ZEMA ministers to the Zionists of the African Independent Churches in Southern Africa, called “amaZioni” in Zulu meaning, “people of Zion.” A new religious movement, Zionism, is a blend of Christianity and indigenous ancestral worship. The amaZioni people are estimated to have 15–18 million members throughout southern Africa. In Swaziland, forty percent of the Swazi people consider themselves amaZioni. They are prevalent in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia.
The amaZioni call themselves the “people of Zion” not because of the Biblical concept of Zion but because of their historical tie to a church located in Zion, Illinois, USA. More than a century ago, the church in Zion sent a group of missionaries to southern Africa. These missionaries saw many prominent tribesmen accept Christian beliefs.
However, internal and financial problems in Zion, USA, forced the Western missionaries to withdraw, not returning to Southern Africa for decades. In their wake, the amaZioni had no Biblical resources. Over time, they grew exponentially, planting churches, establishing new churches and leaders. But without formal or informal Biblical training, they moved further into traditional beliefs. Mixing Christian practices with African traditions such as witchcraft and ancestor worship, the Zionists in Southern Africa are syncretistic. Fearing the great “Unkulunkulu” (biggest of the big), and their ancestors, amaZioni worship God, who they do not know.
ZEMA has a special connection to the amaZioni, since knowing their history, we point them back to “the true teachings of Zion,” which is the Word of God! With the Bible as our source of Truth, ZEMA missionaries are amaZioni serving amaZioni in Southern Africa!
ZEMA shares the Bible through many means. ZEBS and ZBC classes train pastors and leaders who have an intimate connection to the culture and preserve and spread Biblical truth. ZEMA missionaries journey life with the African people. AmaZioni encouraging, mentoring and supporting one another, serving local communities: the living Gospel in a hurting world.
Website credit: Photo’s by @tirachard