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Go Ye, not Come Ye: ‘Church Must Preach Jesus to Politicians to be Saved'

Harare - As the debate of evangelism and Christianity rages on - renowned Evangelist Paul Saungweme has challenged gospel preachers to reac...

Harare - As the debate of evangelism and Christianity rages on - renowned Evangelist Paul Saungweme has challenged gospel preachers to reach out to everyone, saying, "If we do not reach out to politicians, how will they be saved? You have to go where the fish is."

Below is his wide-ranging interview he had with a local publication.

Q: Maybe you can start with a summary of your 2016 crusade calendar . . .

A: Every year, we take the gospel to a number of areas in the country, and this year we have been to Guruve (March), Chivi (May), Tsholotsho (July), and Kotwa (September).Despite the challenges, the reception was good, and I always saw the hand of God in the face of challenges.

According to our statistics, about 26 000 people attended the crusades, and more than 6 000 received Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. In all these areas, we worked with 51 different churches, and 64 pastors. But, we still have one more crusade before year-end, and we want it to be the mother of all crusades.

Q: Where is that, and when?
Evangelist Paul Sungweme 

A: Later this month we will bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the famous Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare’s Highfields suburb. After going to all the growth points and other centres, I decided that as we close, we come to Zimbabwe Grounds.

Q: Why Zimbabwe Grounds? Some people might associate it with a politically-charged environment, and more so when some pastors are dabbling in politics . . . It’s a fair assessment, but Zimbabwe Grounds is a national space. We have to realise that it is a person who engages in politics, and that individual also needs Jesus. If we do not reach out to politicians, how will they be saved? You have to go where the fish is.

A:This is the part of evangelism that we are failing to address, because the evangelism that Jesus taught is, “go ye,” not “come ye!” But we are not going. So, we thought that we should go there.

Q: My reading of what you say is that you are telling people that notwithstanding our differences, there is one being who brings us together, and that is Jesus . . .

A: Absolutely! As you know that I have been in many places, however, I have been thinking that we have to lift Jesus in Harare in a special way because to me, it seems as though we have lifted up a lot of other things, but the best person to lift up this time is Jesus Christ.

Q: Why so?

A: Because Jesus is the answer to our challenges. He is the man of the time – has always been, and will always be!

Q: Evangelist, you say that we have lifted up so many things in Harare. But when I look around, I see so many churches, new ministries being birthed, some meeting in very odd places. So, is the crusade complementing what others are doing?

A: My sister, I am not at all happy with the state of the church today because I see as if people are moving from one ministry to another, looking for Jesus, but the church is not giving them that Jesus.
They are busy giving them all sorts of things, and not Jesus Christ. We are not giving them the relevant message, and that relevant message is: when John the Baptist came, he said, repent for the kingdom of God is here. Even Jesus’ prime message was repentance.

So, the church must address the issue of the heart first, before addressing all these other issues.
We are giving prophecies and also giving different messages of the gospel, but this message is not bringing salvation to people. It is not changing their hearts. If we prophesy and preach prosperity when there is no renewal of the mind it’s just as good as doing nothing.

Q: So, how does one get renewal of the mind?

A: When a person, after hearing the Word, receives Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Mind you, even the people who do not believe in Christ, many of them are very prosperous. So, the difference in the prosperity between a believer and them must be seen.

Our society should have a Jesus who is practical. For example, if there is a change of heart it must impact everything about you: your job, school work, family life, etc. It’s now an open secret that these days, pastors have girlfriends; engage in shady deals, meanwhile the same pastor minister to hundreds of people.

I won’t mince my words – the church is not doing enough, that is, performing our first mandate of being a church.

Q: What’s the way forward?

A: We must present the gospel of Jesus Christ. Number one, repentance: the issue of the heart is the prime work of the church. We cannot go about blaming the Government, when the church actually needs salvation. Hatisati tapona isu. The gospel we used to hear from people like Baba (Ezekiel) Guti that a person must be saved, is not there anymore.

Q: Why is that so?

A: It’s because we succumbed to the temptations of this world like riches, prestige, positions of authority, etc. A couple of months ago I went to minister in Australia, and I was asked: “Zimbabwe has got a church at every corner, and some of the leaders drive high powered cars; have bodyguards; they talk of millions of dollars; own lots of property, but the majority of believers in their churches have nothing, including food. What do you say about that? What kind of gospel is that?”

Q: And, how did you respond?

A: I could not give a straight answer and just told them that you take it by faith. But that is the big question, and is this the gospel? Is this what it should be like, that I should be the only rich person in the church?

Q: What are promising those that will attend the crusade?

A: We want to bring joy, lots of joy to the people of this city. People should come so that we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It might look like it is not relevant to contemporary issues, but Jesus is relevant. Jesus brings joy, because joy emanates from the inner person – the spirit.

If your heart is touched, you start caring about other people. So, let the message of Christ resonate from the pulpit. If I talk prosperity to you, you will be filled with just that. If I prophesy to you, you will be filled with that as well. Because of that people are not seeking the Lord on their own, but someone is doing it on their behalf.

The other time I was preaching, I gave an illustration that if my wife has to learn things about me from my brothers, then there is something wrong with our relationship. She has to hear it from me, and not depend on others. The same with the Lord. He has to speak to me. He needs that intimate relationship with me!

Q: Jesus in Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all else will be added.” How was the principle turned upside down?

A: Simple! Some decided that they want His things, but they do not love Him. However, let us preach Jesus and repentance. Let us preach about loving God first, instead of loving His things first.
I’m not saying we should not preach about prosperity, because I love that message. When I was saved, I was very poor, but there should be a balance.

Q: Divisions in the church are perennial issues . . .

A: The divisions are such that they make you ask yourself that when it comes to Government, you know what it is, but not with the church today, because you don’t know what it is now.

People now ask: is it a church, a business entity that doesn’t pay tax, and/or are they magicians? The public now doesn’t know. How do they distinguish? We now want to know by the fruit. In other countries they preach Jesus, but people will know by the fruit. That’s why Baba Guti says, “Hende, makore achataura!”

And, I’m still wondering what happened to evangelists. Is it that they also want to do things that bring fame? Evangelism has no timeframe, because people are dying without the knowledge of the Lord.

Q: Your final words . . .

A: As we welcome everyone to the Zimbabwe Grounds crusade, let me also point out that the church is not doing enough to birth more evangelists. If you are a father in the church, I believe that you must release, instead of building your personal church.

My desire is to acquire land where I will build a school of evangelism, to train future evangelists. I am also inviting my contemporaries who have been gifted differently that when we take our crusades to outlying areas, they accompany us so that they use their gifts on those people.

I know some people will challenge me. I’m not perfect, but my plea is, let us come together in unity of purpose and lift the name of the Lord Jesus. This nation needs saved people. The problems affecting our nation is a reflection of the church – how we have failed.

I also thank the Lord that I don’t seek miracles when I go out there, but they follow me. Each time I have a crusade, even when I am tired, I pray and I see people miraculously healed, because this is what Jesus said. People hunger and thirst for the Lord, and we have a responsibility to fulfil the Lord’s Great Commission.

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