Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
HUNDREDS of church members and community leaders on Wenesday bade farewell to one of the pioneer leaders of the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of Southern and Central Africa, Reverend Elizabeth Sibanda during a funeral service at Amphitheatre in Bulawayo.
Mrs Sibanda (79) succumbed to diabetes at a private clinic in Bulawayo on Thursday last week and was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
The AFM of Southern and Central Africa was founded by Reverend Morgan Sengwayo in 1955. The late Reverend Sibanda together with her husband, Reverend Richard Sibanda were one of the pioneers who worked with Reverend Sengwayo during the church’s formative years.
The couple was instrumental in setting up Green Gables High School and before her death she was working on setting up the Reverend MJK Sengwayo University.
Speaker after speaker, chronicled how Reverend Sibanda was pivotal to the community and in the church as she was actively involved in the missionary trips dating back to the mid-1950s, which saw the church spreading its wings in the Sadc region. In a speech read on her behalf by acting district development co-ordinator for Mzilikazi District, Mrs Miria Maswanise, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Judith Ncube said the family and church must be comforted by all the good work that the late reverend did during her life.
“I encourage us all to move beyond the tears, beyond our questions of uncertainty because the Holy Spirit is here today to comfort and strengthen each and every one of us at heart. He will continue to be with us, as we continue to live for God. Today we consider the investment of love and devotion that umama Reverend Sibanda made towards the building of the church and spreading the gospel of God and assisting the underprivileged children and widows; thus, her works benefitted the Bulawayo community,” said Minister Ncube.
She said Reverend Sibanda’s life was one of devotion and dedication to God and the community. “Let me not hasten to say that her measure of life was not a duration, but a donation for we are not permanent on earth but we are here for a short period,” said Minister Ncube.
“We want to thank the Mighty God for the wonderful blessings upon our lives. We thank Him for the love that He has shown us. The love that He gave us, the time that He gave us living with umama. We thank Him for the life of umama Reverend Elizabeth Sibanda for all the work that she did while here on earth and we praise Him for all that time.We all seem to have stories about Reverend Sibanda about the impact on our lives. Some of the stories are inspiring, some are funny and some are thought-provoking. Those stories give us a glimpse of a well lived wife, a life lived in the wake of God. We hear of many stories and things that she did in her life during the time God gave her on earth.”
Minister Ncube said from reports around the 1960s, Reverend Sibanda began a programme to assist the Pelandaba community and many people benefited. One of her programmes Virtuous Women assisted widows and orphans, groomed the youth and gave shelter to the homeless. The late reverend also ran projects like chicken breeding, dairy and beef production. She said Mrs Sibanda met the late first Lady Sally Mugabe in the 1960s which birthed Green Gables High School and before her death she was working on setting up of the Reverend MJK Sengwayo University.
Minister Ncube said Mrs Sibanda like many people were pivotal during the liberation period as she sheltered liberation war fighters.
“We pay tribute to the heroes and heroines of this country. But they couldn’t do that alone, they needed the assistance of our elders, brothers and sisters who played a pivotal role to make sure that our country was liberated.
People like umama Reverend Sibanda were part and parcel of assisting our liberation war heroes and heroines for us to enjoy the independence and live in a free Zimbabwe.’’
Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni who was represented by Councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said the city was saddened by the death of Reverend Sibanda.
“We acknowledge as a city the dedication she had to the Community of Bulawayo as she spread the word of God and being one of the pioneers who worked with the Rev Morgan J K Sengwayo on the formation of one of the biggest churches on our land which is the Apostolic Faith Mission.
“For the past five decades, Mrs Sibanda dedicated her life to preaching the Gospel of the Lord in most parts of Zimbabwe and the Sadc region. Touching lives, saving souls and spreading the word of Christ, Mrs Sibanda is a true example of walking in the path of righteousness and following God’s command,” said Councillor Mguni.
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