A Deliberate Christian Response To An Agrarian Tragedy

Dateline: 30 October 2015

White Zimbabwean farmer, Ben Freeth, in 2008

Zimbabwe has become a recurring topic on this blog (like HERE and HERE, for a couple of examples). The reason being, the recent history of the country provides examples and lessons that we can all learn from. This became  more clear to me as I listened to this week's McAlvany Weekly Commentary podcast, titled Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived." 

The show begins with David McAlvany talking about his book, Intentional Families, which will soon be in print. David's book is not about Zimbabwe but, evidently, part of it is about the importance of forgiveness. And that's where Ben Freeth comes into the broadcast.

Ben and an associate named Craig Deall are interviewed by David McAlvany about the history of Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia), the recent economic and societal collapse, and how they and their families were affected by the crisis.

The picture above gives you some idea of how Ben Freeth was personally affected by it. He and Craig were prosperous, white, landowning farmers prior to Robert Mugabe's rise to power in Zimbabwe. 

With Mugabe's takeover came a breakdown in the rule of law. Farms and other personal property were forcibly taken from the white landowners. White farmers (and many of their black workers) were beaten and killed. Their homes were burned.

You can do a Google search and find the story of Freeth's harrowing ordeal in 2008. His father and mother-in-law were also severely beaten in the incident. His father in law, Mike Campbell, eventually died from the injuries sustained in the attack. In a prior incident of home invasion, Freeth's six year old son's leg was broken. This episode of societal breakdown and persecution was a living nightmare for Freeth's family, and many others in Zimbabwe.

Before Mugabe, Zimbabwe had been a prosperous, agriculturally productive nation. After the farms were taken, the national economy tanked. The now-infamous Zimbabwean hyperinflation came. It is very interesting to hear about what life was like in the Zimbabwe hyperinflation. And now, according to the interview, Zimbabwe is experiencing severe deflation. That's interesting to hear too.

But, what I found most interesting about this interview was the break from financial discussion (which is what the McAlvany podcasts are primarily about). Ben and Craig give their personal testimony about how the terrible ordeals they experienced have impacted their families and how they have chosen to respond to it all.

In short, it was their Christian faith that helped them to deal with the crisis events as they were happening, and it is their Christian faith that has compelled them to forgive in the aftermath. 

This matter of forgiveness and, in particular, choosing to forgive, is something I have written about here in the past—in my essay, How To Forgive Others

In the wake of the events of 2008, and the death of his father-in-law, Ben Freeth has started the Mike Campbell Foundation. I was pleased (but not surprised) to see that the Mike Campbell Foundation supports the Foundations For Farming ministry (another recurring topic on this blog). Ben Freeth has written about the ministry At This Link (I found out later that Craig Deall is part of the Foundations For Farming ministry). 

There are alarming past parallels, and potential future parallels, between the history of Zimbabwe and that of America. Prosperity and decline. The loss of agriculture. Racial animosity. The disregard for established rule of law. Dictatorship. Societal collapse. The scapegoating and persecution of certain classes of people. 

I recommend that you listen to the McAlvany podcast. Here's the link again: Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived"

Ben Freeth today.


FatJuniesFarmette said...

I have a long way to go before I am worthy to tie Ben Freeth's boots. I may need to frame his photo as a reminder...

Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with you. I knew some people who lived in Zimbabwe when it was Rhodesia and during the change over. Very sad stories they told. I don't believe we know what we in America face ... but this story and related links might just give us a glimpse.