When one thinks of church worship, especially in the Christian tradition, one might conjure up images of a austere building, serene and small, with a dutiful congregation numbering perhaps thirty at most, heads bowed and hands clasped together. Well, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is shattering that quaint, Norman Rockwell-esque conception of what a church gathering is or should be. Recently, on the 7th of May, 2017, Chris Oyakhilome traveled to the National Sports Stadium of Harare, the largest and most densely populated city in Zimbabwe to speak to a jam packed audience that numbered upwards of 75,000. The massive congregation had been gathered for one reason and one reason only, to praise God and worship. The event included singing, dancing, sermons and worship, all with a lively, festive quality, more like a pop concert of yesteryear than what people usually imagine worship to be like. The event was live broadcast and was reported to have reached over millions of people around the world.
One of the reasons for the events phenomenal success, which was a real milestone for Harare’s religious, Christian community, was the presence of the aforementioned Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. For those that may never have heard of the well known preacher, Chris Oyakhilome (or Pastor Chris as he is often warmly referred to by his followers and associates) is a best selling author, television personality with numerous successful TV programs under his belt, as well as a teacher, philanthropist and, of course, a man of the cloth. Though he remains largely unknown to western audiences, Pastor Chris has been, for over 25 years, changing peoples lives through both his ministry and in depth and often poetic sermons, as well as his books, which have been translated in over 800 languages and disseminated to over 242 countries across the world and television programs disseminated through the first ever 24 hour global christian broadcast network in all of African history.
However, Mr. Oyakhilome was not the only speaker at the landmark religious event as many other well known and some lesser known pastors and Christian devotees such as the Pastor of the Christ Embassy of Zimbabwe, Ruth Musaruwa as well as the musical gospel singers and musicians, Jahdiel, Flames, Israel Strong and Sister Wisdom who have all earned the title of “musical ministers” for their incorporation of sound, spectacle and joviality into their evangelism.
The ministers intentions were far more broad reaching than many would likely assume, for instance, Pastor Chris remarked to the audience, “The reason I’m here at this time is because something special is about to happen in your country,” and, “Your Nation is About to Witness a New Beginning!” Signally his sincere intention to transform the city and nation by bringing it onto a new level of spiritual and religious devotion that would herald a renewed passion for civic duty, philanthropy and care for ones fellow man.