The Zimbabwe Area communicators extended warm hospitality to me and I felt like an honorary member. I edited a few stories, they downloaded many of my photos, I gave away all my extra flash drives and in return they shared many photos and even asked my opinion on a number of communication topics. I felt blessed to be among this group of bright and mostly young professionals and volunteers. Many of the communicators were representing their district on a volunteer basis. Hmmm ... I think it's a concept that might work in the Great Plains ...
The picture at right is the press room the communicators used during the convention. The concourse was such a long way around to get to the room that most of us climbed through a window just left of the pillar onto a chair and to the ground.
Following a long-held tradition, the Zimbabwe Area United Methodist Women's group led what they call a "Morning Service,' at about 5:30 a.m.
In the Zimbabwe Area, the women's group is automatically led by the Bishop's wife as president. Each circuit or charge (local church) women's group is led by the pastor's wife and in a district the superintendent's wife is the chair. Where there are women in those positions, they are free to appoint another pastor's wife to fulfill the role.
Each church in Zimbabwe holds a Morning Service early (often 5 a.m.) where women come together to pray, share joys and concerns and offer testimonies of the Holy Spirit working in their lives. They then go home and prepare the family for Sunday morning worship. The Morning Service is a time set aside intentionally to be with God.
During today's Morning Service Mrs. P. Mukata, chair of the women's group in Austrailia (a mission post), offered encouragement as the Ebenezer Convention attempted to wind down. Lively music from United Methodist Women helped kept the crowd engaged. Her message was one of exhortation to take all that has been preached over the past two days and apply it to daily living.
All in attendance should care for own Christian behavior as well as renewing their commitments to tithing, fellowship, bible study and other United Methodist practices of worship and communion.
Mukata expects renewal and vitality from those who have given their time this weekend to worship, learn and pray.
She asked that we leave our transgressions behind and that all contribute to their congregation, their family and to the community in order to stand up and make a difference.
What you can take from here ... is the way the Rev. Maidstone Mulenga started his message at the closing worship of the Ebenezer Convention on Sunday morning.
The worship began close to the 6 a.m. schedule with Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa offering thanks in the planning of the Ebenezer Convention as well as offering appreciation to each of the participants.
What started as a collaboration between the bishop and district superintendents to do something really big and unique in the Zimbabwe Area to bring United Methodists together for renewal, turned into a model of leaders helping to bring out leadership qualities in others. Nhiwatiwa was clear that most of the credit for the success of the convention was due in large part to the work of other people recognizing that his job is to be the visionary leader for the Area.
The bishop noted that he was in charge, as he opened and closed the event, however, he gave much credit to others who had primary responsibilities for the schedule, the preachers, the teachers and all the details that go into such an event.
Nhiwatiwa and Bishop Scott Jones gave blessings and encouragement to the estimated 18-20,000 faithful worshipers energized by the Holy Spirit from three days preaching, music, fellowship and renewal.
The Rev. Maidstone Mulenga announced that all are standing on the rock (Ebenezer stone) and blessed by the rock. "What will you do now," he asked.
You have been changed he said and you will go back home a different person.
He reminded all of what Jesus did by coming into the world in human form for the exclusive purpose of dying for our sin.
Jesus carried himself with humility and God blessed his ministry. If we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, God will bless what you do and touch, if we live faithful, humble Christian lives.
Nhiwatina's final message focused on ridding ourselves of political strife while the country's infrastructure and people suffer. Using stories from his own experience and the current climate in Zimbabwe, Nhiwatiwa made a strong case for the need of living the fruits of the spirit as Jones had outlined in his message on Friday -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
His final benediction reflected God's desire for us to take Christ's character of humility into our lives.
Earlier in the morning Jones presented Bishop Nhiwatiwa and his wife Greta with a gift from the Great Plains Conference with a small crafted gift emblematic of wheat and corn communicating the U.S. Midwest as a breadbasket. Jones committed to the ongoing Chabadza legacy partnership from the former Kansas West Conference into the new conference.