Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses from around Bulawayo assembled on the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) grounds last weekend for their annual three-day convention.
The solemn gathering under the theme “The Kingdom of God: Let your Kingdom come,” which began on Friday September 2 and ended Sunday afternoon. The Ndebele-speaking congregants assembled at the ZITF stadium; their Shona-speaking counterparts convened at ZITF Hall 3, while seminars for the deaf in sign language were held nearby at the Zimbabwe Academy of Music Theatre. The sessions in English were held two weeks ago. The differences were only in the languages used; otherwise the programme was the same.
“Our programme is tight and that is why we had to group according to our languages because we do not have ample time to be translating each and everything said here,” Mr. Andrew Lunga, one of the Church’s elders, told RelZim.org. “Otherwise we are all brothers and sisters, as we mix and mingle during breaks.”
Elders from the Church’s branches in Bulawayo shared the word of God during the conference, which was punctuated by dramas depicting the kingdom of God.
Explaining the fundamentals of his faith, Mr Lunga said, “We believe in God’s Kingdom; we believe God’s Kingdom will bring to an end all the sufferings we are experiencing on earth.” However, Mr Lunga said his Church does not believe in the existence of hell, saying there is “no sense of justice in eternal burning.” He said Jehovah’s Witnesses instead believe that sinners will not be resurrected as punishment for having disregarded God during their lifetime. Mr Lunga said, not all the righteous will go to heaven but only the 144,000 God-chosen that will form a government there, while the rest would live forever on earth after the day of Resurrection.
Mr Lunga said new members to his Church have to undergo Bible study, so as to understand what the holy book teaches, for at least six months before they are baptized and finally become full members. He added that some would be baptized before the end of the Bulawayo convention.
There are more than 10,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bulawayo, with Brother Watson Ncube as the overseer. The Church members, also known as the ‘Watch Towers’ – popular with their street evangelism, have kingdom halls in almost every high-density suburb of Bulawayo, in the city centre and in some low-density suburbs such as Selbourne Park.