HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsLet the church be the church

Let the church be the church

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The government must find a way of regulating practices by some churches where women and girls are being sexually abused in the name of Christianity.

Saturday Dialogue with Ropafadzo Mapimhidze

These matters are usually kept under wraps because church leadership is more worried about reputation of their denominations and not the welfare of the women survivors of rape.

Many years ago, I was told of a case involving one leader of a church that raped a woman in 1965, but was stopped from making a report to the police because her husband insisted that would tarnish image of the leader.

However, when her husband died over 10 years ago, the matter was raised yet again at a police station where the woman had made a report.

This is a church or sect that has a huge following in Zimbabwe where women are viewed as second-class believers.

The alleged rape is well known in the church, but nothing has since been done to this old man who is still running this apostolic church.
I tried doing a story about it around that time and failed to get to the root of the matter. A relative who is a leader in that church actually threated me and said: “Iwe Ropafadzo, ukanyora nyaya iyoyo mishina inodhinda beparenyu inofa (If you pursue that case, the machines that print your newspaper will break down).

But that was not the reason why I did not write the story. Church leaders were not willing to speak and the woman was nowhere to be located. The story died a natural death.

My relative argued that these allegations were aimed at tarnishing the image of the church, adding that nothing of such ever happened although this relative had not yet been born when the rape case happened.

Most church followers are so brainwashed to the extent of not knowing whether what they are being told is right.

The problem is that some of these religious sects do not even use the Bible as their book of reference. The followers are told that they are led by the Holy Spirit which tells them what to do and hence women fall prey to these sadistic sexual perverts.

There are some foreigners in Zimbabwe who have come as refugees and end up starting churches where all kinds of wrongdoings taking place. One case in point is a Pentecostal church in the heart of the city where women have been abused and taken for abortions when they fall pregnant.

Yes, this is happening.

What of the woman who testified at a church in Mt Pleasant that she had been sexually abused by a popular leader of a Pentecostal church that also does prophecies and given $600 for services rendered.

The woman told a capacity filled church near Harare Drive much to the astonishment of people in attendance. This money is obviously taken from tithes and offerings which followers give weekly and monthly and taken to satisfy their “earthly” pleasures.

The problem lies solely with members of the church who do not peruse their Bibles and read the truth. I sometimes attend services at a church that has also a prophetic ministry where the leader takes to task members of the congregation that do not bring Bibles with them.

“I want to remind you we are a Bible-believing church and all that we do here is as written in the Bible . . . Kuno hakusi kumasowe (this is not an apostolic sect shrine),” he says.

Now we have yet another case of sexual abuse by a popular founder of some church in Harare. The head of this church has nearly 15 children at a local private school where he is a much-respected parent because he has never failed to pay school fees for his children.

The money obviously comes from the dedicated members of his church who pay their tithes and offerings every Sunday or at the end of each month.

I have followed closely cases of such a nature over a long time and my conclusion is that the Church in Zimbabwe has become a money-making venture where followers are hoodwinked into pumping their hard-earned cash for unbiblical issues.

There is not much that is being done to end the poverty of widows and orphans at these churches, but they expect these people to bring money to the church.

What exactly is the aim of some of these mega churches springing up all over the place? If you go to some of the schools which were built with offerings, tithes, donations etc, you will be shocked to find that the average church member cannot afford to send their children to those schools.

Just a handful will be able to afford and so what happens to the rest that also contributed to realisation of that project?
Some widow, a member of some bling-bling church, owed a bank nearly US$4 000 and her house was about to be auctioned. Her pastor did not come to her assistance or give her a chance to talk to her and yet this church makes thousands of dollars every month, which she too contributes.

Members of another church, who knew her son, actually came to her rescue and came up with a payment plan with the bank. Gone are the days when pastors’ homes were a sanctuary for those in need.

I remember the days I and my family came to Zimbabwe in 1980 and found home at a church in Kadoma. The pastor of the church, the late Reverend Chazunguza of Maranatha Pentecostal Church, was such a warm and fatherly person who made people so welcome in his home. Everyone yearns for such warmth and hospitality.

I wish the church could just be the church and not a den of thieves, adulterers, rapists and money mongers.

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