Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana to congregate in Shashe for Easter
Clad in long flowing angelic white robes, hundreds of devotees of Johane Masowe Chishanu Jerusalema Bhesida church are expected to descend on the sleepy village of Shashe on the outskirts of Francistown city over the Easter holidays.
Masowe, as this large apostolic sect is affectionately dubbed in its country of origin, Zimbabwe, will bring together its members from across Africa to converge for a massive church service in Shashe where their biggest branch in Botswana is located.
The Church President, Prophet Echoes Chiore will lead a pilgrim from Zimbabwe to come and join other branches from as far as South Africa in Shashe.
Founded in 1931 by Shonhiwa Masedza, the church, although it identifies itself as Christian, does not use the Bible, but relies on guidance from the Holy Spirit.
In fact Masowe does not shy away from embracing aspects of the African Traditional Religion, which it mixes with some elements from Biblical teachings without encouraging members to read the Bible.
The local pastor, Christopher Monnnye explains that Johane Masowe Chisanu means holy trinity, Johane meaning the Angel of John the Baptist, Masowe meaning the Wilderness and Chishanu meaning the day of Sabbath.
Its founder, a cobbler nicknamed ‘Six Pence’ because he charged that amount for his services was reportedly a holy man who was born in the same manner as Jesus directly from the Holy Spirit while his father, Jack Masedza, was in prison.
Myth has it that he could speak directly with God too.
It is said one day ‘Sixpence’ was mending a pair of shoes when a white thread appeared from the sky and he received it in his hand.
Upon receiving this white thread he fell ill and could not walk, talk or eat for weeks.
It was after re-gaining his strength that he started talking about the holy trinity, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit told Sixpence that from that moment on he was to be called Johane (John) the Baptist, or Johane and he came to be known as Baba Johane.
“We follow the cross of Jerusalem and we are led by the Holy Spirit,” said Prophet Christopher Monnye, an alder and leader of the Canan (Shashe) branch in Botswana.
Canan is the biggest branch in the country and oversees all other branches.
“We have other branches in Gerald, Gaborone, Ditadi and Francistown,” he said.
Explaining why they don’t use the Bible, Monnye said they are at the mercy of the Holy Spirit, which gives them direction in their daily lives.
“The Bible was written by prophets who were full of the spirit. It however does not capture everything, that is why we rely on the same Holy Spirit to reveal everything to us,” Monnye told The Voice in an interview.
Monnye further said the Church is modeled around Christ and keeps the Gospel simple and practical.
“Just like in the olden days, we don’t build structures but worship in an open space,” he said adding that they only construct toilets.
He said when they meet for their 2018 Annual Easter Conference on 30th March they will donate toiletry hampers to Tonota Masedi Clinic.
“Jesus taught about giving and caring. Christianity is practical, it is not only about gathering and saying long prayers,” he said.
“Easter is when all Christians should come together and celebrate the gift of eternal life brought by the living Jesus Christ,” Monnye said.
A leading prophet in all of the branches in Botswana, Monnye said although they do not use the Bible, the Holy Spirit demands that they should meet every year this season to give honour to Christ.
“The Holy Spirit lives within us and we invite members of the public to join us as we celebrate the life of the son of God,” he said.