Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa
ZEMA is a evangelical mission organization that ministers in southern Africa. The ministry focus of ZEMA is to share the gospel of forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Christ alone and to make disciples. The primary group of people ZEMA ministers to are called the Zionists or amaZioni. There are estimated to be somewhere between 15 to 18 million amaZioni in the southern conutries of Africa. ZEMA missionaires are currently serving in three countries (South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique)
History of the amaZioni.
The name amaZioni is a Zulu word meaning, “people of Zion.” The Zion movement in South Africa began in 1897 when a protestant evangelical church in Chicago, IL called the Christian Catholic Church in Zion commeissioned a South African Pastor named Johannes Buchler to start at church branch there. Soon after, two more South African missionary familes (the Le Rouxs and the Mahons) joined the work. In 1904, Daniel and Emma Bryant, where sent over from the home church to serve the new church in South Arica as well. Within a decade the number of people being reached through this combined effort consisted of over 5,00o Africans in different parts of the country. Though this church was expanding quickly it was unfortunately disrupted within a decade. The Bryant’s returned to the States and the Le Roux’s joined a different church work leaving the Mahon’s as the only original missionaries to serve in the work. As a result, a fraction of the amaZioni were properly discipled. Those churches today are called the Mahon Churches. The remaining churches were began to mix their original Christian teahings with African traditional beliefs. Therefore, the movement that started with biblical teachings unfortunately turned syncretistic. Today , many amaZioni live in great fear that they will upset the spirits of their ancestors which is something taught by traditional African religion. Many do not understand the full Biblical story of redemption through Christ alone.
Zion Evangelical Bible Schools (ZEBS).
ZEMA currently has about 50 Zion Evangelical Bible Schools (ZEBS) spread across southern Africa with about 1600 students. While attending ZEBS, amaZioni learn the biblical foundations and Christian theology they are seeking to understand. They then can return to their congregations with the ability to teach true Christian doctrine.
Zion Evangelical Bible School classes meet once a month over a weekend and students generally complete the program in four to five years. A great thing about ZEBS is that it meets the need for localized training. This allows leaders to stay where they live and enables them to directly apply what they learn. The ZEBS curriculum includes:
Bible Survey The Minister Missions
Church Administration Church Activities Sunday School
Religious Movements Systematic Theology
Chronological Study of Scripture
Bible Characters Preaching Evangelism
Hermeneutics Christian Maturity Exegesis