Freedom Mupanedemo Syndication Writer—
The year 2016 came to an end on Saturday, and what an eventful year for the Christian community in Zimbabwe and beyond.
The year could pass as one of those life episodes to remember for Christians, judging by what some referred to as “religious tragicomedies” that unfolded throughout the year.
The astonishing acts ranged from walking on water to drinking sewerage water, dishing out of anointed condoms, holding of a pastor’s genitals for healing, to stamping on top of congregants.
It will be important to point out that most of the reported cases occurred in South Africa.
Other eventful cases included the alleged selling of anointed cucumbers and maize cobs by Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya and the Nigerian pastor who grabbed headlines after he drowned while trying to emulate Jesus Christ by walking on water.
Tough luck to him! May his soul rest in peace!
Pastor Ngonidzashe Mandengu
Then, just before Christmas, as Christians prepared to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, another local pastor, Ngonidzashe Mandengu, added confusion by urging people not to partake in Christmas celebrations.
Mandengu, the leader of a pentecostal ministry with an equally awkward name, Break Free International Ministries, was moving around Harare and its environs, ostensibly on evangelism mission while telling those who cared to listen to him to abandon Christmas celebrations.
According to Mandengu, celebrating Christmas is a pagan way of worship, hence Christians should shun paganism.
“The reason why I have embarked on this mission, preaching against celebrating Christmas, is simple,” he explained. “In the entire Bible there is nowhere it is written that Jesus was born on December 25.
“If he was born on December 25, why don’t we have a complete date of the birth of Jesus Christ, like yourself? You have a full date of birth like the day you were born, month and year?”
Mandengu provided a totally different view of the meaning of the name Christmas, which he believes was coined to worship a goddess.
“Christmas is a two-fold name with Christ and mas,” he said. “The word Christ means the anointed one and the word mas means mother. The definition of Christmas, therefore, means “the anointed mother’’.
“The word Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, but is dedicated to a certain goddess.”
Mandengu added: “The English word merry means happy, so merry Christmas means “happy anointed mother” and has nothing to do with the birth of our saviour Jesus.”
Mandengu says he will be conducting outreach programmes preaching against celebrating Christmas.
Pastor Paul Sanyangore
If it was music, soccer, or some sport, Pastor Sanyangore could have walked away with an award.
The Victory World International Ministries Church leader is one pastor who was marred in controversy throughout 2016.
Early last year, he came in the public glare after he woke up splashed on the front pages of newspapers claiming that he once died and went to heaven where he allegedly dined with the angels before coming back on earth.
Some people did not believe Pastor Sanyangore when he claimed to have walked on water in the full view of his congregants.
He was recently reported to have fetched some water from flowing sewerage and prayed for it before giving it to his congregants to quench their thirsty.
Prophet Talent Madungwe
He made one of the most outstanding claims in 2016.
Prophet Madungwe sent many, especially his congregants, into a rather frenzied anxiety and suspense when he announced that God was to physically visit Zimbabwe on Thursday October 20, 2016. He evoked some mixed emotions when he eventually claimed that God had indeed visited the country on the date and he had a buffet with him.
Some newspapers went to town with his story, and with acres of space on offer, splashed him on front pages.
Prophet Walter Magaya
He is one of the most followed prophets in Zimbabwe, but the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries leader had his fair share of controversies last year.
From allegedly healing an insane person and constructing a house for him, to congregants stampeding for sand and soil at his Waterfalls holy ground, Prophet Magaya was also accused of rape in 2016.
The rape case drained the energy out of the man of the cloth, until the complainant made a sudden U-turn and withdrew the charges.
The matter is now at the Constitutional Court where Prophet Magaya is fighting against the State’s decision to continue to trial despite the complainant withdrawing the case.
Prophet Magaya recently torched a storm when pictures of him allegedly selling holy cucumbers to congregants went viral on social media.
He defended himself, saying the cucumbers were from his farm and were given to his congregants for free.
Emmanuel Makandiwa of the United Family International Church, who seems to have dropped the title prophet judging by official references to him on the church’s Christ TV and other social media outlets, was rarely reported on in the media in 2016.
Was this because he could not produce any earth shuttering miracles or that the media has become so accustomed to such miracles from him that they no longer view it as newsworthy?
The two events which put Makandiwa in the media limelight this year was his annual Judgment Night event and the Prophets Emmanuel and Ruth Makandiwa Invitational Concert and Awards Night (Permican).
On social media, Facebook in particular, one person alleged that Makandiwa had acquired a South African resident permit and splashed one on the platform.
Makandiwa responded to this during one of his church services, indicating that the rumour was coming from mischievous individuals.
He indicated that if indeed he was now staying in South Africa, it could not be a problem for people to know it, considering that he is well known and that he would be frequenting the airport so often.
Across the Limpopo River in South Africa, Prophet Lethobo Rabalagoa of Mount Zion Assembly caused a stir in 2016 when pictures of him went viral on Facebook while he was spraying a named pesticide on his congregants.
He claimed that the pesticide would bring healing, but medical experts warned that it contained properties that could cause more damage to health.
Earlier in the year, another South African pastor, Silago Daniel of Rabbani Centre Ministries, torched a storm when he stamped on his congregants.
He received a backlash when the pictures went viral while he was stamping on mainly women.