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She works to bring healing to those around her

Rev. Lydia Neshangwe of Zimbabwe is one of 14 International Peacemakers in the U.S. this fall

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

Rev. Lydia Neshangwe

LOUISVILLE — In a country where people are traumatized by poverty, political instability and economic decline, Rev. Lydia Neshangwe is a leader in bringing healing to those around her.

Neshangwe is an ordained minister of Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, a transitional Presbyterian denomination with churches in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. She is one of 14 international peacemakers hosted by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program who will travel throughout the country this fall speaking to congregations, mid-councils and educational institutions. Their goal is to help Presbyterians in the U.S. better understand peace and justice around the world as well as inspire new ministries.

A passion for wholeness led Neshangwe to create the Center for Growth, an organization that conducts seminars, workshops and group therapy sessions for community members in order to bring about spiritual growth and wholeness. In this way she believes she can, in collaboration with others, engage in bringing healing to the society around her. She calls it “a metaphorical hospital for the wounded and traumatized in Zimbabwe” that offers life and coping skills to achieve positive and sustainable growth.

Zimbabwe is a country characterized by three major challenges: political instability and uncertainty, poverty caused by economic decline with what has historically been one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and the social challenges resulting from the economic and political system. The result is that people are wounded and traumatized in multiple levels: emotional, economic, social, relational, psychological — and even spiritually wounded when there appears to be no hope.

The Center works in conjunction with Hope’s Promise, an international organization that finds homes for orphaned children in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nepal and Vietnam and assists with school fees so that children can stay in school and “stop the victim-hood and hopelessness” caused by the combination of poverty and being an orphan.

“They begin to discover they can transform their pain into compassion for others in similar situations,” Neshangwe said. “Therefore, those who lost their relatives through political violence or HIV/AIDS are now the very people who are the caregivers of orphans and passing on the compassion that was given to them at the Center and supported by Hope’s Promise orphan care.”

During her U.S. travels, Neshangwe says she will focus on two types of poverty, tangible and emotional, both of which she says are a real and present danger.

“I’m participating in the International Peacemakers Program because I believe that knowledge is power,” she said. “I come to inform the PC(USA) of the challenges faced in Zimbabwe as well as learn more about he challenges faced in the USA so that we can find ways of walking in solidarity with one another’s challenges and together be a Matthew 25 church.”

Neshangwe and the other 13 other international peacemakers will be in the U.S. from Sept. 13 to Oct. 7.

Click here for the application to host a Peacemaker

Read more:

Peacemakers will tell churches about Matthew 25 work around the world

Peacemaker has helped educate thousands in southern Africa

Peacemaker has been working for racial justice in Europe

Cuban Peacemaker inspires with ‘liberation word’ of the Bible and MLK

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