“With the unemployment rate slowly creeping towards 90%, one can only imagine the height of desperation in the country.”

A STORY is told of a young boy who went to a doctor complaining of pain on every part of his body. The doctor, puzzled by the nature of the disease, asked the boy to touch any of his body parts; touching his face, the boy let out a piercing cry. Again, the doctor asked him to touch his feet and the boy shrieked with pain. The process was repeated and the boy cringed each time he touched himself.

In a bid to ascertain the boy’s pain, the doctor touched his face but there was silence; it did not hurt. The doctor touched all the body parts the boy had complained of but it turned out the boy’s body wasn’t in pain at all. So what was happening? The clever doctor went further, he asked the boy to show him his fingers.  After examining the boy’s fingers, the doctor recognized that a sharp thorn had lodged in the boy’s finger. Mistaken, the boy had attributed his pain to everything else except the sore finger. This proverbial story may not be true yet it mirrors the situation obtaining in the ‘House of Stones.’

The Zimbabwean situation carries a semblance of the situation of the boy in the story; whether at company, organisational or individual level, everything is ‘hurting’. Survival, for almost everyone, is increasingly becoming tough. In fact, to say that it’s tough seems to be an understatement; it’s smoldering.  Salaries simply won’t happen in time; National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), for instance, owes employees a staggering $55 million in salaries; Air Zimbabwe, reportedly, owes more than double the figure to its longsuffering employees. Needless to say, everyone knows the sad story of the civil service.

The poverty and suffering is deepening. With the unemployment rate creeping towards 90%, one can only imagine the turmoil. Add to that, there is the menacing liquidity crunch which has made conducting business in the country as easy as breathing under water. Company closures continue as the fangs of the economic crisis sink deeper. A few days ago, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) stated that 300 workers are being retrenched each week. The situation gripping Zimbabwe calls for a quicker solution. Evidently, the economy is in comatose.

As a result, thousands of Zimbabweans, among them philandering celebrities, have turned to the spiritual – the church. The economic freefall has created a breeding ground for a plethora of social ills. Uncles, brothers and even parents are being fingered as the cause of misfortune for their kith and kin. It’s really sad! The economy has condemned Zimbabweans to all sorts of warped and ruinous beliefs.

Currently, topping the list is some “precious oil” which is viewed as the ‘messiah’ to all personal calamities. It is being distributed by some contemporary churches. As well, self-styled ‘doctors’, known for advertising in the press, have their own version of oil. The ‘panacea oil’ is selling out; demand is outstripping supply. It is claimed that the oil solves every problem. Over 2,000 bottles of anointing oil are being distributed on a daily basis by one contemporary church. Longsuffering Zimbabweans are flocking to these churches in Harare where they jostle for the “precious oil.”

Reportedly, parliamentarians visit these denominations every week to get ‘deliverance’. On a normal day at least 2,000 bottles of anointing oil are distributed while on big Sundays the figure surges to at least 40,000. The oil, of late, has hit the black market where it was being sold for relatively higher and negotiated price. According to denomination officials, the oil can be applied on any affected parts of one’s life: documents, business wares and certificates, among many others. It’s really sad what we have been reduced to. The ‘doctors’ have taken to the press for testimonials to endear themselves with clients. Surely, the faith which God demands of us, we have put into some substance!

Dear friends, our present problems, ranging from massive unemployment to the liquidity crunch, have nothing to do with curses: we all can’t be a cursed people – it’s the economy, period! Is it not common sense that an over 80% unemployment rate would condemn the majority to poverty? God says come to me all ye who are burdened and we do that through his only Son, Jesus Christ, not some obscure liquid. No oil or substance can give a reprieve to humanity but the man Jesus Christ. Anything that comes to take his place as is currently happening with the liquid cannot be from God.

Most of these ‘messiahs’ across Africa are simply beneficiaries of malfunctioning economies. A revival of the economy would render the entire present hullabaloo idle. The tide has shifted in terms of true worship. Not oil, but Jesus Christ will transform anyone’s life. The gospel has been mutilated in Africa to center on financial breakthroughs, breaking curses and finding partners. The reality is Jesus Christ whom people should seek in truth and in spirit not oil. The battered economy has given rise to all sorts of practices and beliefs but none need be confused. We need to come back to true godly worship.