THE Council of Churches in Zambia has called on the Church to wake up and start praying with open eyes.
CCZ general secretary Father Emmanuel Chikoya spoke at a media briefing in Lusaka.
“The simple message to the Church is that wake up! Let’s stop being hoodwinked. Baleke kutizembeleka (they should stop conning us), kutinama boza (lying to us). We need to begin to pray with our eyes open,” Fr Chikoya, an Anglican priest, said. “We have lived in this country; under the one party state, the Church was thriving. The Church thrives when there is opposition!”
He said every time the Church is “over-supported,” it becomes complacent.
“Wake up, the Church in Zambia. Just like drivers are told ‘don’t drive under the influence of alcohol,’ I also remind fellow Church leaders [that] don’t speak when you have been given those gifts because you’ll make wrong prophecies, which is ‘prophe-lying’,” he warned.
He pointed out that the CCZ was concerned about the country’s welfare.
“We would like to see a Zambia where we can talk to each other; a Zambia where dialogue is not just talked about but it is actually a reality. We are concerned that moves were made to sabotage the dialogue process,” Fr Chikoya said. “We are concerned about the violence levels, we are concerned about the shrinking civil society and media space. We are concerned about the selective application of the law. We are concerned about police brutality – heavy-handedness! That’s not the Zambia we want to see.”
The clergyman hopes to see a Zambia where the law is applicable to all, without discrimination.
Fr Chikoya further cautioned about the possibility of religious fundamentalism in Zambia.
“When you discriminate against other religious stakeholders, they are bound to react. They are bound to form groups and begin to counter react,” Fr Chikoya explained. “We should be able to make sure that we don’t disturb the peace. Christianity thrives by persuasion, and not because there is a decree, not because there is a ministry.”
He added that the CCZ would work in close collaboration with those that support good governance, accountability and transparent governance.
“And we’ll work with those that are for peace, in the real sense of the word, and not those that talk about peace,” Fr Chikoya said. “So, time has come for us to walk the talk. For a long time, we have kept on beating about the bush and we use religion as an avenue for political expediency. Church, wake up, once again.”
He also explained that coming from the Church perspective, “we get concerned about issues that affect the dignity of human beings.”
“So we gather in this place (at Kapingila House) with that understanding. We are not here because we hate anybody. [It’s because] we hate to see the country getting to levels that are not right,” Fr Chikoya said. “As the Church, we are concerned; of course, there is this constant agenda that we are a Christian nation and we have that in our preamble [of the Republican Constitution]. That has been preached over and over. Now it should be put into the executable way so that we actualise our Christian values.”
He appealed to the clergy to realise, as per his understanding, that: “Christianity is never validated by constitutions, by politicians.”
“[But] it is founded on the blood of Jesus and nothing else. And if we can’t live our Christianity, no constitution is going to make it thrive,” said Fr Chikoya. “I know this statement will make those that are very passionate about this agenda [to] believe that we are not Christians. But we are not Christians because of their opinions. We are Christians by belief and deed.”