Newsletter (August 28, 2008)

Dear all, No doubt the biggest thing that occupies everybody’s mind in the nation at the moment is the passing away of President Mwanawasa on 18 August.  He suffered a stroke while attending an African Union meeting in Egypt at the end of June and was later transferred to a military hospital in Paris.  We mentioned several weeks ago that the Government requested everyone to pray for the health of the President.  In the end God’s way is different from our way and the President did not recover from the stroke.  This is the first time in Zambian history that a president has died in office, so the whole nation is facing a crisis that has not happened before.

Immediately, the Vice President announced that there would be seven days of mourning, later extended to 21 days.  During the mourning period, all regular TV programmes are cancelled and only solemn or sacred music is to be broadcasted, as well as programmes relating to the late President.  People really mourn and grieve and we can feel the sombre and subdued mood everywhere.  Normally noisy places like a pub are now very quiet.

We could see that many churches and Christians show maturity of their faith at this hour and Christians are praying fervently for the nation and the uncertainties that are lying ahead.  At the moment this is term break for TCCA students and many students have gone away, but the remaining students organised a special prayer meeting last week and we all went to the chapel and prayed together.  This is something that we have not experienced before and as we learn to mourn and grieve with the Zambians, we would like to pray that this sad occasion could be an opportunity for people to think about life and death and that there may be a spiritual awakening in this nation.

Everyone agrees that the death of the President is a huge loss, not only to Zambia, but to Southern Africa as well.  He was truly loved by the people, a principled man with integrity.  He will be remembered as the one who fought corruption and improved the economic conditions of the country, as well as being the first African head of state to openly criticise another head of state (in this case Zimbabwe’s).

All these tasks remain unfinished and it is the prayer of the people that the successor will continue to carry out the policies set out by President Mwanawasa.  The Vice President will not automatically succeed the President and for this situation the constitution stipulates that a presidential election must be held within 90 days.  Please pray that there will be peace during this time and that God will raise up godly men and women with integrity to lead the country, and that the livelihood of the people will be further improved.

Talking about deaths, there are so many of them here.  We have not attended any funerals yet, but every week we hear of people that we know who are attending funerals somewhere.  Funerals are very important occasions in Zambia and people will travel far to attend the funerals of their relatives.  Many of them die of HIV/AIDS which is still a serious problem here, although things have improved slightly.

We will be going to the Victoria Falls next week.  Our good friend, John, is going to pick up his children from Zimbabwe so we will follow him down.  This will be our first trip to the south and hopefully we will send you some pictures of the Falls.  In Christ.

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