The roar of the raucous crowd at the National Sports Stadium will this weekend be replaced by a respectfully quiet, well-dressed crowd of nearly 60 000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in Harare for their first International Convention of faith and fellowship beginning today.
SENIOR STAFF REPORTER
The first of its kind in Zimbabwe and the only such event in Africa this year, the religious jamboree is being held under the theme Keep Seeking First God’s Kingdom! The convention will be simultaneously conducted in different languages such as Zimbabwe Sign Language, English,Shona and Ndebele and translated into Chinese to allow people from all walks of life to benefit from the special programme and access the Truth.
At least 2 000 foreign delegates visited Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in Mount Hampden as well as various areas in and around Harare such as Domboshawa and Chihota Communal Lands to have a feel of Zimbabwe’s rural life ahead of the special programme.
Convention overseer Effort Mugabe yesterday said the wait was over and today Witnesses were not going door-to-door, adding a broad scope of races and ages — including over 3 500 foreign delegates – will converge united for the special programme.
“Almost all delegates are in the country now. Most of them are anxiously waiting for tomorrow (today). This programme is about seeking God’s Kingdom and putting that first in our life,” Mugabe said.
The three-day programme is aimed at teaching folks about basic Bible principles and how it affects family, life, personality traits, and characteristics.
Through talks, demonstrations, interviews, and accounts, families would be affected in a positive way, Mugabe said.
The free international convention will also draw followers from across the country.
Convention spokesperson John Hunguka said: “We expect a diverse crowd of over 40 000, including over 3 000 foreign delegates visiting from United States, Germany, Brazil, Zambia and Mozambique among others. We owe our worship and obedience to Him as our Creator.”
Hunguka said topics to be covered will include family matters — how husbands and wives can treat each other better.
There will also be a symposium dealing with other family issues including three dramas from for all the three days, titled Do not give the Devil an Opportunity, a sound drama — Jehovah the Only God and a full costume drama Not one Word has Failed based in the Bible book of Joshua to the Israelites.
He said the highlights will also include a keynote address titled “Meet Some Who are Seeking First God’s Kingdom!”; Baptism theme “Jehovah ‘Will Help You’ Inherit the Kingdom” and the public Bible discourse on Sunday themed “Earth’s New Ruler –Who Really Qualifies?”
Turning to the delegates, Hunguka added among the foreign visitors were missionaries some whom had been involved in the construction of the Witnesses complex among them Timothy Gwiasida, Gerry Elliott and his wife Derby who left Zimbabwe in 1998.
The Elliotts were overcome by emotion and cried when they visited the branch office in Harare yesterday.
Another delegate from the US Monique Myrie also said: “In following the example of Jesus Christ, we do go door to door and talk to the people about the Gospel. Our desire is to proclaim the message and if the people want to listen to it, please, but if they say they are not interested we very kindly wish them a good day and move on.”
Worldwide, there are over 7,9 million Witnesses from 239 lands in more than 113 000 congregations and in Zimbabwe there are 42 000 Witnesses.