MUST READ: History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika

The focus on the work of missionaries or those who assisted the Zimbabwean church with resources or any other relevant aid, unfortunately, created the impression that the locals themselves were not involved or did not play any meaningful roles in the evangelization of their country. 

While it is important to be grateful to all those whom God may have raised to stand with the church in Zimbabwe through any assistance they offered, the fact remains indisputable that local indigenous Zimbabwean ministers were responsible for the meaningful and effective evangelization of this nation.

Written By Samuel T.Manyika
I say meaningful and effective because there has always been a tendency to evaluate what is happening in the church by focusing on urban ministries, their buildings and the number of affluent people who attend church there. More than 70 % of the Zimbabwean population is found mainly in the rural, small towns, resettlements, farms and mining towns. These were not favourite ministry grounds for most missionaries except those who would be running schools or hospitals.

This big chunk of the population was reached by indigenous churches through their outreach teams. This is something that I have been part of and involved in for over forty years.

Occasionally big evangelistic crusades were held by foreign evangelists yielding great harvests of souls. The most effective crusade ministry in Africa in th e last 30 or so years, in my opinion, would be Reinhardt Bonnke’s CFAN. Bonnke had a sound grip and understanding of how to effectively minister in Africa.

The move of God in Zimbabwe far from having begun in the ’70s and 80’s charismatic activities actually began in the ’20s.
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika

While some people may struggle to acknowledge that the Methodist church is probably the biggest influence in all evangelical activity in Zimbabwe, that is also an indisputable fact. Many heard the gospel through the outreach programs of the Methodist church. Most anointed apostles of the 30s,40s and ’50s came out of the Methodist church especially those who became key leaders in the Apostolic Faith Church and other independent Pentecostal churches and movements. Even the hymns that most of them continued to use in their churches were and still are from the Methodist hymn book.

At Mukombami in Chikwaka, there was a Methodist Evangelist cum teacher at the only school there, he was called Nicodemus Muzondo. My own grandmother who became the first chairwoman of the Methodist woman’s fellowship there in the 30s was actually taught how to read and write by him. He would teach several classes single-handedly and then preach in church on Sundays. He inspired countless young people who became renowned citizens and leaders my father and his elder brother James Manyika being some of them. 

These were the first people to introduce the gospel and education to diehard African traditionalists. I met Mr. Muzondo in 1969 as a young boy when my father drove the whole of our family to meet him, this was his teacher who also played the role of a spiritual mentor. There was also Mrs or Mai Chaza, an anointed woman who left the Methodist church because of doctrinal differences after she began to pray for the sick cast out demons and speak in tongues. Thousands came annually wherever this woman was camped to be ministered to. I have first-hand information about her because she was close to my parents.

The apostolic leader Mwazha also taught at the same school as my mother in the early fifties. He was known to cast out devils even at the school assembly. He was a member of the Methodist church but was later expelled, he founded his own church called the African Apostolic Church (AAC).

Three brothers who were members of the Methodist church who also got saved and became key members of the move of the spirit in and outside the AFM church were the Gwanzura brothers. These three brothers blazed a trail of miracles, healings, deliverances and accurate prophecies mentoring some of the most prominent members of the AFM church. One of the brothers Enock is the one who baptized the great Apostle Ezekiel Guti, his nickname was vaMachikichori which means feast, this was because when he was preaching it was like the listeners were having a spiritual feast because of the anointing, his eloquence, and knowledge of the bible. John Gwanzura’s nickname was vaChihari, meaning clay pot of the holy spirit because of the way God used him in deliverance, prophecy and healing. He was also responsible for the salvation of my whole extended family which was tormented by sickness and evil spirits. 

These men were actually cousins of my father, their grandfathers were brothers who just used different names. The following is an extract from the History of the Apostolic Faith Mission which chronicles how the brothers got saved.

“The Gwanzura brothers played a prominent role in the early days of AFM in Zimbabwe. Tradition says Isaac Chiumbu moved from South Africa to Kadoma with his employer Laurell. Laurell was visiting a relative at Cam and Motor

Mine. Both had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues while in South Africa. In Kadoma, Chiumbu met Paul Karemba and they began to proclaim the gospel. One day as the two were walking, one of

Chiumbu’s shoes lost a heel. So they looked for a shoemaker to repair the shoe. They were directed to a shop manned by the Gwanzura brothers, Enoch, John, and Samson. When Chiumbu and his friend arrived they preached the Gospel to the Gwanzura brothers who believed and were instantly baptized with the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues. They left the Methodist church.

Enoch Gwanzura proceeded with his ministry to Gobatema, in Gwanda because he could speak English, Shona, and Ndebele, and was helpful to Swanepoel. He moved to various places until eventually, he settled at the Kruger church in Harare.

In the meantime, the younger brother John (Johan) Gwanzura, popularly known as Chihari, was active in Masvingo Province. He forcefully spread the Pentecostal gospel in Chivhu (Mupipiti). By the late 1940’s he was stationed at

Chatsworth. When he retired he settled at his farm at Chirau in Zvimba, he continued work at his homestead at the farm after retirement.

John (Chihari) Gwanzura had a powerful prophetic and healing ministry. In the summer of 1969 when Isaac Mufunguri was bitten by a snake, Gwanzura gave instructions to Isaac’s father, Marakia Kuvaoga Mufunguri, who was away from

home working with Chihari some twenty kilometres away, that Marakia must go home at once as his son had been bitten by a snake. He was told not to fear as the Lord had intervened and the child was going to vomit the poison. Indeed Isaac

vomited and was well without any medical attention (Isaac Mufunguri). Johan Gwanzura died in 1972.

To adherents of AFM in Zimbabwe, he is the ideal example of what Pentecostalism is all about. He left such a legacy to become a reference point to issues pertaining to Pentecostalism in AFM in Zimbabwe. At his retirement home in Zvimba, he built many mud huts popularly known as ‘matumba evarwere’ (huts for the sick). People would come from all over the

country and camp there with their food. To many, the food would run out before they recovered in which case they would receive supplies from Gwanzura’s farm.”

I never saw Samson Gwanzura but knew Enock and John Gwanzura. In 1964 my grandfather fell sick and was taken to John Gwanzuras farm. John Gwanzura told him that God had added five years to his life. When in December 1969 my grandfather fell ill again John Gwanzura went to my grandfather’s farm in Msengezi near Chegutu and told the family that his time was up. He stayed at the farm for about two weeks until my grandfather passed on. I was thirteen but still, remember everything. He also stayed at our house in Gweru for a few days sometime in 1970. He loved the hymn Jesu Ndinokuda Muponisi wangu. (I love you Jesus, my saviour.)which he sang with great gusto but off-key. He died in 1972

Enock Gwanzura had an incredible memory, in his eighties, he was half-blind however if he asked you to read the bible he would tell you to read again if you skipped one word. He practically knew the whole Bible by the head. There are many stories about him. At a certain time, he was called to pray for a sick man, halfway in his journey he was told his own child had fallen sick and he was supposed to go back but he refused and said “the same God on whose assignment I am on will go and heal my child.” the child was instantly healed. 
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika

Another time he was preaching in a church which was next to a football ground the church was almost empty, under the anointing he ran out of the church onto the football pitch, as he ran back to the church people who had been watching football ran after him and filled the church. On another occasion, he wanted to baptize some new converts but the only river nearby was infested with crocodiles. He prayed and the crocodiles were seen crawling to the other side of the river, he got in and baptized every one.

In 1976 at a ZAOGA Easter Conference at a farm popularly known as kwa Bobo.(Bob’s farm) where ZAOGA had been given permission by a white farmer to hold their conferences, I was in attendance and witnessed a miracle after “Sekuru Gwanzura” as he was affectionately called was asked to pray because a heavy storm had gathered and could be seen sweeping towards the tents where the meetings were being held. After he prayed the wall of heavy rain and wind was seen by everyone present turning and heading in another direction.

He actually prayed for me with the laying on of hands two weeks before he died around 1982,I am no longer sure about the exact year.

Then there are those who also later came out of the AFM church, teamed up for a while with Nicholas Bhengu the legendary South African preacher but then went their different ways. Most prominent of these is Archbishop Ezekiel Guti whose ministry has touched every corner of Zimbabwe. Apostle Mkwanazi from Bulawayo continued to work with Nicholas Bhengu’s Back to God Ministries establishing churches in Zimbabwe. Around the same time, the firebrand preacher Morgan Sengwayo had also come from South Africa and was making waves in Pentecostal circles.

In Ezekiel Guti’s ZAOGA were the enigmatic soul winner and preacher Abel Sande a man who practically lived in his tent preaching the gospel planting a church or two every month. Going into places where no one would go. I had the privilege of being in many of the servants of God’s meetings and experienced incredible moves of the spirit. 

These were not your typical city or urban area only preachers. 

These men would go into places where satan was worshipped literary. A typical Abel Sande service would see the sick being healed and incredible deliverances from demonic oppression. Despite being a Mukorekore Abel Sande planted churches in every nook and cranny of Zimbabwe. Sounding more like a comedian the man had/has an incredible sense of humour always leaving his audience in stitches before getting down to business. 

There were other men around Ezikiel Guti though not evangelists they planted churches and mentored many of today's church leaders. There was Raphael Kupara was based in Gweru and spearheaded the growth and establishment of ZAOGA in the midlands and Joseph Choto who was in Bulawayo and saw the establishment of ZAOGA in the Matebeleland region. I do not remember any time I listened to these men and there was not that unmistakable presence of God. These men all had a fear of God that can only be seen in those who have had an encounter with Him.

Around 1979 ZAOGA brought Joe Kayo a one-man spiritual demolition and miracle team from Kenya. Rarely was such an anointing seen. I was a student in Gaberone Botswana and was with the team of Pastor Mothibi Gaetsiwe and Pastor Tanyala who were responsible for picking him from the airport there and taking him to the train so he could travel to Bulawayo where he held his first meetings with Revd Joseph Choto of ZAOGA. He later moved to Harare. Believers and non-believers had never seen such a manifestation of power. After he went back to Kenya he was brought back by the late Charles Chiriseri and some University of Zimbabwe Students who came together with the Witness Ministries led by Andrew Wutaunashe.

By then the Family of God Churches did not exist. After the University meetings, Joe Kayo teamed up with Andrew Wutaunashe and held countrywide meetings planting churches, this is how the Family of God came to be. Even after Joe Kayo left Andrew Wutaunashe continued planting churches, his meetings were also characterised by outstanding miracles and deliverances, thousands of people got saved. Whatever people think or say about him Andrew Wutaunashe is an authentic and genuine element of the move of God in Zimbabwe. Probably the first preacher to break through to the Zimbabwean intellectual community in a significant way. 

Most members of FOG were either graduates, college students, bank managers, etc. It is important to know that before this Pentecostalism was highly resented and frowned on and it was mainly the uneducated, pheasants lower class who responded to the gospel. Andrew Wutaunashe appealed to and was given the grace to break that.

In ZAOGA a young preacher called George Chikowa had been raised and was making waves. George and his team were holding large meetings where thousands gave their lives to Christ were healed and delivered. They preached in rural areas, mining towns everywhere. 

As far as I knew outside of Evangelist Sande’s consistent medium-sized but very effective crusades and Reinhardt Bonke's massive powerful crusades which had been seen in Zimbabwe about three times by then, the most powerful crusades of the 80s were the ones fronted by George Chikowa of EGEA, ZAOGA and the Family of God crusades fronted by Andrew Wutaunashe.

On my coming back to Zimbabwe from Botswana in 1980 I was tasked with setting up a College and high school ministry by Archbishop Ezekiel Guti. The ministry was given the name Forward in Faith College and High School Ministries, a name which was used for ZAOGA’S external foreign land-based churches at that time. The team I worked with was composed of myself, the late Miriam Mawaro who later became Mrs Gwese, Pilate Mudavanhu who later founded the His Image Ministries. We were later joined by Musa Gwese who had just graduated from a bible school in Nigeria.

During weekdays we visited all schools which were open to us in Harare, weekends we visited boarding schools. The lives of thousands of students were transformed.

Forward in Faith ministries became an established and respected College ministry nationally, holding camp meetings and other events. There are many academics, ministers and others in various leadership positions both in the church, the corporate world who got saved through Forward in Faith Outreaches. Many key leaders especially in ZAOGA products of this ministry.

The Scripture Union under the leadership of great bible teachers and leaders like Phineas Dube and others was also doing an incredible job in schools, thousands got saved in scripture union clubs and meetings. Although criticized for its perceived anti-Pentecostal/charismatic stance Scripture Union was not a church and could not espouse a single doctrine, however, they were an effective vehicle of salvation that brought thousands of young people to the Lord.

One cannot talk about the revival that broke out from the late 70s right up to the late 80s especially among young people without mentioning the likes of Richmond Chiundiza, Noah Pashapa, Ngwiza Mkandla, and others. Through Alpha(Abundant life for Christ Ministries) and Faith Ministries which was founded by a former policeman Alistair Geddes who later moved to the states handing over the ministry to Ngwiza Mkandla, many souls especially young people were saved.
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika
History Of Pentecostalism Growth In Zimbabwe: Apostle Samuel Manyika

I have mentioned the names of those I was acquainted with or those that I knew either personally or through other men of God that I interacted with. Obviously, there are many more in different parts of the country whom God raised during that period to do different things. However, I know that the ones I mentioned here formed the core of those who God used to pave a way for and establish the church in Zimbabwe.

There are many others I did not refer to who have greatly anointed especially two ladies whom God used mightily in my life but who are both late, Mrs. Murape and Mrs. Mugadza who also mentored many leaders and brought thousands to Christ.

My late Uncle Misheck Manyika, my father’s eldest brother, a well-known Evangelist in AFM and his wife travelled and ministered with John Gwanzura up to the time of his death and were a great source of first-hand information.

It is important to give credit and honour where it is due. I have heard some ministers being referred to as the fathers of the church in Zimbabwe, in my opinion, they are more of spiritual grandchildren.

Sadly some of these servants of God may have made mistakes or fallen into false doctrine, however, their years of dedicated service produced positive results in the lives of many. People still need to make personal responsible decisions and choices after receiving Jesus.

Receive Jesus Christ today and go to church for spiritual fellowship.

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