Stories Move Mountains

Categories: JL Zwane 

Other articles by: admin Banisa Brown


The Reverend Ronald Matandakufa of St Peters Uniting Presbyterian Church in Gweru attended the “Stories Move Mountains” workshop in January-February 2014. 

This workshop runs for six days each year and is held from the end of January and the beginning of February. Participants attending this workshop are invited to reflect with others on their different ministries in their congregations.  What has be common from their reflections were that the workshop is indeed a life changing experience of hope –and have committed to implement and integrate their experience at their congregations, to enhance on the work that God has called them to do.

REFLECTION BY MINISTERS: A majority of Ministers attend these workshops just when they are at the point of giving up- such are the challenges they encounter while at their callings. 

One of them confessed that his congregation, has had four ministers in three years.  He goes on to say:  “No minister stays longer that one year.”  

“I am the only one who has stayed longer. I started my ministry there in 2013 and everyone, even people in the community, when they see me walk the streets of Gweru, would stop and ask:  “are you still here?” 

What is clear is that this congregation’s problem was that it centred its identify and its membership around the community. 


During training, ministers are assisted with how to deconstruct such realities and work with everyone in the congregation towards helping them see, identify and embrace their preferred reality.

During training leaders share their stories.  They are assisted to see the strengths and possibilities that they, as leaders, to be well aware of the strengths and abilities of the churches’ membership and how best to build the future of the congregation on what works rather than what does not work.  They are encouraged to be more inclusive in their approach to ministry, embrace those they regard as enemies. 

On the third day of his participation, in 2014, Ronald was so challenged that he thought he knew exactly what he had not done well in his ministry.  He thought he could go back and fix it.

 In his own words, he said: “I am now ready to go back home and turn the congregation around.”  On his return to Zimbabwe, he hit a wall. 

Six months after the workshop, he wrote to me and shared his frustration but he vowed not to give up.  Ronald was thus invited to participate in the second training session which was held this year in January – February.  It is after this time that he started to see signs of hope and change in his congregation. 

It is through this positive attitude, his commitment to further inquiry into the exceptional positive moments of his ministry that he had begun to yield much needed results.  Thus he commenced a journey of being the change he was expecting from his congregation.  It is against this background, after his second participation to the programme, that requested we consider running a workshop of this nature in Gweru, Zimbabwe

The workshop was held in Gweru, Zimbabwe from 28th -30th October, 2015.  Gweru is a small town about 170km outside the city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.  

A total of 22 participants attended.  12 were from the Uniting Presbyterian Church, 2 from the Church of Christ, 3 from Faith Ministries, 3 from the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian and 1 from the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. 

It was a great experience for all of us who participated.  The participants shared experiences front their churches and how they have had a real impact on how they have always viewed their ministries, “a change of mind-set, a fantastic, equipping and thought provoking workshop. 

They all agreed that the workshop represented the best approach to be used so far to impact leaders through participants’ interaction”.  One participant made the observation that:

 “The approach and delivery techniques have been the best and were very effective.  We learnt more through an interactive approach than we could have learnt through the lecture method.  We shared our stories and got our own solutions from among our individual situations and interactions.” 

He echoed the sentiments of many that he “wished that this programme could be extended to our lay leaders as well”.


As facilitators we were inspired by the response from the participants – as we wanted to know why so many people attended the workshop. 

What inspired us most was that, even before Ronald could invite them, they could see how different his ministry was since he attended the very first workshop at JL Zwane in 2014.  It was great to hear this.  Everyone was watching and witnessing “a new thing emerging” at St St Peters Uniting Presbyterian Church in Gweru.

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