Samuel Kadungure Senior Reporter
IN a bid to circumvent the idiom that says the church is a generation away from extinction due to its neglect of today’s youth who will be tomorrow’s leaders, the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in Zimbabwe successfully hosted a conference where it ministered effectively to young people from 38 countries.
The Young People Union (YPU) International Conference disapproved the prevailing notion today that teenagers are not interested in church or the things of God as they only think about movie stars, the latest musical sensation or their wardrobe.
Thousands of young congregants from across the globe attended the conference.
The conference — attended by the AFM International president, Dr Frank Chikane, his deputy and AFM in Zimbabwe president, Dr Aspher Madziyire, AFM International Youth president, Reverend Sizwe Mlotshwa and foreign preachers and artistes – was held last week at the church’s traditional Chatsworth (Rufaro) Shrine, Masvingo, under the theme: “Keep the Fire Burning”(Exodus 3:1-3 and Acts 28:1-6).
The conference touched on a number of key thematic areas such as youth and technology; HIV and AIDS; personal advancement and education; drug abuse; teen pregnancy; youths participation in community development and involvement in crime reduction, among others. The church, through the YPU department donated furniture worth thousands of dollars to Chatsworth Police Station.
Dr Chikane reminded the pilgrims that if the youth are the church of tomorrow, then they need the church today.“Others conclude that teenagers have no interest in the things of God, but there are those whose hearts God is drawing to Himself.
They have begun to understand even now that all that glitters is not gold, and as a church we need to be innovate, be create and relevant in order to accommodate the young people. If we do this, the church will be of value to them by providing them a safe environment where they can be with other teens who want to live a life honouring to God,” said Dr Chikane.
Dr Madziyire was excited by the voluminous attendance and also applauded the level of discipline exhibited by the youths throughout the conference. He attributed the church’s stunning growth and ability to mass young people to the AFM’s conformist approach that puts Jesus Christ as a solid foundation upon which it is built.
Dr Madziyire said the church could minister effectively to teens because often God used young people in the Bible to carry out His will.
Dr Madziyire cited biblical examples of Mary, mother of our Lord, who was a teenager when she conceived; David, who was only a young man when he became a giant slayer and Samuel, the prophet, who was only a young boy when God called him to minister in the Tabernacle.
“The YPU is the integral part of the church; it is the AFM’s backbone. Without young people we do not have a future. The Bible says train up the children the way they should go so that when they grow up they won’t depart from it. This is the reason why we gather our young people here every year to train them on the salvation of the soul, the Holy Spirit baptism, divine healing, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and living a holy life and the coming back of Jesus Christ.
“God is working in the hearts of youths today. Young people have unique perspectives and talents to offer to the church. They are often equipped with passion and optimism that the church desperately needs. We should encourage youths to understand who they are and what they do. The church needs young people,” said Dr Madziyire.
Dr Madziyire said AFM as the mother of all Pentecostal churches in Africa would adhere to the discipleship doctrine through which it has managed to draw millions of souls to the Lord.
Dr Madziyire said the church which attained 100 years last years would celebrate qualities that have distinguished it from its founding in 1915, honour its past and celebrate a future that focuses on bridge building – bridges that connect its followers to their leaders, community and most importantly the Lord.Dr Madziyire said the church founders and legends put great emphasis on the salvation of the soul, the Holy Spirit baptism, divine healing, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and living a holy life and the coming back of Jesus Christ.
“The foundation upon which this Pentecostal movement was built is Jesus Christ, and as a church we should not deviate from the principles and dictates of Christianity.
“It is time for the church to take stock of its successes and failures in the spirit of taking corrective action and appeasement of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should remain firmly anchored on the solid and unshakable foundation. We should be mindful of direction that the Holy Spirit wants the church to take, lest we deviate and perish,” said Dr Madziyire.
The AFM’s teachings are rooted on a rigid following of the Bible, the AFM doctrine and salvation. The AFM believes that God is the eternal, triune, the father and author of creation and salvation.
The most unique belief of the church is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of its fruits and gifts in any believer.The AFM worships on Sunday, the day the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected, having been crucified of Friday.
The AFM does not accept abortions for reasons of birth control and strongly believes that heterosexual marriages are the only biblically ordained grounds for sexual intimacy.
It abhors same-sex marriages, and individuals who are openly homosexual cannot be ordained and will be excommunicated.
The church believes in divine healing while allowing its members to seek medication. The AFM uses Presbyterianism model of governance, where all congregations are connected with each other under the jurisdiction of the presbytery.
The presbyteries are under the armpit of the “workers council” of elders from the whole church, which is the supreme governing authority of the organisation. Dr Madziyire said the scriptures call Christians to live with an extraordinarily high standard, one that AFM has taken up and placed at the heart of its mission as a church.
He warned today’s church against dumping down the standards.