BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Asleek white Toyota Landcruiser V8 winded its way into the premises drawing the attention of all who had come to worship on this Sunday morning. Clad in a neat expensive grey suit, a gentleman disembarked, followed by his wife before making their way into the church.
Do you still remember Mathias and Mildred?
Back in the days, the duo was cast as the power couple of the Christian world in Zimbabwe.
To put it in perspective, Mathias and Mildred are easily the Jim Jones of the Zimbabwean Pentecostal revolution.
Their church, named after their first names, Mathias and Mildred Ministries (M&M), proved to be a well-oiled machine in its Christian faith endeavours, well-manicured and publicised. It took the leading role in the modern ways of worshipping in the country.
Tales of massive healings and deliverances were witnessed and testimonies of great miracles were told, massive crusades and musical feats were a daily occurrence at their Zimre Park-based church, but just as they appeared they seemed to have disappeared.
Accusations of “not so Godly” practices were passed with the loudmouthed perhaps now passing comments that the Christian denomination has been relegated to the league of the forgotten.
This is the story of one of the country’s Pentecostalism pioneers and leaders of the famous Mathias and Mildred Ministries who despite having been leading a quiet life are still commanding a following especially in Zimre Park where it all started.
Standard Style last Sunday visited the church along Orange Grove Road in Ruwa where it was clear that the ministry is still in existence.
Inside the premises were two buses neatly parked. The coaches are used to ferry congregants from in and around Ruwa.
But it was the set-up inside the main church building that tells a story of success and experience. Apart from the neat purple décor inside the church, one cannot afford to ignore the state-of-the art music equipment used by the choir. The worship house is well ventilated such that one can only feel the intense summer heat often associated with the month of October when leaving the building.
“M&M Ministries is alive. We are here in Ruwa and we are still vibrant,” said Mathias after the church service.
Mildred leads the choir, while Mathias doubles as both the MC and preacher.
“We do not waste much time with the issue of MCs. My wife introduced me and I led the service. The people need to hear the gospel and this is how we do it here, more time is committed to the good news of Jesus Christ. My wife leads the choir as well, we have a big choir, but today we had a few guys due to the Covid-19 issue,” said Mathias.
On the day, Mathias preached on arrogance. He is not a “noisy” preacher, he is more of a teacher.
Mildred is a talented singer as she executed her duty as the praise and worship team leader with finesse and etiquette.
Like other ministries, there was a moment for testimonies with congregants taking turns to thank God for success, good health and accident survivals, among other things.
However, unlike other Pentecostal denominations, Mathias did not conduct the deliverance session that seems to be popular with local Christians. Rather, he only prayed for the sick one by one.
The church service only lasted for four hours.
The ministry was born in 2000 and attracted thousands of worshippers as most of them got attracted to a new wave of Christianity that was characterised by deliverances and the gospel of prosperity.
“We no longer have branches except our headquarters here in Ruwa. We are now more into outreach programmes where we go out and distribute biblical material. When the Covid-19 era is over, we will then resume our crusades as before,” said Mathias.
The couple is now based in the gold-rich area of Makaha in Mudzi, Mashonaland East province, where they are leading a successful gold-mining venture. They have since received numerous awards for being the biggest producers of the precious mineral in the province as measured by their remittances to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
“We drove from Makaha this morning so that we would lead the church service here,” chipped in Mildred.
During his moment on the pulpit, Mathias hinted that despite a barrage of attacks from outsiders spreading rumours of the couple practicing witchcraft, they remain unshaken as they are true believers of Christ.
Despite having been in Pentecostalism for more than 20 years, the couple is still being referred to as pastors.
“The gospel of Christ is not about those heavy titles. We are Pastors or preachers. Some could have been bishops or apostles by now, but we chose to remain as pastors. Our mission won’t change, to preach the Word to believers and winning souls,” said Mathias.
The couple that was inspired to start a ministry by renowned international preacher Ernest Angels, also know each congregant by name from the young to the old, a sign of how some congregants have been loyal to the ministry.
“We pray that this pandemic [Covid-19] comes to an end so that everybody comes to church. Currently, we are sticking to the stipulated numbers as per the regulations. Otherwise if you had come on a normal day, you would have met hundreds of people here,” said Mathias.
Believe it or not, M&M Ministries is alive and roaring. The lavishly growing lawn at the premises indeed a sign of life while the churning music from that outstanding building is evident enough to send a message of a Pentecostal unit that has stood the test of time.