Churches in contributing to GDP in Zim

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Hilda Muchamiri
Churches, which previously focused on their two-fold mission of winning souls and shepherding the sheep, appear to have realised that it is impossible to achieve that without money.

This has prompted a radical shift from mere collection and counting of offerings and tithes, to investing in multi-million dollar businesses.

Several churches have now invested funds into some income generating projects, business breakfast meetings and fund-raising dinners where experts in business are invited to make presentations on business principles and strategies.

While in the Old Testament the Levities used to solely depend on tithes for their livelihood as directed by God (Numbers 18:21).

In the New Testament, Jesus encouraged entrepreneurship, as evidenced in the parable of talents in Mathew 25:14-30.

Evidently, the church has a key role to play in economic transformation, not only in Zimbabwe but across the globe.

Local churches have taken the initiative, and are venturing into various income generating, a diversion from depending on tithes and freewill offering.

Some of the churches such as Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Reformed Churched in Zimbabwe and ZAOGA, have invested in primary and secondary schools, teacher training colleges and universities.

Walter Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance has gone a notch higher and built a hotel and recently commissioned an $18 million Yadah Marble cutting and polishing factory in Southerton, Harare.

The factory is the first in the country.

Such investments have seen churches creating employment not only for their members, but also for other skilled people who may not be members of their churches.

Once employed, the citizens start to contribute to NSSA, the AIDS Levy, income tax and value added tax, among others.

The projects are crucial in reducing poverty, in line with Government’s aspirations of transforming the country into a middle income country by 2030.

ZAOGA has become famous for discussing matters that affect women, and church members are taught to embark on self-help jobs under the banner of “working talents”.

Under “working talents”, members are encouraged to sell items such as peanut butter, poultry and sweets, to improve their living standards.

Although the idea has been ridiculed by some, charismatic prophets are selling a number of items such as anointed oil, water, pens, salt, stickers, books and t-shirts, among others. This has seen producers of the products recording brisk business, prompting them to recruit more employees.

Churches are also contributing also contributing to religious tourism, inviting their sister churches to Zimbabwe for annual meetings and/ or conventions.

The 2015 United Nations World Tourism Barometer indicates that religious tourism moves over 300 million people out of the estimated 1,2 billion tourists across the globe every year.

Zimbabwe has already hosted mammoth conferences particularly for the Jehova’s Witnesses, which have attracted thousands of people.

Hoteliers and food manufacturers make sizeable amounts of money during such conferences.

The AFM Church has also been convening international meetings bi-annually, which have also drawn large numbers of people.

After the conferences, foreign delegates have tended to want to visit tourist attraction centres such as Victoria Falls, and some of them have become ambassadors for the tourism sector.

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