It has been a few months since my last blog posting and a great deal has transpired over the last couple months which I think you will find interesting. Buckle up here we go…
The word for me which defined all of 2017; tumultuous! I found myself dealing with intense family issues while at the same time working on getting Joseph Company Global off the ground. The whole year was lived in a perpetual state of chaos and confusion. I had this sense though something larger and more significant was in play. I simply didn’t know what it was. Throughout the year I would remind myself, sometimes life is simply about surviving. One needs to keep one’s head above the water long enough to reach the next threshold of change in our life. While we feel responsible to keep moving forward and being productive, in the face of the gale force winds of life, being productive is not always possible. In the midst of the raging storm, one easily loses their bearings. Running ahead without a clear view forward can result in great personal peril. There are times when hunkering down and waiting it out is the wiser course of action.
As we ventured into the Fall season, I kept feeling this pull in my soul to find that quiet safe place and wait it out. I sensed the need to be still before God suspecting he wanted to show me something. I call this spiritual place “Shiloh” or the place of peace. When I can reach there, out of the storm, my soul becomes free from the hundreds of voices screaming for my attention especially on social media. Some dear friends graciously offered me the use of their summer home in southern Missouri which has turned out to be a God-send. I was so exhausted, the first couple weeks my mind felt like it was stuck in tar. Thinking was an effort! I tried to sleep a bit more and take walks while engaging in conversational prayer with God. It worked! I soon found myself re-energized and finding passion returning to my soul.
The first task in front of me was to complete some additional chapters for a collaborative writing project I’m working on with longtime friend and colleague Brad Cummings. We are teaming up on a series of books which will expand on the Joseph Company perspective and why we think it is so crucial to understand in light of the days ahead. There is swift and significant change coming which unless understood, could leave us in a less than optimal last minute reactionary mode. In my view, being proactive, prudent and planning ahead with our life choices is the much better option. We hope to expand people’s perspectives not only on how God does what he does, but also on the unusual and often broken people he uses to accomplish his plans. While the institutional religious world prefers and looks for “neat and tidy”, God tends to work in the “chaotic and unpredictable”. He chooses people and uses methods often outside of the traditional religious paradigms which have been handed down to us. The books will be eye-opening, thought provoking and hopefully inspirational to those trying to see the hand of God at work in their own frenzied personal lives and careers.
Some of you will already be aware of this, but for those of you who are more recent acquaintances, I have a second “rail” other than Joseph Company Global which runs through my life. It is a significant one. Under the banner of “Compassionate Justice International” I have worked in the area of Peace and Reconciliation since the early 1980’s. The roots of this go back to the early days of my Christian journey. After reading the teachings of Jesus, I found myself asking the question “Does anyone actually live like this?” I was particularly struck by Jesus political and social “incorrectness” while espousing a worldview which was at times diametric to anything considered “normal” at the time.
His words provoked me and sent me on a quest to find out if there was such a place in the world where former enemies had forgiven, reconciled, and were now living out their faith together in a day to day reality. I searched long and hard and traveled a great many miles but alas came away disappointed and confused. In 1983, while living in Kansas City, I was introduced to some travelers who claimed they had just visited such a place in Zimbabwe, Africa. I was suspicious, but at the same time so longing to find such a place that I hopped on a plane in 1984 to go see it for myself. Frankly, what I observed there blew me away. There in a country I had never heard of, were a group of former enemies living out their faith, healing past abusive relationships while at the same time restoring the mistreated soil of God’s creation. The environment was filled with love, wholeness and productivity. I was smitten!
Subsequently, I got involved, funds were raised, families relocated and God was shining his light in and through the nation. My youthful and exuberant naiveté was crushed beyond measure when on November 25th, 1987, sixteen of my dear friends were massacred there by people who had no idea what was actually unfolding at the Community of Reconciliation. Driven by the evil forces of selfish ambition and greed, those possessed by hatred, manipulating others, destroyed what was to be a healing and liberating force in the nation’s future. Not only did people die, but a whole generation of black Zimbabweans were driven back into the oppression of poverty as their homes and businesses were destroyed. It was a huge tragedy and left me at a loss for words for over two decades.
In 2008, I started feeling my lost voice returning and wrote a book titled “Saving Zimbabwe: Life, Death & Hope in Africa” which told the amazing story of the people of the community and what their dream was for the nation. In 2010, an African version of the book was released from South Africa. Maybe at some point in the future, I will share in more detail about the profound healing I observed taking place through the release of the book. I honestly have a hard time talking about it without tears welling up in my eyes. In 2010, I also returned to Zimbabwe for the first time in 23 years. It was an emotionally charged journey but I was thrilled to have done it with my friend Thabani Dube. We had a very poignant moment standing together at the grave-site of our fallen comrades.
It was during this trip, I had the wonderful surprise of meeting two gentlemen (Brian Oldreive & Craig Deall) who had founded an organization called Foundations for Farming in the country. They were quite adamant about meeting and so I agreed. I could not have been more surprised at out quickly deeply our hearts were knit that day. We understood each other! They had discovered my book in the UK a few months earlier and were quite excited to dialogue with me about it. Honestly though, I found myself a bit overwhelmed by their insistence that the book would play a key role in the healing of the nation. At that point I was still grappling with the raw pain writing the book had brought back. I had just been on a long and emotionally charged journey with the extended families of the those who died. Adding to the emotional load, was the black African children, who parents had lost everything in the tragedy as their inheritance had been ripped away from them. Thinking about changing a nation was beyond my capacity at the time to hold in my heart.
At that point I had planned on returning frequently to help out in any capacity people felt I would be of benefit. Alas, that wasn’t to be the case. The political tensions in the country only increased after that meeting. The then President Robert Mugabe, driven by angry resentment, selfish ambition and greed of his own, took the nation down a long treacherous road while in the process destroying not only the economy, but the integrity of most of its institutions. My book was labeled “seditious material” by some in the government and I was told not to set foot in the country lest I be arrested. To drive the point home, in 2013 one of the relatives of those who were killed in 1987, decided to visit his family’s gravesite. He drove up from South Africa with one of the local Africans who grew up playing with his cousins who had been killed. Both of them were arrested and thrown in jail in Bulawayo until what almost became in international incident, came to a negotiated conclusion. For a few days it was a frightening situation with all of us working every back channel we could to get them released. In talking with them afterward, one of the issues they were confronted with was their association with me and my book. The authorities were irate and threatened by what I had written.
Fast-forwarding a few years…On the evening of November 14th 2017, elements within Mugabe’s own party finally reached the point of no return and ousted him. The rampant corruption, abuse of public office and antics of his ambitious wife, had exasperated people who had fought long and hard for a different county. On November 24th, 2017 nearly 30 years to the day my friends were massacred, a new President was sworn in. Emmerson Mnangagwa was handed the huge responsibility of trying to turn the nation around. He is under a great deal of pressure as a nation of people are looking to him to tangibly turn their lives around. It is a monumental task as the previous administration virtually cannibalized the country in their rush for self-aggrandizement. There is a great deal of hard work ahead which will realistically take decades to accomplish. It cannot happen without the help of people outside the country. There are estimated to be 3 million Zimbabweans who have fled the country over the last few decades. They are educated, talented and will be a key constituency the new government will need. Another group which will play a significant role, are business leaders from the US and Europe who are motivated by building business there which exhibit a compassionate form of capitalism. Too long the west has simply pillaged Africa. It is time to show a model of business more akin to Jesus teachings with a Kingdom of God worldview.
As you might imagine, observing all this recent transition in Zimbabwe was amazing for me to behold on a personal level. I had published a blog about “Transitions” the very day of the coup, having no idea what was about to take place! I was taken back by the developments to say the least. The whole situation got my attention. As December rolled around I found myself asking God two key questions 1) What is up? 2) Does it include my involvement? I needed to know. A “yes” answer to the second question meant I needed to shift around some immediate priorities in my life very quickly. The whole situation actually created some anxiety until a few days before Christmas when I woke up one morning with an amazing tranquil peace resting over me. Funny as it sounds now, I wondered if I had died!!! I laid there in bed for a few minutes while attempting to get my bearings. This was followed the next day by a few emails from people who had recently read Saving Zimbabwe. They reinforced Brian Oldreive’ s original perspective that the book played significant role in healing the nation. I was deeply moved but still not sure what that would mean for me. I then had a phone conversation with someone who knows me well. I told them what was happening and my uncertainly about if or where I might fit in this unfolding drama. Their rather direct comment was “You know you need to go!”. I knew they were right though at that moment I wasn’t prepared to admit it. My reply was “The last thing Africa needs is me interjecting myself into the middle of their problems. The only way I will go is if invited. I need to know they see what God has put in my soul as being relevant.”
The next morning, I trudged to my PC with coffee and a breakfast bar in hand. I about dropped them both when I saw on my monitor screen, not one but two invitations to return to Zimbabwe. Wow! I just sat there wondering… God what are you up to? So here we are now and I couldn’t be more excited and yet sober minded. I will be speaking at the “I Was Hungry for Forgiveness” Conference in Harare March 6-8. Later that month. March 25-27 I will also be speaking at the “A Cry for Peace” Conference hosted by friend Joice Dube. As word is slowly seeping out about my return, requests for meetings with people in government, the business community and religious sectors are coming in. I now realize I need to stay in Zimbabwe for an extended period of time i.e. 2-3 months in order to do this right.
As you might imagine there is a great deal of cost involved with doing this so I’m not going to be bashful and ask if you would consider making a tax deductible gift to Compassionate Justice International to help cover my expenses. I’m thinking they will be in $7,000 – $10,000 range. While over there, I will need to take a trip or two into South Africa as well. There are people there who feel the message of Saving Zimbabwe is extremely relevant to South Africa as it also is on the verge of a wide ranging transition.
If you would like to send a check please mail them to
c/o Bob Scott
153 Scottsdale Circle
Reed’s Spring, MO 65737
To use PayPal: [email protected]
If you would like to Wire Transfer funds, contact me personally and will give you the bank details
For those who are able… I greatly appreciate your help! -Bob