House Churches

May 28, 2009
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Ephesians 3:20-21 – Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

A close friend of mine attended a house church in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s that catered mostly to white expatriates. He recounted how these grew to be more than places of worship — they were also a means of connecting socially and spiritually with others in the community. Then, Zimbabwe was doing well as a peaceful and prosperous nation.

The situation changed dramatically after the white commercial farm invasions of 2000 when the church in Zimbabwe came under attack and became another casualty of political repression. I visited Zimbabwe in 2007 at the height of the economic meltdown, hunger, and political violence. Gatherings of more than two people were banned, so Sunday church services were a risky undertaking. The government feared that these might be used as a medium for self-expression and passive resistance. My aunt and others suffered one such attack, thus effectively barring them from the house of the Lord.

My mother and several others in the church community established secret house churches. I worshipped in one of these and was amazed at the determination of Zimbabweans from all walks of life to confront the evil among them with prayer and forgiveness. They put their trust in the Lord and vigorously organized themselves into strong house churches. Women, men, and youth took turns worshipping in each other's homes, and went beyond offering mere hospitality.

These gatherings of resilient Christians quickly became places of hope, peace, community bonding, and information sharing as to the latest developments. In addition, house churches offered a safe and supportive environment for learning new survival techniques. They became a sanctuary and put a human face to the daily life struggles of the ordinary people. House churches were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to conquer fear and restore hope through the grace of God.

Internationally, there were several calls for special prayers for Zimbabwe. Prayer and fasting became effective weapons for fighting the government.

The recent signing of a unity agreement between rival parties in Zimbabwe has restored religious freedoms, but house churches still offer a viable and fulfilling alternative to traditional worship.

Matthew 18:20 – [Jesus said,] "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." (NRSV)

Prayer: Gracious Lord, fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we are rooted and grounded in Your love. Help us to live abundantly by allowing You to complete Your full work in our hearts. May the Church continue to bring You great glory. Amen.


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About the author:

Margaret Zondo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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