I’m grateful for democratic elections, for national assistance programs and government watchdogs. But more than a restoration of what we had before COVID, Canada needs God. We need changed hearts. Too many other countries have demonstrated what happens otherwise…
No trick or treaters, those. Blows rattled our friends’ door in the dead of the Zimbabwean night. Obscenities flew through fragrant air. Dark chanting goshawks stilled and grey go-away birds raised the alarm. Go away! Go away!
Canadian-born Diana met Tim at university. Zimbabwean-born Tim studied agriculture; Diana, music. They fell in love, married, moved back to Zimbabwe and began crafting their life. Holding tight to their shared love and faith in God, they bought land, had babies. Under Tim’s expert hand, their farm produced abundance—maize, lentils, oranges, mangos. Soon they couldn’t do the work alone, and hired help.
The Preacher and I met Tim and Diana when they visited Canada during those good years. Our children were roughly the same ages. Our short acquaintance began a friendship that lasted years. Back in Zimbabwe, they sent letters and photos. We sent our own back.
Tim devoted himself to developing his plantation and his employees’ lives. He put in a dam and a hydro-electric plant. He stocked the resulting lake. Purchased boats and equipment for those who wanted to fish. He built a school for their children. Brought in teachers. Diana taught piano in her home. They provided homes and garden plots. Blue-cheeked bee eaters clucked and hummed. Ah, sweet life.
Years passed. The Berwick letters grew sad. Their country, they wrote, was poised for a great tear. Its dictator, Robert Mugabe, had made it clear: white farmers had no place in Zimbabwe, even those born there. Not even Tim, whose family had lived there for generations.
Then the letters from Africa stopped. Years later we learned why. That awful night came during a long string of dark days in their beloved country. The intruders robbed them of everything. Existence. Land. Home. They fled with their daughters, taking nothing, not looking back.
Maybe they’d wondered, naively, if they were exempt. Perhaps they ignored the rumors that all white farmers would be evicted from their land by government order. Perhaps they’d thought it would never happen to them. But it did. Tim drove taxi in the streets of Harare awhile. Finally, Zimbabwe rejected them altogether. They fled to England to start over.
Their great sadness sat heavy on Tim. He became sick with it; finally died of it. Diana took a tiny flat in Hampshire and taught music. But when we last spoke, she told me her faith in God remained unshaken. She spent her days looking forward in hope, not back in regret.
I think of our friends when I see similar tensions rising in my beloved country. We can blame COVID-19 for increasing some, but a country doesn’t crumple overnight. Without God, cells of destruction clog its arteries for decades beforehand, and Canada’s great heart has weakened.
King of Heaven, restore us.