What we've been reading this weekNick Spencer on the electionContacting election candidatesHow to Show Up Snap Election - How to respond?Thoughts from a Broom CupboardDifficulties getting to the Polling Station?Can’t be bothered to vote? Some reasons why you should….Politics is in need of incarnation, not just demonstration10 Reasons Christians Should Vote in the ElectionsThe election as an opportunityPolitics is dead...When praying for your leaders feels tough...'THOSE WHO SHOW UP' - Every church leader should read this book! If you care about your neighbour, you care about politicsDoes politics really matter?Why the Catholic Church calls us to be "active citizens"Serving God On the Inside and On the OutsideWho would Jesus vote for?5 reasons Christians don't get involved in politicsShifting views on politics from an Ethiopian immigrantOne student's u-turn on politicsTime to get engaged!A call for students to have a go!

When praying for your leaders feels tough...

We are called to pray for our leaders and those in authority but that can be difficult sometimes if you don’t agree with their ideology.  Mark Scott shares about why it’s important to pray for them.

This article was first written before the 2015 General Election.

The last election I witnessed first-hand was the 2013 Zimbabwe presidential election in which one of the world’s last remaining dictators, Robert Mugabe, secured yet another term in office.

Anyone that knows anything about Zimbabwe, and specifically about its politics, knows that it is synonymous with corruption, oppression and sometimes even violence.

The atmosphere on the ground in the run up to the election was one of fear, but also of confusion. You are constantly on the receiving end of information and misinformation; rumours and hearsay. One thing I was told days before the vote was that specially designed pens had been shipped in from Israel. The ink of these pens would disappear after a number of hours leaving ballot papers blank and therefore open to rigging. Around the same time an apparent government mole sprang up on Facebook revealing the innermost secrets of the dictatorial regime, including the personal contact details of the person in charge of fixing the election in favour of ZANU-PF.

The rumours and hearsay make for a tense climate where there is little hope for a free and fair society, let alone an open and transparent election.

It was in this context that I was invited for dinner at the house of an elderly woman from our church. She was someone I admired as she had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible and would quote whole passages from memory.

Arriving at her house, however, I was aghast when upon entering her living room I came face-to-face with a poster of Mugabe. Suddenly I began to question everything I had believed about her as here she was, in the privacy of her home, displaying the image of a man who had caused so much suffering to the people of Zimbabwe for so many years. 

Her response when I asked why she had the poster still strikes a chord with me today and I think is a lesson for all Christians wherever we find ourselves.  She pointed my attention to what was written underneath the poster. There I read 1Timothy 2:1-3, the verses in which Paul instructs Christians to pray for their leaders and all those in authority.

The reason the poster sat so prominently in my Zimbabwean friend’s home was so that she would be constantly reminded to pray for her leader and those in authority – despite the fact that they weren’t always easy to love. This demonstrated immense hope in a time of hopelessness. Hope not based on any signs of redemption on behalf of a corrupt leadership, but beyond self to the hope based on the reality of Christ and his wisdom.

The lessons we can learn in the run up to our own election are manifold. Firstly we need to pray for those in authority, which can be a tricky task. But at Christians in Politics we have loads of resources to help you get started. Secondly we are to remain hopeful and positive, not in man and his wisdom but in the reality of Christ. This has been the driving force behind the Show Up campaign which aims to encourage Christians to positively engage in politics in the run up to, and beyond, the 2015 General Election.

So when we are confronted by the headlines and the scandalous stories surrounding politicians over the next few months, remember my friend in Zimbabwe, her poster of Mugabe and 1 Timothy 2:1-3.