2:00 P.M. EST Sept. 21, 2010 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
Worshippers raise their hands in praise during a United Methodist revival
service near Harare, Zimbabwe. UMNS photos by Priscilla Muzerengwa.
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They come by the thousands, many leaving their homes for nearly a week to gather on an open patch of ground.
There, they will raise their hands above their heads, waving and clapping, singing songs of praise and dancing before the Lord. Many will stay up all night in praise and prayer, climbing nearby mountains for private conversations with God during breaks.
And the faithful such as Emily Makunike will be revived.
“I am blessed to be at this revival,” she said. “The spirit of the Lord is among us, the sermons are powerful, provoking the evil spirits, uplifting the weary and urging people to live victorious life in Christ Jesus.”
Those who want to understand why The United Methodist Church in Africa is growing need only attend one of these five-day women’s revivals held throughout Zimbabwe in August.
This year, more than 25,000 worshipped God at one of four revivals held Wednesdays through Sundays.
“The women’s revival is a major event in the Zimbabwe church’s calendar. Everyone looks forward to these revivals,” said the Rev. Sophrina Sign, connectional ministries director. “A lot of miracles take place, the sick are healed and demons are cast out. The revivals are a climax of a spiritual journey for the church and are also a time for spiritual renewal.”
Prayer, prayer and more prayer
The spiritual preparation begins early.
As soon as the names of the preachers for the revivals are announced, teams of intercessors begin fasting once a week, asking for the power of God to be manifested at the gatherings.
“First we pray for purification of ourselves that our prayers may be acceptable before Christ. When we fast, our major focus is on deliverance, healing and winning of souls to Christ,” said intercessor Babra Marumba.
The intercessors come to the campsite three days early “to declare the authority of the Lord over the whole ground. For the whole week they are on dry fast asking for God’s intervention. They only start to eat Saturday morning as they celebrate the success of the revival with the others,” said Engeline Tsakatsa, women’s evangelism chairperson.
During the revivals, messages of inspiration and exhortation are preached. Spiritual demons are exorcized. After each sermon, the evangelist leads people into a time of self-examination and dedication to Christ.
Intercessors offer counseling.
“We tell them you are telling to God, not to the counselor, so people empty out everything with their focus on Jesus,” Marumba said.
The fruits are many
The theme of this year’s revivals was “A Future With Hope.”
That’s what Emma Chinyamudzori said she has after attending a revival last year.
“I went to the revival in search for God’s favor that I may have a baby. The week before for the revival I started fasting, and I continued throughout the revival. At the revival I was always in prayer. When people go out for break, I will remain behind and cry to the Lord,” she said.
Before the end of the revival, the Rev. Tsitsi Madziyire proclaimed to the congregation that there are lots of miracles available from God, and invited women to come forward who wanted to have their wombs open.
“Many women rushed to the pulpit, and I was one of the first to throw themselves to the pulpit. I prayed with so much faith that I am here to grab my miracle,” she said. “A month later, my doctor confirmed that I was one month pregnant. My baby is now two-and-a-half months old.”
*Muzerengwa is a United Methodist communicator for the Zimbabwe East Annual (regional) Conference.
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