Sodom, Gomorrah in Selous

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IS it possible for a church to share the same premises with a beer outlet? If so, what sort of a relationship exists between the two ‘parallel’ entities and the moral bearing of such a situation? “You are the light of the world… In the same way let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven,” reads part of Matthew 5:14-16. The situation obtaining at one popular nightclub in town, Earlside Hotel, sheds more light to such co-existence between the church and the bar. This has sparked debate and haranguing on the moral and spiritual implications of this association with some sections of the community castigating the correlation as mixing ‘oil and water’. “These places are associated with crime and violence,” said a Christian who requested anonymity. “I discourage churches from renting beerhall premises, the smell of beer and the spirit of prostitution taking into note that every place is associated with a specific spirit,” she said. Earlside was once a brothel and temporarily shut down after an alleged commercial sex worker was found dead in one of the rooms. The church renting at Earlside uses the same entrance with the bar patrons and conducts its services during lunchhour and in the evening. En-route to the church venue, one passes through a corridor of booking rooms located adjacent to the bar and the restaurant. Commercial sex workers also ply the area in search of clients during the night. Pastor Simbarashe Mandiya of Family of God church said sharing the premises with a bar was a ‘tricky’ motion to nonbelievers. “It is a bit tricky, but nonetheless, people who are believers find it unusual since the church is not the one running the beerhall outlet, but people are only seeking the presence of God under the building,” he said. Pastor Madyiwa of the Awake Grace Ministries, on the other hand, said sharing premises with a bar had a negative bearing on the church and individuals attending the church service. He said his experience as a church leader showed that the community disapproved of the existing bar and church relationship at Earlside. “I led a congregation at Grand Hotel in Kadoma and these places are usually messed up because at one time I even came across a condom and this is not an appropriate place for the children of God,” he said. The situation obtaining at Earlside is just a tip of the iceberg as most churches, due to reasons best known to them, have resorted to use beerhalls for worshipping. A weird situation is also happening in Bindura where a church is currently renting a council beerhall for their church services. During the prayer session, the bar maintains low volume to ensure that a friendly environment prevails with their newly-found neighbours. A budding social analyst, Trymore Mandangu, said the practice of using beerhalls as church premises was prevalent among newly formed churches. “This protestant approach by these churches is unacceptable because people do not live in a vacuum and we have to take cognisance of the people whom we intend to serve and societal values,” he said. He said the newly adopted doctrine of linking Christianity with beerhalls was aimed at winning new converts. “Moreover, they are also of the view that the spirit of God overrides other spirits and beerhalls is where people want redemption, which calls for a head-on approach with their target group,” he said.

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