I’ve always thought that if there is nothing to say, then there is no point trying to say it. So, I won’t go looking for things to blog about just for the sake of blogging something or anything.
Even watching the wonderful Kop singing again as Liverpool beat Lille at Anfield doesn’t merit too many words – just relieved admiration.
I can’t even be bothered to write about any of the things that are filling my days – from visiting great clergy to creative meetings and lots of speaking engagements via writing commitments. Boredom is not something with which I am threatened.
But I will write about Bob Stumbles. I have never met him, but I have read him and followed him for the last seven years since I came to Croydon and joined the link with the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe. Everything in Zimbabwe was coloured by the shameful betrayal of the Anglican Church by the appalling Nolbert Kunonga, the now-ousted Bishop of Harare.
Kunonga, supported by Robert Mugabe and his self-preserving henchmen, expropriated white farms, supported violence against opponents of Mugabe, saw his diocese as his personal possession, attempted to grab the Province of Central Africa for himself and has spent the last few years intimidating those who no longer recognise him as a bishop.
Kunonga (now followed by the ousted bishop of Manicaland, Elson Jakazi), illegally protected and defended by a craven police force, continues to defy the courts – claiming churches and church property for himself. His supporters intimidate and beat those faithful Anglicans who try to worship in their own churches or communities.
There is currently a case going through the courts in Harare to secure a final judgement in favour of the Province and against the corrupt Kunonga. The recent and current Bishops of Harare (Sebastian Bakare and Chad Gandiya) have shown enormous courage in challenging Kunonga and offering strong leadership to their people in the face of overwhelming odds. The saga continues, as do the relationships with the Dioceses of Southwark and Rochester, with a strong sense of God’s justice and the guts to pray and work for it.
This is not about the church as institution. It is about an abused country, an abused people and a church that gives its own blood to serve the people who suffer under the jackboot of Mugabe’s megalomania.
But the largely unknown hero of this struggle has been a lawyer called Bob Stumbles. As Chancellor of the Diocese of Harare he has challenged Kunonga and Mugabe every step of the way – and at considerable personal cost. Fired by faith in the God of justice and inspired by love for the Anglican Church and its vocation, he has attended to the legal detail of the struggle and remained diligent in the face of all intimidation.
I heard today that Bob Stumbles died of a heart attack yesterday. This is bad news for the church’s struggle – especially while the court case proceeds. But this faithful man deserves honour, respect and love for all he has done. His work is over, but it is essential his legacy does not die with him.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory. And may he never be forgotten when the history books get written.