In a world where in more instances than not disability is defined as inability, it takes courage and determination for one to defy the odds.
That is the story of 32 year old Mary Chipoka Zenda who has become Zimbabwe’s first ordained pastor with speech and hearing impairments.
The world’s most notable preachers have one thing in common, the command of powerful words.
But what if one does not possess the gift of speech?
That is the unique story of Pastor Chipoka Zenda, whose use of hands on the pulpit is as powerful as the use of words by other preachers worldwide.
The energetic Pastor, who is based at Morgenster in Masvingo, was recently ordained as a pastor at the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe after undergoing four years of training in pastoral studies at the Deaf Africa Ministries Institute in Cape Town, South Africa.
Speaking through an interpreter, Mrs Ndanatswa Marinyenya, Pastor Chipoka Zenda said as she was growing up, she was often frustrated during church services as she never got to hear what the pastor was preaching.
As she reflects, going to church was therefore meaningless to her.
However, this played a huge role in her adult life as she found herself studying to be a pastor in Cape Town at the instigation of her church.
Initially, they were four in her class and the other three all dropped out due to the challenges they faced when undergoing the studies.
At some points, she also wanted to throw in the towel but she is grateful that she made it through.
The pastor recently wedded her high school sweetheart, Trevor Zenda earlier this year and she says he has become her rock, who gives her the necessary support.
She gets emotional when she preaches about the lost sheep, as she feels the hearing and speech impaired who have no one to preach to them due to communication barriers can turn out to be the lost sheep.
This she hopes can be overcome if more people can learn to preach in sign language.
Moderator of the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe, Reverend Rangarirayi Rutoro commended Pastor Chipoka Zenda for becoming the first ordained hearing and speech impaired pastor in Zimbabwe.
According to the gospel, Zacheus, a short man climbed up a tree to see Jesus, and if that could earn him the privilege to host the Lord in his home, what then can stop Pastor Chipoka Zenda from spreading the good news.