As Dr. S. D. Gumbi from Standerton, South Africa Assemblies of God so passionately put it; on the 19th August 2017 we said goodnight (and not farewell) to the Assemblies of God leader and pioneer of the Pentecostal Church in Zimbabwe. Goodnight, because as Christians we believe that those who die in Christ are not lost forever but have only slept, and will wake up in the loving presence of our Creator in Heaven.
The wind on that Saturday blew stronger than usual, as a cold front from the South slowly crept into Bulawayo. The day wore a sad grey suit. It was as if nature itself was mourning the passing of one of God's most loyal creatures. The sadness on the faces of the masses that thronged the service at the ZITF grounds was stark. The pain experienced by many at his funeral was genuine and not merely obligatory. The nation and the body of Christ has lost a true Hero of Faith.
A True Legacy
Not ever have I attended a funeral with so many people, and I doubt I ever will. There was easily more than a couple of a thousand of people who attended the memorial service of the Reverend. The sheer number of people in attendance spoke volumes of the man Khulu Mkhwananzi was. Through his preaching and ministry khulu Mkhwananzi touched the lives of thousands. Only a book could fairly capture the great exploits done by the Reverend. Yet he at all times maintained a Moses like humility. For everything he did, he did for the Kingdom of God and not for self-aggrandisement. He leaves a living legacy of faith, love, and moral rectitude.
In contrast, I could not help but ponder on the legacy our political leaders are leaving for Zimbabwe's future generations. Politicians from different shades of the political spectrum were in attendance at the service.
It is my prayer that in a final act of Evangelism, Reverend Mkhwananzi preached to those politicians about what true legacy is. The multitude of people at the funeral came not for "miracle water and oil" nor political food hand-outs and t-shirts. They came to celebrate the life of a man who changed their lives. I hope that touched by the occasion, political leaders realised that the love of people cannot be bought by gimmicks and outrageous promises; cannot be coerced by threats and violence; and cannot be maintained by fear and deceit. I hope our society's leaders saw that the love and respect of people, is earned through sincere service guided by God.
Where is thy God?
The last sermon by Reverend Mkhwananzi I heard was a sermon entitled, "where is thy God?" It was a preaching on staying resolute and keeping faith in the face of suffering. He explained that when he went through the excruciating pain of losing his children, the devil asked him, "where is thy God?" Buoyed by faith and hope in the Lord, he narrated how he responded by saying, "My God is above me, He is beneath me, He is by my sides, He is all around me".
I will forever cherish that message, and I feel that the message is particularly relevant to our situation as a nation. Zimbabwe is going through trying times. I imagine that in the face of a comatose healthcare system, economic and unemployment crisis, rampant corruption, commodification and pervasion of the gospel, and political mayhem; the devil boastfully asks, "where is thy God?"
We must rise up as a nation and confidently answer, "our God is Above us, He is beneath us, He is by our sides, He is all around us." The words of a song ring true that:
" If you believe and I believe and we together pray, the Holy Spirit shall come down and Zimbabwe shall be saved."
Zimbabwe will be saved if in our families, communities, churches and society we strive to follow the example set by the leadership of great men such as Reverend Geoffrey Bizeni Mkhwananzi.
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