The Full Story
AFM Overall ( International )
The Apostolic Faith Mission is an international Church with a strong foundation in Africa and has thirty-six member countries across the globe as reported at the AFM International Conference held in April 2016 in Zimbabwe. This Church's headquarters is in South Africa being the mother Church to all the other Churches under this umbrella organisation. Each member country is autonomous but Office Bearers of each country make up the AFM International council. The President of the AFM International is Rev Frank Chikane who has held this position since the inception of the AFM International Fellowship in 1996.
Roots from Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, US
Apostolic Faith Mission is one of the Classical Pentecostal Churches whose roots are from the 1906 to 1909 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, United States of America. This Revival marked the birthing of modern Pentecostal Christianity. The main figure behind this Revival was an African American Holiness Preacher known as William Seymour (1870-1922). Charles Fox Parham who tutored him in Bible School influenced his teachings on the power and baptism in the Holy Spirit. Initially his teaching on the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues suffered serious setbacks including losing his pastoral appointment with a Holiness Church in Los Angeles after preaching for only one Sunday. However, with the support of a few sympathisers Seymour continued to proclaim this Pentecostal gospel leading to the Azusa Revival, which attracted people of different backgrounds and races hence, a multi-racial revival
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AFM develop in Africa
Meanwhile John Graham Lake and Thomas Hezmalhalch received the Azusa blessing in 1907 and a call to take the Pentecostal Gospel to Africa. After Lake sold his business and all other assets he together with a team of missionaries and their families set for South Africa by ship. After arriving in Johannesburg, South Africa in May 1908 they began to preach the Pentecostal gospel leading to the establishment of the Apostolic Faith Mission. Many signs and wonders followed their preaching leading to mass conversions including some pastors and their congregations. To date 25 May of every year is celebrated as the birthing month of the Apostolic Faith Mission. This Church started as a multi-racial community Church.
Among the Missionary Team players, it is John Graham Lake (1870-1935) who rose to greater prominence although Thomas Hezmalhalch was the first elected President of the AFM with Lake becoming his successor. Prior to receiving the Pentecostal Experience Lake had formally been a businessman and a Pastor and later served as an Elder in the Zion Movement of Alexander Dowie in Chicago. He grew up hating sickness because of having lost eight siblings in a family of sixteen children. The Healing Ministry was part of his DNA hence he went around South Africa preaching the gospel and healing the sick. It was during these preaching trips that he lost his wife whilst he was away leading to the burial of his wife while he was away. Despite of this adversity, he soldiered on with God's work and left for America after more than five years of planting the great ministry of the AFM. He left behind capable men and women who carried the Pentecostal message in South Africa and beyond. Whilst in the United States, he re-married and continued to preach the gospel and he established a Centre for his healing ministry known as Healing Rooms where sick people were hospitalised for spiritual healing. His favorite verse was Acts 10:38.
1915 is considered to be the year which the AFM spread its wings to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). The growth of the AFM in Zimbabwe was initially sporadic rather than an organised venture until the appointment of missionaries like Kruger later on. Former Zimbabwean mineworkers in South African mines initiated this sporadic growth. These African Agents of the gospel had encountered this Pentecostal gospel in their stint in South Africa and then took this gospel to their home villages in Zimbabwe hence the AFM in Zimbabwe was initially pre-dominantly a rural Church.
Evangelist Zechariah Manamela in Gwanda established the first recorded presence of the AFM. The first two Mission Stations and schools in line with Government requirements were Gwatema Mission in Gwanda and Rufaro Mission in Chatsworth. Currently Rufaro Conference Centre is the place of Pilgrimage for all AFM faithfuls who converge there annually for the Youth, Ladies and General conferences. These conferences now attract more than one hundred thousand congregants per conference.
This Church was a branch of South Africa until 1980 under the leadership of Pastor Edgar Gaschwend (Director of Missions) who then handed the work to the late Rev Langton Kupara who became the first Black AFM in Zimbabwe President. Since then the Church has had the various leaders.