Wednesday, the 13th July 2016 was a quite extraordinary day in Zimbabwe.
It was the Day the State brought the Pastor of a small Church to Court and charged him with treason and tried to deny him bail. His crime Wearing a Zimbabwe flag around his neck in protest Against the collapse of the economy, the failure of State policies and the suffering of the people. The week before he had called a national shut down which had been almost totally observed. A weird silence descended on the whole country.
Zimbabwe is a deeply Christian country and over 80 per cent claim to be Christian. In this case what we then saw was a spontaneous outpouring of support. This is the first time I have seen the Church in Zimbabwe combine on an issue and then take a stand.
It is a game changer.
These are the reflections of one Pastor who was there in support.
REFLECTIONS OF THE DAY BY SCOTT MARQUES: River of Life Church, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Tomorrow is another day and no doubt there will be challenges to face. The most important thing is that Kingdom of God is advancing, the Church is growing and Jesus is working out his purposes in an amazing way, for His Glory!
We saw today the leaders of the National Church, across all denominations, in unity with each other bringing prayer, blessing, peace and joy whilst massive tear-gas trucks and riot police stood aghast on stand-by
We saw today the President of the EFZ, Dr. Shingi Munyeza, sit from morning to night in solidarity with Evan and many other church leaders there. I saw him lead an entire courtroom in prayer for Evan, for the Magistrate, for the Police and for Zimbabwe. Authority, humility, wisdom, truth and courage with every word.
We saw today these church leaders issue bold statements speaking truth in love to all Zimbabweans, giving direction and challenge
We heard today 5000 people chant 'Pastor, Pastor, Pastor, Pastor....' from outside the Magistrates court as the church lead the way in today's proceedings
We saw today 100's of lawyers standing for justice and offering their services Pro-Deo and Pro-Bono - many holding up their lawyer's ID when the magistrate asked who is taking this case.
We saw today a Defense Lawyer lay down his vanity and allow for a team-effort of all lawyers, thereby receiving a torrent of legal advise as half the court-room were some of the best legal minds in the country. Every word the defence lawyer uttered seemed to build the most insurmountable defence that the Magistrate had ever heard.
We saw today the accused, Evan Mawarire, come up from the cells, from the bowels of the magistrate's court building, and hold his head high in the dock with a Zimbabwean flag around his neck. He stood resolutely, courageously trusting in God and continuing in his purpose.
We heard today 2000+ people outside the courtroom hold a 5 minute silence/prayer time as the court-hearing started at 215pm.
We heard today people excited in the courtroom about Sean Mullens who had just lead the masses outside to pray in groups as the afternoon entered its most challenging moment with some unrest setting in. I believe this altered the course of the day.
We saw today every race and tribe loving Jesus, loving one another and loving Zimbabwe today
We heard today an overflowing courtroom sing 'Ishe Komborera Zimbabwe, Come Spirit, Holy Spirit' as we waited 2.5 hours for the verdict. Police included in the singing.
We saw today, after singing and praying in the courtroom, the riot police enter with AK-47's, truncheons and shields. We saw them honored by all inside and respectfully asked by a lawyer about their actions. We saw them reconsider and walk out after 5 minutes to great applause.
We sang today of 'The Blood of Jesus' (directly translated from Shona 'The Blood of God') at the top of my voice in the courtroom with hundreds of others. And many other amazing songs of worship.
We saw and heard today a judge bring a just and righteous judgement. not a word out of place - like poetry from beginning to end.
We saw something we have prayed for over years - dancing in the streets and joy in homes. We saw this as Evan and his family left the courts for home and the thousands remaining kicked-off the biggest street party that Harare may have ever seen. I watched this guy love his wife and kids, preferring them to personal glory or fame.
We saw today what could be something extraordinarily special for reconciliation and foundation-laying in Zimbabwe, even the influence of a continent.
Zimbabweans, through prayer, we render the baton stick, teargas, the AK 47 or any other weapon powerless. Let us remain united, peaceful and prayerful as we love our neighbour and raise our voices to the Lord.