Whoever we are and wherever we live, we are all endeavouring to support ourselves.
One of our biggest concerns is to know our job is secure and we have enough money to survive. Have you ever experienced a financial threat to your survival? Have you ever moved location to improve your life situation? What were the challenges? What was it like settling in a new place? Share your experiences with the group.
When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you keep looking at one another? I have heard,” he said, “that there is grain in Egypt; go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he feared that harm might come to him. Thus the sons of Israel were among the other people who came to buy grain, for the famine had reached the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land; it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognised them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” Although Joseph had recognised his brothers, they did not recognise him. Joseph also remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about them. He said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” They said to him, “No, my lord; your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man; we are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” But he said to them, “No, you have come to see the nakedness of the land!” They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of a certain man in the land of Canaan; the youngest, however, is now with our father, and one is no more.” But Joseph said to them, “It is just as I have said to you; you are spies! Here is how you shall be tested: as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here! Let one of you go and bring your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison, in order that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you; or else, as Pharaoh lives, surely you are spies.” And he put them all together in prison for three days.
Article by Farirai Mudiwa, who supports church-led community development in Manicaland, Zimbabwe, supported by USPG.
The economy of Zimbabwe crumbled in 2008 and began to stabilise when a coalition government was set up in 2009. However, the economy hit fresh trouble after elections in 2013 were disputed. Since then, struggling employers have been letting workers go. Legally, employers need to give only three months notice and they are not obliged to pay redundancy. Critics say this has effectively turned the country’s entire workforce into temporary workers.
Families are suffering because thousands have lost their jobs. Little wonder, in a survey conducted by the church, almost everyone said at least one close family member had migrated to South Africa to seek employment, taking any job they can find.
Sadly, 92 per cent of interviewees said their relatives had faced abuse and discrimination in South Africa, including xenophobic attacks, with some women and girls trapped into sex work and men working for less than the minimum wage.
In an economy where job opportunities are decreasing by the day, a church-led programme in Zimbabwe is helping communities to devise new sources of income. The programme encourages communities to use local skills and resources to set up projects.
One participant said: ‘We have discovered we have many locally-available resources that we can use to improve our livelihoods. I no longer feel I need to migrate to earn a living. My husband lost his job, but our lifestyle has not changed because God has enabled us to see the resources around us.’
O God of Justice,
Whose son overturned the tables in the temple,
And challenged the hypocrisy of the Pharisees,
Cause us to feel anger and shame at the ways our lifestyle reduces humanity,
And to repent and act justly on the impulse of love share your gifts
For a fairer world and for your kingdom on earth.