The moment is etched in my memory in striking cultural contrast…
Finally, on the 7th December 2015 an unfinished building that commenced three years ago in the harsh dry hinterland of Zimbabwe was completed. Fervent community prayer – our Father’s provision through a handful of long-standing partners and the concerted labour of the people – has seen the completion of the well-constructed Derembwe Orphan Community Church and Resource Centre for Youth With A Vision. A long and at times dangerous car battering journey from South Africa was about to be wonderfully rewarded.
I stand at the entrance of the church building and community hall with the pastor and his wife – Bonface and Tabitha. An enclave of excited humanity wait in a tangled half circle as I teach, encourage and then pray the dedication in preparation to cut the lilac ribbon that graces the awaiting closed sanctuary doors. As I pronounce the amen the pastor’s 12 year old prettily dressed daughter, in typical cultural style, approaches, curtsies and unexpectedly kneels courteously whilst handing me a scissors flounced in purple ribbon. Spontaneously, led by the Spirit, I lay my hand on Vongai’s head and pray prophetically for this young lady, whose name means faith. She has emerged strong spiritually after a terrible attack on her life two years ago. As I cut the ribbon the joy of Africa erupts in ululation, song and praise. On a command from the pastor the church doors are opened wide. Noticeably from the inside. The only brick building in the rural village extends welcoming arms to the community as they joyfully stream in. Later that day we preach a compelling gospel to chiefs, counsellors, village heads, clergy and many children and caregivers. Then in 42° C heat the feeding of hundreds of hungry orphaned children commences.
Emil Brunner’s statement strikes a chord. ‘The church exists by mission, as fire exists by burning.’ The Pro-Vision team is essentially about mission emanating from hearts that burn. (Luke 24:32)