By Mark Ellis
After a JESUS Film team came to his village in southern Zimbabwe, Nhamo Chigohi found Jesus and eventually became a prolific church planter and launched at least seven schools and orphanages.
Pastor Chigohi passed into the arms of the Savior he loved on May 16th due to possible complications of hepatitis. He was 43.
“He was a very impactful person, able to do things nobody else was able to do,” says Pastor Tobey Williams, a bi-vocational pastor based in Montrose, Colorado. “He was like a brother to me.”
On one trip to Zimbabwe with Pastor Chigohi, Pastor Williams watched 800 people come to Christ in three days as a result of Pastor Chigohi’s influence. “I started 30-40 churches with him and worked with Nhamo to get pastor training started.”
So many were accepting Christ there was a critical shortage of trained leaders, something both men set out to rectify.
Many of the young people who graduated from the schools he started became the top students in Zimbabwe, something noted by government officials. “He was very influential in his area,” Pastor Williams recalls.
The area where Pastor Chigohi ministered lacks adequate medical facilities, which may have been a factor in his early demise. “It’s a tough place to get medical attention and they couldn’t get him attention fast enough,” according to Pastor Williams. He says his friend may have also been suffering from cancer.
At the time he came to Christ, Chigohi was also dealing with a health crisis. A painful infection and boil on his head rendered him unable to move from his bed. He spent many days listlessly, barely able to turn over, yet his witchdoctor father refused modern medical care.
“He would not allow me to go to the hospital because he believed he could heal through witchcraft,” Pastor Chigohi recalled later.
His father called on his spirits, but they could not heal the young man.
One day a team came from a neighboring village to show the JESUS Film. “I was warned by my father not to see any activity sponsored by the local church,” Pastor Chigohi noted. When his father and mother left him alone, they warned him not to watch the JESUS movie on the evening it was presented in their village.
Even though he did not see the film, the sound carried into his room, so he could follow the soundtrack as he lay motionless on his bed. “I heard the voice when Jesus was healing people and I said to myself, ‘I believe this same Jesus can come and heal me too.’”
The next day members of the JESUS Film team went door-to-door throughout the village. “They shared the story of salvation with me and prayed for my healing,” he recalled. Even though he didn’t fully understand, he prayed a simple prayer of faith to receive Jesus and he was born again.
The shift in his mental outlook was instantaneous. “I had faith I would not die of this sickness,” he said. “The fear of evil spirits and witchcraft was completely removed from me.”
When his parents returned and discovered what happened, his father was furious. He flew into a rage, shouting epithets at his son and ultimately drove him from the house.
The younger Chigohi went to live in the streets of a nearby town, Neshuro. His headaches began to subside and he actually felt normal, despite his ordeal. After he became homeless he prayed, “Lord, please help me. I’m alone and I’m hungry.”
After months of gritting through a meager survival, Baptist missionary David Griggs found Chigohi in a deserted alley. He shared about his faith and his father’s rejection.
“When he heard my story he was so happy and he adopted me into his house, where his wife home-schooled me,” Pastor Chigohi recounted.
Pastor Griggs discipled the younger man in the Lord, and trained him to share his testimony after they showed the JESUS Film. He grew in wisdom and favor, and eventually became a pastor to his ancestral people, the Shangaan.
Pastor Nhamo Chigohi planted over 60 churches in his region, seven schools and orphanages. His orphanage ministry was always close to his heart. “When I was on the streets, it was my training for orphanage ministry,” he noted.”
“God is moving,” he said. “He has opened the Gospel to the Shangaan people and many others.”