A Bridge Of Transformation – Part One of an Interview with Dr Shingi Munyeza

Dr. Shingi Munyeza is the CEO of Africa Sun Limited, one of the fastest growing hospitality groups in sub-Saharan Africa. He has an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration and Development from Solusi University in recognition of his contribution to business development in the tourism sector, and a diploma in Hotel Strategic Management from Cornell

University, New York. He has received numerous awards for his work. He is a Senior Pastor at Faith Ministries Church, and has a passion for community transformation which has seen the initiation of sustainable youth programmes in disadvantaged communities through the church and the imparting of business skills to Christians. He is married to Wilma, and has a daughter, Nomsa.

NM: Apart from your professional persona, who is Dr Shingi Munyeza?

DSM: I am a devout child of God who loves to serve Him and my passion is to expand the kingdom of God through the marketplace. It’s a territory that needs to feel what God has in store for it. One of my mission statements is “Leave the world a better place than I found it.” My vision is to be a bridge of transformation. Whatever it takes to bring about a change I will do it, if I can.

I’m passionate about my church, Faith Ministries, where I have been going since I got saved in 1984, aged eighteen having had a Catholic background. I became youth pastor there, in Mbare, where I served for twelve years before I moved to Borrowdale. I still have that passion for young people, but now my ministry has more to do with families.

I am also involved in grooming and mentoring up-and-coming entrepreneurs and business people, within the church. Another thing I am involved in is planting new churches, as ours grows.

NM: How did you come to be born again?

DSM: I was searching and actually wanted to be a Catholic priest. However I attended a Reinhard Bonkie crusade and that’s how I got saved.

NM: What was life like before you became a Christian?

DSM: Typical high school life. I wasn’t a wayward boy, in fact I was Head Boy. It was a normal kind of life in the eighties.

NM: How would you describe your Christian journey?

DSM: Exciting! In life there are bound to be challenges and roadblocks, but being an adventurous person, particularly in the marketplace , it’s been exciting to believe God for the impossible. When faced with challenges, how do you behave? When under stress and pressure I depend on God, go deep into the Word of God. Major turning points have also been guided by mentors, the people who pastored me in my earlier years, but also by the guidelines in the Word of God.

NM: those “guidelines” – in a country like Zimbabwe, rated one of the most corrupt nations in the world, how does one stick to them?

DSM: Actually, for me, it’s not difficult. One, I have been very public about my values and beliefs. Two, I have been prepared to walk away from things if I was going to be compromised. And thirdly, I realise you get involved in corruption when you want to make more money than you should be making. I decided that I will be content with what

God has given me. And when you do that, often God gives you more. I have always been like that. In the early days, I would walk to school. I walked to church even after I started working. Church was on the other side of town but it didn’t bother me. It’s not about how much you have, it’s about contentment. Being content doesn’t mean that you can’t improve, you can’t do more, you can’t get more, but it’s just that you can’t do it at an expense of a value.

NM: You have been very public about your Christianity.

DSM: Yes there is not one person out there who is a major or even a minor stakeholder in what I do who doesn’t know.

NM: How do you let them know?

DSM: It’s the way that I behave. You don’t have to say, “Hey, get saved or you’ll go to hell”, or start preaching. It’s your behaviour, your lifestyle, how you treat others, even those of different beliefs.

NM: Do people ever ask what makes you different?

DSM: They do and sometimes I just tell them. It may arise during a conversation when people want to deviate and I say, “Hey you know, I won’t do that, because of my convictions”. You don’t have to be arrogant or abusive. You just state your position.

NM: What are some pressures and challenges that come with business at your level of success?

DSM: I look at three areas: how you find pleasure, how you handle your possessions and your expression of power. Those three test your value system all the time. God created us for pleasure, so how do you express that as a child of God? If you are not careful you can become hedonistic, an animal, anything goes. Possessions – how do you receive wealth, possessions in a godly way? The Scripture is full of instruction on how to behave – you are left in no doubt on this. But, if you are not careful you can become materialistic and that’s a fallen-nature behaviour.

NM: Wouldn’t you say that is now the focus, especially in charismatic circles?

DSM: It can be perceived as that, but I see it as a reaction to the economy, a poverty issue. People really are desperate, so money becomes over-emphasised. The pendulum has swung to one extreme and the issue is to bring back the balance. In the eighties it was the opposite – we were encouraged to deny ourselves, having a car was materialistic, you shouldn’t have a big house when people in the rural areas were dying of hunger. But in that era, basic necessities weren’t a problem. You could go to hospital and get treatment, you could find bread, electricity was available. You were not seeking those basics. For me it’s as simple as that and I understand why it is happening.

Matthew 6:33 says ”Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be magnetised to you”. That means that you shouldn’t be seeking first those things. When you are desperate, the line becomes blurred – am I seeking the kingdom or am I seeking money? It won’t last. People will come back into balance.

NM: The third area you mentioned was expression of power

DSM: As regards power, God wants us to have power, particularly spiritual authority. But if it’s mishandled you become abusive of that power and anarchy prevails around you. To have that power and to contain it, you have got to become Christ-like. Which means that even the greatest among you shall be a servant.

NM: Is this how you came up with Africa Sun motto, “How may I serve you?”

DSM: Yes, that’s my expression in the marketplace, because of my Christian convictions.

NM: I heard your childhood dream was to be a bus driver, that at some stage of your life you were working in your dad’s store in Magaba, and yet now you are group CEO!?

DSM: It’s every child’s story! I wanted to be a bus driver because of the level of my exposure. In the rural areas, the only thing that smelt of good technology was a bus, so I aimed there. Herding cattle and goats, ploughing, was normal for everybody, so I didn’t dream of becoming a farmer. To be a bus driver was a dream, being so much out of the norm, not only because of the technology represented in the act of driving, but also because of the joy that I thought the bus driver must have moving people from one place to another.

When I reflect on it, it’s what I have become, moving people from one place to another, the bridge for transformation.

To be continued in the next issue of The Centre.


By Gloria N. Mkushi

Three-and-a-half weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to contribute a piece to The Centre Magazine’s upcoming issue writing on the theme, “Belonging”. After quietly marvelling that anyone trusted my awkward and sometimes politically incorrect ramblings to be turned into prose, I accepted the challenge and thought that I would be done within a few hours.

“Belonging? That is easy enough, right?” I mused. The invitation coincided with my obligatory visit to the Dutch Ministry of Immigration and Naturalisation, where – finally – I was eligible to apply for permanent settlement status in The Netherlands, having legally resided here for the past five years. Even with a fancy micro-chipped plastic identity card, now bearing the Dutch and no longer Botswana flag, the ability to finally understand and even direct ‘tourists’ to the nearest “geldautomaat” in Dutch, doesn’t in any way negate that I still don’t really feel that I ‘belong’ here in The Netherlands.

Of course the challenge of identifying several hundred different types of cheese, adjusting to the tight-fisted attitude towards money, riding a bicycle on the right-hand side of the road, and learning the language all whilst studying a double Law degree has afforded me unique opportunities to learn, grow, travel and has definitely brought me closer to God; but belonging and identifying a single place as “home” is something I have struggled to designate to mere geographical markers.

One might think that by now I am accustomed to adjusting to new cultures and different ways of doing things. I’m often asked where “home” is, and whilst I truly wish I could say, “Harare” without thinking about it twice, that isn’t really true. I love Harare. I was born there. Then we moved to Norton, then Mhangura and eventually left Zimbabwe altogether. I have such fond memories of my childhood there; but I am still afraid to drive anywhere beyond Sam Levy’s village when I visit on holiday, because all the landmarks change too frequently, and I fear getting lost.

I moved to Australia as a teenager, and thought that my rubgy-loving, beach-visiting and English-speaking Southern Hemisphere lifestyle would be uninterrupted. Who doesn’t live for a braai with good friends, discussing the latest scores of the English Premier League as the sun sets on a Saturday afternoon? Yet, after the five year stint there, I didn’t feel that I “belonged” there either. I thought it had to do with my career choice, and so the itch to cast fortune to the wind, carpe diem and relocate gripped me, and with a swift “See ya later!” I indeed, ventured onto newer things.

Botswana was the next destination. Surely, the saying was true, “Once you have tasted Africa, nothing seems as sweet”? But with each “Dumela” and “O amogetswe” I was offered, I didn’t feel welcomed nor that I ‘belonged’ in Gaborone, anymore than I did in Melbourne or Harare. The adjustment felt difficult and cumbersome. Constantly having to “explain myself” made me defensive. I was being forced to pick sides. I had never left Zimbabwe with the intention of replacing the values life there instilled in me with any other values; only exploring this vast earth and the billions of stories each person upon it had to share.

Genesis 12:1 has long been a favourite of mine. The patriarch of faith, Abraham, left his Father’s house in Ur and went in search of a place that God would show him. Whilst I have yet to live in tents, I can definitely relate to the sentiments Abraham must have felt, as he attempted to build a life, start a family and walk in God’s promises for him so far away from “home”.

On my worst days, I log onto the internet and purchase treats from the South African shop in Amsterdam. Beacon Fizz Pops, Nik Naks, Bisto Gravy and Mazoe Orange are essentials which could make the difference between me crying my ‘homesick’ self to sleep or erupting in inexplicable rage on the train and ending up on the 10 o’clock News. And on my best days, I can log into my Facebook and see how my peers have changed their last names to married ones, have had children, have bought homes and have opened businesses. I’m thankful that I have the technology that Abraham didn’t.

But that aside, the truth is that moving to The Netherlands has cemented an idea I wasn’t very happy to discuss before I moved here: Abraham was not sent to a place; he was awakened to something that was inside of him.

Every day, whether in Dutch, Setswana, Shona or English; I have to humble myself under the Almighty’s hand and rest in this fact. The place that God has shown me has turned out to be a place of singleness, a place of confusion, disorder, delay, frustration, failure as well as a place of incredible opportunity, development, self-discovery and (perhaps surprisingly) budget management. I don’t yet belong to the “married” club, and I don’t belong to the “Home Owners’ Association” either. As I chant “Hup Holland Hup” at the local pub next week when The Netherlands takes on Spain in the FIFA World Cup, I will carry my Zimbabwean Flag and wave it (even though Zimbabwe won’t be participating in the tournament) and I will likely be wearing an Australian Rugby jumper… just because.

Rather than worrying about not being where I think I should be in terms of a career and mature ‘adult’ life, I will wait. And meditate upon the fact that I have finally found where I belong: in the loving arms of a Heavenly Father who leads me deeper into his bosom and His will for my life with each passing day, using each failure to reveal His grace and each victory to remind me that I am daily becoming more like Him. Where is ‘home’? Home is here. Home is now. Home is in the choices I make daily, and the moments I laugh, dance, cry and worship. Where I truly belong.

Operation Zero Orphans

By Tiri Madzima

I stand to be corrected, but I am reliably informed that the idea of having ‘an orphan’ was a foreign concept in the history of most Afrocentric societies. This was due to the fact that once a child in the community was left exposed not having a father or mother the extended family would take on the responsibility of integrating the bereaved child back into the covering of the community.

In my Shona culture a relative who would be titled ‘Musarapavana’ would soon be appointed the man-date of fending for the bereaved child.

The disintegration of the family unit and the resultant scattering of the societal safety net called ‘the extended family’ due to various reasons like rural to urban migration, diseases like AIDS, and various economic hardships has left a most valuable vacuum that demands to be filled if we are go-ing to deal with the orphan situation in our nation. Whilst we as a nation mourn the admittance of the extended family unit into the organisation’s Intensive Care Unit this fate does not mean that every child whose biological parents pass away or are removed from the picture for one reason or the other are doomed to a life of the streets.

In defiance of this trend I now challenge the en-tire nation to defy this depressing fate. Even more so, I direct this challenge to the Body of Christ, the church. Especially in Zimbabwe, there is no better strategically placed organisation that can deal with this issue. The Church has the national coverage, the human and financial resources and the mandate to address this issue.

“I have a dream that every Zimbabwean child will be integrated into family.”

It sounds crazy, looks impossible but it can, it will and it must be done! In a nation that boasts of a Christian population of somewhere between 65-80% my heart breaks at the thought that there are well over a million orphans and vulnerable Children in our country. This is a call for the true Body of Christ to arise and effectively address this situation.

GOD has moved through the church to shine HIS light .
Whilst we commend the work that has happened in the past to address this situation, it is not enough. All hands are needed to effectively deal with this situation. I’m sure that the responsible government ministries would be pleasantly over-whelmed if key stakeholders especially the Church committed to dealing with this orphan agenda.

Imagine if 2 million families were challenged to legally adopt a child. This would very quickly deal with the situation we are facing. PTO
I am not convinced institutionalising these young ones is the answer but creating artificial family units for them is. As a nation we could even address two birds with one stone by put-ting widows on pay roles to take care of the orphans who we fail to find families for. The purpose of this note is simply to provoke thought and possibly even challenge people to action. At this point I salute all the stakeholders that are playing a most valuable role to take care of our next generation of leaders. I am pleased to now inform you that I hear the sound of the James 1:27 Church of Christ uniting to effectively solve this once impossible challenge..!

Zimbabwe, Together we can, we will and we must make a difference!
Let us all play our part! Let us all bring to manifestation ‘The Dream’
Together, serving people-solving problems!

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.‟

My Battle With Panic Attacks

My Battle with Panic Attacks

by LeeAnn Johnson

About five years ago my family and I were on our farm, I was just taking myself off to bed when I got this awful feeling that something terrible was going to happen, my heart started pounding and I started frantically looking for a pipe to put down my throat to keep my throat open so that I could breathe! My chest felt like someone had tied a towel around it and was pulling it tighter by the minute, I felt like I was being strangled. I really believed that my throat was closing and I was dying, I must be having an allergic reaction to something so I took 20ml of phenergan, I have never had any phenergan before, it tastes awful! we were so far from everywhere there was no trauma centre close by. I was terribly frightened, my husband phoned our farm manager, we woke up our two little boys put them in the car and we all drove to Karoi Hospital where we searched for a nurse to help. I managed to get hold of the only doctor in Karoi and I said that I thought I had been bitten by a snake, as I had scratched my leg earlier on a stick by the dam and thought it must be true I have been bitten by a snake! But I never saw a snake but it must be that, it must be what my problem was! We eventually found a nurse to help and the first thing she did was take my blood pressure! My blood pressure !– “lady I am dying inject me with life muti – something to keep me alive!” I was panicking and in such a rush – do something do something I am dying! My mind was all over the place jumping from here to there. Waves and waves of fear totally consuming me. This is where my story begins with my battle with fear!

My life became ruled by fear, I never went to the farm again for, I think nearly a year because there was no trauma centre nearby, and I was just too scared. When I eventually went to the farm, I spent nearly the whole time watching the clock working out how long we had left there! That was no fun! I knew and know all the fastest routes to the trauma centre nearest to our house here in Harare, I made up all the excuses I could think of to stay at home. Even just driving up to the shops when driving there I would work out the best route to Lanark road Trauma Centre and go to the shops near to Lanark. Sometimes I would leave the shops quickly and not get everything I need because I was starting to panic. My husband on a couple of occasions would have to take over my daily duties, he would make sure the children were bathed, fed and put them to bed. I sometimes would wake up at night in a panic and feeling like I was being strangled, I tried to hide it from him but he knew and he would try to calm me down, – what was happening to me? Was I going crazy? Why did everything frighten me so much, I used to be such a carefree fun person who never worried about much – life was great before this all started – now I couldn’t even do something simple like cook supper or go to get some groceries, I would go outside on the driveway and try to breathe I didn’t want my little children to see me doing this and so I would move out of sight, although they knew what was happening and there were times that they would see me. I would make up excuses to not attend social functions that I had loved so much, like afternoon tea at my friends houses where our children would play. I used to wake up in the morning so excited about the day and what I was going to or make, I used to like sewing, now I didn’t even look at my sewing machine. I couldn’t focus anymore and everything was such a drag, my first thought in the morning was “Oh no do I have to get up – not another day!” I had no joy in my life anymore, my life was becoming less and less “Fear shrinks Faith” and that is exactly what was happening I was allowing fear to rule my life by what I Was saying to myself and not just my life but my children and husband as well. I had become familiar by a few doctors at the trauma centre because I kept frequenting the place, I even stopped there one Saturday afternoon because I thought I was having an asthma attack but I have never had asthma in my life and each time they confirmed that my chest was clear, they would say it was anxiety. Oscar my husband did not know what was happening either, my mom and dad were worried about me – the world was just a big whirlwind, nothing really made sense anymore. I didn’t want to live but I didn’t want to die either. I had so many blessings and so much to live for but I couldn’t see it.

I then came across an acquaintance who told me that she thought it may be panic attacks and I looked it up! The description fitted me exactly! And this is where my road to recovery began, but how, where do I begin. I started seeing a counsellor here at the Centre, I worked hard and tried my best at facing my fears, I loved coming for counselling! After the first few sessions i would walk out of the centre I feeling like a huge load had lifted off my shoulders, I felt so comfortable with my counsellor, she taught me so much about me! And she didn’t even know me! I thought she was absolutely wonderful (and so clever!) The counselling centre was a place of relief! I did go through a phase in the counselling where I felt guilty, I was a Christian and yet I was coming for counselling! And I was not thinking on the truth! Just as well I am a work in progress and God has not finished with me yet! one of my greatest fearful thoughts was an allergic reaction, strange? I learnt and grew so much from the counselling. I started using the elastic band to get thinking on the truth, this worked well! The counselling ended and I just wanted to kiss my counsellor at the end, I don’t think she realised how much influence and help she had given me. Then my greatest fear happened my eldest son was stung by a bee and had a severe allergic reaction, he couldn’t breathe, he had welts all over his body and he started swelling all over, I drove like a maniac pressing my hooter on and off down second street to get everyone out of my way. And during this speeding I remembered what I learnt in counselling to breathe in for three seconds and out for three seconds and this is what I was telling him (and me!) to do until we got to the famous trauma centre! It calmed him down as much as it could. Then it all began again, I started I stopping him from going outside, I kept all the windows closed in the house just in case a bee came inside, even when it was steaming hot! I stopped visiting friends because their houses were an extra 3 km away from trauma centre again !! and I started all over but this time I included my son in it, restricting his life as well. Until one day he said

“Mommy I don’t get stung by bees all day” I sat down and thought what am I doing, Here I am destroying my children and teaching them to fear, is this really what I want? I then decided from that day onwards when my little boy told me that he doesn’t get stung every day that I was destroying my family and losing out on life, John 10:10 says “I have come so that you may have life and life abundantly The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy” and the Thief was stealing my joy and destroying my life. And I was allowing him to by what I was thinking. I needed some truth again in my life, I needed the peace of God and I needed courage.

Once again from the counselling I had received I realised how my thoughts were so far from the truth and how God had so much to give me in my life, and yet I was shrinking. I started using an elastic band to stop my thoughts. The one day I measured how many times I had a scary thought, I drove about 100m and I had stung myself 5 times with thoughts of my son dying and how he was going to die. It has taken some time to get on top of my thinking and still today I use the thought stopping technique to help when I feel overwhelmed because I don’t want to believe lies, I want to be free and believe on the truth – there is no other way forward. My life has changed dramatically, instead of locking my son up in the house, I managed to let him go to Springvale, weekly boarding! It is over an hour away from me! And before that I was struggling to let him play in the garden! That was a tough one but I don’t want to stand in the way of God’s will for anyone especially my children.

I release him and myself and the rest of family into God’s care, when I feel anxiety coming on I express my anxiety, especially to my husband, I will talk to him whereas before I would try not to talk about it, and I pray” Lord show me how it really is” or “Lord show me the truth in this situation” and I do the ABC Theory and practice the 3 R’s, I can do this in a matter of minutes, standing watching a cricket match, in a queue and while driving. It has become part of my life, part of my full and abundant life that God has given back to me by believing the truth which has set me free. Counselling saved my life, God saved my life!

Yes my son is still allergic to bees and yes it is scary but the fear doesn’t control me anymore and if I do feel overwhelmed, I have the tools to work through it and beat it. So bring it on!! The knowledge I had gained from being counselled gives me power to fight back and walk the road that God has planned for me and my children.

“Any sign of fear should always be a call to prayer. The moment you feel it, draw immediately close to God.”

“We can get stuck in the negative complexities of the past when we don’t recognize our part in it. We see injustices against us, but we fail to realize that at some point we are still responsible for our own thoughts and attitudes.”

Yesterday God helped me, Today he will do the same, How long will this continue? Forever – praise his name (Psalm 54:4 Behold, God is mine helper!)

If you have been told that you are doomed to repeat the patterns in your family, that you are a victim who is controlled by your genes and biology or that you cannot transcend the influence of your environment, you have been lied to and need to find the truth because the truth will set you free (Dr M Strydom)

Making Christ The Centre

The Centre Magazine

Making Christ The Centre