and a lockdown imposed.

It is reasonable, God.

But where are the vaccines?

Amid stuttered rollout, private sector takes over.

Many say Lebanon runs better through them.

But who can afford even 38 dollars?

As politicians distribute in areas of support.

The political class that cannot form a government

Finds it way with the patronage voters demand.

Bless them, God.

They take care of their own.

But give Lebanon better.

Take care of the whole.

For now, far too many are flooding the hospitals.

Preventative care is neglected when poor.

Meanwhile ambassadors shuttle through nations.

Are deals being cooked, and at whose expense?

So what can be done, God?

Where is the hope?

Or is Lebanon destined to just trudge along?

It could be worse.

It could be Syria.

But even they find ways to give.

God, let not generosity be lost in Lebanon.

Even in poverty grant fullness of heart.

Destroy not its character, neither the nation.

Rebuild the foundations upon what is good.

Lebanon is good, God.

Help the people remember.

But may they turn to you—for justice, righteousness, and forgiveness.

This is true oxygen, sustaining the soul.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.

Categories
Prayers

Lebanon Prayer: Vaccine Doubt

God,

The vaccine is here, and yet people doubt.

What should be hope is cynicism.

But why should it be otherwise? Our lives are full of conspiracy.

Our lives are full of sin.

Some trust not the Western make. Others reject Russia.

Even in medicine rivalry reigns. A zero-sum game of interests.

But much of the questioning hits closer to home.

“Lebanon: corrupt and incompetent.”

Can it keep the vaccine cold?

Will it distribute fairly?

God, you know.

Few others do.

At the main COVID hospital the head figure urges.

And his overworked staff deserves first in line.

But less than a third signaled solid acceptance.

A full four-in-ten will not take it at all.

What then of the nation?

The lockdown makes the cases fall. But with it the economy.

Another week. And then two more. And still two stages evaluating.

But now: A prick. And then one more. Eventually four million.

Herd immunity.

Or are we sheep?

Or are we rats—trapped in a lab?

God, you are our shepherd.

You lead us beside still waters.

But through the valley of death.

COVID has taken many, conspiracy or not.

Corruption has taken many—but that death is eternal.

And it has poisoned Lebanon far more than any virus.

It has ruined trust.

So what now?

Take the vaccination? Wait it out and wear a mask?

See if others fall ill first?

But if no trust in Lebanon, what of the world?

Are scientists, chemists, complicit?

Errors are possible. Money is made.

But is the whole world out to get me?

All we know, God, is you are not.

And yet, in the end, I will die.

You control the times and seasons.

COVID, somehow, is of you.

But so is grace, and faith, and love.

So is trust—which we must give.

Help us build it ever slowly.

One-to-one, where friendships lie.

Then let us risk to trust the stranger.

Maybe, even, rivals too?

Trust demands we become vulnerable.

As, in fact, we always are.

COVID has reminded us. Death has no escape.

And love leads to a cross.

Do we trust you, God?

The vaccine is here, and some will doubt it. Who can say if they are wrong?

Bless them. Bless us.

Walk with us to unknown future.

Give us wisdom. Heal the sick.

Amen.


To receive Lebanon Prayer by WhatsApp, please click this link to join the closed comments group.

Lebanon Prayer places before God the major events of the previous week, asking his favor for the nation living through them.

It seeks for values common to all, however differently some might apply them. It honors all who strive on her behalf, however suspect some may find them.

It offers no solutions, but desires peace, justice, and reconciliation. It favors no party, but seeks transparency, consensus, and national sovereignty.

How God sorts these out is his business. Consider joining in prayer that God will bless the people and establish his principles, from which all our approximations derive.


Sometimes prayer can generate more prayer. While mine is for general principles, you may have very specific hopes for Lebanon. You are welcome to post these here as comments, that others might pray with you as you place your desires before God.

If you wish to share your own prayer, please adhere to the following guidelines:

1) The sincerest prayers are before God alone. Please consult with God before posting anything.

2) If a prayer of hope, strive to express a collective encouragement.

3) If a prayer of lament, strive to express a collective grief.

4) If a prayer of anger, refrain from criticizing specific people, parties, sects, or nations. While it may be appropriate, save these for your prayers alone before God.

5) In every prayer, do your best to include a blessing.

I will do my best to moderate accordingly. Thank you for praying for Lebanon and her people.