|Willie Marare: Thankful to God, despite hardships|
The Rev. Willie Babopotongerenyi Marare, a retired Zimbabwean United Methodist pastor, receives no pension. He and his wife rely on support from their
daughters and others to survive. A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 3, 2008 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
The Rev. Willie Babopotongerenyi Marare has suffered imprisonment, attacks on his home and the deaths of his two sons.
The setback that finally made him stop preaching was the loss of his eyesight in 2001.
After a lifetime of dedication to The United Methodist Church, he relies on the support of his five daughters and “Christians” because there is no pension money for him or his wife.
When he could see, he had a small garden that helped supplement his diet, but now that he is blind, he has to buy all his food. With Zimbabwe’s soaring inflation rate, food has become more costly.
During most of Marare’s time as a pastor, Zimbabwe was struggling for independence from Britain, and he says he was arrested several times. His house was attacked during the election in 2002 because one of his sons worked for the opposition party.
His car was smashed, and all but one of the windows in his house were broken in a 4 a.m. attack one Sunday morning. He says he knows some of the men involved in the attack because they are church members, but he doesn’t hold a grudge. “I just want them to repent,” he says.
He retired in 1994 at age 65 but continued to preach in several appointments for another seven years.
The United Methodist Church is working on developing pension models for clergy, church workers and surviving spouses in Zimbabwe and elsewhere through the Central Conference Pension Initiative. More information is available at www.ccpi-umc.org.
After retiring, Marare performed many weddings and said he would still do so today if he could see well enough to sign the documents.
But he says he doesn’t blame anyone for not taking care of him in retirement.
“I know our country,” he says. “Things have gone up very high, so I’m not even grumbling. No, no, I’m not doing that. I’m really relaxed because what God is doing for me is wonderful because of the children that he gave me and the friends.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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