Joe Shoko is one of HeartCry’s newest missionary pastors in Africa. He was sent last year by Kabwata Baptist Church to start a church in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Because Joe’s work commenced during the process of HeartCry’s change to a new website, which spanned several months, his early updates were not posted. I thought it would be helpful to our supporters if Joe summarized the first year of work in Harare. If you would like to learn more about Joe, his conversion testimony and call to ministry can be read here.
“After completing the 2018 Pastoral Internship program, I was set apart as a missionary of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia. On the 17th of March 2019, the elders laid hands on me in an auditorium filled with Christians who affirmed this solemn event. Thus began the journey of moving to the capital of Zimbabwe, Harare, where I looked for a place to live with the hope of planting a Reformed Baptist church.
The Lord graciously provided a place of residence in the west of the capital, in an area called Westgate, where the work of door-to-door evangelism commenced. Our first Bible Study was held in the beginning of June 2019. The aim was to begin by having Saturday Bible studies, instead of a Sunday service, because we didn’t know anyone and they didn’t know us. The work got off to a slow start, but once I met people in the neighborhood and created contacts, people started coming in numbers to hear what was being taught.
I spent a huge amount of time doing a series called, “The Person and Work of Christ.” The Bible studies were evangelistic in nature and really got people of all ages interested. We also had monthly Children’s Bible Clubs, and these were centered on the foundational doctrines of Scripture – who God is, the doctrine of man, the fall of man, and the redemption of man through Christ Jesus our Lord.
On the 19th of October 2019, I married my wife Tinotenda Alice Shoko and in early November we settled down and continued the work of church planting. At the end of March 2020, after careful consideration and prayer, we decided to start having Sunday services from our home. We were convinced that this was an appropriate time to start services and have a liturgy for our worship.
The number of people coming to the services averages 7-8, and I am grateful that I have a man, namely Ndodana, who is aiding with the work and has become a part of us. I am currently preaching through Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, and it has been a challenging book to study. I have seen the Lord working in me and sanctifying me in my blind spots and my shortcomings.
So far there has not been anyone step forward to confess Christ, as far as those who congregate with us are concerned, but we will continue to keep on praying, and preaching the Gospel, and crying out to the Lord of the Harvest. We are also praying and searching for a suitable meeting place, and hopefully, by God’s grace, we will eventually be able to secure land on which to build an auditorium. Zimbabwe, at the moment, is riddled with corruption and political mayhem, so we must be careful with those we engage on issues of purchasing land and also renting a conference room to meet in. We are encouraged from the Scriptures that our hope is not in earthly princes and kings, but in our eternal, supreme, Lord Jesus Christ. He is our only hope in life and death.”