Update from Mashonaland

Do you remember that Rev. Mwedzi was confirmed in the New Canaan congregation last May? He is the only minister besides Rev. Khumalo at the moment and is therefore very busy. Still, he found time to let us know how things are going now.

How are you doing?
Rev. Mwedzi: “The Lord has helped me a lot from May last year until now. I preach at 11 preaching stations under my charge and helping at communions almost every month around our congregations. I also visit John Tallach high school at least twice in a term.

How about outreach work?
“I have received 6,000 Bibles from the TBS (English sister organization of the GBS) and distributed them throughout the country. There is a great demand for Bibles, but our supply was limited and we hope the Lord will send a friend to print and send more Bibles.”

How do you travel to all these places?
Rev. Mwedzi: ” I have a better car with four-wheel drive, but the roads are too bad and the roads to other stations are almost completely destroyed. I travel about 5000 km a month on those roads, which means more fuel costs and repair costs for the car. Thanks to the mission’s help, I got a better vehicle for the long trips.”

A lot of work rests on your shoulders!
Rev. Mwedzi: “Yes, but there are also encouragements. I will mention three.
Next to our church at one of the stations is a school of about 334 students. They have opened the door for me to preach to them. They have offered us their well. Unfortunately, the pump’s solar panels broke last month so we may have water supply problems again during the communion in April.
Although the congregation is generally poor, their contribution to the maintenance of the ministers has improved from  2021 to  2022.
Through the Lord’s help, I have seen a number of people who had not come to church for almost a decade return and four take their seats at the Lord’s Table again.”


Obituary Catherine and Margaret Tallach – Rev. J.R. Tallach

Earlier this year two daughters of the late Rev John Tallach, missionary in Zimbabwe, passed away to be with their Lord.

Margaret was born in Bulawayo on 19th July 1987. She was the youngest of five children and twin to Helen. Margaret spent her early years living  at Ingwenya Free Presbyterian Mission. When she was nine the family returned to Scotland settling first at Raasay and then finally Mr Tallach was inducted as minister over the Oban congregation where Margaret completed her secondary education. She went on to train as a nurse in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Margaret returned to the Mission in1967 working for three years at Mbuma Mission Hospital. During her time there she learned Sindebele Bible verses so that she could quote them to her patients.

On her return to Scotland Margaret settled with her mother, Mrs Anne Tallach, in Inverness and worked as a community nurse for several years.

Margaret’s greatest concern was that each of her relatives would come to know the Lord and in the community at large she was often to be seen standing in a local shopping centre distributing tracts. She passed away on the 1st of April 2022.

“So to the haven he them brings which they desired to see. ” Psalm 107:30.

Catherine, Margaret’s older sister, passed away two months after her in 25th June 2022.

Born in present day Zimbabwe Catherine grew up in Ingwenya and spoke fluent Sindebele. She had shown an early interest in nursing matters and used to love being around the late Rev Dr MacDonald when he was attending to cases.. On her father’s return to Scotland she trained as a nurse and completed a course in nursing in the tropics.

Catherine returned to Zimbabwe in 1966 to work at Mbuma in the hospital started there by the late Mr Ian van Woerden. She spent six years working at Mbuma.

Catherine ’s knowledge of Sindebele was drawn on for translation work on the Mission.

Catherine came to live with her mother and Margaret in Inverness and was for a time Matron of the Church Ballifeary Residential Home in the city.

Her passing away was as peacefully as the wind passing over the grass in psalm 103;16.

“But into them that do him fear, God’s mercy never ends.”

A visit to Zimbabwe – Nelleke van den Hoorn

The time came in September 2022 for me to visit Mbuma, together with a friend and her husband. We arrived safely after two long days’ travel. The purpose of the journey was to familiarise ourselves with the hospital and how healthcare is practised there. I am a Dutch paediatric nurse and was keen to see how big the differences were between healthcare and resource availability in the Netherlands and in Zimbabwe.

I was allowed to spend a day at the Outpatient Department, visit all the wards and witness an operation. Let me describe for you Dr Anneke Snoek’s schedule when she has an outpatient day—when patients turn up at the hospital with problems or for check-ups.

The first to shuffle into the Outpatient Department is an old man. He is greeted by a nurse who takes his temperature, oxygen saturation and weight. It is all noted in a softcover book that the patient keeps with him, and is stamped and dated. He then proceeds to the specialist nurse, who is able to deal with many issues single-handedly. However, the old man’s condition is too complex, so he is referred on to her.

A hospital visit begins at the Outpatient Department


He takes his seat in the waiting room and bides his time. It is another hour and a half before he is called: the doctor has been called away to an emergency operation.

This already identifies for us a major difference with the Netherlands, where everything is mapped out in minutes. We Dutch become impatient even if we are kept waiting for a quarter of an hour by some circumstance, but here at the hospital, people will uncomplainingly sit and wait their turn for four hours or more.

After the old man, we saw a variety of other patients come past: the young, the elderly and pregnant women.

Something else that struck me was that they really take time here to listen carefully to the patient. How different from the Netherlands, where there are specialists for all kinds of problems: here, the same treating doctor takes all comers. Another difference from Dutch healthcare is that when a scan or ultrasound needs to be taken, the patient is asked beforehand whether he can pay. The same applies to any medicines that might be needed. They have to be paid for first, and then they can be collected from the pharmacy.

After a long and patient wait, the old man gets to see the doctor, who looks through his notes and asks him some questions. She is quite frank with him: he is gravely ill and won’t live long. There is discussion of prolonging his life and managing the pain, but also of the spiritual support that is available. Dr Snoek tells him that there is another Physician, One Who can give true healing and rest. The patient gives his consent to be referred to the hospital catechist to be taught from the Word of God. This, I think, is the greatest difference between Dutch hospitals and Mbuma Mission Hospital: patients here do of course come for treatment of their physical ailments, but they are also told about their spiritual state and pointed to the Great Healer—advice which we all need for this life and for eternity.

A baby admitted to the paediatric ward. The mother stayed with her child

I saw and learned much in the space of this visit. On the one hand, we are phenomenally well-off in the Netherlands: healthcare is well organised and so much more can be done than in Africa. However, the visit impressed upon me that Zimbabweans take one day at a time and live in dependence on the Lord, particularly the Christians among them.

This was my glimpse of healthcare in Zimbabwe. I wish all who read this, wherever they are, the Lord’s blessings.

With a local schoolgirl

The life and work of Mr Nkiwane, the evangelist

Several evangelists work at Mbuma. They have a special role at the Mission Hospital. Kees and Beppie van der Linden had the opportunity of speaking to one of them, Mr G. Nkiwane, during a visit to Mbuma in June 2022. Together with Sister Willie Geurtsen, they visited him at home and saw him at work both at hospital and in the bush. We are grateful that he gave us permission to write up this interview for the Stichting Mbuma Zending magazine on his experiences and ministry.


Mr G. Nkiwane is 57. He did not have an easy start in life. Following his parents’ divorce, he went to live with his maternal grandmother because his mother was occupied with the search for work. His grandmother, who effectively brought him up, had some knowledge of the Gospel. Mr Nkiwane recalls her praying every morning and evening. However, she had no Bible and never mentioned the Word of God. She also took part in ancestor worship. Half a century ago, everyone in the area believed in the power of ancestral spirits.

Halfway through primary school, an aunt of Mr Nkiwane’s came to live with his grandmother. She had a New Testament, and he started reading it. When he came to the accounts of the passion and death of Christ, he was deeply moved by what he read, even though he did not grasp the spiritual significance of these things at the time. His relatives took his tears to be a sign of feeble-mindedness and took the New Testament off him.

It was at Mbuma Mission that Mr Nkiwane attended primary school, thanks to which he also attended church services regularly—though he understood little of what he heard there. Yet when Rev. Mazvabo preached once on Dost thou love Me? from John 21, he was cut to the heart and saw what a vital book the Bible was.

There was no money for secondary school fees, so Mr Nkiwane asked Margaret Macaskill for assistance. Miss Macaskill was a nurse at the Mission Hospital and he got on well with her. He could see that hers was a life led by faith from day to day. It was from her that he heard that he had a soul, that God owns that soul and that he must listen to God.

This friendship was a key impulse for Mr Nkiwane to seek the Lord. The conviction took shape in him that the love of Christ was also for him. Margaret ensured that he could go on to study at John Tallach High School. As a teenager, he read the Scriptures often, at home as well as at school. This did not go unnoticed, and he was teased for being like an elder. To this day, Mr Nkiwane is ashamed that he did not respond to the taunt. What is worse, it made him lose his fellowship with God for years. In hindsight, he acknowledges that this was God’s disposition with him, and says, “His ways and His thoughts are higher than ours.” Although he remained outwardly a believer, praying and reading the Bible, he was cold-hearted within. It upsets him to think that it took a bout of serious illness to return him to the Lord.

After teacher training, Mr Nkiwane obtained a post at a school in a location that also had a Free Presbyterian congregation. There, he befriended an elder who urged him to return to his faith and start attending church again. Rev. Mzamo also encouraged him at that time that he was capable of confessing his sins and of looking to Christ. This pastoral care brought him great peace. In 2003, Mr Nkiwane returned to Mbuma, now as a teacher. He became a member of the Free Presbyterian Church in 2005.

His Bible knowledge did not go unnoticed, and Mr Nkiwane was asked to take the Scripture class at hospital. He was perturbed to come across people there who were close to death and living in gross darkness. This strengthened his resolve to speak to them of the Gospel. When the hospital management saw that development, they conferred with the elders and appointed him a hospital evangelist in 2008.

Work as an evangelist

Asked how people respond when he arrives and starts speaking to them, Mr Nkiwane says that patients welcome it when he prays for their healing and reads the Scriptures to them. He adds that it takes several bedside calls before people open up about the needs of their soul and preparing for death. He often has good opportunity to press this subject home, and when he does, it is striking how little knowledge of the Christian faith people have. While they do acknowledge the existence of God, they are ignorant of reconciliation in Christ. People are frequently prepared to listen to that message when they are ill and in pain. Outwith the hospital, he encounters more resistance.

Mr Nkiwane leads a team of four evangelists, but he spends as much time as he can engaging in evangelism with people himself. He is keen to speak one-to-one with patients and relatives, loves being present at the hospital and makes himself as available as he can to speak about the realities of sin and salvation. He also tours the villages around Mbuma for a range of meetings, such as discussions with chiefs and health workers or co-ordination with representatives of other churches.

When he has these opportunities to speak to people beyond the Free Presbyterian remit, Mr Nkiwane seizes the chance to speak practically about health and sickness. What does the Bible say about marriage and sexuality? What causes disease, and how should it be treated? What does the Word of God tell us about calling on spirits? In what do we place our confidence? This plain speaking was difficult in the early days and met with displeasure. It calls for a wise approach and prayer to speak properly in such circumstances, but the Lord is blessing his endeavours. As time has gone on, these encounters with outsiders have proven very fruitful. Mr Nkiwane asks for our prayers to continue these conversations.

We also paid a visit to Mr Nkiwane at home on his smallholding. His garden and fields are excellently maintained. He says that he sees it as a calling to farm as carefully as possible, to set a good example for locals—particularly the young people, to impress upon them that it is perfectly possible to live decently here. The youth are very tempted to get themselves to South Africa one way or another; failing all else, as illegal immigrants. Often, that decision ends in misery.


Mr Nkiwane was hesitant at first when we asked him what his special message for Dutch readers was, as he is unfamiliar with life in the Netherlands. However, he did say that we need God wherever we live in the world. Seek Him! We can only prosper in life with His blessing. God is good and that is why each of us must seek Him.

All prosperity is not a blessing; all adversity no punishment

Towards the end of the year 2021 in the beginning of December, Mbuma Mission Hospital received an elderly sick male patient into its care. Accompanying and assisting him was his eldest son and they came all the way from Mukoko Village which is situated in Gokwe deep in Mashonaland, 136km away from Mbuma Mission Hospital which is about a 2 hour and 20 minute drive. The Word of God tells us in Acts 17 vs 26-27 that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.” In the Lord’s all wise Providence, the suffering ordained in the lives of this father and his son were used by the Lord for good to bring them into contact with the everlasting Gospel message. They came to Mbuma seeking physical healing but their spiritual senses were awakened by their contact with the Word of God and two experiences in their lives which will be detailed below seemingly provide evidence for the above.
The father’s health when he was admitted at Mbuma was not admirable, in fact, it brought fear to both nursing staff and those observing that perhaps soon he would depart from this world because it would deteriorate with each day. This was a heavy trial for his son who initially had no hope for his father’s survival or any hope regarding the difficulties of life because in reality; he did not have a spiritual comfort for his soul which would give him hope in God and in the purposes of God which come through suffering. His church, the Roman Catholic Church seemed to have never taught him about suffering or point him to the God of Comfort “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”- 2nd Corinthians 1:4. But in the Lord’s wisdom, the period of time in which this family arrived into our premises was a period in which the sermons and Bible studies seemingly were focused on this area of life. The Lord’s Day Bible study  which is open to all within Mbuma was focused on the second coming of the Lord and how through suffering God draws His people closer to Himself and opens the eyes of those outside His Kingdom to see that there is no other hope of salvation but Him through faith in Christ. When talking daily with the son of the sick father about these lessons from the Bible studies and sermons, and praying with him as well as listening to his own expressions about his father’s health, it was a pleasure to hear him say these words: “I have been in pain about my father, I do not want him to die. But now I know that God allowed this suffering for us and I see that suffering is designed by the Lord for our spiritual good. When I came to Mbuma, I was disappointed in God, far from God, running from God; but since this trial with my father’s illness I find myself reading more from the Word of God, growing closer to God and praying to God. The Bible studies of Mbuma have helped me to understand this and the sermons have been a blessing, that whatever brings me closer to Jesus it is good.”
On the 28th of December, at midnight, the understanding which this son had attained was put to the test. He called me over the phone and woke me up in tears asking that I would come pray with him for his father because his father in his unconsciousness mumbled the words that he is about to die, and physically he was both pale and frail. I immediately got up and ran to the hospital, and for the next hour I prayed with this family. We read together as well as comforted each other from the Word of God. What happened the days following was a miracle – through the Lord’s intervention working through the dedicated nursing staff at Mbuma, the Lord heard our cry, and the father regained consciousness! He awoke from his bed and could even now walk on his own and talk coherently. The Lord answered prayer, and both this father and his son rejoiced and saw the hand of God in it. This was especially comforting because in the rural community, the first port of call in times of distress is the village witchdoctor for help, but they did not bow down to Baal, the son sought the face of the Lord “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”-Psalm 34 vs 4.
After some weeks when Dr. Snoek was now satisfied with the condition of her patient, the father was now discharged from hospital and allowed to go home and be with his family. However what was so peculiar now about their departure was that they no longer wanted to leave, especially the son because in his own words in shona he said “Kuno dzidziso yaIshe Jesu Kristu yawanda, yakasiyana neChurch yangu inonongedzera kuna Maria, apa wotaura nezvaMambo mambo Jesu, kuti iye ega ndiye nzira yeruponeso uye zvinondiita kuti ndinzwe rugare. pano.” In English he said: “There is so much teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ here, it is so very different from my Church which points to Mary, here you talk about the King, King Jesus, that He alone is the way of salvation and it makes me feel at peace here.”
The Psalmist expressed it well, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” -Psalm 119:71.

Church in Zimbabwe – Somakantana

Of all the stations established a cross the Shangani River, Somakantane was favoured by the Lord, in that ln 1960 Nathaniel Mpofu came to teach at Sipemba Primary School where her got married to Julia Sibanda. He had already met the Lord at Ingwenya Mission. He then preached that gospel at Sipemba and Somakantane area. He was then deployed at Somakantane in 1963 to open a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland school. This was the beginning of preaching of the gospel in earnest, as the school was under his Headship.

Mbuma area with the Shangani river in the middle of the picture and Somakantana opposite the river.

With the support of locals, Mkhulunyelwa Ndimande and Msweli Tshuma, Mr Mpofu got assistance from Mr Van Worden of Mbuma Mission to put up a church building. By God’s grace the church survived the ravages of the liberation war in that whilst other public structures were demolished not even a single brick of the building was touched.

Several members were admitted to the church notably his wife Julia, Mjobhi Ncube, Nzomba Dube, Mrs Zeblon Mpofu, Mrs Rachel Aaron Sibanda and Mrs Makhanda Ndlovu. Mr Norman Khumalo, Mr Aaron Dube and Mr Elijah Mpofu with their wives were also members. From 1963 communion services were held on the last Sabbath of July. Members from Somakantane, Sipemba and Makhwatheni being responsible for making arrangements, are joined by those from the Mbuma side of the Shangani. Whilst there have been notable additions in the Makwatheni congregation, the Sipemba congregation is now non-existent, due migration to cities, death and with a few joining other denominations.

In his report to the Synod in May 1965, Rev P Mzamo wrote, “Last winter Roman Catholics have been trying to catechise people around our schools across the Shangani River. At Somakantana School where Mr Nathaniel Mpofu teaches and conducts services, we had a chance to talk to two young African men who were appointed to catechise. We warned them of the danger to their own souls and the souls of those they instruct on such damnable heresies”.

The war of liberation only disturbed the means of Grace in this place but did not extinguish the flames of the gospel. As the war intensified Somakantane Immediately Schools was burnt down, Mr Nathaniel Mpofu immediately left for the city, and church services ceases for a while. In 1979, before the war ended, with the return of Mr Nathaniel Mpofu from Bulawayo, and Mr Albert Sibanda, who had been a member of UCCSA, came to settle at Somakantane, church services resumed smoothly as the church building had not been destroyed. enabled the smooth resumption of earnest preaching by Mr Nathaniel Mpofu after the war leading to the holding of Communion services in the mid-1980s up to this day, on the Lord’s Day which falls on the second weekend of August.

However, of late besides the Corona virus there have been other challenges to the work of the gospel. The roof of the church building was recently blown off by the wind, making the building unusable. The walls are also badly cracked. Church services are conducted in a classroom, with permission from the School Development Committee and the Head. It has to be noted that the school is no longer under the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. As Communion services have resumed in Zimbabwe, the church building need urgent repairs for it to be ready for use by August, 2022. Even now, on the Lord’s day the services are held with the disturbance of Pentecostal churches, who also use other classrooms at the school, with their drums and other instruments. It’s quite a challenge.

Somakantana Primary School where Church services are held.

To make matters worse death has robbed the church most members such that only 6 members have remained and among these one is old and seldom attends services due to old age and ailments. With only one member gainfully employed and one adherent a pensioner it’s quite difficult if not impossible to renovate the building.