Raphael Mthombeni

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Raphael Mthombeni - he was the conference minister for the Gwayi District in Zimbabwe under the Brethren in Christ Church. Having spent a week sleeping inside the ceiling of the mission house, because word had come around that he was going to be the next one to be killed because of his involvement with dissidents. A group of 5 other pastors were going to come from the city to help run a church workshop for the beginning of the year. After the workshop was over, he packed his bag to try and escape from the area in the company of his colleagues. They ran into a road block, and one of the pastors who was from North America was accused of coming to sponsor dissidents and they said they will like to have him and release the others to go. Raphael stepped forward realizing what was about to happen and told the army that he was the one who had called these pastors to come to his district. The moment he said he was a pastor and the rest were also pastors, they took him aside. They stripped him of his shirt and they took his identity card, which was usually a sign that they will kill you,( I have no idea what they did with identity cards of dead people). They told him that pastors were the ones that were taking information from one place to the other and were promoting dissidents. They asked him to denounce the church and admit that he was working for the opposition party and not the church so that they may forgive him and let him go. he told them that he worked for the church and not a political party. One of the soldiers said since he was a pastor, he should take a few steps and pray before they kill him, meanwhile the other soldiers were still interrogating the other pastors and searching their vehicle. They found a receipt book that was used to collect offerings from the congregations and they claimed they had found evidence that these pastors were part of a network that supported the opposition party and were collecting funds as membership to their party. When the other pastors were asked about the receipt book they said Raphael was the one who was responsible for it, and at that moment he was summoned to come back and that saved his life, he had also just finished his prayer asking God to spare their lives. He tried to explain as best as he could and after a while the soldiers agreed to let them go but said they will follow them and kill them, before they reached the city. The pastors left, drove for a while and since it was already past curfew time, they drove into the nearest police post, where they explained their ordeal. They requested to sleep at the charge office but one of the police officers came to them after others had gone and told them that sleeping there will not protect them at all as even the police did not have the powers to refuse handing them over to the army when the army demanded so. So they asked to see the officer in charge, who knew Raphael agreed to give them police escort, so that the army would not pursue and kill them along the way. They were given word to drive as fast as they could while the police truck would drive slowly and block the army truck that will be persuing them ( delay tactic). Since the road was just one narrow lane, there is no way they could be able to pass them. They miraculously went past two other road blocks and found their way to the city where it was safe.

Submitted by Ronald L. Moyo

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