reprinted from Newsday

by Pastor Erasmus Makarimayi

Human nature is so much obsessed with knowing beyond what is hitherto known. We go to school to acquire more knowledge. We all seek to be the first ones to have breaking news.  Everyone wants to be the first with results of which political party or candidate has won or which team won the game.

We all want to know what others do not know so that we are a step ahead and use the knowledge to be better one way or the other than the rest. The question however is how we seek to get more knowledge and to what use we are going to put the newly-acquired knowledge.

Are we going to bewitch others or are we going to benefit our communities?

From the beginning of July to about the end of the year I will be working on a ministry project that will take me to about almost every group of people, culturally and racially, in Zimbabwe. People want to know the reasons why certain things are happening or not happening. Joined to this desire is the relationship between the living and the dead.

There are mysteries that to some remain uncovered. People want to know how to succeed in life. In so doing orthodox and unorthodox means are being used to get and maintain a cutting edge. Some “breakthroughs” are paraded in churches have nothing to do with God.

In this presentation I am going to lay out some challenges that you face in your walk with Christ.

We preach to tell you where God wants to take you, but before you go there you have the present. It is this present that people have difficulties to cut themselves off from. Our culture values our dear departed so much that they remain part of the living for eternity. They are regarded as having power to direct life in the realm of the living. A dead person is regarded as having power to direct the goings on at his/her funeral. He/she is viewed as having power to even control the weather, stop rain, refuse to be buried at certain places and refuse to have his/her enemies come near the coffin and grave.

When a person dies, the belief is that the spirit roams around with no resting place. After a year a ritual is conducted to bring the spirit of the dead to the family realm to guard and protect them. This is called kurova guva or kuchenura in Shona. Occasionally beer (doro remusha) is brewed to interlink with the dead and appease the spirits and keep relations well so that ancestors are not angered.

The challenge to Christians is to practise Christianity without going back to these cultural practices.

Some think their traditions have to be kept and Christianity is only practiced and lived as long as it does not “encroach” into traditional belief systems. In some instances people leave churches for a season to deal with problems that are thought solvable only traditionally (chivanhu). God is not deemed capable of dealing with certain problems. Although the majority of people do accept that there is no power beyond God, when tragedy strikes, faith is shaken and God is deemed to be inadequate.

Here is someone’s testimony. Twin sisters, let us call them Beauty and Betty, they come from a “Christian” family which however still holds on to traditional beliefs. Beauty is a devoted Christian who is still in the infancy of her walk with Christ. She recently accepted Christ after attending a crusade where she was prayed for and got a job as a secretary. At the end of last year the family went to their rural home for a ritual to cleanse the family and brew beer to appease the spirits so that they fight for the family — for they thought the ancestors had neglected them. Beauty with the counsel of her pastor did not attend since the ritual is against Biblical teachings. Although this angered her parents, she stood by her faith. After a month Betty got a job and is going to wed over the Heroes Holiday.

When Beauty finished her six months probation period, her employers did not confirm her and she lost her job. She has now tried three churches and tried false prophets and witch doctors. As I write, she is raising money for air fare to try some prophet beyond our borders. Now, in her thirties, she feels time is running out. She feels let down by God.

Brothers and sisters this is an example of what you face as an African Christian. This is my introduction to the subject “faith” which we will deal with next week. Remain with this; Isaiah 8:19 (Amplified Version) “And when the people (instead of putting their trust in God) shall say to you; Consult for direction mediums and wizards who chirp and mutter, should not a people seek and consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?”