The Sunday Mail
Fatima Bulla and Belinda Mutayiwa
Influencers and crowd pullers on the religious scene have in recent years been dominated by male figures.
Whether it’s those with a history of filling up large swathes of open spaces or stadia with followers or the ones that have fallen by the wayside, the script remains the same. Male figures dominate the arena.
Interestingly, the gatherings also have similar traits. Teachings and miracles are a common denominator. In addition, the gatherings are a rendezvous of all sorts of traders.
Money is exchanged in the form of offerings and the buying of church paraphernalia by congregants.
As numerous as the similarities are; differences exist in how the men of cloth conduct their services. But one commonality is that most of the churches are male-led.
However, the status quo is gradually changing as formidable female crusaders like Prophetess Memory Matimbire of interdenominational women’s prayer group, Daughters of Virtue are writing their own piece of history in Zimbabwe. And to prove her worth, Prophetess Matimbire has in a short period of time turned Glen Norah B into a hive of activity every Wednesday drawing huge crowds.
Though the prayer group started with a focus on women, it has began to draw men as well, with the prophetess’ announcement through an audio that 11 nations would attend a Mega All Night Prayer held last week throwing a hint on her growing influence beyond the country’s borders.
The audio also provided a glimpse into how she began her spiritual journey in Bindura as she became a woman of reckon on a platform dominated by men.
“I met God when I was in Bindura. I did not calculate the distance, I just paid the bus fare. I did not calculate the dollars, but I said as I am going there, I want to go and meet God.
“God visited me. Baba Guti (Ezekiel) came down while in (the vision of) the sun and spoke to me and told me that I was given grace for prayer, ‘go and teach the nation to pray, go and do all night prayers’. These are the all night prayers that I am doing according to how God has instructed me,” she said.
In exhorting women to pray, she revealed how she desperately sought God while still at Celebration Church.
“For 20 continuous years I sought God. Those who prayed with me at Celebration (Church) knew that Mrs Matimbire did not miss all night prayers. They know that Mrs Matimbire used to live in the mountains, I never wasted prayer time. Some came for an all night and left around 12 midnight but I pushed until 6am and this is where God has placed me,” Prophetess Matimbire said.
In another audio address she revealed how she lost her father when she was in Grade 4.
“I remember when my father passed away. I was in Grade 4. He was a soldier with no house in the urban areas. As a soldier, one of the army trucks came and picked up his body. As people who did not have a house in the urban areas, we were advised to carry all our belongings because there was no other vehicle to collect our belongings.
“The body and our belongings were side by side,” she said narrating how she was raised in a poverty stricken background.
“My parents did not have cattle. We would be given milk in a small mug, if they (owners of cattle) chose to give us,” added Prophetess Matimbire as she encouraged people to pray for their breakthrough.
People have moved to this group in search of answers to their many problems that they have had for years.
“She teaches people to work and pray for themselves to achieve or get what they want,” one congregant spoke anonymously.
Other congregants interviewed said they felt fatigued by traditional church institutions where change in the manner they pray is generally frowned upon.
“It’s different way of praying. Here, I get to spend as much time as I want praying and I get to a point where I am deeply in prayer,” a Catholic member confessed.
Another quipped: “People are tired of false, material and money prophets who request us to bring money so that ‘I can pray for you or buy these oils to receive healing’ when the prophets are doing nothing”.
Very few women find themselves commanding respect of such large huge following especially in traditional church institutions due to doctrinal teachings, which prevent women from taking leadership roles in church.
Worldwide, the narrative is, however, changing with female Christian leaders such as Katherine Kuhlman, Paula White, Joyce Meyer and Priscilla Shirer among the internationally recognised female preachers.