By Phyllis Mbanje
CONGREGANTS of RMG Independent End Time Message Church, led by alleged rapist Robert Martin Gumbura, were cowed into submission with unconventional philosophies which ranged from veiled threats to promises of a better life.
Church members who spoke to The Standard last week said parishioners were hoodwinked into practices bordering on “occultism and hedonism”.
Court reports indicate that women submissively joined the group sexual orgies, typical of those conducted by the infamous American cult leader, Jim Jones, who bragged that he once had sex with 14 women in one day.
Gumbura is facing several counts of rape involving some female church members.
The church, whose doctrine is founded on polygamy, has received its fair share of criticism from members of the public who feel that the leadership has been abusing its followers.
The former members allege that Gumbura was a reprobate with warped sexual desires.
“In that church, sexual perversion is their cornerstone. I have been reading a lot about churches abroad that practice occultism and I think RMG was doing exactly that,” said a former member, who has since rejoined his conventional Roman Catholic church.
Another former member, Owen Borerwe said he felt uncomfortable with the teachings of the church, but could never raise the issue with anyone as the members did not take lightly to their leader being questioned.
“The status they gave to their pastor was like that accorded to God,” he said.
Women in Gumbura’s church brainwashed
The former members claimed that the use of fear played a major role in forcing people into submission. Members were told that if they did not obey Gumbura, they would become the children of the devil.
An elder with Arise Ministries of Belvedere, Charles Mutema, said such behaviour was a clear sign that there was sexual pervasion in the church.
“There is what is called a succubus and an incubus. The succubus is some form of a female spirit that seeks out males to have sexual relations with, while the incubus is the male version. Their powers are drawn from the act,” he said.
Mutema said these two spirits were popularly known as “spiritual husbands/wives” in most African countries.
“The women are brainwashed with a false doctrine that says women are inferior. They feel obligated to submit to the debasing sexual activities,” he said.
Gumbura allegedly told his congregants that women were inferior to him because of what Eve did in the Garden of Eden and if they did not obey him, they would be committed to eternal damnation.
“Men like him target or attract people who are desperate, feeling vulnerable or disenchanted for whatever reason. These are easy to manipulate because of their weakness,” said Mutema.
Reverend Nathan Magwali of First Fruits Ministries said members of the public should be vigilant and must establish the foundation of a church before joining it.
“It is prudent that people should be warned that there are churches that are masquerading as genuine Christ followers and yet their father is Lucifer,” he said.
Magwali said women were easier to manipulate because they have more “permissive spirits”.
“Women are highly intelligent beings but when it comes to spiritual matters, they tend to be a bit gullible,” he said.
However, some members have defended the church activities which they say are envied by their detractors.
“Polygamy is there in the Bible. Outstanding men of God like Solomon and his father David had more than one wife,” said a young lady, who claimed she was a member.
She had come to court in solidarity with her pastor.
“There is so much love in our church and it is easy to misconstrue this as something else,” said the woman who proudly said she would marry her pastor if the opportunity came her way.
Some of Gumbura’s wives recently shared with the rest of the world their flamboyant lives which they owed to their husband whom they do not mind sharing.
Gumbura’s church was recently suspended by the Apostolic Christian Church Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) for allegedly practising acts that bordered on “Satanism”.
ACCZ president, Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, said there had been a unanimous decision to suspend the church. He claimed that he had watched video tapes in which Gumbura was being intimate with some church members.
“There is overwhelming evidence with regards to alleged rape, sexual abuses and harassment against women and the girl child. There is clear evidence of acts of Satanism. There is evidence of drug abuse,” said Ndanga. The Standard