Zaoga leader clocks 100 years in style

ZIMBABWE Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga) church founder Ezekiel Guti yesterday celebrated his 100th birthday in style as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and leaders of other Christian denominations lauded him for being one of the country’s most celebrated pioneers of indigenous Pentecostal evangelism.

A hundred balloons were tossed in the air as thousands of congregants whistled and ululated to celebrate the founder of a church which now has  a footprint in five continents and 168 countries.

Dressed in an immaculate white suit, Guti followed the whole programme without dozing, occasionally standing up to dance to gospel music provided by the church choir.

United International Family Church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa and Tom Deutchle of Celebration Churches International were among other members of the clergy present at the ceremony held at Glamis Stadium in Harare yesterday.

The Zaoga leader was born on May 5, 1923, in Chipinge, Manicaland province and his birthday celebrations coincided with the church’s 63rd anniversary.

In his address, Mnangagwa paid tribute to Guti for his 75 years of preaching the gospel and 63 years of Zaoga’s existence.

“On this occasion, we have gathered here to witness history. I am honoured to be part of this occasion. We are also commemorating 75 years of preaching and 63 years of Zaoga church,” Mnangagwa said.

“Developments in the church are a clear testimony of grace upon Ezekiel Guti. We join the country in celebrating this historic moment. We are all witnessing this through the works of this great church and I wish to congratulate you on behalf of the country and my family on this centenary celebration of your birth.”

He described the event as a momentous occasion in the history of the nation and the Zaoga family.

“Archbishop Guti is a patriarch of faith in our nation. We join Zaoga in proclaiming praises and thanksgiving.  Let us all thank the Lord above for He is good.

“The slogan of the church Forward in Faith resonates with that of our forefathers who never looked back in the struggle for independence. Under the second republic, freedom of worship is guaranteed,” Mnangagwa said.

“We have a duty to lift many more of our people out of poverty into prosperity. Hard work, production and productivity are biblical. Zaoga was able to take up the space which was reserved for the church by starting a ministry.”

Mnangagwa said in 2021, he accorded Guti the Order of the Star of Zimbabwe Gold, the highest honour given to an outstanding Zimbabwean because of Zaoga’s role in the country’s nation-building.

The Zanu PF leader also pleaded with the church to pray for peaceful polls set for later his year.

 “Moreso ahead of our country’s harmonised general elections which will be held in August, the church, like other entities across our nation, must continue preaching the everlasting gospel of unity, peace, love and harmony.

“I call upon church leaders to intercede and pray for peaceful elections. We don’t want violence and bloodshed. I call upon the nation to remain guided by 1 Peter 3 verses 8 to 10 which says: ‘Let us seek to be of one mind, loving one another and refraining from evil and deceit, pursuing peace at all times’.”

Mnangagwa, who has been endorsed as Zanu PF presidential candidate, added: “No matter our endeavours across the socio-economic and political spectrum, let us use our God-given gifts for His glory and the prosperity of our nation. As a God-loving, Christian nation, may we never tire seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness trusting that all  other things shall be added unto us.”

His five-year reign has been rocked by recurrent protests as citizens endure economic-related challenges.

Speaking at yesterday’s event, Guti’s wife, Eunor, went down memory lane narrating how her husband became a Christian.

“In 1938, he was told that sinners will go to hell and to avoid hell he gave his life to God. He went into the mountains seeking God until such a time when God said to him ‘fear not, sin not’,” she said.

Zaoga executive chairman Joe Guti said the church was celebrating a unique man of God.

“We are celebrating a unique man of God. His life has impacted five continents of the world. He is the only Pentecostal centenarian,” he said. Newsday

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