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Church urges politicians to remain committed to talks

THE three Church mother bodies have urged political leaders to swallow their pride and remain committed to the series of talks that are geared to set the nation on a new path of forgiveness, peace building and national cohesion.

The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) in a joint Christmas message yesterday urged all Zambians to actively participate in dialogue process and render their material and spiritual support for a leadership that preaches unifying messages to the masses.

They called for a leadership that was preoccupied with the needs of its people rather than its own.

They stated that the nation had been shaken in terms of love and unity in the aftermath of the 2016 general elections.

“A lot of unfortunate events unfolded in the process prompting the call for national dialogue and reconciliation. This process has since made tremendous progress which saw President Edgar Lungu and his opposition counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema, meet for the first time to set the tempo for the much-awaited national dialogue. Our call during this Christmas period to all those in positions of leadership, be it politically or otherwise, is that let us preach messages of goodwill and peace to our people. Let the spirit of reconciliation gain momentum in this festive season by sharing the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where there is hatred, let there be love. Where there is division, let there be unity. Where there is bitterness, let there be forgiveness and where there is violence, let there be peace,” they stated.

The Church bodies stated that as the nation prepares itself to embark on a process of national dialogue and reconciliation, all stakeholders should pray for the gift of true peace in families, communities, workplaces and in the country.

“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels appeared to the shepherds in the field and sung: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour’ (Lk 2:14). May the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Saviour, renew our hearts and awaken in us a deep desire to build a better country where there will be genuine love for each other and greater fraternity and solidarity regardless of one’s tribe, political affiliation and creed, a Zambia that will guarantee and bring joy and hope to everyone,” they stated. “This will not be possible unless we cultivate a culture of true dialogue that is aimed at genuine reconciliation at personal, communal and national level. As Jesus humbled himself by accepting to be born in a manger, we call upon our political leaders to swallow their pride and remain committed to the series of talks that are geared to set this nation on a new path of forgiveness, peace building and national cohesion. We also call upon all Zambians to actively participate in this process and render their material and spiritual support. We believe that the birth of Jesus signified a new beginning in human history, an event that transformed the world and opened the way to salvation. Let us ensure that the forthcoming National Dialogue and Reconciliation process will truly become a new beginning towards building a more unified, peaceful and prosperous Zambia.

They stated that their prophetic voice on national issues was solely motivated by their wish to see national unity and a just society where citizens live in love and peace with the Lord, with one another and with creation.

“Our prophetic voice is also motivated by our wish to see respect and unity for one another among citizens. Further, our prophetic voice is there to see a nation which celebrates events and seasons with responsibility and care for one another,” they stated.

The church stated that the best Christmas gift people could give each other, therefore, was to share faith with loved ones and strangers alike, proclaiming the joyous tidings that “God is with us.”

“As we celebrate Christmas, we are thankful for the gift of faith, a gift of the ‘good news’ that opens up for us the beautiful message of this holy season, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to redeem us and to show us the way to the Father,” he said.

The church bodies stated that the world, country and homes were often witnesses to violence, prejudice and fear.

“Christmas is a time for us to counter these ills by loving each other as deeply as God loved us by sending us His son,” they stated.

They appealed to the Church to preach the message of God’s love for all humanity which was the central meaning of Christmas.

“There are so many issues our people are going through, among them economic hardships, poverty, lawlessness, crime and moral decay in their communities. These are just some of the main challenges our people are faced with on a daily basis. While some are up to the challenge by doing everything they can to survive under such circumstances, others are tempted to give up on life because the burdens are too much for them to bear,” they stated.

“This Christmas period is the time the Church should utilise to remind Christians that God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ is greater than the challenges they are facing. Jesus came in human form by being born around this period to save humanity by dying for our sins. Let us therefore, as Church, preach the good news of love that covers all obstacles people face. It is also an opportune time for members of the Church to express their God inspired love for the poorest of the poor and all those who are in need. They can do this by providing food to the hungry, clean water to those who are thirsty, clothing to those who are naked, shelter to the homeless as well as visiting and praying with the sick and those in prison.”

They called on the men and women in uniform to carry out their duties professionally as they provide security to both citizens.

“Our emphasis is on the Zambia Police who are entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining law and order. It is common knowledge that there are a lot of undesired scenes around this period, which put the lives of law-abiding citizens at risk. We are aware of what is expected of you in ensuring that you maintain peace during this season. We appeal to you to remain professional and ensure that human dignity and human rights are respected. By this we are not condoning lawlessness for such behaviour is not of God,” they stated.

They stated that today great numbers of men and women were deprived of their human dignity and, like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection.

“May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade. May our encouragement be felt to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them,” they stated.

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