By AT News Team, November 28, 2014:    Adventist churches in Zambia are responding to an inter-denominational call to prayer for peace during the current political turmoil. Michael Sata, the elected president of the African nation, died in October and a special election to fill the vacancy is schedule for January 20. The nation’s vice president, Guy Scott, became acting president but is barred by the constitution from running for president because he is an immigrant.

Violent street protests have already accompanied some of the pre-election positioning and tensions are rising. Edgar Lungu, the cabinet minister for defense, has declared his candidacy for president as has Mulenga Sata, the son of the late president and mayor of Lusaka, the capital city. Both are vying for the nomination of the majority Patriotic Front party. Former president Rupiah Banda will run as the candidate of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, the leading opposition party in parliament.

Pastor Bednock Banji of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Pemba District was quoted in the Lusaka Times asking his denomination to pray for peace. He expressed a “need for unity in the country not only spiritually but politically in order to forge ahead in development,” the newspaper reported.

Banji said “it was not by chance that Zambia was declared a Christian nation” and blessed “that citizens were enjoying freedom of worship,” as well as “peace and unity, a privilege he said should not be mismanaged.” He also said that “Zambians by nature [are] peace loving and hospitable,” and he “appealed that this spirit should continue” and that “selfish ambitions” should “not be indulged … to the detriment of the peace [the nation] has built and enjoyed over the years.”

In past elections there have been violent clashes in some communities, including murders that were considered to be politically inspired. In many countries political passions often lead to angry exchanges and believers often need to be reminded that Christ asks His followers to be peace makers.