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» » Barriers broken, history made

Using Sign Language, Pastor Zenda is joined by NID's Rev Jan Oberholzer to sing 'I love you Jesus with all my heart' while RCZ leaders marvel

…as RCZ ordains first ever deaf pastor

Moses Ziyambi

– History was recorded last Saturday, September 23, 2017 when the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ) ordained the country's first ever deaf pastor, a development that was welcomed as good for inclusivity in the church.
The consecration of Reverend Mercy Zenda nee Chipoka was held at RCZ's Morgenster Mission, itself a cradle of the church's long history of work with people living with disabilities, being home to the Henry Murray School for the Deaf.
Leadership of the church as well as members of the deaf community were in attendance to bear witness to a double blow against barriers of gender and disability.
Speaking at the event, RCZ moderator Rev Rangarirai Rutoro said he was pleased by the achievement towards inclusive evangelism.
"The Reformed Church in Zimbabwe is celebrating another historic occasion following the establishment of the mission in 1891. We are premised on four pillars; evangelism, health, education, the environment or agriculture if you want. It is a circuit, and what we are witnessing is a completion of that circuit," said Rev Rutoro.
He praised the contributions of various stakeholders, adding that the church should put its institutions that deal with matters of disability on the budgets so that their work can be easier.
"We are grateful to the National Institute of the Deaf, our sister church the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and our own Henry Murray School for the Deaf which we want to put on our budgets and not on the budget of donors. We know donors are there for us but we must also do something. Working on matters of disability is no easy task but most of us do not see it and we are quick to criticise," said Rev Rutoro.
In 2013, Rev Zenda started her theology studies with the National Institute of the Deaf (NDI) in Cape Town, South Africa, since the Henry Murray School of Theology did not have the capacity to meet her special needs.
On her own part, Rev Zenda said the road she travelled was not easy and that it was by the grace of the Lord that she made it.
"At times it would be very hard and it is only by the grace of God that I am here. I thank everybody who supported me to the end," said Rev Zenda, who is now the chaplain of Henry Murray School for the Deaf but will also be available to serve other deaf worshippers in whatever Christian church in the country.
Lovemore Chidemo, a member of the deaf community who is producer of Action Power, a Zimbabwe TV (Ztv) programme which is co-presented by Agnes Chindimba and Lincoln Matongo, said he was pleased that one of their own was now priest.
"Deaf people need salvation too and it is pleasing that our church has decided to be inclusive. Many churches are not inclusive and deaf souls are getting lost because there is no Sign Language proficiency in the churches. When we receive the word of God through translation, it is not enough because some of the information is lost in translation," said Chidemo.religion

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