Though an unassuming woman, Dr Patience Hove’s influence and reach is known in many circles. The American-educated Dr Hove has on several occasions served as a minister of religion at national events such as Independence and Heroes Day celebrations, including other Government assignments. In addition to being the founding president of Elshaddai Ministries International, she has also written more than 30 books and is currently writing four more. But it is her work in empowering the girl-child and women that has been most impactful. The Sunday Mail caught up with her in the capital last week.
Q: On several occasions you have been engaged as a minister of religion, especially for national celebrations such as Independence and Heroes Day. In your view, what is the significance of such events?
A: For us to have the grace to lead ourselves and each other, we need the hand of God to precede before us. As a result, Heroes and Independence days are significant in that while we remember human achievements and sacrifice, we also honour God for helping us craft strong institutions that we celebrate as a nation.
We also will be going back to the same God to ask him to continue guiding our nation. The last words of refrain in our national anthem even speak the same truth when we say: “And may the Almighty protect and bless our land.”
These events are thus significant in bringing us before the feet of God and uniting us before His graceful presence.
On Heroes Day the major assignment is to comfort the families of the deceased and the nation at large and also to encourage the nation to emulate the achievements of the deceased.
Q: You have been known for pushing for the empowerment of women, including advocating their equality in society. What progress have you made in this regard and what motivates you?
A: We have made great strides in helping women and vulnerable women achieve their potential in life.
In fact, we have even commissioned the construction of a drop-in centre to be an oasis of hope for women to coincide with celebrations to mark our 25th anniversary as Elshaddai Ministries. Over the years, we have done a lot; we have invested in a new community centre of respite and safety knowing that the road to women’s safety, empowerment and equality is a marathon, and not a sprint. It is a commitment and not a one-day event.
As you know, God created men and women spiritually equal; I, therefore, believe women should be encouraged to lead in a feminine way.
Being the first woman Bishop in Zimbabwe and having the first woman-led registered ministry with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, I believe any woman can reach greater heights.
Q: Your work on the “theory of gender complementarity’’ has been extensively interrogated in academics circles. What is it all about and how helpful can it be for Zimbabwe?
A: My theory of cross-gender pollination – in other words, gender complementarity – has a biblical base in Genesis 2:8. God Himself said it is not good for man to be alone and He created a suitable helper for him and I believe if Zimbabweans embrace this instead of competing with each other, men and women can complement and work with each other productively.
The boardroom needs to have both men and women to achieve more, and if the nation embraces this theory, there will be less competition and more productivity.
Q: Can you tell us more about your women fellowship programmes?
A: Elshaddai Women’s Fellowship EWF) meets once every month on a Saturday to accommodate all women from all walks of life and denominations.
The Executive of EWF has 12 women from 12 different churches.
On the day of our monthly meeting we have a morning question-and-answer session to allow women to ask questions they cannot ask in their various denominations. We have a break for interaction and networking; then we resume for afternoon teachings.
One Friday every month we have a “Power Night” and every morning from Monday to Friday we hold morning glories for prayers from 7am to 8am and lunch-hour meetings from 12pm to 1pm for teachings and prayer, where we pray for families and the nation.
We also have prayer standstills, where we pray for the nation seven times a year.
Q: You have previously announced plans to build halfway homes for children in Harare, Njanja and Chatora. How have these projects progressed?
A: The halfway homes are up and running and they have been a labour of love. The economic hardships have meant they have obviously taken longer than expected, but by God’s grace we have achieved.
The vulnerability of the girl-child has been a very important cog in our social ministry and hence in a way can be seen as the fulcrum of our work in society. Every girl or young woman who is rescued and assisted in making a success story of themselves is a living testimony to the success of our programme.
We intend to build an institution of solid, respectable, empowered womanhood one woman at a time. Currently, the building of the Harare Transformational Centre is underway. We started with the 2 500-seating auditorium, which is 85 percent complete.
We are sourcing funds for the halfway homes for abused girls and marginalised women. A lot of money is needed for these projects to be accomplished and we plead for donors to partner with us.
Q: But what drives your passion for writing books and after the 30 you have published so far, are you still planning to write more?
A: Any story of achievement is not complete without it being written down. It is with God’s grace that I have managed to achieve such. However, I humbly write to document the path I have been taking for posterity so that those growing up will learn from our experiences and may be inspired to equal and even better our own achievements.
The Bible speaks of a light or lantern not achieving its worth if it is placed under a bed, but only when it is out in the open to shine and shed light. So too is a life of service whose story is not told: it will not be any use to those in society who also need to travel down that pathway.
As for the future, as long as I do something or encounter something worth writing, I will write until the ink in my soul ceases to print words when my creator recalls me. Currently, I am working on four books.
Q: It is believed that you had a trying and difficult childhood. Can you please tell us more?
A: I grew up in many several families because I lost my father when I was two-years-old and my mother was away studying in England.
A lot of things happened during my childhood that I cannot explain now, but if you read my book ‘From a Branch to an Arrow’, which is my life history, it will shed more light.
Q: Are you going to continue with your empowerment and philanthropic works?
A: Yes, it is my calling, passion and I feel it is a mandate and assignment God has given me and I cannot run away from it. I will continue assisting those I can assist because the purpose of being together on the planet is to assist those who need help, while those who can assist me also do the same.
We lose no light by lighting the candle of another.
Zimbabwe is facing trying economic times and the world in general has so much suffering and for as long as I am able to help, I will continue the philanthropic work. It is also important to note that sometimes even something as simple as a hello and a smile to a depressed person can go a long way in easing their suffering. So I urge all of us to give whatever we can, even if it is a smile.
Q: As founding president of Elshaddai Ministries International, which is largely considered to be a spiritual clinic, what are your plans for the future?
A: Going forward, we intend to continue and grow our nation and our people in all the necessary ways, and ensure they are well fed physically and spiritually. We yearn to continue to build a selfless philanthropic establishment that shows love for each other regardless of any artificial differences.
We have plans to establish Transformational Centres in every province in Zimbabwe to minister to women, empower them and advocate for the girl-child and teach the boy-child and men the principles of God.
Fatherhood should be taught from childhood as is the case with motherhood.
God himself wants us to love each other, for on this earth we spend all the time of our lives sharing this special planet.
We cannot love God, whom we feel, without loving our neighbours who we see.
Even in the Ten Commandments, the first four are about our relationship directly with God, but the majority – the outstanding six – talk about our relationship with each other, man to man.
We should learn to put the Golden Rule into practice and love our neighbour and provide for them, be empathetic to our neighbour and assist those in need.