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Zimbabwean churches buck the trend

 
Archbishop Ezekiel Guti at his 90th birthday celebration earlier this year.

Archbishop Ezekiel Guti at his 90th birthday celebration earlier this year.

I took time to visit a certain church in the City of Harare in Zimbabwe on a Sunday morning and I was surprised to see numerous top-of-the-range cars parked outside as the owners took time to worship their Creator.

Reflecting on news reports I had read during the week, I realised that the power of the media had left graphic images of poverty, suffering and regret in my mind, leaving me concerned about the future of the next generation who would inherit the unfortunate status quo.

What I noticed on that Sunday morning compelled me to make a paradigm shift and to see everything around me differently, eventually igniting a ray of hope in my heart.

The question that boggled my mind was: “Where in the world did the people get the ideas and power to prosper in this country that is ravaged by sanctions and where everyone is crying as a result of scarcity?”

More top-of-the-range cars
As if that was not enough, I visited another church in the high density suburb of Chitungwiza, a town just 25km away from the capital city Harare, and I was perplexed to notice that almost the same scenario prevailed —  top-of-the-range cars.

As I pondered about the puzzle of the expensive cars, it dawned on me that the Zimbabwean church in general has a striking resemblance to the Biblical Macedonian church which, in its poverty, gave beyond its ability.

I believe I was seeing testimonies of God’s faithfulness to His promise to give back to those that give generously.

These Zimbabwean church leaders should be given credit for what they have ingrained in the minds of church members, transforming most of them into individuals who give thousands of US dollars to the Lord’s work without being compelled.

God has bailed out surrendered believers who continue to give without hesitation despite the difficult economic times. In this season many people who were despised in life have prospered as the Lord blesses them through their hard work and generous giving.

One of the places of worship I managed to visit as a journalist on his mission was a Harare church of  Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa Forward In Faith Ministries International (ZAOGA FIFMI ) which was founded under a tree 53 years ago by Archbishop Ezekiel H Guti, who turned 90 this year. It is an international organisation and is the largest Pentecostal church group in Zimbabwe and is recognised as the beacon of Pentecostalism in the country. I eagerly inquired how the church managed to achieve what it has and the pastor I spoke to handed me a book on the history of the church. Inside the book I read a passage which is pregnant with answers to some of  my questions.

The book states that when Archbishop Guti completed his Biblical Studies in America, during the early years of the church, a certain man came to him and promised to give him money and buses to support his work if he would work under him. He was initially happy with the offer for he felt he had found money to support the work back home but that same night God visited him and told him that He would not work with him if he accepted the man’s offer.

Working of Talents
God told Guti to go back to Zimbabwe where He said there was money and He commanded him to teach God’s people the Word and giving and ‘Working of ‘Talents’ , which in the language of the church means a way whereby people work with their hands to develop themselves and support the work of God financially from the proceeds of their work.

Guti heeded God’s voice and when he came back home he did exactly what God told him to do. Since then the church under his leadership has managed, without any outside support, to erect church buildings all over Zimbabwe, to build a hospital in the capital city as well as a university, bible colleges, a conference centre, schools, orphanages and many other projects. The church supports more than 3 000 pastors in its churches in over 117 countries.

The example set by ZAOGA has inspired most of the Pentecostal churches sprouting in Zimbabwe which model themselves according to this ministry which they have seen growing in leaps and bounds against all odds.

To many Christians in Zimbabwe, like their counterparts in the Macedonian church, it has dawned on them that they can overcome any prevailing situation through giving. Even the Lord said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

 

 
 

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9 Comments

  1. Ryan Peter says:

    Given that it seems these are churches that seem to put forward the Prosperity Gospel (certainly one of the worst ideas pervasive in the church today), that discredits them, I’m afraid. Top-of-the-range cars do not impress me and I don’t believe they impress the people we are here to bring to Christ, either.

  2. vincent holloway says:

    You said what i was thinking, rather be in a “Smyrna” Church than a “Laodicean” wealthy Church

  3. Nonhlanhla says:

    This is a good report. We have always been plagued with all the bad things happening in that country, but people forget that there is something good also to report about, which they never focused on. There is a lot that we can learn from them. I salute the leaders who faithfully taught the Word and now they are seeing results. The Word works, this is not just about prosperity gospel teaching. Lives are changed from one generation to the other. This is the heart of God.

    • Ed Mbuzana says:

      Brian Mutembedza nawe Nonhlanhla. . this article. . .one wonders whether a)a ‘peep’ into (only) part Harare should be taken as thorough research for one to sit and write such misleading artcle or
      b) one has to be totally blind to the real agony and suffering of the marjority people in Zimbabwe. .getting worse right now or c) one has to ignore the other literature (such as David Steel, Gifts of the spirit) links with ZAOGA with ZANU PF or maybe d) or one should just to play the ZANU PF parrot of the diaspora. The article is painfully misleading, deceptive, unrepresentative of the situation on the ground.Unsuprising : because wonder : even evil spirits try to deceive even the elect (Mk 1322). We pray for Zim ; “we weep with those who weep.”(Rm 12:15)

  4. Hugh G Wetmore says:

    When the early church prospered we read (not of their material possessions, but) of growing conversions, and of sharing generosity, of giving up property, not acquiring it. Where does this report tell of “faithfully teaching the Word” and “lives changed from one generation to the other” (unless the changes are in top-of-the-range cars they buy)?

  5. I am with Nonhlanhla on this one. I really don’t think it’s about top of the range cars. I think God is doing something here and I for one celebrate that He is outgiving the givers.

  6. Ed Mbuzana says:

    It is not ‘new’ news that in some so called ‘pastors’ ( Musindo, Mutanwa etc) in Zimbabwe have chosen to be parrots of ZANU PF. . . after the 2013 election some of those will appear among the diaspora. This article represents the latter breed. Ye faith “Watch ye therefore and pray”(Lk 24:21)Especially pray that God’s wilbe done in Zimbabwe. . . you ask which will? (John 6:38 – 40)

  7. Pastor Million Moffat says:

    I appreciate.The journalist’s report. Its not all about flashy cars., or politics……This man is taking of what, God has done and he is a witness …. thats my Understanding of the document . His message is focused on the talents, that made the people prosper. “A man of God” was given a revelation from God,, and from this revelation, he managed to teach, the church and the church started prospering…”Thus a message of his time”, that prepared people so that they pass through difficult, times…. that were to come…. and the world witnessed how Zimbabweans suffered, due internal factions, corruption and mis-management that made the country collapse . This is not about prosperity gospel…. but about the church helping people to prosper. ?…I agree with your comment Andre Viljoem …& .Nonhlanhla….. In the midist of injustice. God is doing something to his inoccent people. I salute Achibishop Ezekiel Guti for having that revelation…