by Sinikiwe Mlambo and Sindiso Moyo

Before Emmanuel Makandiwa, there was a man called Phanuel Dzangare Chiweshe — his followers just called him Pastor Chiweshe — and he is the man who mentored perhaps the most popular evangelist today, Makandiwa. On Tuesday evening 30 August, the hoarse-voiced evangelist breathed his last breath.

Many will remember him for his powerful sermons and how he transformed evangelism in his 24 years with the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM). For many people, Chiweshe is synomous with AFM, and even up to his death of a kidney failure he was faithful to the Church that transformed Sundays in Zimbabwe.

Evangelist Chiweshe was 65 at the time of his death and had served in the AFM Ministry for 23 years. He was the AFM’s resident pastor of Mt. Carmel Assembly in Unit M, Chitungwiza.

According to his uncle, Tinashe Muchemwa, who is acting as the family spokesperson, the popular evangelist was leading prayers at the family home in Concession, when he collapsed. His son Talent rushed him to Parirenyatwa in Harare, 50 km away, yet the pastor died on arrival at the hospital.

And as word spread that the evangelism giant had died, his greatest student Makandiwa  was among mourners, who went to Mt. Carmel Assembly in Chitungwiza to bid farewell. “He groomed me and we never argued, he was my role model and the greatest man ever to emerge from Evangelism. He kept the faith and fought the good fight, he is a hero of faith,” said Makandiwa, who was once a member of the AFM before he formed his own United Families Ministries in 2007.

AFM members in  Bulawayo, where Pastor Chiweshe once evangelized, said his death has come as a painful event they never expected and one that would linger in their minds for a long time. Rev. Elias Sibanda said the death of Evangelist Chiweshe had robbed the Kingdom of God of a great evangelist.

“This is a total shock to me and I am saddened. I liked this man of God and followed his teaching. I say “farewell Evangelist, you brought the good news of the Gospel to us, who were in darkness, we will meet home,” said vividly shocked Samuel Chibanda.

Owen Jonifani of Vine Trans-denomination said he could not believe that one of the pioneers of the Gospel in the country is no more here. But he consoled himself by saying it is the will of God and it is everyone’s way. “Death is painful and all of us we will follow. But we have to be grateful that Chiweshe died still serving God and the honour is left with us to further take the Gospel forward. He was a man of God who inspired me by his teachings, as a young preacher” added Mr. Jonifani.