“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). It is amazing to see how God sovereignly works by His mighty Hand to bring glory to His Name. Many ministry opportunities for our most recent Zimbabwe mission were cancelled at the last minute. This was rather unsettling as we tried to be diligent in our preparation. Little did our team know that some of the best ministry yet to be done in Zimbabwe would take place.
Police and Protection
The Zimbabwe border always presents a challenge when trying to enter the country. The corruption, confusion, and busyness of the crossing make the task frustrating and intimidating. In many cases, the trouble continues even beyond the border. Multiple police stops between major cities are to be expected, and one never knows when an official will try his hand at bribery. By God’s grace, we were able to cross the border as well as pass over 50 police stops without any serious harassment!
Service for the Seasoned
A highlight of our Zimbabwe mission was to deliver Boxes with Love to pensioners who have lost their life savings due to the collapse of the economy. Many elderly people in Zimbabwe had reasonable wealth before the Zimbabwe dollar was abandoned. Some estimates claim that the Zimbabwe Dollar reached inflation rates of about 80 billion percent, but it is difficult to tell because the government stopped filing inflation records during the height of inflation in 2008. Those who had any wealth lost everything. Anyone on pension, or anyone with a retirement plan, became broke. One woman we spoke to invested in property and sold her investment so that she could retire. After the collapse of the economy all her money became worthless. Part of our ministry is to bring relief aid to these people in need. In each donated package, we distribute food, cream, literature, and other treats. The elderly are always so grateful, and it is a privilege to spend time with them and pray for them.
Preaching and teaching about the doctrines of grace has been a major focus of the Zimbabwe mission team for years. Until now, our labour has not ended. One pastor said that if we come to his church three more times the whole village will come to Repentance. He continued, “If they see you coming here, they will know that this church is serious”. This type of thinking is the result of a low view of God’s saving grace. What men neglect to realise is that every Salvation is a miraculous event; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). The sacrificial work of Jesus Christ was a gracious loving gift which cannot be added to. Not only is the Atoning work of Jesus Christ an act of God’s love, but the very ability to Repent and believe is a gift from God Himself (Acts 11:18).
This flimsy view of the Redemptive work of Christ has led to many dangerous practices. We encountered one such practice during a Discipleship Course we were running. At one point during the day’s preaching, I was asked to sit down while an individual performed “deliverance.” A man, who called himself a priest, stood up to preach a message about God’s wrath. He also shared a story of encountering the demon of the ocean who was the 3rdhighest demon from satan. He said that after he found out the demon’s “strategy”, he rebuked it, and it went back into the ocean. After “preaching”, he persuaded the choir to come and sing a repetitive song while he waited for “words of knowledge” to reveal those who had demons, so that he could perform deliverance. He selected only women to stand in front of him while others tied white cloths around those whom he selected. The priest laid his hand on an individual’s forehead and proceeded to pray for the demon to be cast out as he smacked the supposedly demon possessed individual on the forehead. One woman went over backwards and hit the ground with a thud. Another woman seemed to manifest by pulling away from the man. He followed her around hitting her on the head to try cast out the demon. Intermittently, he would walk over to the woman who was on the floor and hit her on the head or give her a light kick. As “thedeliverance” progressed, the aggression of the priest grew worse and worse. What I saw was nothing less than spiritual and physical abuse.
I presented a teaching on the true nature of spiritual warfare and about resisting the enemy by putting on the whole armour of God. At the end of the teaching, I said that their practice was contrary to God’s Word. The priest was degrading women as he kicked and slapped the woman who was rolling around on the floor. The men were challenged to protect their women from being abused. I said that what was happening was not building up the Body of Christ. When I gave them the opportunity to respond they kept referring back to deliverance passages but I responded by comparing it to what happened the night before. Eventually I asked the priest to respond, and he said that in the Book of James, the people were instructed to call for the elders and the elders would lay their hands on the sick. I responded by telling him that was not what I saw the previous night. Another missionary stood up afterward and spoke about Biblical authority and the need for men to look after their own wives and for wives to submit to their husbands and not a spiritual leader. After the whole service, the pastor shook my hand and told me that I had challenged them to critically evaluate what he sees. One of the pastors approached me and said that I have given them homework and now they need to test everything by the Bible. Another man came and thanked me for challenging them with the Word. The girls who had the deliverance performed on them came up to me with shining faces and bright smiles. They said Thank You very much for the teaching. I asked if it was helpful and they said it was powerful. The one girl said that she wanted us to stay for two weeks and teach them every day!
At a church service in a rural village, opportunity to give testimonies was given. One woman came forward and testified that she had understood that when a man is in Christ he has been given a new nature. Another woman came forward and said that she was encouraged by one of our presentations on the Holy Spirit. She said that she knows now that people do not have to abuse other people and hurt them and put on a show. She said that she thinks she will never be deceived by a false prophet again. A man got up and said that he was encouraged to know that God wants His people to work. He said that many people are poor because they invite poverty upon themselves. Many people are in poverty and it is their own fault. Men should help women and not be lazy. Another woman got up and testified that she now knows that abortion and human trafficking is dangerous and that people need to be warned and informed.
Many crusades and open-air meetings are done by churches in Zimbabwe. These meetings hold some value, but it seems as though one-on-one witnessing encounters are most effective. A prevalent sin we encountered is alcoholism. Some people, who suffer from this, desire prayer to overcome their addiction, but they do not want to Repent. I encountered one such man, and I told him that he needs to choose between his alcohol and Jesus Christ. I asked if he will die and go to hell with alcohol or Repent and follow Christ, leaving his alcohol. He said that he would Repent sometime in the future. I asked him what would happen to him if he “were to die tonight” and he said that he would go to hell and that was his destiny. He would stay in his sins rather than Repent. He knew that God is real, but he refused to serve God. I encountered a few other men with the same issue. When I showed them what the Bible says about drunkenness, they argued and refused to accept it. Eventually, I had to tell two men that they knew the truth and the only reason they were arguing was because they loved their sin. They laughed and agreed with me. It seems that even in a country which is ravaged with poverty, people can still find the resources to indulge in their sins. This is yet another reason why we teach people to have a high view of Salvation. Unless God saves sinners, granting them new natures, they will find any excuse to remain in their sins, even in the face of clear Biblical condemnation of that sin.
Pray for Zimbabwe
During our short time in Zimbabwe, our team went through over 50 police stops and conducted over 40 meetings. God was faithful in keeping us safe and guiding us. We have many reasons to be thankful to God. There are still pastors who are faithful to the Word and faithful to God’s call. While many people are falling into the sway of popular prosperity preaching, there are those who are open to correction when it is clearly presented in God’s Word.
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Since 2010 I have been working on meeting the requirements to earn the Frontline Fellowship Missionary Badge. The requirements include completion of eight different ministry courses, experience in literature ministry, field evangelism, film evangelism, Bible smuggling, Bible studies, sermons, cross-border missions, and of course meeting the Biblical requirements. In January of this year, I received my badge and was commissioned for Missionary service. I am grateful to God for His grace in my life, so that I can serve more effectively in His service.
For the past two years, I have been studying Theology through Global School of Theology Western Cape. As I think of my time at Global University, I have fond memories of being in class, discussing Theological concepts, debating historical data, and bonding with my classmates. I truly think that I had the best class in the school. The lecturers were, for the most part, very helpful, friendly, genuinely compassionate, and interested in the students. The lecturers always motivate and push the students to learn more, think harder, and go deeper in research, analysis, and application of course work.
Studying has truly helped me in my future ministry plans. I was challenged to do extensive research in some subjects which I would never have done before. I realised that this may be the only time I had to dedicate long periods of time to researching Biblical and Theological issues. I was particularly grateful for the Bible subjects and other courses such as Great Commission Strategies and Biblical Interpretation. I grew in knowledge, grew spiritually, and gained practical insights for discipleship.
Studying full-time was a dream come true for me. I saved up for many years in order to study, and now that time has come and gone. I have been impacted by the courses which I took, and learned new principles for ministry outside of college. I have developed my understanding of the Bible—the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God. This Word, through the enabling and empowering presence of the Spirit, will continue govern my decisions and ministry as I prayerfully seek to glorify God and be used in His Kingdom.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Great Commission Course
The Great Commission Course is a uniquely practical missions training course. During our course, we have missions minded participants from all around the world. They come to learn how to pursue their call to missions. This year’s course was particularly challenging for me as I organized 9 Sunday preaching arrangements 7 outreaches, and 6 cell group meetings. I presented 15 lectures, 4 devotions, and 7 Bible activities.
Missions at the Mall
Every year Africa Christian Action runs missions at the mall. We have the opportunity to speak out against human trafficking, the destruction of the pornography industry, and the abuse of women. Additionally, we are able to share the Gospel using the Survey on Your Spiritual Wellbeing. Many great opportunities for teaching and evangelism present themselves during these outreaches.
The sin of abortion plagues South Africa. In response to this we hold demonstrations and prayer vigils to make our voices heard and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Sharing our Faith with unbelievers is a great privilege which Christ has granted us. This year I have been able to share the Gospel with people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Atheists, Muslims, lukewarm Christians, and those who are simply confused; God has graciously given me the occasion to encounter these people who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many openings for preaching were available this year. In addition to the preaching I accomplished during my Zimbabwe mission, I preached at many different churches in and around Cape Town. Accurate proclamation of God’s Word is a great passion of mine. I hope to help others preach biblical messages through the contributions I am making to the Biblical Preaching Handbook—a project the missionaries of Frontline Fellowship are working on.
For everyone who has been lifting me up in prayer, supporting me financially, and been a close friend in my time of need, I would like to Thank You from the bottom of my heart. Your love and support mean the world to me. It is my hope and prayer that you will all be blessed in abundance
“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
John Clifford Frontline Fellowship Tel: 021 689 4480; Email: