Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
The turn of the century has undoubtedly seen the rise of the alpha female – that highly educated, classy and motivated new breed of woman willing to put everything aside and serve the Lord.
Wearing trendy designer outfits and sporting the high class hairdos, these women could pass for corporate executives, ready to chair a board meeting.
But nay, these are a new breed of female pastors who feed on the Bible daily, and have become role models in their own communities and the country at large.
Pretty modish and attractive, they are no more than servants of the Lord who dedicate hours to no end serving God.
Apostle Florence Kanyati, founder of ZOE Life Changing Ministries, is one such woman whose life has evolved around serving God, a calling she received when she was barely in her teens.
What I am today, what I have achieved over the years, and the lives that I have touched over the years is by the grace of God,” she revealed in an interview recently.
A preacher, counsellor, marriage officer and an author of repute Dr Florence Kanyati is more than just a lady of the cloth.
From being a mere ghetto girl, raised up by atheists’ parents in Glen Norah in the early 1980’s, Dr Kanyati has touched the lives of many through her religious work that has taken her around the globe. Pursuing religious work has taken her as far as Asia, Europe, the Americas and other African countries, a feat she wouldn’t have achieved had she been working as an ordinary employee anywhere.
Not only has she traversed the globe, but she has also mentored, counselled and motivated thousands of executives across the social, political and economic geographical space.
Apostle Kanyati says accepting to serve in God’s kingdom has given her competitive edge over her peers, despite growing up with a lot of prejudices owing to her family’s impoverished background.
“It was a life characterised with a lot of hardships, endurance and I was sometimes discriminated against by my peers, because my family could not afford to buy me a decent dress for Christmas,” she said.
She concedes that the prejudices she faced while growing up spurred her to invest her faith in the Lord, at a time when her peers were fascinated with boys and fashion.
“When I look back, I can now see that I made the right choice,” she enthused.
Dr Kanyati, however, says her journey from being a mere teen to a preacher, mentor and counsellor has been a humbling experience, which she says had always been anchored in God’s work, a decision the Lord made well before she was born.
Though young and naïve at that time, when she received God’s calling, Apostle Kanyati endeavoured to fulfill the Lord’s wish, a command she is grateful for to this day.
Little did she know that the calling would be a harbinger of a fulfilling life, years later.
“I received God’s calling in 1986 when I was doing Grade Seven at Kundayi Primary in Glen Norah,” she recalled.
Her parents, who were traditionalists at heart and always consulted spirit mediums for guidance, were shocked when Apostle Kanyati was now refusing to partake in family rituals.
At one time the family even disowned her when she continued attending church against her father’s will. By then Apostle Kanyati was determined to forge ahead despite the family’s growing resistance to Christianity.
It was while she was in Form Three that it dawned on her that God wanted her to set up a ministry, in which she would preach to the multitudes who were scattered around the globe.
“Although my father wanted me to be a nurse, I knew that I had to respond to God’s calling and serve his people,” said Dr Kanyati.
Soon after completing her O Levels, she took her first step towards fulfilling God’s wish by enrolling at the Harare Theological College. Apostle Kanyati who was now fired up with her new responsibility, then joined with Domboshawa Theological College for a course, which she did concurrently with the University of Zimbabwe for three years.
She also did yet another course with the Calvary University, which she studied whilst she was in Zimbabwe. She recalled that back then theology was lowly regarded by many people, who could not envisage anything beyond preaching to the downtrodden and spiritually bankrupt masses who were swimming in problems.
By taking up theology when others where training for more highly paying careers, meant that Apostle Kanyati life would neither be neither glamorous nor fancy. She, however, was not discouraged to lose the rich trappings that came along with fancy careers.
It was while she was training at Domboshawa that she met the man, who was to become her husband, a year later. Since then the two have been together for 21 years, assisting each other to run the ministry.
“Because I already had a partner who understood my goals and my visions, I did not have problems setting up the ministry, according to God’s wish,” she said.
The couple also runs several marriage counselling and motivational clinics, whose fundamentals are rooted in Bible teachings.
Apostle Kanyati says although she holds several counselling sessions within marriages, she also reaches out to singletons.
With a lot of ministries being mired in controversies amid allegations of segregating single women who are part of their ministries, Apostle Kanyati’s ministry has successfully integrated them in the church incorporating them into different programmes and appointing them into positions of responsibilities, to ensure that they are not discriminated against.
“Single women do have a place in our ministry, and we don’t call them as such but we have since renamed them Champions. Those who have worked with single women will attest that they are the boulders of the church.
“They are most available, most generous and are willing to give their time even in the most difficult circumstances. We don’t departmentalize women on marital status and the response has been good,” she said.
Through her annual Rizpah ladies conference which is now a decade ago, Apostle Kanyati, a mother of two beautiful girls, has been able to empower thousands of women – single ladies included – bringing transformational change in their lives.
Running such a powerful ministry also entails her to extend her hand to the less priviledge something, a responsibility she executes diligently and across different sections of society.
“I am passionate about women and children’s welfare, and we have since built our philanthropic activities around them. We have a number of projects where we assist women in prisons, children in different homes and in difficult circumstances,” she said.
For someone who spends the better part of her time on the podium, mentoring and preaching at different forums across the globe, many would expect her to go on a holiday and pamper herself whenever she needs a break.
But she is not vain.
She uses that time to write motivational books and to date Dr Kanyati has published 25 books since 2009, having started writing in 2001.
A passionate writer, she writes on marriage, success, relationships and several motivational issues. Some of the motivational book titles she has written include “Woman of Substance”, “Acquire what you Require” and “Surviving in the Valley.”
“Surviving in the Valley is a book I wrote after recovering in hospital in the intensive care unit after I fell sick a few years ago,” she said.