Goodbye Dear Friend & Mentor: The Rev. Dr. Henry Mugabe of Zimbabwe

Goodbye Dear Friend & Mentor: The Rev. Dr. Henry Mugabe of Zimbabwe October 23, 2022


Sunday  October 23, 2022  3:00am


Goodbye Dear Friend & Mentor: The Rev. Dr. Henry Mugabe of Zimbabwe


I’m not feeling well.  By now, I expected to be asleep.  But just as I was about to go to bed tonight, I received some heartbreaking news.  My dear friend and mentor…esteemed Baptist theologian and longtime President of Zimbabwe Theological Seminary…The Rev. Dr. Henry Mugabe was killed in a car accident yesterday in Zimbabwe (Zim) // along with Dr. Dudzirai Chimeri and Henry’s son, Mudyaradzi Mugabe.  It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago (2016 to be exact) that I was traveling around Zim with him preaching about the power of God to transform societies (under constant threat from the authoritarian regime of President Robert Mugabe).  We last spoke a couple of months ago.  During that brief encounter, he wanted me to know how proud he was of me for founding and leading The New Theology School.  I told him that I was following in his footsteps and thanked him for the encouragement.  Now, I wish that I’d said more.  There is no doubt that Dr. Mugabe was/is/and will forever be one of the great theologians of our time.  I’m a better thinker and human for having spent time with him.


As a tribute to the man who encouraged me to talk about mental illness on a Sunday in Zim when I wanted to talk about overthrowing the government (because he felt like the congregation needed to hear about mental illness), I’m including below the last sermon that I gave with Dr. Mugabe by my side.  Honestly, there is nothing special about the contents…what is special is that he was there to hear them.


*Delivered at Monomotapa Baptist Church in Gweru, Zimbabwe on 2/7/2016


Throughout Zimbabwe, I’ve heard something repeatedly…that social and political realities have nothing to do with spiritual realities. In the United States, people say similar things when they don’t want you to talk about things. People want to keep God way up in the clouds. For if God is up there, then those in power don’t have to worry about struggling with the God down here. When you leave God out of our social and political realities, you leave Jesus out of God. For when God came to earth, God was constantly involved in social and political issues. Think about God engaging public health. Think about the racial and economic lines that God repeatedly crossed. Think about God tossing out the public officials outside the Temple. Through Jesus, God engaged in social and political realities all the time. To say otherwise, is to deny the Gospel.


When people are starving…when people have nothing…when the helpless are trampled…when corruption has taken over…when people are living under a government that does not care if they live or die…God is there…Jesus is there. I’ve been thinking about the way that the mentally ill are treated around the world. I’ve been told that in extreme efforts to heal or contain…the mentally ill are sometimes injured or even killed. People of faith in the United States do similar things. They don’t understand the physiological realities of someone who is mentally ill. I would imagine the same is true here. Some might question talking about mental illness in church. If we are to follow the Gospel, we are intrinsically connected to the least of these amongst us. Jesus said, “What you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” God said, “What you have done to the least of these you have done to me.” The mentally ill are the least of the least. God is mentally ill.


Can you imagine God sitting in darkness before creation? The mental illness keeps growing and growing. Eventually, God creates light to try to get some relief. That didn’t work. God creates water to try to get some relief. That didn’t work. God creates animals. That didn’t work. If there was to be any relief of the mental illness, God realized that God had to create something to love in God’s image. When the medicine arrived, God took a long time to get accustomed to it. Throughout the Old Testament, one can see that God is struggling. From the Flood to a couple of Genocides, God couldn’t get control and kept hurting people. The incarnation of God in Jesus was a shock therapy. Can you imagine the shock of the smell of shit in Bethlehem? God shocked us and we shocked God. We ultimately shocked God to death. Love was the medicine that brought God back. Though slightly better, God remains mentally ill.


We must stand with God. We must stand with the least of these. We must stand with the mentally ill. We must rebel against the government when the government is not helping. We must take the place of the government when the government is not helping. We must be the hands and feet of God to the mentally ill no matter what it takes. May this church be a leader of reform efforts in the treatment of the mentally ill. It is time for Christians everywhere to stand with the mentally ill.


Let us remember that Jesus said…God said…”I was mentally ill and you either visited me or you didn’t.” Will you embrace the mentally ill? Will you embrace the Mentally Ill God?


Before we go, I have one more thing to share with you, “I am mentally ill.”




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