Editor's Comment

Help the clergy

THERE is just no reason why the aged should be neglected. This is particularly so in Zambia, which embraces the rich culture of taking care of senior citizens in respective families.
Unfortunately, there is an evidently growing trend of treating the elderly as burdens. An ever-increasing number of people are refusing to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of their parents and grandparents.
Some have even adopted the alien Western culture of relegating their old parents to old people’s homes. What a shame! Nothing beats the joy of being surrounded by loved ones. So why distance yourself from those that love you and confine them to unfamiliar surroundings?
More shameful is beating and even killing senior citizens on accusations of them being wizards or witches.
Yet citizens should be taking advantage of such invaluable citizens to learn from their experiences.
The aged are generally people with a wealth of wisdom. The younger generation should be tapping in their vast knowledge and experience to make sound decisions.
An even bigger disgrace is the failure by some churches to take care of their aged and retired clergypersons.
This is why President Edgar Lungu has urged Christians across Zambia to take care of the clergy, especially those who have retired.
Most preachers devote a lot of their time and energies to do God’s work. This includes bringing salvation to lost souls, counselling church members, helping the needy in their communities, teaching children, helping raise funds for the church and bringing couples together in holy matrimony.
Because of this constant interaction with members of society, their extended ‘families’ are huge. Many congregants look up to them for solutions and are indebted to them for help rendered.
So why do some of these church members neglect their clergymen and women when they go into retirement? That is being ungrateful. It is abuse.
Here is someone who devotes virtually all his time to meet your needs and when his time of need comes, you turn your back on him. Sometimes you even call him in the middle of the night to pray for you and yet you yourself can make that prayer.
As he retires you have no consideration of how he is going to spend the rest of his life. He has no retirement home nor source of revenue to sustain his living. The clergy that are weak at heart would think that theirs is a thankless job. It is not.
It is good, therefore, that a house has been built for John Chola, the 106-year-old retired reverend.
In doing so, the Partners in Mission Works, whose patron is President Lungu, has set a good example of walking the talk on helping retired clergypersons.
Although it would have been better for the reverend to have received the house immediately after he retired, this gesture is certainly welcome. It is better late than never. He now has a broad smile on his face.
It is, therefore, high time that churches or congregations that do not take due care of their clergypersons during and after service start doing so now.
Some churches pay their clergypersons monthly salaries and pension deductions are made and accordingly remitted. But this pension is generally insufficient to sustain a set standard of living. So churches should also encourage their clergy to get into revenue generating ventures that they would turn to after retirement.
They should, like many other workers, plan for their retirement by investing their resources in ventures like building houses and doing some farming.
While it is true that there is a risk of distraction from preaching when one goes into ventures that are too demanding, it is important that one also gets ready for a happy retirement and not one of depression.
The tasks must be balanced without hurting either. That is the win-win solution.

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