Have you ever been in a time of waiting that you didn’t understand? You heard God, you followed his voice, doors opened… but you found yourself waiting? Patience is certainly a gift of the Spirit we sometimes need to be reminded we actually DO possess. I know I often do. Waiting, in my opinion, is one of the most frustrating things on planet earth. One of my life languages is ‘mover’. Basically meaning that once I get a plan in my heart I want it accomplished yesterday. Unfortunately for me, God has been working this out in me over the past few years.
Our trip to Zimbabwe started off in such manner. We traveled all day on the only international bus from Dondo, Mozambique to Mutare, Zimbabwe just the other side of the mountainous border. It was an interesting ride, only a slight upgrade from a Guatemalan chicken bus… however an adventure all the same.
The Waiting Begins
The following morning we expected to be picked up by a local pastor who would drive us out to the Chimanimani mountains where we planned to minister for the duration our trip. The day came and went. Night passed, then day and night, day and night, until finally our host arrived. Questions arose. “God, is this really you?”, “Did we hear you?”, “Should we return to Mozambique?” We prayed and struggled to discern whether God was holding us back for a purpose, or the enemy was attempting to curtail our trip, but we felt a peace to stay. After all, African timing is not Western timing. Hold ups occur that we don’t even consider and attitudes are far more relaxed.
Through no fault of his own, Pastor Richard and the team finally arrived to greet us at our accommodation three days later and we headed towards Chimanimani as planned. Even along the way we had more delays. The car broke down, started smoking and loosing oil. This resulted in yet more waiting…. Then it ran out of fuel… we waited some more…. until finally around 7pm, several hundred kilometres and copious distances on dirt, washed out roads, we arrived at our destination.
We were welcomed by a party of approximately 15 beaming faces, giggling shyly as we greeted them in English. Most spoke only Shona, but the occasional voice would pipe up “Hello, how are you?” followed by more fits of giggles and laughter. The joy was contagious… so much excitement. News had been circling the village that the missionaries were coming and everyone was coming to the house to see the spectacle.
About ten of us huddled together in the dim light of a single candle in the lounge room of our hosts as we were confronted with a miraculous story that put an end to all our questions.
As news spread across the Chimanimani region that the missionaries were coming, it appears they had played a game of Chinese whispers in the process… the result was that bandits had heard that we were bringing a truck full of food in response to the disastrous landslide that had wiped out an entire village. (This was untrue. We came in a car, with only a few bags of rice and beans.) However, in all the confusion, the bandits hid in the bushes for three days waiting to ambush our fictitious ‘truck’. (To be honest I can’t imagine any truck would successfully make it up those roads anyway but hey ho.) After three days of waiting, the bandits decided that we weren’t coming after all and returned home empty handed.
A few hours later, in exactly God’s perfect timing, we arrived… three days later than planned, but safe and un-ambushed.
Simply ‘Doing Church’
That evening, after a traditional Zimbabwean feed we stepped onto the porch to find a crowd of about 70-80 eager faces, hungry for the word of God. Men, women and children had navigated the narrow mountainous paths in the pitch black of night, some for several kilometres, ready to worship. There was no church building, no pulpit… no band, flashy lights or projected lyrics… no chairs or central heating… just a simple back porch, floor seating or standing room only, a dim head torch for a spot light… blankets, dancing and body heat for warmth… and a hunger for God that diffused any hint of creature comforts.
I can’t remember the word that was preached that day, what sticks in my mind was the simplicity of ‘doing church’. I was truly humbled. How often have I been reluctant to go to a prayer meeting or church service due to personal inconvenience? How easy would it be to cancel a meeting due to a power cut? These people don’t even have electricity to ‘cut’, yet they seized the opportunity to hear the word of God. They came running at the first opportunity.
Ask, Seek, Knock
Is this similar to what Jesus experienced? Crowds following him, hungry to hear him speak? Sitting all around his feet into the late hours of the night? It is so easy for us to take our church services for granted. We are so comfortable. But THIS… this is church! When you can’t read, don’t own a bible and don’t have a local church but you are hungry for the knowledge of the glory of God you WILL seek him. And they sought, and they found…over the next few days the glory of God fell. They asked and they received. They knocked and the door was opened. This, my friends, is why I do what I do.
This concludes the first in a series of blogs about our time in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, but I wanted to emphasise an important truth that I learned through this experience. God’s timing is perfect. We can’t see the big picture during the waiting but HE CAN! The enemy had a plan, but God’s plan was greater. The resistance in getting us to this place was for a reason. We spent a powerful week seeing the mighty hand of God move through this little forgotten village, releasing healing, deliverance and supernatural encounters. Lives were transformed, including our own. And the Glory of God was revealed for all to see. You can read the second instalment of our Zimbabwe adventure here Jesus Opens the Eyes of the Blind
Please hold Pastors Richard and Elizabeth in your prayers as they continue a great work here in Chimanimani. To connect with them click here Iris Gweru.