HomeLocal NewsProphet Makandiwa takes Zim by storm

Prophet Makandiwa takes Zim by storm

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He is hated by his own kith and kin. Some have accused him of practicing witchcraft or being driven by the devil to woo people to his church.

But whether you love him or hate him, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, founder of the United Family International Ministries (UFIM) has taken Zimbabwe by storm. He is just unstoppable.

This trend started long before he established UFIM when he was just a junior pastor with Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), where he drew thousands of people to his former church, Hebron AFM in Chitungwiza.

The AFM annual meetings held at Rufaro in Chirumanzu were always oversubscribed whenever the young pastor was billed to speak.

No matter what critics may say or their vain attempts to rubbish him, the media-shy Prophet Makandiwa has style, charisma and delivers the Word in a most profound way.

Every Sunday thousands of people flock to the City Sports Stadium seeking to hear Prophet Makandiwa articulate the gospel.

People start trickling in as early as 4am every Sunday. Some actually bring blankets along so they catch up on lost sleep after securing a seat in the auditorium.

“I was here by 4:30am and I have been lying under a shrub waiting for the prophet who starts preaching at around 10 am.

I have heard the prophet preach on many DVDs that my sister gave me and I just want to see him in person,” said an elderly woman who said she had travelled all the way from Marondera.

Workers and security guards around the stadium said in separate interviews they receive inquiries from foreigners and many locals even at night about UFIM’s church services.

The single file of people walking to the church entrance meanders from the turn-off at Rekayi Tangwena Road, about 800 metres away. Across the road, you also notice people either running or walking fast towards that direction. It is a spectacle.

Two or three men can be seen issuing people in the queue with number cards which are used to determine attendance figures that often range from 45 000 to 60 000 each Sunday. The Sunday service lasts nearly four hours.

So orderly is the practice that when you arrive at the stadium, you are warmly greeted by some of the hundreds of ushers dotted around.

There is movement and action around the place. Women can be seen cleaning up the auditorium with brooms and soapy mops. The men are busy putting up the PA system whose sound projection reaches as far as the car park.

By the time church starts at 10am, the spotlessly clean stadium is filled to capacity, including the overflow, in seven gigantic tents outside the auditorium.

So organised is the church that the ablution blocks are monitored by the church’s health department, which is also responsible for cleaning up.

This writer used one toilet about three times that day and not one instance did she find any messed cubicle.

Doesn’t the Bible say cleanliness is next to godliness? UFIM has indeed lived up to those expectations.

The colourfully dressed 500-member choir came alive from around 8am to about 10:30am when Prophet Makandiwa arrived.

The mood was electric as congregants sang and danced to the music. There were ululations and cheers as the prophet and his wife, Ruth, took to their seats.

“Makandiwa is hated even by fellow members of the Body of Christ because a huge chunk of Hararians have drifted to his church. The Word he preaches is relevant all round.

He can preach about marriage or finances as though he is a banker, and also about business matters.

“He will then preach about spiritual growth, healing and deliverance. The prophetic dimension in UFIM is just an extra,” said a young female church member.

This writer attended a church service two weeks ago where Prophet Makandiwa quoted his sermon from Acts 23:11-24.

He declared God was assigning helpers for breakthrough. The verses speak about Paul, a man of God, who sought help from a relative even though he could have received direct visitation from Christ.

“Everybody must seek God to help find their helpers. You can become anything you want to be, whether people like it or not. You need helpers to elevate you. You need connections in all spheres —even at work — and that somebody is not far from you,” said Prophet Makandiwa.

But he has also faced so many challenges such as allegations targeted at destroying his reputation.

A young pregnant woman revealed that she had been promised a car, house and many other things if she testified in church that Prophet Makandiwa had impregnated her.

So desperate are some so-called pastors that they have devised schemes to destroy people of God.

“We were accused of having sexual relations with members of the church, but these women later confessed that it was a scam organised by other clergymen in the church,” said one pastor from a leading Pentecostal church who now has joined UFIM.

He said Prophet Makandiwa is disliked because many Hararians had chosen UFIM, which was launched late August 2008 as a lunch-hour fellowship at the Anglican Cathedral in Harare.

The hall was filled to capacity on the first day with approximately 600 people. The following day the fellowship experienced an overflow as people swarmed from the Parliament side just to get a glimpse of proceedings.

People started coming to the service from 1100hrs for a lunch fellowship which only started at 1300hrs.

This phenomenon has stuck like a trademark to date as people flock to the current venue five hours before service begins.

“The churches you see that were built by the Catholic missionaries, Dutch Reformed, Methodist churches and many others were made possible by funds donated by church members overseas.

“Prophet Makandiwa is now building a 30 000-seat church in Chitungwiza and instead of supporting the idea, this man has encountered resistance even from some politicians and clergymen in Chitungwiza.

Some people have accused him of taking members’ funds to build that church,” said an elderly UFIM member.

Another church member, who identified herself as Chido, said: “Prophet Makandiwa can quote one line in a verse and you can actually write three pages of notes as he explains in detail.

I had stopped going to church for years until my brother invited me to UFIM. I have never turned back. His messages are so deep, something that is missing from many churches.

“The way he preaches the Word as an African pastor, to an African congregation in our own language is what makes his ministry relevant.

He attracts people from all walks of life,” she added.

Spirit Embassy church founder and spiritual brother to Prophet Makandiwa, Prophet Uebert Angel, said recently in his sermon that mainline churches despised Prophet Makandiwa.

“Jealousy is all that they have. They say why him and not us?” Prophet Angel said.

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