Former football player, now an evangelist, tackles disability

Rolling his wheelchair toward the pulpit, Tawanda Mupingo stretched out his right hand to hold a microphone while in the other, he held a Bible.

Greeting the congregation of 4,000 at Kuwadzana United Methodist Church in the Harare West District, Mupingo’s strong voice immediately overpowers the limitations of his wheelchair.

“I can testify without fear or hesitation, that there is a God in heaven. My prayer is that God sees me differently from human eyes. Where people see a cripple in me, God sees his vessel of honor,” he said.

For centuries, many Africans have viewed disability as a curse. Mupingo is changing perceptions.

“Through the preaching of evangelist Mupingo and the response by [the] congregation here,” said Bernard Mutsago. “I have seen a new shift in how people now view disability.” The retired educator recalls a childhood in which husbands cast out wives for giving birth to a child with a disability.

“Giving birth to a disabled child … was viewed as a curse,” Mutsago continued.

Mupingo said being stuck to a wheelchair does not limit him.

“One day, our faithful God will remember me, and I will get back to my feet,” Mupingo said.  He is actively involved in church and leads in various capacities in Harare Central District and the Zimbabwe West Annual Conference.

The Rev. Stephen Anesu Kumuterera said The United Methodist Church strives to afford everyone equal opportunities. “The church values [all people] and provides the arena for members to display the gifts of grace God has bestowed upon them.”

From trial to triumph

Born 38 years ago, Mupingo was a budding football player, even as a child. In 1991, he entered Nyamuzuwe High School, a United Methodist boarding school in Mutoko.

On Sept. 21, 1997, tragedy struck the 19-year-old.

“I initially dismissed it as a minor body misbehavior,” Mupingo remembered. Two weeks later, however, doctors told him he would never walk again.

Mupingo refused to give up. His fellow youth members encouraged him to proceed with his advanced-level education. Graduating from the University of Zimbabwe with honors in business studies with a major in banking and finance, today Mupingo is a revenue specialist at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

“It was through God’s grace that he has achieved this,” Kumuterera said.

Mupingo agreed. “God will always be by my side.”

Maforo is a conference communicator in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.

News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected] 


Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Mission and Ministry
Schoolchildren drink from a borehole at Kalumba Primary School in Mangochi, Malawi, in September 2020. The borehole was drilled by the Malawi government. In response to water scarcity in this east African country, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., has helped fund the drilling of more than 80 boreholes since September. Photo by Francis Nkhoma, UM News.

Church helps drill more than 80 boreholes in Malawi

Since 2010, a partnership between Kansas and Malawi United Methodists spans over 9,000 miles and provides life-changing ministries.
Mission and Ministry
Vivian Chigweshe sheds tears as she expresses appreciation for her new home in Bikita, Zimbabwe, sponsored by the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church. Nearly two years after Cyclone Idai left catastrophic damage and a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, four families received new homes through the program. Photo by Priscilla Muzerengwa, UM News.

Cyclone survivors receive new houses

Longtime partnership with Baltimore-Washington Conference provides hope to families in Zimbabwe left homeless by the March 2019 disaster.
Mission and Ministry
United Nations peacekeepers from Zambia visit with a family while on patrol in the Central African Republic in February, 2020. Following a volatile presidential election there, United Methodists are offering humanitarian aid to people seeking refuge from armed rebels. File photo by Hervé Serefio, United Nations.

Church helps displaced in Central African Republic

Following a volatile presidential election, United Methodists offer shelter and other humanitarian aid to people seeking refuge from armed rebels.