CONDOLENCE messages from across the world yesterday poured in following the death of Zimbabwe’s most famous clergyman, Archbishop Ezekiel Handinawangu Guti with many describing him as a typical modern day Christian giant who dedicated his life to preaching the word of God.
He was 100.
Tributes from celebrities, politicians and other clergymen have been pouring in from the SADC region where he has a huge following.
Guti was a distinguished academic-cum-religious leader in Zimbabwe and founder of one of Africa’s biggest pentecostal movements, Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga) Forward in Faith Ministries International, which has many branches at home and abroad.
He was also the chancellor and founder of the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University.
The evangelist was born on May 5 in 1923 in Ngaone in the small town of Chipinge in the Manicaland.
Christian leaders are sending their heartfelt praise and condolences to the people of Zimbabwe and the Guti family.
Guti founded bible schools in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Zambia, and Mozambique where he trained over 4 000 pastors from more than 55 nations.
“A Wise Man”, “Lessons from Life and Ministry”, “Prayer of a Righteous Man”, and “Maturity Which Came by Knowing the Ways of God” are just a few of the Christian-focused books he also wrote.
In separate interviews, Christians who spoke to The Herald said Zimbabwe particularly the Christian community is poorer without Archbishop Guti.
Guti was a gifted evangelist who spent 75 years serving in the field of religious ministry and theology.
In their condolence message, the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe, a grouping of indigenous churches comprising apostolic and Zion churches said Archbishop Guti deserves to be accorded hero status.
“In Zimbabwe, which location is without the church building of ZAOGA, some selfish Leaders build their own houses instead of something which benefit more people.
“Through his vision, he built schools, universities and Hospitals to mention just a few, Apostle Ezekiel Guti was a pillar to the church and the nation at large many have benefited from his leadership.
“To the Nation at large Christian faith, ZAOGA Forward in Faith, Mhamha Guti and family may you all please accept our heartfelt condolences and may we all be comforted by the Holy Spirit.
Posting on his official Facebook page, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries founder and leader Prophet Walter Magaya said Archbishop Guti fought a good fight.
“He followed Christ and carried his light to the world.
“He obeyed the call of God and changed the lives of many.
“We celebrate a century well lived. We celebrate the life of Baba Guti.”
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana took his official Twitter handle to convey his condolences: “He Rests in Glory. Condolences to Family. The Church all those whose lives he touched, changed or ministered to. MHSRIP,” he tweeted.
ZANU PF Politburo member Cde Tendai Chirau said through the Archbishop’s philanthropic works many benefited and mastered the art of being entrepreneurial.
“Apart from encouraging the congregants to keep the faith, the Apostle was a leader in his own right who established a number of church branches locally and internationally.”
“Most importantly, Forward in Faith is one of the few indigenous churches to have a University, Vocational Training Centres and Hospitals. All this was made possible through Apostle Guti’s visionary and pragmatic leadership. At the household level he also promoted what is called matarenda ( talents),” he said.
National Railways of Zimbabwe board chairperson Advocate Martin Dinha described as a true man of God who had a kind heart.
“He enriched many people’s spiritual and physical lives ,including mine and from humble beginnings established an African Christian Church that went far and afield to preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God the Almighty, Simple, humble,disciplined ,exuberant with so much positive energy and preaching and practicing Ubuntu are traits of a hero and crusader who will be missed and remembered by all, Go well Baba May Your Dear Departed Soul Rest In Eternal Peace,” Advocate Dinha said.
Renowned legal expert-cum politician Professor Lovemore Madhuku said: “I have the greatest of respect to our departed Archbishop Professor Ezekiel Guti,spiritual leader par excellence. Loved and respected by all. Let us all celebrate this rare and outstanding human being while his soul gets a much deserved rest in peace. Go well Baba Guti.”
A member of Zaoga, Mrs Tarisai Chipere of Kuwadzana said she was still in shock.
“Sometimes God leaves us with a lot more questions than answers, but what I know is that he fought a good fight of faith, he kept the faith until the end.
We celebrate his great impact on humanity and how God used him mightly for generations and during our times,” she said.
Another member of the Zaoga family, Ms Tanyaradwa Zhanje of Highfield described the deceased as someone who was loyal to God and remained faithful till his death.
“We continue to praise God for a life well lived, for teaching, may the Lord strengthen the ZAOGA family and Guti family at large during this difficult period,”
In a special announcement on Ezekiel TV channel on Wednesday, ZAOGA national executive chairman ApostleJoseph Guti said Prof Guti had “been promoted to great glory”.
“To the Zaoga Forward in Faith International executive, the national councils of various nations, leaders and the precious saints, I hereby announce to us the promotion to glory of our great iconic leader, Archbishop Professor Ezekiel Handinawangu Guti.
“It is with heavy hearts and deep sorrow that we announce the promotion to great glory of our dearly beloved spiritual father, visionary . . . ” said Apostle Guti.
Recently Prof Guti celebrated his 100th birthday in May, with President Mnangagwa and leaders of other Christian denominations praising him for being one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated pioneers of indigenous Pentecostal evangelism. His birthday celebrations coincided with the church’s 63rd anniversary.
Other church leaders who followed his teachings and leadership such as Kingdom Prosperity Ministries founder, Apostle Rodney Chipoyera, regarded him as a “General in the faith”.
During Prof Guti’s 100th birthday celebrations, 100 balloons were tossed in the air as congregants whistled, ululated and danced in honour.
United International Family Church leader, Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa and Pastor Tom Deuschle of Celebration Churches International, among others, attended the birthday celebrations.
In his address, President Mnangagwa praised Prof Guti for his 75 years of preaching the gospel.
Details about his burial arrangements yesterday were still sketchy and efforts to get further information from his close relatives were fruitless.
National Railways of Zimbabwe board chairperson Advocate Martin Dinha described Prof Guti as a true man of God who had a kind heart.
“He enriched many people’s spiritual and physical lives ,including mine and from humble beginnings established an African Christian Church that went far and afield to preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God the Almighty, Simple, humble, disciplined ,exuberant with so much positive energy and preaching and practicing Ubuntu are traits of a hero and crusader who will be missed and remembered by all, Go well Baba May Your Dear Departed Soul Rest In Eternal Peace,” Advocate Dinha said.