”They reported what the Lord had done through them,”Acts 14:27
Area of Bulawayo is comprised mainly of the Ndebele tribe with the same ancestors as the Zulu’s of South Africa. They use religious rituals and artifacts in ancestor worship. The Shona tribe is the majority tribe country-wide but a minority in our area. In general, the Shonas are more open to the Gospel. but not so open here. Our first year in Bulawayo has been trying as the romantic thought of church planting gave place to the monotony of sowing a lot in what seems to a religious but barren land, However, there has been many divine appointments.
Mr. T. is a young man who loves the Word. He attends our Sundays services and at times Wednesday Bible studies. He has invited his friends to church and a couple of them have been coming. Mr. S. is a young police officer who had been disappointed with churches but now loves to fellowship with us. He invited his sisters and one of them started coming with her 3 daughters. Her husband works every day at his shop.
Mr R. had stopped going to church for 2 years. He was empty, feeling abused by churches. We met him during street evangelism and he started coming to church with his family. When they cannot afford to pay the transport fee, he calls me to get some thoughts about the message. His daughters love Sunday school and feel sad if they can’t come.
Mr. L. loves the Word. He has been with us from the beginning. His family and friends are surprised by his depth in the Word after only one year with us, even though he had been attending other churches for some 20 years. He has a desire to evangelize and to teach the Word. He often invites people to sit by him as he sells stuff by a bus stop.
Sister S. had received our flier from our evangelism team and now comes to church with her two sons. Her husband is a welder and works on Sundays. The heart of Sis S. is humble and serving. She loves to sing; sometimes she does a solo at church and at times sings with Pastor Thulani’s wife Precious. When we noticed their son had a lot of mosquito bites on his legs, we offered them mosquito nets. And great was their joy!
An older Mr T. whom I met shortly after moving to Bulawayo was looking for a Bible believing church. He comes from a smaller city some three hours away and desires to move here. After the first service he said: ”The church has received us as kings! We have received so much love!” Pray that they’d find a place to rent and also please pray for his leather business of making and repairing shoes.
Mr. N. is in his early fifties and homeless. His parents’ house is occupied illegally by some relatives. Mr. N. loves to evangelize desiring others to have the same peace he has in the midst of his troubles.
Sister N., an orphan in her early twenties has found our church to be her family. About 25 to 30 brethren consider our church as their spiritual family; please pray for them and for some 80 visitors. May they remember what they saw, touched and experienced (1 John 1:1) at church and thus be drawn into fellowship.
Bible college stirs interest. We have 27 students and many new inquiries. Because economy sinks further and further, the cost of transport is a challenge to many. We opened a ”Students’ Solidarity” fund to help with transport needs. Students may apply for support for 3 weeks out of the 10 weeks a semester.
Last semester I taught the Book of Ephesians, Pastor Thulani taught Leadership, and co-taught Historical Books with George and Gift. At first, Gift was reluctant to teach but finally agreed. One of our students told me: ”I thought Gift was only an admin guy in charge of cables, sound system and chairs, but when he taught the class I realized he is loaded, a secret weapon!” I answered: ”This is to the glory of God. He uses simple people who have been with Jesus to make a difference – Acts 4:13″.
Pastor Tendai is a Bible college student with his wife Evelyn. He leads a congregation of twelve people that was started three years ago. He was surprised at the ”fast” rate of our church growth. He told that he knew of other pastors from other towns that had tried to start branches in Bulawayo but had not succeeded. He said: ”I know your secret for church planting: you guys love people!” I felt heartbroken that churches can be started and even run without Christ’s love! And I also felt warned…at times I can be cold myself.
We continue to minister on whatsapp posting Bible college adverts and studies on about 30.000 groups every 3-4 months. An estimate of 200.000 people use those resources. Often, we meet people in the streets saying they enjoy our whatsapp studies. I combined whatsapp materials from the last 4 years, one hundred short teachings on diverse subjects, into two books and printed 400 copies of them on a second hand laser printer that we purchased. More books will be printed to equip our churches in Harare and Bulawayo with good literature.
We started raising chicken to support our Zimbabwean team members. Logistics like space and market don’t allow us to go higher than 300 chicken. One cycle lasts 6 weeks and brings a profit of about $300. Please pray God covers our ”tent making” business from thieves and keeps the chicken free from diseases. We are in the process of teaching Pastor Elvis and Samuel this farming skill. Samuel plans to start a church in Mutare town in the fall; we plan to visit there monthly. – Daniel Timofte