By The Rev. Forbes Matonga
Our world is characterized by events and incidences that are ugly. Everyone knows that things in our world are not as they are supposed to be. The wars, hunger, climate change, human trafficking, gender-based violence, just to mention just but a few. As the world celebrates God’s gift to humanity in the person of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we need to reflect deeply as the Church on what this man was sent to teach the world about HUMAN RELATIONS. In this blog I reflect on one of his famous quotes, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Indeed, things that matter that must never be left to some few people to deal or care about. There are matters that humanity must solve together. Our generation is so accustomed to delegation of duty that we have now delegated our collective responsibility to a few people who now believe they own the world and must therefore control everything that goes in it. This is precisely Rev. Dr. King’s challenge. It was a time when his fellow Americans treated those of different races as second class citizens. America was privatized and treated like it belongs to one ethnic or racial group that believed that a whole country is for them alone. Everyone who did not look like them was there to serve their interests.
Rev. Dr. King is saying when matters such as this happen, we cannot be silent. If we choose to be silent, then indeed our lives begin to end. In the face of the wars that characterize the world today, particularly in the Arab world and Africa, we are worried that the Church has chosen to be mute. We are seeing a world driving to another world war, but the Church has chosen to go under. The Church has delegated its responsibility to the United Nations hoping peace will come to the world via guns in the hands of the so-called peace keepers, soldiers donated by the very nations that are causing the wars! I guess if Dr. King was here he would remind us that our voices are more powerful than guns and bombs. If the Church had listened to Dr. King that we cannot be silent on such matters as these, our pulpits, our hymns and all our conferences should be heard louder than bombs and gunfire.
We should preach the oneness of humanity, and new hymns must be composed on the beauty of nature, which must be preserved. Instead of expensive denominational conferences where we tear each other apart as denominations, we should be convening World Conferences that speak out to the world that as Christians we demand a new world order where human relations are the center pivot, and not wealth, power, and ammunition. As l write, the whole of Southern Africa is facing a devastating drought. Everyone knows that the cause of this drought is not because God is angry with Africa. It is because of powerful nations who want to do things their way. The Church knows it, ordinary citizens know it, but we want some few NGOs to say so on our behalf while we are silent about it! We know that in Africa we have politicians that are deliberately provoking their citizens to go to senseless wars by changing national constitutions to extend their grip on power. They stage smokescreen referenda we all know are never reflecting the will of the people and we are all silent and tell ourselves that we must not get involved in other nation’s political affairs!
Friends our theme is “All Our Relations.” The suffering of human beings can never be localized. We must have networks with those suffering and accompany them. We must show incarnational love to them wherein, like our Lord Jesus we choose to find residence in the suffering communities. The hope of Africa is not in the political leadership. Our hope is in what Christ will do through His Church. The Church has provided education, the Church has provided Hospitals and clinics, the Church took care of orphans. We believe the Church can bring peace and social and economic equity among the citizens of the world. The Church must not accept to be Nationalized; Jesus commanded the Church to transform the world. Africa is not asking for aid. We demand to be respected. We demand to be empowered to deal with our leaders both in politics and in churches who have armed themselves to the teeth to ensure the majority are silent about things that matter!
A New Earth and a New Heaven are realities the Church must usher as a gift the world (Is.65:17). How can we be silent when we see new forms of slavery back in forms like human trafficking and enslaving forms of marriages like organized child marriages! Let avoid our death. Let us speak on these matters!
Rev. Forbes Matonga is an Elder in The United Methodist Church. He has served as the national director of Christian Care Zimbabwe, a national Ecumenical Humanitarian agency that fed millions of Zimbabweans during the nation’s food and political crisis, an inaugural member of the Connectional Table of the UMC for eight years, an executive committee member of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the secretary of the Africa Central Conference. Rev. Forbes Matonga is also serving on the Board of the Health Profession Authority of Zimbabwe.