Obstacles Turned to Victory

October 01, 2013

This Zimbabwean minister was raised to worship ancestral spirits, but everything changed when he encountered the God of Heaven.

By Oniyas Gumbo

God has done wonderful miracles in my life. Even though my father passed away when I was thirteen years old, God made it possible for me to later attend a mission school that was about 320 kilometers (200 miles) from where my family lived.

At the age of twenty, while a student at that school, I became quite sick. The whole right side of my body became paralyzed. I could not feel anything nor move on my own. I was close to dying. The school principal thought that it was pointless for me to remain at the school, so he organized a team of people to accompany me to my home area.

The night before we were to leave, a student who had come across the Light of Hope magazine [printed in Portland, Oregon, and now called Higher Way] visited the dispensary where I was hospitalized. He gave me the magazine, and I read it completely. It contained testimonies of people who had experienced the power of God in their lives. They testified of being saved, sanctified, baptized by the power of the Holy Ghost, and healed of various sicknesses. That interested me and as I read on, I started praying within myself.

The next day, the teacher who was appointed to accompany me home came early in the morning with three students to get me from the dispensary. They carried me to the bus stop on the highway. We got there at eight o’clock, and the bus was supposed to come around ten o’clock that morning. As we were waiting there, I was lying down, praying silently. I asked God if He was there. If He was not, I wanted to die. I prayed that if He was real, He would enable me to escape Hell. I also prayed that if what I had read in the Light of Hope was true, God would heal me. I told Him that I would give the praise to Him and not to men, and serve Him for the rest of my life.

From Paralysis to Praise

While we waited at the bus stop, the Lord saved me and instantly healed me. I jumped up and down, praising the Name of the Lord and saying, “Jesus has healed me! I am healed, I am healed!” I was running around, praising God and clapping my hands. The people who had brought me to the bus stop and all those around could see it. My heart was bubbling with happiness, and I was joyfully testifying to everyone that Jesus is alive. Not only had He healed my body, but He had also saved my soul.

I told those with me that even though I was healed, I was not going back to school right then. I wanted to go to Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), to the church address given in the Light of Hope magazine, so I could see the people who were preaching the Word of God in this way. On the bus ride to Bulawayo, I continued to tell the people around me that the Lord had healed me.

When I arrived at the Apostolic Faith Mission, which was the headquarters for Southern Africa at that time, I told the leader, Reverend Morgan Sengwayo, that I was a student and had come to confirm there was such a place in Bulawayo as the Apostolic Faith. I told him what the Lord had done for me and how He had healed and forgiven me. Reverend Sengwayo rejoiced with me and invited me to stay at the mission for several days and attend services. During my first Sunday service the Lord sanctified me.

That Sunday evening I boarded the train and returned to my school. When I testified to the principal how the Lord had healed me, he was shocked. He was surprised to find me alive, joyful, and very strong. Yet, he said that he did not believe the Lord had healed me.

When I testified to the students, some of them wanted to have meetings to learn more. Many of them sought the Lord. Some of them did not attend classes, but went instead into the bush to pray. So many students were outside praying that the instructors could not teach their lessons.

The principal called me in and warned that I should not testify or have meetings with anyone. He said that I was confusing the students. I tried to point out that if anything, I was helping. For sixty years, although this was a religious school, nothing like this had happened at that school. I reminded him that people were making restitutions to him for the wrongs they had done. I myself was telling of the evil I had been doing at the school. Yet, he continued to instruct me to tell no one.

Eventually that principal was moved from the school. When the new principal heard about our services, he allowed us to have regular meetings, and to use the school bells to call people to come. We had a wonderful time as we went around the neighboring villages testifying. One time we went to the house of a woman who was dying with cancer and had been taken home from the hospital. We prayed for her, and the Lord healed her completely.

Turned from Ancestral Spirit Worship

When I finished my schooling and it was time to return home, I told my family that I was born again and a new creature in the Lord. I expressed clearly to them that I would no longer worship ancestral spirits, because now I was worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ. When they worshipped the spirits, I told them that they must not mention my name. Then I told them my decision to move to Bulawayo and look for a job, saying that the Lord would provide someone to look after me until I had one.

When I arrived in Bulawayo, I had no place to live, so I stayed at the railway station. When Reverend Sengwayo found out, he was very sad and invited me to come to the mission until I obtained a job. While living at the mission, the Lord baptized me with the Holy Ghost. God’s power and glory filled my soul.

The Lord helped me get a job at a bank. After some time there, great difficulties arose. One morning my supervisor said to me, “You are not fit to work in the bank,” and she told me I was supposed to give my resignation and should leave at the end of that month.

I did not tell anyone about what had transpired, but simply prayed about the matter. Before the end of that month, an inspector from the head office of the bank came to our branch. He inspected everything and reviewed everyone. At the end, he put his recommendation in a sealed envelope and gave it to the manager. In that letter, he said that I was the best person to take a position in Harare, where I would be a sub-accountant. Two days before I was supposed to leave that employment, my supervisor said to me, “You thought that I had fired you, but instead I am promoting you. You are going to be the first African to go to Harare as a sub-accountant.” In Harare, I was given a company car. However, I did not yet have a driver’s licence, so a chauffeur drove me.

A False Accusation

After some while, I was promoted to a management position. One time, the owner of a large company called to falsely claim that I had shouted at him. He insisted that I be fired or he was going to close his account. I was instructed to take all the branch keys and the car to the bank’s head office. There I was told that I was being fired for shouting at a client. When I told them that I had never talked to anyone in that way, we discussed the matter for a long time. Finally the bank officials said they would not fire me, but that I should report to a different department of the bank the next morning. As time passed, I was promoted to a management position in that department.

Later I went to work for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, and was the first African to oversee the accounting there. The Lord allowed me to hold several executive positions during my eighteen-year stay at ZBC, ending with the top job. After leaving ZBC, the Lord gave me a prosperous business.

Obstacles Turned Around

Over and over, there have been situations that looked to be big obstacles, yet the Lord turned them around for better things. It has always benefited me to trust the Lord. God gave me a wonderful wife and we serve Him together. We had the privilege of bringing up our five children to know God, and now we are grandparents of two lovely granddaughters.

Over time, I have had the opportunity to tell my family members about Jesus. Some of my nieces, nephews, and cousins were the first to be saved. I kept praying, and in time, my prayers were answered when my mother was saved in 1999, at the age of 100. She was the first from my immediate family to get saved, then my two sisters and two brothers prayed and received their salvation. My mother moved from our rural home to live with my family until she was called home to Heaven at the age of 113.

About forty-five of my close relatives, including immediate family members, have answered the call to the Gospel.

My eldest brother, who is the firstborn, is now living in Harare. He and his son burned their ancestral materials after my brother was saved. He is enjoying the Gospel and regrets the time he spent refusing salvation. About forty-five of my close relatives, including immediate family members, have answered the call to the Gospel as a result of my learning about Christ and giving my life to Him.

In recent years, it has been my privilege to see God working among His people in Southern Africa. Whether in Botswana, Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, or many other countries, the Gospel is the same. When a heart is open to the truth, God comes in and makes a change. The results show in that person’s life. It is wonderful!

There is nothing apart from Jesus Christ that I want to spend my time on. I just want to be used by Him in whatever way He sees best.

About the author

Oniyas Gumbo is the Apostolic Faith Church District Superintendent of Southern Africa.