Almost 200 miles from the Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, lies Masvingo Town, which is among the 13 districts of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.
In Masvingo District, a mission area of United Methodism’s Zimbabwe West Annual Conference, the church is winning souls to Christ through three crusades in a resettlement area and two growth points where the population is concentrated.
For years, the absence of The United Methodist Church in the region was by design of the colonial power that designated areas of evangelism to missionary societies. Those restrictions were removed when Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980. Nearly four decades later, The United Methodist Church is still working to penetrate this remote, impoverished area with the Gospel.
In June, the first of three crusades took place at Crown Range Resettlement in Chiredzi, 270 miles from Harare and 120 miles from Masvingo Town. The Rev. Jairous Mafondokoto, Masvingo District superintendent, expressed delight that “the long awaited, three-day crusade, door-to-door campaigns and mission work” were successful.
The bishop’s office, through the Rev. Vienna Mutezo, connectional ministries/deputy administrative assistant to the bishop, approached possible donor partners to fund the crusades. The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries responded positively to her request.
“In Masvingo District,” Mutezo said, “the church is making unprecedented efforts to plant the church and address on social decadence and spiritual growth, while the government addresses food demands.”
Since the district’s inception in 1996, Mutezo has introduced some 4,000 people to Jesus Christ. She said the $10,000 received from Global Ministries will fulfill the word in three areas: Crown Range Resettlement, Nemanwa Growth Point in Masvingo and Hama Growth Point in Chirumanzu in 2019.
Crown Range Resettlement is 19 miles from Chiredzi Town, making it difficult for members to commute to the nearest circuit. The church planted a preaching point at Crown Range, an area they identified as fertile to win more souls.
Jerry Ziyambi, 10, and his sister Tadiwa, 8, reside in one of the 11 villages where the crusade was held. The church now supports them by paying school fees.
“Our church does not look on age or sex on its endeavor to win souls,” the Rev. Benny Shiri, district connectional ministries chair. Jerry was amazed by the respect he got from the congregation and by the number of church members who worshiped in his area during the crusade.
“I was very much excited,” the boy said. “If even one soul is won, I will be happy. … Considering my young age, I never thought the church could take my efforts seriously and follow me.”
While he was waiting for church leaders to come for their preliminary visit, Jerry identified an open space and houses to be used during the crusade. “The open space was big enough to pitch a tent,” he said.
District leaders recalled how Jesus sent his disciples, two by two, to win souls and decided to follow that model. Four teams of evangelists and pastors went into the villages to visit individuals and households. Eighteen families who were visited attended the crusade.
“I am happy to be visited by the pastor and receive a prayer from him,” said Rebecca Masocha, 60. “This is new to me. I am greatly honored and humbled. I promise to join you from today onward.”
Nososo Chipo Chipanga, who has physical challenges, was visited, along with her grandchildren. “I have my five grandchildren who are free to come to church,” she said. “I am no longer able to walk. I will be grateful if you continue to come and pray for me.”
As Shira and the other evangelists visited homes, they gave their hosts a box of matches “for them to light and become the light of the earth,” he said. The adults also received hymnbooks “to enable them to follow the liturgy of the church services and praise God through music. The schoolchildren were given stationery as part of the mission work.”
Since 2017, when Masvingo District started to evangelize through crusades, vibrant circuits have been planted.
“The district and the bishop’s office will continue to put more effort to win more souls, make the church visible and reduce the walking distance to the nearest circuit,” Mafondokoto said. “Masvingo District is making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Chingwe is communications coordinator for the Zimbabwe East Conference.
News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.