Pastoral Perseverance Amid Challenges

The Rev. Annamore Kahlari walks home from the Nemanje United Methodist Church, one of five congregations she serves near Makoni Buhera, Zimbabwe. The church is about 15 miles from her home. Photo by Chenayi Kumuterera, UM News.

By Chenayi Kumuterera (UM News) –

Every Sunday, the Rev. Annamore Kahlari awakens before sunrise to pack a bag for her long walk. She is the pastor in charge of Zimbabwe’s Chikore Circuit, Makoni Buhera District.

She journeys about 15 miles each way, carrying a satchel containing a Bible, hymnbook, and bottle of water. Her destination is not just one local church, but five.

Chikore Circuit includes Chikore, where the parsonage is located, Nemanje, Chitsiwa, Manyere and Nyamazira United Methodist churches. “I feel renewed each day,” Kahlari said, “as I walk from local church to local church, conducting my door-to-door visitation to the elderly members and their grandchildren.

“The weather is very hot, especially in summertime, and very cold in winter season; moreover, we do not have electricity,” she continued. Only one of the churches, Chikore, has an actual sanctuary. At the other four churches, the congregation gathers outdoors for worship.

“Rev. Kahlari is such a strong woman of God,” said Sekuru Edward Haparimwe of Nemanje United Methodist Church. Along with visiting members, she conducts funerals and provides counseling. “This pastor is always there for us,” he added, “despite the distance she walks alone or sometimes accompanied by her lay leaders or a pastor-parish committee member.”  

Mbuya Loveness Chikotora, 82, described Kahlari as a visionary and loving pastor. “Since the COVID-19 lockdown, Rev. Kahlari has been there for us,” Chikotora said. “She schedules quality time to be with us, the old-aged members in the circuit, teaching, counseling and praying with us.”

Transportation is an ongoing challenge, Kahlari said, noting that travel can take five to six hours each way. “I have a motorbike in my circuit,” Kahlari said, “but I cannot use it because of the terrain of the road, and I have a leg problem.”

The Rev. Diana Matikiti, Makoni Buhera District superintendent, understands. Without a reliable terrain vehicle, she said, the district office also faces a transportation crisis. “Geographically,” Matikiti said, “the district I am superintending is the biggest in Zimbabwe East Annual Conference, which is composed of 29 circuits that are very rural.”

“Chikore Circuit is an agro-based community, living by farming,” Kahlari noted. “Ninety percent of my members are old-aged, who are prayerful, lovely (and) committed to church business.”

She is pleased that the churches are thriving, with an average Sunday worship attendance of 40 adults and 15 children.

“Our pastor is amazing,” commented local lay leader Kasirai Toronga. “Our pastor has taught us to give, which has (encouraged) the Manyere local church to be hardworking.”

On the donated “Munda Wa Tenzi,” which means “God’s land,” the congregation raises crops to help support the church.  

Photo: Shutterstock

“Every year,” Toronga said, “we harvest one to two tons of groundnuts (peanuts), and we use the money to buy building materials.” 

Before the pandemic, the congregation worshiped in a school classroom. Now, however, “we are no longer using these premises,” Toronga explained. Members struggle through summer heat, winter chill and rain.

“Our pastor always encourages us to support the church and build our own sanctuary,” Toronga said. “So far, we do not have an income-generating project, but if funds permit, we would like to engage as a church in a poultry project and maximize farming in Munda Wa Tenzi.” 

Jonathan Gwete, 81, chairs the circuit’s pastor-parish committee. “Recently,” he said, “Rev. Kahlari’s retirement home was destroyed, and building material worth $3,000 (U.S.) was stolen.

“Despite these hard times, our pastor does her work as usual and even taught us to pray always amid all.”

Chenayi Kumuterera is a communicator in Zimbabwe. Distributed by UM News.

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