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Why does God permit suffering? Part 2

Joseph Nkwatle

“Many see the work of evil, with its woe and desolation, and question how this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love” Ellen G. White.

Bishop Duncan Nicholas William’s response if you look at it has its root from the New Testament and premised upon the redemptive work of Christ that saw the birth of the Church. His response came about because of the question of why God allows evil to take place on earth. The bishop alluded to the fact that God is not in charge of this world; Satan is the god of this world and that God gave the Church to have responsibility of that which has to transpire on earth. An important facet in the whole question of evil is the role of Satan. While the Bible does not give us many details about the rebellion of Satan save for the Pre-Adamic World theologians! It appears that prior to the events recorded in Genesis 1-2, a created order of personal beings called angels were tested morally. Like man, they were created with freedom of choice.

Talking of freedom and choice brings me to a point that I need to highlight and that is; man- human being is God’s special creation. Man (by man, my reference includes both male and females) is created in the image of God and possesses moral nature, that makes him unique from all creation both visible and invisible. It has always been God’s intent that man should fellowship with Him out of choice. Such choice should be freely made fueled by one’s love for God. If the capacity or freedom to make independent moral decisions is withdrawn from man, he becomes less than human. The fact that God made man with the awesome capability to make moral choices does not automatically charge Him with responsibility for what man does with that power. Similarly God cannot impose Himself or His choice on human beings; that is why Christianity does not force itself on people!

There is a phrase that is repeated about three times in the epistle to the Romans chapter one and it is, “God gave them over.” When as human beings we persistently refuse the light and love of God which He makes available to us, God eventually leaves us to become what we are demanding. The awful fate of those who, by their own choice, rule out all conviction of the Holy Spirit is that they become what they are capable of becoming apart from God. Hell is a place which is populated by those individuals who pushed God out of their lives and have at last received what was their demand. The cruelty and verdict of a life lived for self, rather than for God, is terrifying to contemplate. Romans Chapter One gives us a graphic illustration of the historic unfolding of moral evil. Genesis 3 depicts the story of natural evil. Man’s choice to disobey God not only corrupted his own moral nature, but also resulted in the disordering of the created world, his own environment. Physical suffering is pictured in Scripture as part of the legacy left by man’s sinful choice.

Evil is a force rather than to say it is a thing, it is a disordered relationship. It was by his own personal choice that man chose to enter into a disordered relationship with God. Satan decided in himself to engineer a rebellion and one-third of the angels who sided with him were cast out of heaven. Evidently Satan has been allowed a limited space of freedom in which he carries his operations, and it includes among other things access to the minds of human beings. That explains why I said in one of my writings that temptation is an outward force – Satan is the tempter, destroyer, and enemy of humanity and God! The book of Revelation however, parades the manner and order God is going to permanently stamp out Satan and evil.

Let me conclude with one spiritual principle in Scripture and it is found in Psalms 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.” This is a spiritual principle, a cardinal decree of God well known in all realms of the spirit – the earth belongs to human beings. God is a Spirit, for Him to manifest on earth He does so by getting human permission, He must find a human being and work with his will to get done what He intends. That is why Jesus had to become a human being to actually redeem mankind! God has His servants on earth whom He has raised so that His will be carried out through them. Just like bishop Williams say, God has raised the Church (human beings) to be the vehicle through which He can influence the world. Men and women of God are simply God’s medium to the rest of humanity. Jesus the Christ said about the Church, “I will build my Church against upon the rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it” So nothing or no one, including governments can prevail against the Church.

Satan is also a spirit, he also obeys this cardinal principle set by God, and there is nothing he can do on earth without the aid of a human being. Satan works by manipulation and utter deception. These are the tools he uses to manifest evil on earth. In John 10:10, Satan is described there as the thief who only comes to steal, kill, and to destroy! Through witchcraft he places curses of all sorts on individuals, families, and nations to propagate evil. Satan also has servants whom he uses to cause pain and suffering to humanity and persecute the Church. Bishop Duncan Williams was so right when he said, “The Church is supposed to be in charge of this world because God has given us the responsibility to govern the earth, Jesus said “Occupy till I come.””  “When the church does nothing, we fold our hands and hold our peace and seat back; we allow the devil the freedom to steal, kill and destroy, and to have a field day to do as he (devil) pleases.” The Church in Botswana has to yield its will to God in intense prayer, so that God will use it mightily in these days and times!


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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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