From the Superintendent's DESK
Debbie and I, along with John and Rodica Musgrave, arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday evening, December 3. This was in anticipation of the Southern Africa regional camp meeting to begin the next day at the Bulawayo campground. We were met at the airport by a delegation that included Sunday school children who presented our wives with beautiful bouquets and us with flower leis. Among the welcoming crew was Shabeeb Nadeem who has been corresponding with the Portland headquarters from Pakistan. He had arrived a couple days earlier and was excited to meet us in person and attend his first camp meeting.
Opening Sunday Morning Service
The next morning, there were over one thousand in attendance for the first service of the camp meeting. The prelude began with the orchestra playing a medley of local songs and familiar hymns. Then the choir, conducted by Precious Bosha, the Southern Africa Choir Master, sang with vigor “We Are Marching to Zion.”
During the announcements Oniyas Gumbo, the Southern Africa District Superintendent, introduced special guests, including Boniface Banda, the Eastern Africa District Superintendent, and his wife Esther. He also recognized the Musgraves, Debbie, and me. The congregation made all of us feel at home by welcoming us enthusiastically with resounding amens.
Before the message, George Mateyu sang “Let Your Living Waters Flow.” The sermon centered on this year’s camp theme of “Living Waters,” with text from John 7:37-38. It brought out that just as our physical bodies need water for survival, our spirits need the living water Jesus provides for daily sustenance and a hope of eternity. As the sermon closed, there was a rush to the altars where expressions of thanksgiving and praise were heard as people prayed.
Sunday Youth Service
In the afternoon, a youth service was led by Talmud Msindazi, the Southern Africa Youth Leader. It began with a solo of “My Life Is in Your Hands,” sung with great emotion by Joyce Mhike. Then the choir, with an age range of thirteen to seventeen, sang beautifully “Come and Dine.” Many of the students were from Green Gables High School and looked sharp in their bright green uniforms.
Among the testimonies, Sister Joyce thanked God for healing her of a deadly illness. Also, Rebecca Kagura praised God for guiding her to a university program that led to job opportunities even before she graduated. Before the message, a young men’s ensemble sang “Springs of Living Water.”
The sermon was given by Assah Chimeri who took his text from John 17:3 and spoke on “Godly Young People.” He emphasized the need to seek God’s guidance and obey in everyday affairs, such as determining appropriate dress, conversation, and behavior toward others. In closing, he encouraged the young people to live honest and transparent lifestyles that bring honor to God. In response, many went to the altars at the close of the service and prayed earnestly.
Sunday Evangelistic Service
The evening service began with a flute solo by Bridget Mwape followed by the choir singing “Heaven Came Down and Glory Filled My Soul.” The testimonies highlighted God’s power to deliver. Catherine Makotore said she was bound by evil spirits until she heard of God’s deliverance, prayed, and was freed. Sister Nyandoro, who is a widow, praised God for daily victory and provision for her needs.
The last song special was “Look and Live,” sung by Sister Sanana. Then Brother John, taking his text from John 5:1-3, delivered the message on “Spiritual Opportunity.” He said the opportunity for healing at the Pool of Bethesda was limited until Jesus appeared. He said that just as Jesus went to the Pool of Bethesda seeking one with a need, He has come to the camp meeting. He encouraged the congregation not to miss the opportunity right before them. The service closed with another good time of prayer around the altars.
Pastor and Spouse Brunch and Workers’ Conference
On Monday morning, the pastors and their spouses met at a beautiful facility called “Angel Gardens” for a fellowship brunch. It was an opportunity to welcome them to the camp meeting and thank them for their service. The meal was coordinated by Rofhiwa Gono of South Africa who did a wonderful job with her crew of setting up, preparing the food, and serving.
In the afternoon, a workers’ meeting was held in the campground tabernacle with about three hundred in attendance. The subject of the meeting was “Instruction to Live By: to Know, to Receive, to Give” based on Proverbs 1:2-4. Ten key areas were touched on; the workers were admonished to be open, prayerful, consistent, studious, available, communicative, wise, loyal, courageous, and encouraged. In parting, each attendee was given a bookmark with the subject and key Scripture on the front and the ten key areas listed on the back.
Evening of Music
In the evening, everyone gathered in the tabernacle for a concert featuring various specials in English and Shona interspersed with choir numbers. Some of the specials sung in English were “Everybody Ought to Know” by Dorcas Chipunza, “Jesus Loves Me” by Rebecca Kagura, and “I Trust in God” by Evangela Banda. In Shona, Mavis Mateyu sang “Phaphamani Bazalwane” (“Look and Live”) and Tinvimbo Maidza sang “Inyangenkulu” (“The Great Physician”). Regardless of which language was used, God's presence was felt, and everyone had a wonderful time.
On Tuesday and Wednesday morning, we enjoyed music from the choir and orchestra, including respectively “Hungry and Thirsting” and “Amazing Love.” There were also inspiring specials such as “Cling to the Bible” sung by Sister Sanga.
The testimonies inspired as well. One sister praised God for healing her husband this year of partial paralysis, which could have taken his life. Another said that her son was seriously ill before the camp meeting started, but God miraculously healed him. A brother testified to God’s faithfulness. Though he had a praying mother, he turned the Gospel aside for many years. When he finally prayed, repenting of his sins, God forgave and saved him. In addition, God healed his sister of paralysis.
The topic of the Tuesday teaching was “The Spiritual Man” taken from Titus 2:11-12. Brother Oniyas emphasized that the camp meeting gathering is an opportunity to examine one’s heart and bring it into alliance with God’s will. The Wednesday teaching was on “Sanctification” with opening text from Deuteronomy 7:6 and Peter 2:9. One point brought out was that there are two parts to sin: the committed actions and the underlying carnal nature. There is also a two-fold remedy: justification to forgive sins committed and sanctification to remove the underlying sinful disposition. The audience was urged to seek both. Following each of the teachings, many were moved to pray.
Tuesday Youth Service
In the afternoon on Tuesday, the youth service began with an instrumental of “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” and then a solo of “Amazing Grace.” Following the congregational singing, and opening prayer offered by Brother Shabeeb, announcements were given by Killion Nyamuona. He encouraged the youth to earnestly seek God at the altars after every service.
During the testimony portion of the service, many thanked the Lord for the three foundational experiences of salvation, sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In addition, one woman testified that her father was ill, and the Lord healed him. A young man testified that before salvation he sought happiness through music and fame by singing in bars and getting his name in the paper. When God saved him, he found real joy and his desire for that lifestyle was gone.
The last special was provided by Precious Mainato who sang “The God of the Mountains.” Then Hofni Nguvenjengua read Jeremiah 2:13 for his text and preached on “Living Waters.” He said the Israelites forsook the living waters of God for their own self-righteousness, which could not save their souls. He encouraged the young people not to take short-cuts in the Gospel, but instead to consecrate and surrender to God’s will to receive victory. The service closed with a good response to the altar call.
Tuesday Evangelistic Service
The service opened with a trumpet duet of “On a Hill Far Away” followed by a choir number. Then Caleb Fefe, who leads the congregational singing for teachings and evangelistic services, led the audience in singing “In the Sweet By and By.”
The testimonies highlighted God’s ability to save and to heal. One woman said she was unable to have children until God healed her and gave her a baby. Another thanked God for healing her when she was sick. A young boy said he is saved and grateful for the Gospel. A woman said she is thankful for salvation and sanctification.
For the message, Chris Nkhata preached on “Obedience” from Deuteronomy 11:26-28. He said a person who submits to God will receive spiritual blessings and eternal life. In addition, that person will obtain earthly blessings by following God’s order and submitting to those in authority at home, in the workplace, and at church. In closing, he encouraged the congregation to do things God’s way and be blessed. The service closed with prayer offered by Francisco Chatiso and many prayed afterward.
Wednesday Leadership Meeting
On Wednesday afternoon, a leadership meeting was held for regional and district superintendents as well as board members. There were about thirty in attendance. The first portion of the meeting was an exhortation from Titus 1:5 on having a work that is “Set in Order.” One point made was that ministerial candidates must meet the Biblical qualifications for leadership in both their spiritual and personal lives. Another point was that leaders are accountable to God, the chain of authority, each other, and the congregations. Misconduct will be met with strong consequences. An additional point was that quality is more important than quantity when delivering God’s message, and sermons should be kept to the allotted time.
The second portion of the meeting included a report from Zambia on the Eastern Africa printing operations. Brother Boniface said that printing has been finished to supply all of Zambia with Gospel literature. In addition, a shipment has been sent to Botswana, and next month another will be sent to Zimbabwe. After that, he expects to be able to supply all other bordering countries with tracts. The meeting closed with the reading of Psalm 133:1 and then prayer.
Debbie and I, along with the Musgraves, are enjoying our time at the camp meeting, and have observed that living waters are indeed flowing from Calvary. We pray this continues and look forward to several more days here.