Next to a rusting tractor, weeds are thriving in a field in Zimbabwe. Vegetation sucks up nutrients that once girded huge plantations.
Once, Zimbabwe was the envy of Africa. Its tobacco harvests rivaled Virginia. Its currency was stronger than the American dollar.
Beset by greed and political pressures, the government wrested control of the farms and put them in the hands of those in favor at the time. They were not farmers. They could not operate the complicated machines to plant, weed and harvest the crops. Soon, farms that once fed the nation could barely feed one family.
Zimbabwe is in a death spiral. Recently, inflation reached 1,000 percent. The AIDS epidemic is killing thousands. The average life expectancy there is 40 years.
There are more orphans every day, as their parents die of starvation or disease. Many villages are still in the spiritual hands of witch doctors.
Last week, leaders outlawed public prayer, saying it was devisive to the government.
The average wage in Zimbabwe is about $2 American per year. The government spends millions of dollars every year on the military, to keep the population under control and to protect wealthy leaders.
The suicide rate is rising. Millions are fleeing to neighboring South Africa. The United Nations is looking for ways to help, but financial aid never reaches those in need.
My friend Jonathan was born in Zimbabwe. He came to America after a Christian missionary led him to Jesus.
Now Jonathan does what he can to help his native country -- but it isn't much. He has been unable to get his closest relatives out and must content himself with getting money to them, helping them build an orphanage and trying to teach their neighbors marketable skills.
Jonathan weeps for his country, but his faith is strong.
"I know that God is using this in mighty ways," he says. "What is happening in Zimbabwe is directly impacting South Africa and Zambia. It is touching the conscience of those in the West.
"We pray it will ultimately result in toppling the corrupt government. But we won't be satisified with just a return to the prosperity of old.
"We want to see a spiritual rebirth that will actually redefine the meaning of prosperity -- on God's terms."
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