Mourners at a funeral wake of a 15-year-old Zimbabwean boy were left speechless when a team of pastors from Christ Embassy Church stormed the house and started praying over the body in a bid to resurrect him.
The incident occurred in Southview suburb on Monday [Jan. 28] at the funeral wake of Tatenda Dick, an Ordinary Level pupil at Chaplin High School, who had died the previous day from a terminal illness.
Witnesses said Tatenda's body was brought home for the wake before burial the following morning. They said three pastors from the local Christ Embassy Church came and conducted prayers meant to bring Tatenda back to life as had happened to the Biblical Lazarus.
A close relative of Tatenda said the three pastors came into the lounge where the coffin was and started sprinkling water on mourners in the room while speaking in tongues.
"One of the pastors opened the top half of the coffin and placed a cellphone that was playing a sermon by the Nigerian church founder, Pastor Chris Oyakilome", said the relative.
The pastors removed the body from the coffin in front of the stunned mourners. They said the "resurrection" prayers were conducted with the blessings of the boy's mother, a member of the same church.
The witness said the pastors intensified their prayers, commanding Dick to rise and walk. After praying for about three hours without any sign that the boy would come back to life, the witness said, the leader of the team ordered all the mourners, except Christ Embassy members, out of the room.
Eventually, only the three men were left with the boy's mother and a few close relatives. The Christ Embassy Church members claimed Dick would resurrect in a couple of hours if they were left on their own.
"Curious mourners who were failing to come to terms with the goings on, however, refused to disperse as they wanted to witness every part of the unfolding drama. The ‘men of God' went into ‘ecstasy' while one of them held the corpse upright. What surprised the mourners most was that even the now deceased boy's mother, Ms Germa Machingauta, pleaded with the mourners to disperse as she also believed that her son would resurrect," said one witness.
Some mourners said they now suspected the whole incident to have been an act of Satanism. Due to numerous bizarre incidents happening in Zimbabwe, people are quick to link any inexplicable happening to Satanism or juju (use of magic powers).
The witnesses said as the drama unfolded, some curious mourners peeped through the windows of the room where the prayers were taking place.
One man who appeared to be the leader of the group is said to have blamed the delay of the boy's "resurrection" on "demons" which he alleged were possessed by some mourners.
The church crew later ordered the close relatives to also leave the room and leave the mother behind. "They then closed all the windows and the curtains of the room before they ordered Ms Machingauta to touch on the chest of her son's body before they continued to pray on top of their voices," said the witness.
He said some disgruntled mourners, including the elderly, later dispersed dismissing the prayer sessions as a farce.
"The church members, including Ms Machingauta, prayed for the resurrection of the boy until Tuesday morning. By then only a few close relatives were still camped outside the house while the majority of the mourners who could not understand what was happening left the residence.
"The boy, however, did not resurrect and there were some clashes among the relatives themselves on Tuesday as they accused Ms Machingauta and her church members of making fun out of a funeral. The boy was later buried on Tuesday afternoon but by then, there were only few relatives as the majority of mourners and other distant relatives had left."
Ms Machingauta, a nurse by profession, confirmed the incident when contacted yesterday [Feb. 1].
She said she had no problem with her church members' attempts to raise her son from the dead.
"I have no problems with what happened. This is what we believe in our church. Actually, the Christ Embassy Church members had come on my invitation. I was satisfied with what happened. The resurrection failed because God had already spoken to my child and decided to take him into his care," she said.
When she was asked why they decided to conduct the resurrection prayers after the boy's body had first been taken to the mortuary, Ms Machingauta said: "That doesn't matter. Lazarus was resurrected when his body was about to rot and this could have happened to my child but God had spoken to him," she said.
CHRIST EMBASSY CHURCH APOLOGISES OVER 'RESURRECTION' PRAYER
RELATIVES of the Gweru woman who invited her Christ Embassy Church members during the funeral wake of her 15-year-old son in an attempt to "resurrect" the boy have said they have no problems with the church after its leadership apologised over the incident.
In an interview, a relative of the boy Tatenda Dick said a three-member delegation, led by a Pastor Glorious, visited the Machingauta family in South Downs Extension to apologise following an all-night vigil in which some members of the church attempted to "resurrect" the boy.
The "resurrection" prayers were reportedly conducted with the blessing of Tatenda's mother, Ms Germa Machingauta.
"The church leader, Pastor Glorious, came with his team and apologised to us. They told us what they believed in and the reasons why their members conducted the resurrection prayers. They indicated to us that there were no Satanist motives and that their prayers were genuine, as they attempted to bring back the boy to life. We have understood them and accepted their apology", said a relative, who chose not to be named.
The relative said they respected freedom of worship and beliefs and allowed the Christ Embassy team to conduct their "resurrection" prayers.
"When sister Germa (Ms Machingauta) told us that she had received a phone call from her church members to the effect that the boy would resurrect, we were all puzzled, but we could not stop her and her church members from conducting their prayers, as it was to her best interest," said the relative.
Efforts to get a comment from Pastor Glorious were fruitless yesterday.
When this reporter visited the church offices along Main Street yesterday morning, some of the church members said Pastor Glorious was busy preparing for a church service.
When this reporter visited the church offices later in the day, he was also denied access to Pastor Glorious, who was said to be busy giving counselling sessions to other church members.
"Today is a busy day for Brother Glorious you can leave your contact details. He will get in touch with you, but not today," said a lady who was at the front office.
Ms Machingauta refused to comment when contacted. "I will not comment any more over this. I have no comment," she said
Meanwhile, a senior member of the Christ Embassy Church who spoke to Chronicle described the move by three church members who tried to pray for the resurrection of Tatenda as being overzealous.
"These guys were just overzealous. It was a matter of miscalculated faith. One of them was supposed to receive an instruction from God before they could go and conduct their prayers. They were just clueless of whatever they were doing. It was a trial and error," said the church member.
Mourners were left speechless last week Monday when three pastors from Christ Embassy Church went into a room where Tatenda's body lay in state before they started conducting "resurrection" prayers.
The prayers, which extended to Tuesday morning, could, however, not yield any results, as the boy was buried later in the afternoon.
Only close relatives attended the burial as the majority of the mourners had dispersed because they could not buy the "resurrection" story.