The Holy Communion was for followers from Matabeleland and Midlands provinces.
As soon as I got space to squeeze myself on the ground in the midst of a sea of white-garmented women, with the aim of hiding my black and floral colours which I am told conflict with the spirit of the church leader, my eyes started roving in search of the revered man.
A middle-aged woman, cluing in on what I was doing, asked: “Did you see Mutumwa?” Upon shaking my head, she directed me to a shed where the 99-year-old church leader sat in a chair.
All the while testimonies, were pouring out of how God had used this man to change lives. Others took the opportunity to ask Mutumwa Mwazha to pray for them.
“My child disappeared in 2015 and I am yet to know where to locate my child. I am pouring out my heart to you so that you can assist me that I can find peace as you did before when I faced sickness,” said one desperate father.
Another said, “I was once mentally ill and I got well through your help. Now my problem is me and my wife we do not have a child. So we are requesting that the sent of God pray for us that we may bear children.”
Mutumwa Mwazha shook the man’s hand and told him to shake his wife’s hand in turn. Then he told the couple to return to their seating places because their prayer had already been answered.
Apparently, this was a first in a church that is renowned to be a congregation of firsts. “Before he prayed for the couples by laying his hands on them. ‘‘This is a first that he shook the man’s hand and ordered him to also shake his wife’s hand,” said an elder. The testimonies continued.
“I have lost most of my siblings. We were seven but we are now only two. I would like to thank God for fighting for me against the spirit of death. I would like to thank God that even my husband is now part of the church.
“Now I am asking God to restore the wealth we lost during my sickness. I have come to receive life and riches lost due to sickness,” one woman asked of Mutumwa Mwazha. The beared church leader told her it was done.
Every time Mutumwa Mwazha affirmed “it is done”, women ululated and men clapped. At some point, the women broke into song and the men joined them on their feet.
After the service, men and women remained separated. No intimacy is allowed, and buying and selling are taboo until the end of the Sabbath.
One of the most popular items on sale were pictures of Mutumwa Mwazha. A woman I spoke to said she always had a passport size picture of Mutumwa Mwazha in her doek, while another said their leader visited her in her dreams.
Even in their prayers, Mutumwa Mwazha is mentioned prominently.
“Answer me God and assist me to realise my desires just as you sent Mutumwa Mwazha to bring peace on this earth,” a lady prayed. Born Mamvura Mwazha in 1918 at Holy Cross Mission in Chirumanzu, the African Apostolic Church leader is said to have succumbed to influenza the same year, as told in a book titled “Kutumwa kwaPaul Mwazha”.
After his death, the books says — following Catholic doctrine — Baby Mamvura was taken through benediction and renamed Paul. He is said to have resurrected at that point.
In 1932 it is said he had a dream he was standing behind the altar in the temple. He saw a huge stone with a tree growing out of it and right through the roof.
At the moment, he heard a voice saying, “Behold I am coming down from Heaven to speak to you face to face.”
“Right then I saw a white man who looked different in appearance from humans and was physically strong, coming down the tree. At that point I ran to the altar saying, ‘Yah I have recognised you, you are Satan. I grabbed him with my two hands, lifted him and hit him against the wall of the temple, then he died there and then. I saw the temple being filled with people wearing white garments,” an excerpt from the book said. In 1940, he had a vision about the creation of a new Africa.
Years later in the late 1950s, he says he heard the voice of God from Heaven saying, “The African Apostolic Church,Vapostora veAfrica.”
And in 1959 plans to form the African Apostolic Church got underway.
Mutumwa Mwazha lost his wife Mrs Joyce Mwazha in April this year.