The Vapostori in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe you can find clusters of worshippers adorned in white, red and green garments. On hills, anthills and under tree shades, long-bearded men with shaved heads sit by women in head scarfs as they go through various rituals every Friday and Saturday.
The Vapostori or Mapostori are a religious group that remains ridiculed by society at large, yet multitudes tiptoe to seek their services in secret.
Believed to possess healing powers and to bring luck for job seekers in the cities and solutions to turbulent marriages, people rush to consult them for spiritual insight. In many instances, followers walk away with “solutions” in forms of bottles of water, pebbles and gifts of prayers - all known as miteuro. It is because of these traits that politicians, company executives, middle-class professionals and poverty stricken individuals visit for charms and prayers.
Although self-identifying as Christian, the Vapostori blend local traditional beliefs and practices with Christian teaching. Most notoriously, groups refuse to use the Bible, claiming to communicate with God only through the Holy Spirit. In some groups followers are not allowed to use western medicine, children cannot be immunised and women cannot use contraceptives. Polygamous relationships are common and girls as young as 11 are married off to spiritual leaders who sometimes use unorthodox means to claim the girls for marriage.
The major sects of the Vapostori, the Johane Masowe and Johane Marange sects were both founded in 1932 in eastern Zimbabwe by two men who claimed remarkably similar encounters of being possessed by the Holy Spirit instructing them to preach repentance. As a result, they each “assumed” the role of a modern-day John the Baptist. The followers of both Marange and Masowe are known by the name of the founders.
As of the year 2000, both the Masowe and Marange groups numbered 1.8 million people - almost 13% of Zimbabwe’s population. The Vapostori have also spread across almost all of Southern Africa and congregations are now found among Africans in Europe.
- A deep hunger for truth to drive Vapostori to the Word of God.
- For deceptions to be unveiled and truths of the Gospel to be confirmed in seeking hearts.