By Laura McKillip Wood
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Denford Chizanga began his education in a rural area of the country but completed secondary school in Harare, the capital city. He apprenticed as an electrical engineer and was about to embark in his career when he felt a call from God to begin studying and preaching the Word. “I started working with the Greencroft Christian Church in Harare and went to Zimbabwe Christian College to obtain a Certificate in Pastoral Studies” in 1995. In search of higher Christian theological education, which he felt he could not get in his home country at that time, he decided to travel to the U.S. to attend Cincinnati Christian University in 1998. There he obtained a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees before returning to Zimbabwe.
Back in Zimbabwe, Denford married Shingirirai, a girl he had met years before in youth group at Greencroft Christian Church. They now have two daughters and a son. Working together, Denford and Shingirirai started Africa Development Mission (ADM) in 2002 “out of a desire to present the saving message of Jesus Christ to those in Zimbabwe, Africa and beyond and to train believers to be effective in their lives and ministries.” To achieve this goal, ADM focuses on the following three aspects of ministry: starting churches, training church and community leaders, and doing community transformational ministry.
Church Planting & Leadership Development
Since ADM began, Denford and Shingirirai have started 20 churches in conjunction with their organization. Some of these churches are now working to construct their own church buildings. As more leaders emerge and receive training, ADM and the ministers of the established churches plant even more churches. The Chizangas have a dream of starting churches in southern, central, and northern Africa and have started a missions and outreach team to begin fulfilling that dream. According to Denford, this group operates with the goal of “helping individuals, churches, and organizations reach their full potential in making Jesus known to all nations and people groups.”
ADM’s second goal, training church and community leaders, happens through their internship program. Those with ministry potential learn about ministry by working with the churches ADM started. If they desire to continue learning and ministering, ADM may sponsor them to attend Bible college in Zimbabwe to further their knowledge of the Bible and ministry. After they graduate, these ministers work to plant churches and work with interns themselves. Currently ADM has 15 interns and has sponsored seven Bible college students, four of whom have already graduated and are ministering in their communities. In addition to the internship and sponsorship program, ADM provides continuing training and resources, hoping to strengthen and encourage leaders who work in those areas.
Community Transformational Ministry
Recognizing the need for ministry in the community, ADM and the Chizangas work in five ways in their communities. They focus on education, health, clean water, food relief, and income-generating projects. ADM sponsors elementary school students to help with school supplies and other school-related expenses. They also work with five rural schools, keeping their facilities in good condition and providing supplies and textbooks.
ADM has helped two rural clinics improve their facilities and procure supplies; they have also facilitated two mobile clinics to reach people in very rural areas who do not have other access to healthcare. In addition, ADM has drilled over 21 wells that now enable the communities to have access to clean, safe drinking water. Their Water Project enables people to start community gardens. “Families in the community are coming together to grow vegetables to improve their family diet and also to provide additional income for their families,” Denford said. “Assisting families with entrepreneurial potential to start income-generating projects is key to achieving sustainability.”
Working in ministry is difficult, and Denford has his share of challenges. He said that the most challenging element of ministry has been seeing opportunities to bring real change to people’s lives but lacking the resources to do so. Yet the most rewarding part of ministry has definitely been “seeing someone’s life take a dramatic change for the better, spiritually and socially.” That’s what Denford Chizanga works for—changing lives for Jesus Christ.
Go online to learn more about Africa Development Mission and the Chizangas (africadevelopmentmission.org).
Laura McKillip Wood formerly taught missionary children in Ukraine and now works in the academic office of Nebraska Christian College. She and her husband, Andrew, have three children (lauramckillipwood.com).