Tendai H Manzvanzvike Review Religion Writer
KING David in Psalms 122:1-5 says: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord . . . Where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord, for thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David’.” (NKJV)
The Lord’s house is not just one of those ordinary houses. It exudes His presence and it also shows that since creation time, God wanted things done according to particular specifications and His commands.
The creation story in Genesis 1 shows that God does not only work systematically, but He is a God of order and excellence, a God who appreciates the works of His hands and/or utterance. The six days of creation are punctuated by “and God saw that it was good”.
In the book of Exodus 25:8-22, for example God gives Moses specific details of what was required to construct His sanctuary (holy place): “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.”
God wanted the children of Israel to follow the pattern of the sanctuary exactly as the Lord revealed to Moses, “both because the fear of the Lord is through fidelity of what He commands and also because the particulars of the sanctuary are meant to have a Holy God dwell among them.”
These are God’s standards which countless churches over the centuries have tried to follow as they construct church buildings with an ambiance that reveals God’s character, presence and glory.
One of these houses of the Lord is situated at Stand No. 17920, Mubvumira Road in Zengeza 1, Chitungwiza, where the founders of New Revelation Glass House Ministries International, Bishops Ancelm and Margaret Takaedza Gwaze constructed a unique church building, which consists mostly of glass.
The dark and orchid green painted church is called the Glass House because with the exception of the roof and a few other areas, the 2 000-seater church building is mostly glass.
The cream-tiled floor and interior décor complement each other. It is a pretty sight in a location where people accept dreary structures just because they have no choice.
A number of outstanding church buildings have been put up by both the mainline, evangelical and Pentecostal churches, but what puts the Glass House in a class of its own is that it is probably the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.
Although the design is simple and modest, the prestige and uniqueness are in the amount of glass used. It is as though they hold their church services in the open.
It must have taken a lot of meditation and listening to the voice of the Lord for the founders to put up such a structure in a high density suburb where most people believe that vandalism is the order of the day.
What can stop children and even wayward grown-ups from throwing stones at the glass building if they do it at home?
A visit to the Glass House gives one the feeling that it does not belong there. It also gives the impression that the church probably spends a fortune on its upkeep, maintenance and security, but according to the church founders, it is not so.
Bishop Takaedza Gwaze shed some light on the church building: “The Glass House was constructed on a 5 000 square-metre piece of land, and construction is still in progress although the major elements have already been done.
“However, the Glass House alone was built on 600 square metres of that piece of land, with the remainder allocated for other projects including a 6 000-seater auditorium whose construction has already started. So far, we have spent about $750 000 on the Glass House,” said Bishop Takaedza Gwaze.
He said most passers-by often mistake it for an up-market lodge or elite business entity. You cannot blame them because the only other imposing church building in Chitungwiza is the one being constructed by the United Family International Church in Zengeza 4 whose sitting capacity is more than 20 000.
Bishop Takaedza Gwaze said the Glass House has all that it takes to set it apart from other buildings because it was built up from its foundation with glass only and anchors made of iron bars up to the roof.
“Construction started in 2012, and the church used its own resources, and although it is work in progress, major construction work was completed in 2013,” Bishop Takaedza Gwaze said.
But why use glass mostly considering the dangers? The Bishop explained: “We decided to build it that way because we wanted people to appreciate and believe that the things of the Lord are done openly.
“This is mainly a glass structure because we do not do our things in an enclosed shrine. We do not bar people from seeing what is taking place. Those who are passing by should actually witness the healing and casting out of demons taking place in the church instead of speculating.
“Why should we hide the God-given miracles? Instead, we are driven by the Word of God to become what we are today. We have sent a good message by this Glass House. Visitors are coming from all directions to see the architectural design of this church and we are happy about that. We did not erect a durawall (cast iron perimeter fence), but secured the place with iron bars. People can look through to see what is taking place inside. Nothing is hidden,” said Bishop Takaedza Gwaze.
He told The Herald Review that they decided to construct the Glass House in Chitungwiza for one good reason: “We have some of the oldest suburbs like St Mary’s and other parts of Zengeza.
“People have been raising questions why this marvellous structure should be built in the midst of such places. My answer is that it is because God sent us to raise the people of these neighbourhoods from spiritual bondage. We could not resist the Lord’s call.
“We are going an extra mile in spreading the word of God by building another big Glass House alongside the one we already built,” he said.
The church leadership plans to mount huge television screens all round the walls to make sure everyone in the church does not miss the events taking place within the church, including the sermons. They also want the church to have good quality air conditioning.
For those considering religious tourism the Glass House should be among the must-see buildings. It has added value to Chitungwiza town.
As Bishop Takaedza Gwaze said, “The Glass House was not only meant for church services, but it is a multi-purpose building that can be used for various events.
“With this structure we decided to honour our God in the form of a beautiful glass house. It is durable and is part of our legacy for the body of Christ.”
- Additional material by Nyashadzashe Chamwaura.