Church critical in nation building — President President Mnangagwa is seen off by Zion Christian Church (ZCC) leader Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi after addressing thousands of congregants who thronged Mbungo Estates in Bikita, Masvingo, for the church’s annual Easter Conference yesterday. — Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Zvamaida Murwira in Bikita

Churches play an important role in accelerating national development and should use their gatherings to inculcate value and work ethics that spawn production to move the nation forward, President Mnangagwa told the Zion Christian Church’s annual Easter Passover Festival in Masvingo yesterday.

More than 150 000 congregants attended the event.

President Mnangagwa said churches were a critical partner in creating synergies with the Government to benefit individuals and communities in line with the National Development Strategy.

The festival was held at Mbungo Estate in Bikita district, Masvingo province,  where the Zion Christian Church had assembled for the Easter Passover Pilgrimage. The church is led by Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi.

“The important role of the Church in accelerating our national development agenda as well as policies and programmes cannot be overemphasised. It is commendable that at such gatherings, the Church preaches and inculcates the values and work ethic that encourage production and productivity, which in turn, moves our nation forward. The Church is a critical partner to our nation,” said President Mnangagwa.

“Furthermore, through your activities at both collective and individual level, you benefit our communities and our beloved motherland as a whole. My Government appreciates these and other contributions made by the Church to the sectors of our economy. I assure you of our continued support in this respect.”

The Church had to lead by example and ensure that their work pleases God.

“Our focus and resolve are to be good stewards over the resources which God has given us. We must continue to work harder to feed ourselves, modernise, industrialise and grow our economy towards lifting many more people out of poverty into prosperity,” said President Mnangagwa whose speech was punctuated by quotations of biblical scriptures.

He commended the Zion Christian Church for the tremendous development work it was carrying out across the country. This included building schools and clinics and contributing towards food security through agricultural activities.

“I challenge other churches to also embark on various projects that help sustain the livelihoods of our people and communities for the overall prosperity of our beloved motherland Zimbabwe,” said President Mnangagwa.

He applauded the Zion Christian Church for interceding and praying for the country, praying for unity, peace and harmony, which saw the country holding peaceful elections.

“The people of Zimbabwe spoke and our party Zanu PF registered a resounding victory,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said as Christians, they should continue to have trust in God even during times of adversities and challenges such as this year where there is an El Nino-induced drought.

“This year, many of our people will not harvest much because our crops were badly affected by the drought due to climate change. However, our trust remains in the Almighty God,” he said.

“On its part, our Zanu PF Government has put in place measures that food and drought relief for affected communities is availed in time. No one will starve from hunger. Tinovimba naJehovah.”

The Government would continue to scale up efforts to mitigate against climate change.

“We are building more dams and also making sure that irrigation infrastructure is in place across all our communities. Our people are being capacitated to guarantee household food security. The borehole drilling programme and establishment of nutritional gardens are ongoing and will be accelerated,” he said.

“We remain with great hope and confidence that we have a brighter and more prosperous future. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

There was need to continue sharing love, kindness and good works regardless of weaknesses and differences.

“We should adopt new ways of spreading our Christian faith with added vigour so that more and more people in our great motherland Zimbabwe come to know and accept God’s love.

“For indeed, Easter reminds us of the positive values we must share as a nation and pass on to future generations. These include the culture of forgiveness, respect for one another and caring for all those around us especially widows, orphans and the less privileged.”

He urged congregants to continue glorifying God as they return to their homes.

“Let us continue building our country, communities and families brick by brick, step by step and stone upon stone, guided by our national development philosophy, Nyika inovakwa, inotongwa, inonamatigwa nevene vayo/ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswe, likhulekelwe ngabanikazi balo,” he said.

President Mnangagwa drew admiration for his elaborate use and quotation of biblical scriptures in his speech.

In his address, Bishop Mutendi implored people to be resilient and endure in life and emulate what Jesus went through at the cross when he was crucified.

He said people should love their country even during difficult times. There was need to respect the country’s heroes who sacrificed for the liberation of the country just as Jesus Christ is a hero for Christians because he died for every person.

“We are enjoying a peaceful environment in the country. We need to continue praying for it. We have our own heroes in the country but surprisingly some people do not want to pay homage to them by attending their commemoration at the Heroes Acre. We also have Jesus Christ, our hero and it is because of Jesus Christ who has drawn our President and almost the whole Cabinet here,” said Bishop Mutendi.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi commended President Mnangagwa for upholding freedom of religion which allows people to express their beliefs.

“We are all aware that the Constitution of Zimbabwe upholds the fundamental right of freedom of worship. Our President recognises the diversity of religion,” he said.

Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri commended the Zion Christian Church for complementing Government efforts towards national development.

Yesterday’s event was characterised by several entertainment displays provided by the church’s brass band.

The gathering was attended by Government ministers, legislators, traditional leaders and senior Government officials.

More than 150 000 pilgrims drawn from Zimbabwe and at least 18 countries attended the festival.

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