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.