Pastor Jesse Zvikonyaukwa
Pastor Jesse Zvikonyaukwa
In 1971, during colonial times, buffalos were being relocated and even killed in certain areas of Zimbabwe, as part of controlling an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, a deadly disease that is mostly carried by buffalo and antelope.
In August of the same year, while pregnant, Pastor Jesse’s mother was walking in the bush in search of meat from elephants which had been killed during the hoof and mouth epidemic. During that walk, Jesse’s mother went into labor giving birth to a baby boy. The baby was named “Jesse”, which in the Shona language refers to the thick bush in the Mubaiwa Kraal Chief Dandawa area where she gave birth.
Jesse grew up in rural areas, in a small town near a farm where his father worked as a cook for a white farmer. Jesse was reared in a Christian family and his father preached in small towns and throughout the area. Jesse grew up listening and learning how to teach and preach in small village churches.
When he finished his primary and secondary schooling, Jesse trained as a hotelier and professional safari guide. His older brother worked in the tourist industry and took Jesse under his wing. Jesse worked with tourists from all over Europe and thoroughly enjoyed the people and showing off his beautiful country. Eventually, he started his own small Safari company, “Jesse Bush Safaris”, offering a variety of different Safari activities such as game drives, cruises, walking Safaris, canoeing, mobile tented Safaris and balloon Safaris.
Jesse’s Safari operations garnered numerous awards for excellence and he traveled to England to receive the Travel Company of the Year awards from two British media houses. He also received the Best Safari Company of the Year award from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. Jesse did an excellent job of helping tourists see the beauty of the land. He had a radio show on tourism, and continues being called for interviews to this day.
Pastor Jesse, along with his wife Peginness, raised a lovely family including three boys and one girl. They have also taken in children of his brother and others who were orphaned. He supported his mother and father and helped his brothers and sisters obtain their education for a better chance of survival. After the death of his parents, Jesse decided to continue his father’s work of preaching the word of God to small, poor communities. As Jesse would say, this was “the time I swapped my Safari rifle for my Bible, and I took the decision to work for the Lord full time and not for money. This was the time that we started experiencing bad economic times in our country. It is this time I didn’t know how I was to work for the Lord without getting a salary to finance my new job, spreading the word of God”. Now Pastor Jesse, among many other things, trains church leaders.
It was at this crucial time in Jesse’s life that Least of These Ministries began working in the rural communities around where Jesse lived. Jesse and Myrna grew a close working relationship and together they focused their efforts on these forgotten peoples, bring hope and resources to better their lives. Through this wonderful collaboration, Jesse has recently completed a Bachelor honors degree in Agriculture. Jesse now helps teach conservation farming in different rural communities. Conservation farming is a crucial skill as bad rainfall seasons can decimate populations. Along with his agriculture education, Jesse has gained significant first aid training in order to better serve the people of Zimbabwe.