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What is the Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe: Vapostori

Where does the Apostlic faith go in your Biblical timeline. Have you ever heard of the Vapostori group of people in Zimbabwe? Is their religion based on the Old Testament? Is it similar to Judaism? Sincerely, mshioura

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Summary: The religion was founded in the 1930’s by Johane Masowe after a religious experience that led him to believe he was another John the Baptist and led to preach in Africa. The religion is based on the New Testament; specifically on the scriptures on the Holy Spirit. It is not similar to Judaism.

Apostolic Churches

Apostolic, Latin Apostolicus, plural Apostolici, a member of any of the various Christian sects that sought to reestablish the life and discipline of the primitive church by a literal observance of the precepts of continence and poverty. The earliest Apostolics (Also known as Apotactici, meaning “abstinents”) appeared in Anatolia about the 3rd century AD on the Bible Timeline Chart. They were extremely austere and renounced property and marriage. In the 12th century certain groups of heretical itinerant preachers called Apostolics were found in various centres of France, Flanders, and the Rhineland. (100 of 291 words) Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Vopostori, Madzibabas or Masowe Apostolics of Zimbabwe

The founder Johane Masowe

A man named Shoniwa Masedza founded the Friday Masowe Church in the 1930s after having a transformational encounter with the Holy Spirit, which led to a name change. The newly christened Johane Masowe, or John of the Wilderness, became the self-proclaimed John the Baptist of Africa. This history has tremendous resonance for the particular Friday congregation … the Juranifiri Santa (meaning “place of healing”). accessed Jan 20, 2011 Johane Masowe was born in 1914 or 1915 in Gandanzara village in Makoni district of eastern Zimbabwe, the second of six sons and a daughter born to Jack and Efie Masedza, of the Manyika subgroup of the Shona people. His parents named him Shoniwa Masedza Tandi Moyo, but the change of name to Johane Masowe came about through the religious experience that launched him into an itinerant preaching ministry from 1932 until his death in 1973.

Police records from the white colonial regime of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) indicate that Johane Masowe first got the attention of the authorities when he was arrested in 1932 for traveling around preaching without proper documents. In the police interrogation, he explained that he began having severe pains in the head that culminated in a dream that he had died. After that, he heard voices saying that his name was now John, which he interpreted to mean John the Baptist.

This new name carried a mandate to preach to the African people. His commission came from spending forty days in prayer on Marimba Hill, near the town of Norton, during which time he did not sleep and survived only on wild honey. A voice from a burning bush told him, “I have blessed you. Carry on with the good work. Tell the natives to throw away their witchcraft medicines, not to commit adultery or rape.” After these experiences, his headaches ceased.

He told police, “I really do believe that I have been sent from heaven to carry out religious work among the natives. I think that I am ‘John the Baptist,’ as the voice told me so. No human being has guided me in my teachings” . Masowe’s commission, as described in his own words, resembled that of Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus in spending time alone in the wilderness, hence the name Johane Masowe, meaning “John of the wilderness”. accessed January 20, 2011

The Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe

According to a 28 October 1996 AP Worldstream report, the Johanne Masowe Apostolic Faith is an apostolic sect founded by the late Johanne Masowe. According to a 23 October Africa News report, it is based in Eastern Manicaland province. AP Worldstream reports that the faith has a shrine, the Johanne Masowe shrine, located about 120 miles east of Harare (ibid.). The faith has reportedly split into two factions, one led by Johanne Masowe’s widow, and the other by his son, Magaga Masedza (ibid.). Violent clashes between rival factions reportedly broke out at the shrine. This source further states that cars and a bus were damaged, four people injured, and 380 rival followers were arrested during the clashes (ibid.). According to the Africa News report, the sect is purist and is “notorious for its total rejection of any form of scientific medication,” which has resulted in the death of many of its adherents. (from the Canadian Immigration site) Beliefs of the Friday Masowe Apostolics From the book A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church by Matthew Engelke The Friday Masowe apostolics of Zimbabwe refer to themselves as “the Christians who don’t read the Bible.” They claim they do not need the Bible because they receive the Word of God “live and direct” from the Holy Spirit. In this insightful and sensitive historical ethnography, Matthew Engelke documents how this rejection of scripture speaks to longstanding concerns within Christianity over mediation and authority. The Bible, of course, has been a key medium through which Christians have recognized God’s presence. But the apostolics perceive scripture as an unnecessary, even dangerous, mediator. For them, the materiality of the Bible marks a distance from the divine and prohibits the realization of a live and direct faith. A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church by Matthew Engelke

From a member of this church comes this response to belief on a discussion board:

The thing that makes us (madzibaba nemadzimai) unique is the holy spirit. We have the power of the holy spirit in our blood which is a blessing that was shunned by the white people not knowing that the power we shall behold it our blood. accessed January 20, 2011


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16 thoughts on “What is the Apostolic Church of Zimbabwe: Vapostori

  1. marjority blvd it ws e Messiah when Jesus had died bt to many,it ws too late.

  2. This story is 100% correct
    Baba johane is all

  3. Am really sorry to say this but your collection of history, is all mixed up, you have mixed up two different people.

    1. Which two have we mixed up? I’m happy to fix it if we have made a mistake

  4. Baba johane is a true messiah , actions revealed so and in him i believe


  6. This is indeed a mixed-up account. And also an incomplete one in so far as replying the original question is concerned. Shoniwa Masedza founded the Friday Masowe Church(FMC), as mentioned, but he is not the man who was born at Gandanzara. FMC observes Friday as their day of worship and they don’t use the Bible. The Johane from Gandanzara is the original founder of the Vapostori (The African Apostolic Church). His real name was Muchabaya Momberume, and his church observes Saturday (Sabbath), but is more popularly known for practising polygamy. There is also a man from Chirumanzi, Paul Mwazha. He was born in 1918 and is turning 96 this year. He is leader of a church also known as The African Apostolic Church.

  7. also i blv in madzibaba

  8. Mine is rather a qustion than a comment.ln your article you mention that Baba Johanne had 3 wives,but when one visits the church it is taught that the church’s policy does not allow poligamy.Where n how did that change? Another thing there seen to be Johanne Masowe eChishanu that worship on sundays how does it differ from the Friday Masowe church founded by Baba Johanne?

  9. Most of this article is correct but there are a few things which are not. According to oral evidence given to me by my late grandfather,Phibian Mugwambi (1918-2004). “Shohiwa Masedza latter known as Johane Masowe was the son of Efie Mugwambi married to a man known as Masedza.
    Shonhiwa and Phibian grew up together in the same home as Shonhiwa was raised by his maternal uncle Mugwambi.
    It is said he had his first encounter with the spirit while heading cattle in the mountain at exactly the place were his grave is today and that’s were the shrine is. He came back home without the cattle and saying strange things that they took him for insane.
    The man was illiterate but he started preaching and saying things from the bible with great accuracy, people began to follow him and they started having their church services on saturdays and not fridays. This friday thing came much latter as people began to shape events to fit in their daily routines, since friday is chisi In Makoni district.
    It was through this Momberume that a break away faction started worshiping on fridays, I don’t know anything about this man except that he was 1 of the prophets who came back with Johane from abroad were he was preaching, hence they had to clarify their name to Johane Masowe Yechishanu.
    To this day the original masowe attends on saturday. at the shrine

    1. Your account has an element of bias, since you are part of the Mugovera(Saturday) Sect. Masowe echishanu came first with the first gathering at Nevanji, Nyamweda, Mhondoro. It is true that strange things happened to Shonihwa when he was growing up in Rusape but no one undetstood all this during his Childhood. When he was working at a farm near Kintrye as a shoe repair, he started hearing voices and he suffered a terrible headache. That is when he was driven to the mountaints by the holly spirit and spent 40days & 40nights. From there he went to his parents in Rusape to tell them about his spiritual work which was about to start. He bid them farewell and went to Marimba hill in Mufakose. After a strong prayer he then left for Nyamweda. At this time he was now called Johane. He gathered people of Nevanji and his mission was confirmed by the medium spirits and people were put in his hands. His teachings were centered on Love, humbleness, forgiveness etc

  10. as i wait patiently for some of us who joined the church because we are sick and fell in love with it, we want to learn more about it as in Botswana nothing much is said

    1. I agree Gao , we need to learn more. There’s not much info also here in SA.

  11. Even here in Kenya nothing is taught about happened in Zimbabwe in those years. I request people with facts to write on this platform so that we can read and be informed. I know the story is orally told, so write

  12. We have to know that there is difference btwn holisprit and a person. Jowani is the holy spirit and shoniwa is the person filled with holisprit so if you want to learn wisely quote stories taught by holysprit and leave those from a person

  13. I need help and your prayers, I have seen first hand how things change when you pray for someone whose life has been affected by huge forces of bad luck . For the last 15 years I lost a house, immigration status, very well paying jobs to nothing

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