Connecting with God in Zimbabwe's mountains

Women from Chisipiti United Methodist Church gather to pray at Mandisodza Mountain near Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe.
Women from Chisipiti United Methodist Church gather to pray at Mandisodza Mountain near Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe.

United Methodists in Zimbabwe climb mountains to seek God’s healing and grace, find spiritual uplifting and commit their families and children to God.

They often climb early in the morning and stay until evening or begin their journey late in the day and conduct an all-night mountain-praying session.

The Rev. Paul Mazumba, pastor in charge of Zvishavane United Methodist Church in the Masvingo District, said about 15 members from his church, mostly women, climb a nearby mountain for prayer just outside town.

“These practices have positively impacted the church in a number of ways,” said Mazumba, chairman for the Zimbabwe West Conference’s board on discipleship. “Our Sunday worship services are vibrant as we see God in each and every step of our order of service. The students and youths are always involved in a number of community engagement activities as a way of serving. This self-giving is attributed to the time people spent in connecting with God in the mountain.”

  United Methodists pray together at Bindura Mountain, north of Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera. 

United Methodists pray together at Bindura Mountain, north of Harare, Zimbabwe. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera.

The United Methodist Church has a rich history of mountain prayer dating back to the founding fathers in Zimbabwe. It’s a spiritual discipline with a strong biblical basis. Jesus sought space to connect with God in order to serve. It is from that perspective that many pray on mountains.

The most important thing emphasized is about finding space to commune with God in order to be of service to the community, Mazumba said.

More than 100 men, women and youth take turns climbing mountains each week in their areas and some travel more than 160 miles from Harare to Mandisodza Mountain in the Mutasa Nyanga District. They climb a mountain prayerfully for peace, love, unity, healing, guidance and spiritual growth, said Wayne Nemasango, evangelism chairwoman for United Methodist Women.

Nemasango said climbing the historic Mandisodza and Domboshawa mountains was a great experience.

“I remember singing a hymn, ‘The Lord Is My Helper,’ … climbing slowly in pain and prayerfully on our way up to the top of the mountain. I could feel some tears streaming down my cheeks and perspiration all over my body that resembles the presence of God,” Nemasango said.

“I had a prayer for my son who was not doing well at school. Now, I testify to the good performance in his studies and he is now doing his lower sixth,” she continued. “Mountain prayer to me was spirit filled and with many testimonies.”

Alice Makaniko said climbing a mountain is stressful and painful but yields good results.

She said God answered her prayers after a retreat at Borrowdale Mountain in 2015, when she and her husband prayed for children. She now holds twins, a boy and a girl.

The Rev. Josephine Bopani, Harare Central District, traveled recently with a group of United Methodists to Egypt for a holy pilgrimage. United Methodists of all ages climbed Mount Sinai, a place of significance to their beliefs and faith, she said.

Some looked for healing, while others sought God’s intervention in the well-being of their children and spouses or in their studies and leadership.

“I lost hope climbing up Mount Sinai,” Patricia Gamba said. “I effortlessly got weary… but because of the good shepherds with us — they follow behind my steps (and) hold my hand slowly up till (I reached the) top.

“I had my children in prayer, calling name by name, as I struggled up the holy mountain.”

Sixteen-year-old Anesu Samuel said his recent spiritual expedition to Domboshawa Mountain in Zimbabwe will be engraved in his heart forever.

“It was not easy climbing a mountaintop while fasting … but after a potent oration by the Rev Josephine Hoto, my pastor, and the Rev. Taurai Maforo, it was really a life-changing time in my life,” he said.

The Rev. Sibongile Mabungu, pastor in charge of Bindura United Methodist Church in the Harare West District, said she climbs Bindura Mountain twice a month with her congregation —men, women, youth and junior Sunday school students.

“Going to the mountain gives people special peculiar times to commune with God (when) you will be away from the normal environment,” she said. “Every member is called to participate in preaching. Allowing individual prayer testimonies and deliverance is done at the mountain.

“In the mountain, there is less destruction. You enhance spiritual growth (and) give people ample time to pray alone, hence a positive impact on church growth has been witnessed.”

Domboshawa Mountain, north of Harare, is one of the places where Zimbabwean United Methodists go to seek God's healing and grace. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera. 

Domboshawa Mountain, north of Harare, is one of the places where Zimbabwean United Methodists go to seek God's healing and grace. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera.

Kumuterera is a communicator with the Zimbabwe West Conference.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.

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