The Army comes to Zimbabwe
The pioneer missionaries of The Salvation Army, accompanied by missionaries of other Christian denominations, arrived at Fort Salisbury (Rhodesia) from South Africa in 1891 to minister to the people of Zimbabwe in obedience to Jesus’ command to his disciples to go and evangelize all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19). The Salvation Army missionaries evangelized the people through a combination of the ministry of preaching (salvation), the ministry of teaching (education) and the ministry of healing (medical missions). This tradition continues today in all corners of Zimbabwe. Thousands of Zimbabweans found Christ either through the ministry of preaching, or as students at Salvation Army schools, or while being treated at Salvation Army hospitals.
The ministry of healing is extremely important to The Salvation Army because it was an integral part of Jesus’ own ministry (Matthew 4:23). This ministry led the missionaries to establish two big hospitals, the most famous of which is Howard Mission Hospital, which ministers not only to the sick but also trains nurses, midwives and orderlies. Through the practice of modern medicine, laying of hands and prayers, patients are healed and saved daily at these two Salvation Army hospitals and several clinics around the country.
Through the ministry of preaching, missionaries converted thousands of Zimbabweans to the Christian faith, while the ministry of teaching led them to establish several educational institutions, including Howard Institute, Bradley Institute, Usher Institute and Mazowe Secondary School. These premier high schools are among the best educational institutions producing a cadre of leaders and intellectuals.
In addition, The Salvation Army operates four social service institutions in Zimbabwe. The Bumhudzo Home for the Elderly provides accommodation and medical care to those without family support or financial assistance; and Athol Evans Home is the final earthly home for those who are able to pay for geriatric living or nursing and care. The Braeside Social Complex offers housing for women pensioners and a men’s shelter. Enterprise House and the Ralstein Centre provide accommodation for elderly and single men.
So the clarion call of William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, for “Soup, Soap and Salvation…and in that order!” still rings true in the lives of Salvationists in Zimbabwe as we try to live like Christ by providing not only basic needs but a Christian-based education and health delivery system. So, like the large African elephant, The Salvation Army is a social service organization, a church that preaches the Word, a health delivery system and a ministry of education.