Multi-faith national prayer service lauded President Mnangagwa, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and Vice Presidents — Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi — bow their heads in prayer. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

Farirayi Machivenyika and Elliot Ziwira

A unique multi-faith prayer service at State House was the centre of the National Day of Prayer yesterday with the full spectrum of Christian groups — Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical and indigenous — plus representatives of the Islamic, Jewish and Hindu faiths converging to seek healing from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Day of National Prayer and Fasting was called by President Mnangagwa for Zimbabweans to commit themselves to repentance and deliverance in the face of the pandemic and the measures needed to confront it and beat it.

Presiding over the occasion, the President urged religious leaders to lead the way in nourishing souls of the people at a time of great adversity. He said in love, peace and unity Zimbabwe shall overcome.

The special service upheld the strict coronavirus guidelines, which include social distancing, the wearing of face masks and gatherings of people in small groups, with each faith group having a single representative.

First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, Vice Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi and several Cabinet ministers were also in attendance.

In his short address, the President said while he had declared June 15 as the National Day of Fasting and Prayer, the Bible implored people to observe God’s commandments by praying regularly.

“Today we come boldly before the heavenly throne of grace standing on the scripture, as I highlighted in the declaration of this day; found in 2nd Chronicles 7 v 13-15 which reads . . . ‘if I send pestilence among my people and people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open and my ears attend to the prayer that is made in this place’.

“We therefore gather in prayer, in the total belief and knowledge that the word of God is true for indeed ‘Heaven and earth will pass away but his word, shall not pass away’ (Matthew 24 v 35). We are also confident that God watches over his word, to perform it,” President Mnangagwa said.

The President said God’s word is clear that pestilences such as Covid-19 would come as a warning to people to leave their sinful ways. As such, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans had two choices to make in light of the pandemic; either to repent and seek God’s help or continue to live in defiance of his word.

“In Zimbabwe we have chosen to be part of the first category of those who humble themselves, acknowledging God and glorifying him as God,” he said.

So far the global pandemic has killed four people in Zimbabwe with 383 infections and 54 recoveries but statistics worldwide are grimmer with close to half a million fatalities and close to 10 million confirmed cases along with millions more that were never tested.

Although Zimbabwe has kept the disease at bay, largely due to a raft of measures that were rolled by the Government such as social distancing, wearing masks and limiting movements — the President said the country still has to pray to God for total deliverance.

“We have chosen to repent and to seek his mercy, help, healing and healing in the face of this deadly coronavirus pandemic. I as your President have no hesitation in leading and calling us all to this path of seeking divine help.”

President Mnangagwa then led the nation in prayer asking for God’s forgiveness for the country’s sins, idol worshipping and worshipping of false gods, immorality and injustice and corruption that have made the poor die.

After the President’s address, religious leaders took turns to offer prayers.

Those attending included the Catholic Bishops Conference represented by Father Philip Kembo; Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (Dr Ezekiel Guti); Zimbabwe Council of Churches (Ephraim Ngadziore); Zimbabwe Indigenous Council of Churches (Bishop Goronga); Zimbabwe Inter-denominational Council of Churches (Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi — patron); Faith of Nation Campaign (Bishop Abel Sande); National Elders Forum (Reverend Felix Mukonowengwe); Jewish Community (Arnold Joffe); and Islamic Faith (Moulana Mohammed Ismail).

The Master of Ceremonies, Reverend Andrew Wutawunashe, emphasised the importance of prayer as he appealed to the nation to observe a few moments of devotion to the Lord, so that all sins are forgiven, and new avenues are opened for the good of the nation. Declaring that God is the Lord, he asked for the nation’s protection against the ravaging coronavirus.

Patron of the indigenous churches Nehemiah Mutendi thanked President Mnangagwa for convening such a gathering. He described President Mnangagwa as a rare breed of God-fearing presidents he had met.

“I would like to thank the President for this service. Of all the presidents I have seen, he is the only one that has shown respect and acknowledged that there is a higher authority than him,” Bishop Mutendi said.

He added that because of the Day of Fasting and Prayer, Zimbabwe had overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As the Bible says, any commitment made here on earth would be bound in heaven. This service is a proclamation of the defeat of the pandemic,” Bishop Mutendi added.

Mrs Egnes Sithole, who joined the session under the banner of the Zimbabwe Interdenominational Council of Churches, said she believed life could never be the same again as the nation joined in prayer against the pandemic, and all other ills bedevilling the Motherland.

On the other hand, Madzibaba Moses Gwasira of Johane Masowe WeChishanu in Highfield said it was important for Zimbabweans to know that God had all solutions to life’s challenges.

“As Zimbabweans we should know that God has the answers to the problems and challenges we face so I thank the President for dedicating this day to praying and seeking God’s healing.

“Going forward we should have a day like this where we dedicate our country to God and not to only think of him when we have problems,” he said.

In his remarks VP Mohadi thanked the President for leading from the front in the fight against the pandemic. He said: “Our guest of honour (President Mnangagwa) has led from the front in the fight against the pandemic and believes that our culture and religion are at the centre of people’s lives.”

VP Chiwenga said yesterday’s prayer session would deliver the nation from the effects of the pandemic: “There is also no known cure for this pandemic to date but we know there can be a cure from God if we pray and submit to him like we have done today.”

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