Xenophobia… Execution…Drowning

Three recent sad headlines from Africa are : Xenophobia, the execution of 30 Ethiopian Christians and the drowning of 650 Africans in the Mediterranean Sea. In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein believes that those killed likely were Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for migrants across Africa  hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe for work and better lives. Similarly, some citizens in South Africa have accused African immigrants of taking their already medgravemain1apr14-468214scarce jobs, undermining businesses owned by locals and contributing to a high crime rate. The South African nation’s unemployment rate is about 25%.

Where ever people are, conflict is inevitable. A group that experiences no conflict among its members either does not have any self-worth or is not pursuing any authentic relationships. Therefore, when we are faced with conflict the question is not how to avoid it but how to manage it. We can look to the Bible for some helpful principles. The Bible differentiates between unrestrained and constructive conflict. Unrestrained conflict is usually violent because it refers to vain arguments or disagreements for the purpose of promoting self-worth or causing division. The ISIL conflict is a good example of an unrestrained conflict.   James 4:1-3 asks us, what causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battles within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

However, the situation in which Africans leave their home country in search of better lives is a conflict that can be managed. For instance, though Zambia is a leading copper producer, skilled in mineral processing, cement production and other agricultural related industries we have one of the highest poverty rates in the world. If we had good leadership that was able to manage Zambian resources well, we would have no need to have Zambians who are economic immigrants in South Africa, the USA or the UK.  This could also be said of Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somali, Malawi, Mali or Nigeria. Why do these countries have economic immigrants in other countries? Bad leadership is part of the answer. We have had too many leaders who have not been patriots and who have not cared about the fate of their country. Several of our leaders have not only made terrible blunders, but they have also not cared to work hard enough to leave their nations better. There is no way we would be in this state of despair, with limited chance for an awesome future, had they been men of achievement as well.

The church is the hope of the African continent, and the church leaders (pastors) have a significant role to see this hope realized. Pastors must serve their members well by helping them understand that the success of a nation depends on how Christians love God, character, integrity and hard work. James has serious words to leaders who cause their people to leave in search of better lives “You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.” (James 5:1-5)  James is not condemning wealth. He is condemning the rich who not only defrauded the poor workers, but also paid off the judges and undermined the courts of justice. James charged them with no less than murder. James message is the same today to the corrupt leaders who cause our people to run out of our countries because of hunger only to go be brutally killed at hands of morally corrupt people.  Let us teach our Christian public leaders and the rich to place priority, not on their possessions, but how they use them.

 

Lawrence Temfwe