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    Friday, 9 August 2019

    The Defe Dopota Annual ZCC Memorial Conference

    Reverend Samuel Mutendi.

    It is that time again in Zimbabwe that all the roads are leading to Defe Dopota in Gokwe South for the annual ZCC memorial conference dedicated to the late Right Reverend Samuel Mutendi the founding leader of the Zion Christian Church in Zimbabwe. The Zion faithful have a major appointment with their creator this week at Defe Dopota more than four hundred kilometres north west of Harare.
    Reverend Samuel Mutendi is the unstoppable prophet whose religious crusade made him a household name in the country from the early 20th century as the Holy Spirit enabled him to win all battles against the colonial and traditional detractors who tried in vain to stifle and derail his pastoral mission of establishing the Zion Christian Church in this country.
    During his trial and tribulations Reverend Samuel Mutendi touched the lives of many people through the passionate expression of his spiritual gifts which made him a famous healer of all illnesses and infirmities, a rainmaker in times of droughts, a wise counselor and a powerful minister of the Christian religion. Fondly remembered as ‘Muranda WaMwari’ meaning the humble servant of God, Reverend Samuel’s Spiritual trail and reputation spilled over into our neighbouring countries like Zambia Mozambique and South Africa. Indeed history accounts have been written of some blessed couple from Europe (France specifically) who travelled to Zimbabwe to seek the spiritual touch of Rev Samuel Mutendi in order for the desperate couple to conceive and bear children. The blind were made to see and demons were exorcised while the barren had bouncing babies as Reverend Samuel interceded for them and one Miriam Rukuni rose from the dead after Rev Samuel prayed over her a few minutes before her burial, to the amazement of the mourners and the Bikita community.
    It is no wonder therefore that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims shall converge at Defe Dopota in Gokwe South this week from all districts and provinces of Zimbabwe, from the towns, cities and rural areas. Oh yes, many church members shall also come from the SADC region and abroad to Defe Dopota for this conference whose popularity is increasing each passing year. Scores of chartered buses, trucks and cars shall come from distant places like Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Harare, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Gweru, Kadoma, Chegutu, Kariba, Chinhoi, Mutare, Marondera, Kotwa, Bindura, Chiredzi, Chipinge, Checheche, Zvishavane Masvingo, Jerera, Zaka, Buhera, Gutu, Sote, Chivhu, Karoi to name but just a few of the widespread strongholds of the Zion Christian Church. The week long conference which kicked off on the 4th of August shall reach its climax on Sunday the 11th of August 2019 with the highly anticipated keynote sermon from His Grace Dr Nehemiah Mutendi, the humble, visionary leader of the church who commands fierce respect and loyalty from the sea of pilgrims and innumerable followers, expected at Defe. An electric atmosphere shall engulf the otherwise remote and secluded headquarters of the Zion Christian Church which is located on the fringes of Chirisa Game Park some ninety kilometeres from Cheziya Growth Point along the Nemangwe road.
     Preparations for the long awaited Defe conference started in earnest at Chegutu on the 1st of June 2019 when thousands of the Zion faithful besieged the small town and paid homage to the historic 1913 Spiritual Episode where Reverend Samuel Mutendi received his Spiritual bath and for the first time began to speak in tongues. It was at Chegutu in 1913 where Samuel Mutendi worked as a policeman under the British South African Company when the Lord spoke to him through very revealing dreams and visions before He spiritually anointed him and commissioned him to spread the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the world, baptizing and turning all believers to Christ. The Chegutu conference was like a spiritual filling station where church members refilled their tanks and marked time for this year’s 43rd annual pilgrimage to the Defe Dopota conference. It was from Chegutu that the members popularized the song of the moment, “Zion Nditakure Ndiende Zvangu kuDefe” by the upcoming Kadoma Choir.
    Now that the hour has come it should be remembered by anyone reading this story that all the roads in Zimbabwe are literally leading to Defe this weekend where the members of the ZCC shall come to celebrate the awesome love of God who gave us a true prophet whose ministry brought salvation to thousands of households. It was at Defe Dopota where Reverend Samuel rested on the 20th of July 1976 after 63 years of ministry and three days after his death the Heavens published his passing on in a miraculous sky-show when his very portrait in his familiar church regalia was displayed on a bright star which traversed the night sky of 23 July 1976. This happened as he had prophesied his imminent departure on the 11th of July 1976 at the ZCC Sote Mission in Gutu. On that day he read the Scripture from 2 Timothy 4 vs 6-8 : For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.’  He then told the hushed congregants that three days after he had gone the Lord shall show them a sign. As the Lord would have it, on the fateful night of the 23rd of July the gliding star commonly referred today as Nyeredzi yaSamere was seen moving slowly in the cloudless sky, by thousands of church members and non members, both rural people and professionals in Zimbabwe and the region, including pilots flying their planes and meteorologists on their night vigil. In Mberegwa, one old lady Mrs Mukava, who incidentally is going to Defe this weekend together with her family, remembers vividly the amazing Star of Samuel which hovered above their home in the night sky of that fateful 23rd of July 1976, depicting the familiar portrait of the departed Man of God with his church badge, his Holy staff and the elder’s cap on his head. Mrs Mukava’s daughter Miriam who spotted the star first was overwhelmed by the sight and broke into uncontrollable speeches in tongues. As if it was by design when the star finally arrived at Defe Dopota where it eventually disappeared in a misty and dazzling radiance which engulfed the whole mission station, everyone present both young and old spoke in tongues. His Grace Dr Nehemiah Mutendi would explain that such was the expression of the power of interaction when divinity met humanity and had a blessed fellowship like what happened in 1913 at Chegutu. The media called this sighting an unidentified flying object but a lot of people can testify to this very day that the portrait of Rev. Samuel Mutendi was clearly unmistakable.
    The  Zion Christian Church has literally canonized the annual memorial ceremony as a permanent feature on the church’s religious calendar for several reasons but especially in order for the members to celebrate the life of their beloved spiritual leader who preached the gospel of salvation to them without fear and left a refreshing legacy that is being executed by his successor Dr Nehemiah Mutendi. While 20 July is the actual date of his passing on the church has moved the ceremony to the weekend before the Heroes’ holidays in order to accommodate workers and students who would not be able to attend the actual 20 July appointment. The traveling public who wish to use the Kwekwe Gokwe road from Thursday the 8th to the 11th of August need to be advised of heavy traffic on this road. The Zion train shall crowd the highways and byways to Defe Dopota. Visitors to Defe will enjoy a lifetime experience at Defe with music from various choral groups and different teams of the ever green Defe Dopota brass band entertaining the pilgrims. Holy communion shall be served to church members and the memorial procession of the saints shall be one of the crowning events of the ceremony. This spiritual ceremony will be a must see for religious tourists and all people who wish to witness the Zion Faithful in their element as they praise and worship the Lord in their own way. The friendly church stewards shall welcome all visitors to the conference and guide them to the various attractions of the conference. Church members and all motorists are advised to maintain the familiar speed of peace and drive to arrive alive and worship our God of Zion. 
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