Free Methodist Church: Chikombedzi Mission

Free Methodist Church

Chikombedzi Mission

Rev. Jacobs, with the Free Methodist Church (FMC), established Chikombedzi Mission in 1947 as a continuation of FMC’s goal of serving the Hlengwe people.  Named after a nearby small river, the mission is located in the remote rural southeast region of Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) in Chiredzi District.

A hospital was begun soon after to meet the area’s medical needs.  The next nearest hospital was in Fort Victoria (Masvingo), 200 miles away.  The first medical doctor sent by FMC to Chikombedzi was Dr. Naomi Pettengill, who arrived 1950. She made regular visits to the Lundi Mission clinic every two weeks.  Writing about the medical work at Chikombedzi, Ruth Morris, a Register Nurse, noted the importance of the “Three P’s” – Prayer, Penicillin and Dr. Pettengill!  Dr. Paul Embree and his family arrived in 1955 to assist Dr. Pettengill.  He was put in charge when she left in 1957 and led the Hospital’s expansion.  A Nurse training program was started in 1962.

FMC missionaries left Zimbabwe in 1976 as a result of the “Liberation War.” Chikombedzi Mission was closed and turned into a Rhodesian military camp.  The hospital was reopened in 1981 and is now owned and operated by the Free Methodist Church of Zimbabwe.

Today, Chikombedzi Hospital is a referral hospital with 14 rural health clinics that rely on it for referral services. It has 160 beds, with 5 inpatient wards (male, female, pediatric, maternity and a TB ward).  There is also a dental department.  Annually, the hospital delivers around 1,200 babies and sees close to 25,000 outpatients.  The hospital receives support from a number of non-profit organizations including Intenationaler Hilfsfonds, Aid for Africa Down Under (AFADU), and Secours Dentaire International.


  • Mark Loomis