Power struggles, economic disaster, corrupt politicians, unjust imprisonment . . . These are just a few of the issues that the people of Zimbabwe live with every day.
Alistair Croudace is a native of Zimbabwe, one of the few white landowners remaining in the country. His wife Shelley has served there with him for more than 25 years. They have experienced trials, conflicts; the government has even tried to forcibly remove them. But through it all, God has been faithful. Shelley says, “it is in our darkest hours when God shows up in the most phenomenal ways, and He calls us to step out in faith in the most dramatic ways. And then He gets all the glory. We can’t take the credit, because there’s just no human way possible that we could do it.
Their home and mission, “Lasting Impressions,” covers 450 gorgeous acres. Students throughout Zimbabwe come there to experience the beauty of the countryside and hear the life-changing gospel message. Their mission is “to make a positive impact on the hearts and minds of the people of Zimbabwe for Christ through educational camps, inspirational retreats and community events in a picturesque setting.”
School groups representing all faiths and ethnicities come to Lasting Impressions to enjoy the outdoors, have fun, and build community. “We provide a unique opportunity to shine a light in the darkness,” Alistair says. “All the students who come hear the gospel message. We incorporate the gospel into everything we do.”
The Croudaces also shine a light in the community where they live. They have taught a local man how to farm. Now he grows vegetables that they buy to feed the people who come to Lasting Impressions. They feed hungry children in their community, help orphans, and provide jobs – they set an example of sharing Christ’s love with everyone they touch. They are known throughout the area by their fruits.
In November, they put a well in their community and dedicated it at a special gathering. Shelley tells us, “We just shared the gospel message at the dedication service, and 11 people dedicated their lives to the Lord at that service. We have a couple of little churches that meet under the trees, or in the bush, and they joined us at the dedication. The Lord is on the move and we are getting more opportunity because we are serving and showing the gospel through our actions. We are praying for true transformation throughout Zimbabwe.”
In a country where 85% of the citizens claim to be Christian, the name of Christ is often scandalized. Pastors have multiple wives and mistresses; they steal from their church; they practice an entitlement philosophy that enriches them at the expense of the sheep in their flock. “There is a crisis in our country now. The economic crisis, the wholesale theft, the lack of justice – the list is endless. I would say only a handful of people are practicing Christianity and living their faith,” Alistair tells us.
Shelley adds, “We see just how broken the society is, because if the Word of God was really followed, lives would be different. You wouldn’t have pastors with multiple wives and mistresses and everybody having AIDS if they were following God’s Word.”
“A friend brought to our attention that the mustard seed is an example of faith not so much because it’s small, but because it is pure. You can’t graft anything onto a mustard tree. That small, pure seed grows and multiplies. It shows how the holiness, the purity of what we share with others is so critical and if we really abide by God’s standards, that is going to shine so much brighter and have so much more impact.”
The Croudaces are planting pure seeds of faith throughout Zimbabwe, serving God and the people of their country by living Christ’s example. Their deepest desire they tell us is, “to be salt and light to their community.”