25 YEARS WITH CHRIST: THE HOMECOMING

The move to Mutare was to be the greatest antidote in my life. I found myself in the centre of the ministry of the Presiding Bishop of Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, Bishop Trevor Manhanga who knew of me from my 1997-1998 stint at Upper Rooms Ministries while I was still based in Harare.

Through his ministry I found myself back in the fold. I rediscovered my conscience and crawled ashamedly back to the cross.  To find Christ waiting for me.

My stint in Mutare saw me rediscover myself and one of the things I always chuckle about is the discovering in full depth what the scripture that says ‘- only a fool says there is no God-‘ (Psalms 14 vs1). I always chuckle because at my worst I denied God’s role in my life. A fool I was.

The demanding responsibility at work and my newly found lease in Christ kept me going. I reconnected with my spirit being, found my prayer vein and restarted to do my daily bible meditations. I sat under the Bishop’s direct ministry and I learnt how to deal with my sodden past, it was in Mutare that I learnt that I had to forgive so as to progress. Mutare was my healing point.

Yet it was in Mutare that the ghosts from my past came to haunt me. This time I had learnt bitter lessons so I was able to take a firm stand and God’s enabling grace saw me through (2 Corinthians 12 v 9).

I had many bitter experiences in Mutare but my strong connection to church ministry kept me going. It was in Mutare that I lost a strong friend who had recently reconnected with me and our friendship was developing to an affection that would have blossomed further had death not snatched her away early 2010.

In my loss I was tempted to rail at God but found solace in grace. I constantly recalled God’s answer to Paul ‘my grace is sufficient’. This time I sought God more and prayed more.

As I settled to a comforting lull in Mutare a shocker was brewed.  In exactly one year of my tenure in Mutare I was redeployed to Plumtree.

 The comfort zone was over.

(To be continued)

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25 YEARS WITH CHRIST: THE DARK YEARS

When my marriage hit the rocks I lost the poster boy image if ever there had been such. The gloves were now off and the evil one was pulling no punches and I took in the sucker punches.

By the time the dissolution came to I was a very angry person, I railed at everyone and around everything. I refused counsel and had the nerve of blaming the Pastors for accelerating the demise by listening to one side of the story and supporting one party.

I was so angry that I felt justified to receive the church’s support because I was the one remitting tithes to the church! Some self righteousness indeed. The dissolution coincided with my redeployment to a place which by then had minimal representation of God, Chirundu. I sunk in deeper.

In Chirundu I fought and railed against God. In my ramblings I questioned God’s sincerity of his love to me. I denied that God could have loved me and let me sink and lose so much. (In the dissolution of the union i had to sign away my claim to the bulk of whatever assets had been accumulated) and I was an aggrieved and bitter person.

I back slid. Denied God’s love. Shut out God’s voice. Plumbed the lowest of moral levels and still found no peace.

I had wrong liaisons, went to wrong places and still found no peace. I refused counsel and shut down my conscience. I felt i was entitled to being aggrieved and like the biblical Job i felt I had a right of recourse being angry at God.

I got un-equally yoked, had liaisons with the dark world in the pursuit of peace and happiness but I reaped more pain, stress and depression.

I had an accident that almost took my life, spent more than two months away from work, tried to change occupations and everything seemed to get worse.

One day I woke up, left everything and went back to Chirundu, graciously, I still had my job. Two months later I got promoted and transferred to Mutare.

My walk back to Christ began.

I was the second prodigal son.

(To be continued)

25 YEARS WITH CHRIST: THE HONEYMOON

Being saved at a young age brought wonderful dimensions. I was like the elephant calf in the big herd.

I quickly learnt to pray and read my bible. I spent hours poring over my mother’s tattered Xhosa bible. I had the zeal of the Saul that later became Paul. I read every book thrown at me Michael Cassidy, Kenneth Haggin, the El Shaddai magazine etc.

Every other moment beside school was spent with my cousin Nhlonipho either in church meetings or at prayer in the bush. Home curfews made it impossible to go where I wanted to be at all the times but I remember one afternoon when my furious mother asked Nhlonipho which was most important, Jesus or school, and Nhlonipho calmly answered that Christ was number one! Heaven could hear a pin drop but my mother had always had a soft spot for Nhlonipho so the day was carried.

It was not that easy go for me. I had to make sure that my grades did not drop at school as that would have got me grounded from my church related activities. My father thought we were now zealots and he always insisted that I still would have to go and place his bets at the tote and occasionally go and buy for him his calabash and he would cite the scripture of sons obeying the fathers and leave out the warning on fathers not to exasperate their sons!

Maturity brought leadership responsibilities, I was the youngest congregational youth fellowship treasurer and went on to assume synod youth leadership during my teens.

Along the way I got baptised in the Holy Spirit and got evidenced by speaking in tongues. I graduated from school and found work, got into a relationship and married. All was good in the Christian bliss. Then the wheels came off.

And my great test of my faith in Christ came. The honeymoon was over.

(To be continued)

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25 YEARS WITH CHRIST: MY SALVATION

For some time the youth services started to sound frustrating. They had a different lingo, prayed a lot, spoke a lot and definitely made me feel like a small boy. I missed children’s church where I was the dominant student, where I had almost the answers and where I got the lead roles in all plays. Youth was brimstone and fire and these youth leaders had no time to take it slowly for a little boy.

Then I met my soul brother, Nhlonipho Zondo, a son to my uncle, and three years my senior. He became the brother that I never had and needless to say, when the real encounter struck, we were together.

19th June 1989 was the afternoon that saw Brother Thomas Nxumalo preach on the need for a Saviour. He was one the tallest men that I knew. I always felt intimidated in his presence despite that he was a cousin. There had always been some enigmatic aura around him which even our parents could not put a finger to. I was later to understand many years later that the Christ in him was the cause.

An altar call saw some five people at the front. I and Nhlonipho were amongst those, reciting a sinner’s prayer and being laid hands and being told to believe with our hearts and to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10 v 9).

I heard that day that there is great joy in Heaven when one sinner is won to Christ and that we now had the right to approach the Heavenly throne and cite Abba father(.

No fire had fallen down; I had not grown an extra inch. I was still physically the same. But something had happened. A seed had been planted in me.

I had had an encounter with Christ. A personal encounter.

I had been saved.

And the walk with Christ began. (To be continued)

25YEARS WITH CHRIST: THE BEGINNINGS

Until i was eight years old Sundays were basically lazy days. All I was expected to do was to wake up in time to ensure I found the newspaper vendor still left with at least one Sunday paper for my father. Upon acquiring the Sunday News my next task was to lazily walk home, head buried in the double spread as I pored over the spreadsheet.

I really was not keen on the front pages. I was keen on how well Liverpool had played and if there were any pictures of soccer players that would grace my scrap book once everyone was done with the newspaper. On arriving home, the paper was relinquished to my father who would hoard it till he left around midday for his social circle at the nearest tavern.

After my father, my mother was next with the paper and if I was not quick enough the fellow tenants would be ahead claiming to just want to browse the headlines.

My mother put an end to my lazy Sundays. She found out where the local United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) met. This was the church she had been raised in when it still ran under the tag London Missionary Society.

Fast-forward 4 years later me and my brother Zibusiso were Sunday school pillars and my memory book bore the most sticker awards. At school I had moved from class monitor to prefect to Head boy and my father never stopped gloating of what a brilliant boy I was.

Mine in my view was a wonderful life, model student, Sunday school leader, debate leader etc. I had these airs when I graduated from Sunday school to the youth group. I expected my surreal Heaven of memory verses and group leadership to confirm I was definitely Heaven bound. And boy did I have it all wrong!

At youth I was taught that prayer went beyond reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I was taught that Heaven was more than reciting the memory verses, I had to live the verses, and I had to read my bible everyday!!! I learnt that my acumen was no passport to Heaven but Christ was. This confounded me and left me deflated.

Until I met Christ.

(To be continued)