I remember the day like it was yesterday and yet it was actually 27 years ago. A visitor came to our home in Harare and informed me that Bishop Guti (as he was then) wanted to see me. Given the constant surveillance from security agents that I lived under, I was advised to give them a slip and go to the place where I was to see him.
I have rarely been so excited in my whole life to meet someone. This man already in his seventies was a legend in global Christian circles and few people got a chance to meet him personally. I was not a member of his church congregation and never became a member. The ministry he had built from 1960, known as the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa [ZAOGA], already boasted millions of members and was expanding throughout Africa and the world.
As I was ushered into his office, I was immediately struck by the humble surroundings; the room was small and had just a few simple chairs. He himself was sitting at an equally simple and worn desk that could have been bought from a local IKEA store.
He warmly invited me to sit on a chair at his desk, and smiled kindly, before saying in a very soft voice, “Shall we pray?”
I bowed my head as he did, and listened to a short but barely audible prayer in which he thanked God for protecting me and giving me the faith to endure the persecution I was under.
Although he asked me to give him a history of the dispute by which the government had banned me from operating my business, a mobile telephone network, it was clear after a few moments that he was extremely well briefed.
He listened with keen sparkling eyes that just looked straight at me as I spoke. The warmth he generated was so powerful that I just felt love filling my heart. At one time he reached into his pocket and gave me a handkerchief as I realised that tears were falling down my cheeks.
“There is no problem with what you are trying to do; it’s just corrupt people using the system for their own gain,” he said quietly. “You have taken a stand against corruption, which is your duty as a Christian.”
He had a huge well worn Bible on his desk, and he said to me, “You know, of course, there is no weapon ever devised by man against The Word of God. I’m told you are a ferocious reader of the Bible.”
“Yes sir,” I replied. “I currently go through the entire Bible twice a year, and I just can’t get enough of it.”
“It is that and that alone that is generating the power called faith and that is why you are unstoppable. I want you to intensify your study.”
For a while, I shared with him some testimonies of how I felt God had been helping me. He enjoyed every moment of it and I saw him get excited.
At one time he lifted his hand and said, “You know of course that you are going to prevail?”
“Yes, Baba, I know; I have always known.”
“Go my son, you are going to prevail, and keep doing what you are doing.” I knelt down as he prayed.
And with that, I left as quietly as I had come. He instructed that I be invited to teach a Bible class to an interdenominational gathering of business people over lunchtime every single day. I had my own weekly slot which was well attended.
I would simply lead a reading of the Bible, avoiding to say anything that could be deemed political or social commentary. It was a powerful message that the church stood with me, and before long, other ministers requested me to do the same.
It would be another two years before we finally prevailed through the Courts. And yet that meeting was a “Fuel stop on my journey of faith”. Although the persecution that eventually led me to leave the country 5 years later would intensify, after that meeting I felt validated and encouraged. I kept it as a reminder, and whenever shaken by any setback, I turned to my own little pocket Bible knowing I was not alone.
On the day we launched our business, the nation’s church leaders from all denominations gathered for a service of Thanksgiving. Bishop Guti sent the most senior leaders of his vast ministry.
I did not meet him personally again for perhaps a decade, but he routinely reached out to me to find out how I was doing. On one occasion he invited me to meet the great Evangelist and now late Myles Monroe.
Our last meeting took place a few years ago on a British Airways flight to London. I met him in the lounge with just his wife Amai Guti and one assistant. For those who did not know him, it could have just been any elderly man traveling with his wife. Such remarkable humility.
We walked to the plane together. To anyone looking who did not know, it was just an elderly couple walking with their son, and in many ways, it was how I would have loved the whole world to see it… my Baba and Amai (Apostle) Eunor Guti.
My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with Amai Archbishop Eunor Guti and the Guti family, and all from across Zimbabwe, Africa, and the world, who are touched by his loss. May Archbishop Guti’s memory as a centenary light of Hope, Faith, Grace, and Love continue to bless and strengthen our journeys, inspiring us in Jesus’ name to lives of humble courage, compassion, and kindness to all along our paths.
A tribute from Strive Masiyiwa for Archbishop Professor Ezekiel Handinawangu Guti who went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ this week, at the age of 100!
This article was extracted from Strive Masiyiwa’s Facebook page