At about this time last year, human beings seemed headed for extinction.
Zimbabwe was also five days into an uncharted and unfamiliar national lockdown, joining millions, if not billions, around the world who had hunkered down as a new and very deadly disease held sway over humanity.
Italy — one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe — was in pain, as deaths neared 15 000.
Over the next months, it was roiled by its worst-ever crisis since World War II, and it became a global emblem of the horrors that could visit the world if the coronavirus was left unabated.
In scenes that mimicked dystopian calamity, most cities and towns around the world were as abandoned and lifeless as ghost towns.
It surely looked, felt and seemed like the real apocalypse.
For all his ingenuity, wisdom and science, man seemed feckless, weak and clueless.
This got the Bishop thinking that however fanciful and outlandish it seems, human beings are closer to extinction than they think.
It became clear that nothing is improbable and impossible in life.
It is only our limited knowledge, beliefs and wisdom that define what we perceive to be probable and possible.
But we can only be more knowledgeable and wiser through God’s grace.
During his sermons, Bishop Lazi always preaches that we can only believe and have faith in things seen and unseen through God’s grace.
Sometimes, even as facts stare us in the face, we choose not to believe.
This is why as human beings we often look but do not see and listen but do not understand.
We view life through different lenses and our prejudice and biases shape our imagined worldview.
It takes wisdom to decipher the workings of the world and the universe.
In Matthew 13:13-15, Jesus explains why he often used fables in his teachings.
“This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”
Although God reduced Himself to a mere mortal and walked amongst us more than 2000 years ago, very few people believed Him or in Him, despite signs and warnings from the prophets over the Ages.
This was hardly surprising because Jesus was simply a living and walking being like us, and not quite the looker or hunk, nor was He the knight in shining armour He was imagined to be as the Messiah.
And although He also tried to show the world in word and in deed that He was God, the world did not believe Him.
Instead, He was executed in the most horrific way imaginable through crucifixion.
The Bishop once told you how the Romans, who were consummate killers, preferred to crucify the condemned in order to make the execution as excruciatingly painful as possible.
Despite incontrovertible and compelling historical evidence of His existence and the numerous miracles He conducted, there is still debate about Jesus’ divinity and His resurrection, which we, as Christians, who make up a third of the world population, celebrate today.
You see, for the simple mind it is incredibly difficult to process the mystery that the most awesome God — the Supreme Being — could be born of a woman, live amongst us and be humiliated before His “inglorious death” at the hands of mere mortals.
It is hard, too, to imagine that the same person could rise from the dead and ascend to heaven.
Such claim might sound fanciful at best and outlandish at worst.
But not if you are Bishop Lazarus, who is the namesake of the man from Bethany — a small village in Judea — who was raised from the dead four days after his burial.
Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.
At its heart lies the belief that life can be regenerated after death.
As the Bishop said earlier, it takes God’s grace to be knowledgeable, wise and visionary, and it also takes grace for the improbable to become probable and the impossible to become possible.
Blessed are those who see, hear and understand.
Resurrection Sunday carries great significance for Zimbabwe, particularly this year, as the country’s rise becomes apparent.
But even as the facts stare us in the face, most people still do not believe that Zimbabwe is currently in the process of reclaiming its past glory.
Believe me, we will emerge bigger and stronger and soar with the eagles.
The signs are all around if we care enough to see them.
About a fortnight ago, on March 26, London Stock Exchange-listed Contango Holdings announced that it is presently in discussions with Tsingshan Holdings Group’s Zimbabwean subsidiary to supply coking coal produced at its mine in Hwange.
You need to remember that Tsingshan — the world’s largest producer of stainless steel — has an operation in Hwange at Dinson Colliery, where it is in advanced stages of constructing a 300 000-tonne coke oven battery.
All this coal is envisaged to feed into the new US$1 billion steel plant, which Bishop Lazi has been harping about since the beginning of the year, and which is set to be commissioned by the President soon.
Where Ziscosteel – which was once Africa’s largest integrated steel works – used to produce one million tonnes and employ over 8 000 people at its peak, the new plant will eventually produce double the capacity.
The concomitant economic spin-offs, both upstream and downstream, are unimaginably immense.
No country can modernise and industrialise without steel.
And then there are growing prospects that the country could be producing oil and gas within the first three months of next year if plans to drill exploration wells are successful this year.
This again has the potential to significantly cut the country’s energy import bill in the medium to long-term and create conditions for rapid and accelerated economic growth.
We also have the world’s biggest diamond company, Alrosa, which is actively foraging for diamonds in areas such as Malipati, and preliminary results have been very encouraging.
The sheer scale and scope of public works around the country — from construction of Gwayi-Shangani Dam, the New Parliament in Mount Hampden, expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, rehabilitation of the Chirundu-Harare-Beitbridge Highway, construction of Hwange Power Station Unit 7 and 8, among others — is as breathtaking as it is astounding.
Bishop Lazi actually thinks that all things being equal, 2022 might be a watershed year for the economy.
Already for local and internal business, strong scepticism is beginning to give way to strong optimism.
It’s only that our so-called analysts and economists are asleep and often latch on to unflattering news about Zimbabwe, otherwise they would be extrapolating the huge windfall that would certainly accrue to the country from these and other multiple projects already underway.
Everything is looking up. From agriculture to manufacturing, the optimism is palpable.
For the first time in years, our local companies are now venturing in the region for new and lucrative markets, as a relatively stable local currency makes their products as competitive as they ought to be.
Kefalos, Lake Harvest, Delta and National Foods are making a mark in the region.
Slowly but surely, Zimbabwe is being resurrected.
You only need to be irredeemably naïve to believe otherwise.
For those blessed enough to see, Zimbabwe is clearly on the rise and will soon soar with the eagles.