Categories
Africa Christianity Today Published Articles

Vaccine Campaign at Zimbabwe Churches Praises What’s Done in Secret

Yvonne Binda stands in front of the congregation, all dressed in pristine white robes, and tells them not to believe what they’ve heard about COVID-19 vaccines.

“The vaccine is not linked to Satanism,” she says. The worshipers, members of a Christian Apostolic church in Zimbabwe, are unmoved. But when Binda, a vaccine campaigner and member of an Apostolic church herself, promises them soap, buckets, and masks, there are enthusiastic shouts of “Amen!”

Apostolic groups that infuse traditional beliefs into Pentecostal doctrine are among the most skeptical in the southern African nation when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, with an already strong mistrust of modern medicine. Many followers put faith in prayer, holy water, and anointed stones to ward off disease or cure illnesses…

Integrated into the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHCD) in 1993, the Apostolic churches cooperate alongside the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the mainline Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

“God has given us science and intelligence, in addition to divine intervention in healing,” EFZ president Never Muparutsa told CT. “People must not shun vaccines based on 666-style conspiracy theories.”

Binda is one of nearly 1,000 members of various religious groups recruited by the Zimbabwean government and UNICEF to try gently changing attitudes toward vaccines from within their own churches.

Muparutsa, however, is hesitant about this approach.

As vice president of the ZHCD, he estimates 30–40 percent of evangelical and mainline Christians are “skeptical” about the vaccine, and told CT it is not his place to take sides. He “encourages” Zimbabweans to do as he and his family have done—but will not “promote.”

“That sounds like marketing,” he said. “I do not preach about vaccines; I preach about Jesus.”

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on October 15, 2021. I contributed additional reporting. Please click here to read the full text.

Categories
Africa Christianity Today Published Articles

Zimbabwe Evangelicals Defend Catholics from Government’s ‘Genocide’ Accusations

Never Muparutsa

Zimbabwe, in its 40 years of independent history, has “never enjoyed life.”

And as the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) stands in solidarity this week with maligned Catholic bishops accused of fomenting genocide, its president, Never Muparutsa, told CT the Southern African government is failing to honor its biblical responsibility.

There are too many poor, amid official repression.

An excerpt from the interview:

On June 1, we called for 90 days of prayer. On the 15th day, the president called for a national day of prayer, and we supported him. We don’t necessarily blame the president for all the problems, but there is a lack of leadership to bring everyone to the table.

And this is why you stood with the Catholics?

The Catholic letter was trying to provoke discussion, not give an insult. It pointed out problems like all of us were doing. But it received such a strong backlash.

We felt that given the situation in the country, if we just stand by and watch, we don’t know what will happen. We have journalists and activists in prison. There have been abductions with perpetrators unidentified, making us all vulnerable.

So this prompted us to stand with the Catholics, because an insult to one is an insult to all.

The 90 days of prayer will end on August 29. What are your hopes for Zimbabwe, in how God might move on behalf of the church and country?

We need a better future. We have suffered enough over 40 years, having never really enjoyed life. Zimbabwe has been given many natural resources and riches, and if our leaders are gifted enough, they can exploit these for the benefit of the people.

We are praying that the church will raise up disciples, who in the future will be good politicians. We blame ourselves. We have what we deserve, because we have not done a good job.

We want God to help us achieve the Zimbabwe we want, with freedom of speech, access to the wealth of the nation, and an uprooting of corruption.

This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on August 24, 2020. Please click here for the full text.