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In Zimbabwe, Overcoming a World of Despair

March 3, 2016

 Native missionary giving girl a meal in Zimbabwe.
Indigenous ministry workers provide food, drink and clothing to needy children in Zimbabwe as part of evangelistic outreach.

Economic ruin, severe drought, widespread poverty and AIDS afflicted the remote area of Zimbabwe where a pastor quit his church last year under the stresses of trying to serve a congregation that could not financially support him and his family.

The 2015 drought that has continued to batter southern Africa this year was emblematic of the spiritual brokenness that led 38-year-old pastor Mupungion Kudzanai Makanyaire to leave his flock last July. The Full Gospel Church he pastored was located in a rural outpost near the small town of Chivhu in central Zimbabwe, 93 miles south of Harare.

"I did not feel like continuing because of the hard economic situation; it was getting tough, trying to support my wife and children, especially with the children needing school fees," said Pastor Makanyaire, father of three boys ages 6, 11 and 15. "We live in a rural area, and the rural folks could not look after themselves, let alone support a church pastor."

Despondent, unable to feed his family, and with no one to encourage him, he gave up hope and did little else besides sit at home. Like others in a country reported to have an unemployment rate of 85 percent, his soul was weary. As the drought, considered to be the worst in southern Africa's history, extended past the harvest season, he joined the 2.4 million people – 26 percent of Zimbabwe's population – who faced food shortages.

The third week of February, after the drought prompted 92-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to declare a state of disaster in rural areas, the listless pastor was walking past the site of an evangelistic event when he overheard a Zimbabwe-based ministry leader preaching about being "wounded but still flying."

Martin Bernard, head of Thy Kingdom Come Ministries (TKCM), was preaching on 2 Cor. 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all," and Pastor Makanyaire did not hesitate to join the crowd listening to him.

"When the altar call was given," Bernard said, "he came and wept bitterly, and he told me he was a pastor but was having a tough time and was just staying at home because things were so tough for him. He said he had never heard a motivational message like this, which was directly in line with what he was experiencing."

Pastor Makanyaire prayed with Bernard and rededicated his life to Christ. That week about 60 people in the area put their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and the pastor agreed to return to his church and shepherd the new Christians.

"I prayed with him and told him that the sheep that had scattered would be asked for by the Lord," Bernard said. "We did tell him it would be in his interest and God's to get the sheep back, and include the 60 new sheep. He said he would visit the sheep and also be faithful with the 60 souls newly surrendered to Christ."

Pastor Makanyaire's wife, 31-year-old Irene Joseph Makanyaire, was in awe as she witnessed this transformation. Bernard said she was on her knees as she expressed her gratefulness to the ministry team.

Impoverished villagers in Zimbabwe enjoy a meal from an indigenous ministry.
Impoverished villagers in Zimbabwe, where unemployment is above 85 percent, enjoy a meal from an indigenous ministry.

"In church I prayed and prayed for a day like this to come, when my husband would yield his life back to Jesus and serve Him the way he used to," she told the team. "He was a man who had passion, so full of fire for the things of God. I am very grateful for you all whom God sent tonight. I will sing to my Lord."

Bernard, in turn, thanked Christian Aid Mission donors for their support.

"What his wife said, we hand it back to you," Bernard said. "Had it not been for Christian Aid, Pastor Mupungion would have been lost forever. Thank you for all your support, your prayers and your love to see souls saved. Your giving is definitely not in vain."

Bernard has included a salary for the pastor in the next budget he will present to Christian Aid.

Besides evangelistic campaigns and church planting, TKCM also conducts leadership training, operates a medical clinic and, when funds are available, provides food and clothing to impoverished children, including many orphaned by AIDS. Though deaths related to AIDS in Zimbabwe have fallen by more than two-thirds since 2001, more than 60,000 people still die annually from the virus, the BBC recently reported, citing the National AIDS Council.

About 1.4 million people in Zimbabwe, 15 percent of adults, are infected with the HIV virus, and only 618,000 have access to antiretroviral treatments, according to the BBC.

In Mutoko, 155 miles north of Harare, two pastors and eight volunteers with TKCM undertake evangelism, home visitations and food distribution for widows, orphans and other needy people, including many left bereft after AIDS claimed their parents or spouses. In Hopley, about 16 miles south of Harare, 10 TKCM pastors and 25 volunteers help minister to 6,000 Shona-speaking people. At a recent four-day evangelistic event, 65 people put their trust in Jesus.

In Marondera, an urban area east of Harare, four TKCM pastors and nine volunteers serve people who struggle to purchase medicines.

"The pastor and volunteers do a tremendous work visiting widows, orphans, and heartbroken people," Bernard said. "They have cell groups around the area, but they lacked leaders with leadership skills. They, too, came to the leadership seminar we held."

After a recent four-day evangelistic campaign in Marondera, 85 people became Christians, he said.

"There were pastors from different churches, and the folks chose the churches they wanted to go to," he said. "We thank you all for the assistance given in order for them to reach pastors like Pastor Mupungion."

To help indigenous missionaries meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 594TKCM. Thank you!

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