Who is a man/woman of God? How are they called? These are questions that perplex many. This column, Divine Appointments, will introduce you to different personalities and give them an opportunity to tell you, in their own words, who they are, where they came from and what they stand for.
Good news travels fast.
A fortnight ago, I learnt about Pastor Pardon Gift Anselm Mvenge, founder of Christian Healing Ministry for all nations (CHM f.a.n).
You might say: “Not another man of God. Not another church.”
But take the advice of Bishop David Odeyepo of Winners Chapel who recently said, “Multitudes still flock the roads on Sunday mornings going nowhere. Are churches enough? No. Until everybody is saved and everybody is off the street on Sunday mornings, we don’t have enough churches.”
Separating the wheat from chaff is not easy.
What sets the men and women of God apart is how they are called, how well they understand that calling, their vision and their lifestyles.
Pastor Anselm is not enthusiastic about publicity and — like Prophet Elijah — says he felt like running away. The three meetings I had with him were by divine providence.
As I enter the simple tent with about 100 congregants on Sunday at Vainona High School in Harare, I wonder if the testimonies of the lame walking, the barren conceiving and chronic illnesses healed were all talk.
It is a natural reaction. We are used to church leaders heading large congregations and travelling with packs of bodyguards — unreachable to ordinary worshippers.
The tent gives an impression of a ministry just taking off, but the DVDs I have since watched speak of a well-organised ministry.
Pastor Anselm insists on knowing congregants by name and meeting them all.
He joins the praise and worship team: singing and dancing, and in some cases being choir master.
When he stretches out his hand to pray, smartly dressed men and women fall.
I watch several people being baptised, including children. They stand in a large plastic dish and he pours water on their heads praying “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.
Pastor Anselm describes himself as God’s General — a general hand and servant who, when he commands sickness to go in the name of Jesus Christ, the sickness obeys.
“It is important to know the person ministering to you. Know your pastor because these days, a lot of people are praying for people. Know me as your pastor so that when I pray for you, you know where the power is coming from. My spiritual Father is the Lord in heaven and not other men.”
He prefers going by “Anselm” as it was the name given him at baptism; he says it is a reflection of a writer and a teacher of nations.
After the service, two interviews and extensive perusal of material, all I can say is that he is a hidden treasure whose mighty works have been confirmed by countless people.
He has also counselled and mentored other church leaders.
Born on March 13, 1957 in Chivhu, his parents were school teachers who separated when he was still young.
He was raised by his father and stepmother in Chinhoyi.
Growing up in the Anglican Church, where he assisted at mass and was later a priest, Pastor Anselm says his call came in 1984 “but it was not until 1992 that I decided to heed the call”.
“I was in a trance when I saw an ordination of a priest. I was shown my ministry for praying for people and healing people.”
Already married to Grace and the father of three children at the time, he left his job and “a comfortable life” to heed God’s call.
“My wife was in agreement but not (my other) relatives. They thought I was crazy to leave a secure job for the priesthood. I was the breadwinner in an extended family. I wrote them and told them that God was calling me, I have to leave because I believe in the scripture where Jesus says, ‘anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’ (Matthew 10:37).
“I took the scriptures as they were and believed that God was talking to my heart and told myself that He will never let me down, so I left like Abraham. I had to sell the car in order to pay off debts. When I sold the car, I bought a bike.”
In 1993, he enrolled at United Theological College and was ordained a deacon in 1995 by Bishop Elijah Masuko in Mutare.
Pastor Anselm said it was an extraordinary ordination: accompanied by the Lord’s visitation and tongues of fire resting on him.
Evangelist Mabhande (78) witnessed the ordination and confirms the events of that day (which were captured in a picture during an interview with Mr Dave Shawa in 2012).
Evangelist Mabhande says: “I saw the power of God descending on Reverend Mvenge in 1995. He was baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire. God was saying this is my servant, listen to him. Bishop Masuko also confirmed and it and said it was an indication that this was someone sent by God to do mighty works.”
Pastor Anselm said every time he prayed the ill were healed or testified the Lord’s goodness. When he used holy water, he noticed that it had a transformative effect.
“I would pray for people and they would get healed though I was not very anxious to lay my hands on people. I would pray for people and would see them falling. I didn’t understand it, and did not want to rush into it,” he says.
He held senior positions in the Anglican Church in Manicaland and Midlands provinces.
Despite this, he faced rejection by some in the church and had to choose either being an Anglican priest or leave.
He chose the latter and started CHM with his wife in Gweru in 2007, using rented premises.
“People would come with their problems and we would pray for them but I would always tell them to go back to their churches; like our master Jesus Christ, He moved up and down, but people begin to follow you, they want to possess you.”
What is CHM’s doctrine and how has Pastor Anselm transitioned from Anglicanism?
“What I was taught at Sunday school is my basic doctrine. For me the Bible says one Lord, one faith, and one Spirit.
As Zimbabweans, we have one Constitution and if we were to talk about the doctrine of a country, we refer to the Constitution. For me it is the Bible. Everything that we do is tested against the Word of God.
“No matter how many denominations we have, we have one constitution, the Bible. So whatever I do, I test it against the Word of God, which means that even when I hear that God is talking to me, I go back to the Word of God. I don’t say that I’m hearing some voice, it’s just normal.
“Even when you see me performing miracles, it’s just normal. As far as I am concerned, the way God communicates with me is normal. It’s people failing to understand me, but as far as I am concerned, I am just as normal as you are.”
I ask Pastor Anselm what prompted him to relocate from Gweru to Harare some six months ago.
“Word moves around very fast. For example, I had a woman from Harare who was healed of a heart problem. She was healed and she could not explain to the husband why she was travelling to Gweru although he knew that his wife was dying of heart disease.
“The people in Harare were also praying that I relocate. There are so many of them. Like Mr Shava whose daughter was paralysed for four-and-a-half years and she was miraculously healed. Many times I refused but when I saw his persistence, I realised that he had seen something, so why deny them.
“I also want this ministry to begin to be illuminated from here as our mission statement says: illuminate souls, illuminate the nation, and illuminate the world. So if we are to illuminate souls, nations and the world, we have got to be strategically positioned. We are directed by God, and who am I to say no?”
Pastor Anselm, like many, has been to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria, where he says he was well-received by Prophet TB Joshua.
“God was already doing mighty works in my life. It was in fulfilment of a message I had from God. When you go to Scoan, deliverance is not enough. You also need counselling and caring under a living ministry but many people do not understand it. You also need your anointing to be tested. I did not just go, but God told me to go.”
Pastor Anselm says he has had several prophetic messages about Zimbabwe.
“What I can say to the nation of Zimbabwe is that God loves Zimbabwe as much as He loves any other nation.
Zimbabwe is not there by accident and I take it from the messages that I have been receiving: firstly, the prophecy for restoration for 2013. Even though very few people heard about the message, I knew at one time it would be like a mustard seed. It’s going to be heard. This restoration is from God.
“And then this year, it is about a fresh start and that corruption will be revealed. When we are talking about corruption it’s not a mockery on people. Everyone will be given a fresh start. It’s a way of correcting things so that people will not miss their salvation. This means everyone.
“If you have been doing things the wrong way, they will be exposed, and you will be given an opportunity for a fresh start.
“So far all that God has given me about the nation has come to pass, which means as Zimbabweans we cannot go and look for God elsewhere. God is here in us. This is why I always pray for our nation to be one.”
Forthcoming events in various churches will be a part of this instalment in future.
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