An elderly Zimbabwean Christian man has died after he allegedly attempted to emulate Jesus Christ by going without food or water for 40 days and 40 nights, according to African news sites.
NewZimbabwe.com reported that a 73-year-old man named Reinfirst Manyuka left his home on June 15 to embark on a spiritual journey in the wilderness, just like Jesus did for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert while He was tempted by the devil.
Although family members say Manyuka, who is from the Zimuto communal areas in southeastern Zimbabwe, was steadfast in his faith in the Lord, authorities said he died after no more than 30 days of refraining from food and water in the mountains.
It's believed that Manyuka left his home for a time of prayer in hopes of redirecting his mind away from earthly things and toward God.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Nkululeko Nduna, told the news source that the body was found in bushes on July 15, exactly a month after he left his home.
"After a month we got the sad news of his death," one relative was quoted as saying.
Although Manyukua was 73 years old, his family members say he was a healthy man and not in any inherent danger of dying before he left his home.
"He was a healthy and religious old man who did not even look his age," another family member said. "He was a very spiritual man. It's unfortunate he had to die this way."
While it has been claimed that the man made it at least 30 days in the wilderness, the exact date of his death remains unclear as he could have been dead in the bushes for days before his body was eventually found by a stranger, who alerted the police.
Though it might seem strange to find an old man trying to emulate Jesus by taking off to the wilderness for over a month, Nduna said her department has had to deal with a number of people dying from fast-related deaths.
"We have received such incidents before," Nduna said. "But, we cannot stop members of the public from fasting since it is religiously based."
Although Jesus' 40-day fast may be the most remembered one in the Bible, he was not the only biblical figure who was able to go 40 days without food.
The book of Exodus records that Moses went without food for 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Horeb and then was given the Ten Commandments. Also, after defeating the prophets of Baal, in the book of 1 Kings, Elijah fled and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Mount Horeb.