Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Traditional Prime Minister To The Zulu Monarch And Nation
Inkosi Of The Buthelezi Clan And
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Premier of KwaZulu Natal, the Hon. Mr Thembinkosi Mchunu; Deputy Judge President M Madondo of the KwaZulu Natal Division of the High Court; the Supreme Council of the Church of the Holy Ghost; Vicars General, Reverend DP Ngcobo and Reverend MP Tembe; Priests, Deacons and congregants from across Southern Africa; distinguished guests; Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
A year ago I had the privilege of visiting the Church of the Holy Ghost with His Majesty the King. Together we walked through the magnificent new Temple of Nations building, marvelling at the fact that it had been designed 21 years previously. The church had undertaken a long journey, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and through the contribution of members from across Southern Africa, a great vision had been fulfilled.
I was honoured to celebrate with you as we remembered the moment that Paulos Mfunwa Nzuza received a mandate from Heaven to preach the word of the Lord. Today, we gather again in a great celebration, remembering the establishment of the Church of the Holy Ghost on 17 June 1917. Today we look back on 100 years, and we thank the Lord, for He is indeed faithful to complete the good work He has begun.
I feel a strong connection to this church, for I met its founder Reverend Paulos Mfunwa Nzuza and I will never forget the impression made on me by uMqalisi. He was visiting my first cousin, His Majesty King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe, at the Khethomthandayo Royal Residence, when I first met uMqalisi. It was clear to us all that here was a messenger of the Lord. He was full of faith and filled with the Holy Spirit.
A few years later, I met him again, when he visited the King in Durban in the old Somtsewu Road Township. Again I was impressed by his faith. It was inspiring to listen to a respected man of God. I would very much have wanted to visit Peaceville Mission during uMqalisi’s lifetime, but unfortunately I was never able. Years later, I visited the Mission under the leadership of uMqalisi’s son, Archbishop Mthunywa Petros Nzuza. After his passing, when the church came under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, I visited again as often as I could.
Thus, over the years, I have been here in various capacities. I have been here as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. I have been here as the traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation. I have been here when I served as Minister of Home Affairs for the first ten years of democracy. I have been here as Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders in KwaZulu Natal. I have been here as a Member of Parliament. And I have been here as President of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
Through many seasons of life, I have had the privilege of visiting the Church of the Holy Ghost. In all this time, the church has remained the same. Deacons may have changed, and services have moved from a tent into a magnificent building. But at the heart of this church is something permanent and unchanging. Because at the heart of this church, is the enduring Word of God.
That is why we call the church a lighthouse in a stormy sea, because no matter how turbulent the times, the Word of God stands as a permanent point of reference. And where the Word of God is preached, there is hope, peace and stability.
In celebration of 100 years, I want to recount again the beginnings of the Church of the Holy Ghost.
Paulos Mfunwa Nzuza was just 19 years old when he began preaching. I think he must have taken great comfort in the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy Chapter 4, verse 12, which says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
These words must have been a comfort to him, because he was indeed not taken seriously because of his youth. But he persevered, believing in his calling, and the Lord honoured his faith.
On 17 June 1917, Reverend Nzuza had gathered a small group and was preaching the Word of God. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit descended over the gathering. Some 60 people began prophesying. They began quoting scriptures they had never read. That was the beginning of the Church of the Holy Ghost.
I cannot help thinking of the similarities in this history with the moment that Believers first received the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost, after Christ ascended to Heaven. The book of Acts recounts that the apostles and 120 believers were gathered in one place to pray, when suddenly the sound of a violent wind from Heaven filled the whole house. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them, and they began speaking in different languages, languages that they had never learned.
This was the in-filling of the Holy Spirit. And it attracted a lot of attention, because Jews from every nation were staying in Jerusalem for Pentecost, and they were astounded to hear their own languages being spoken by Galileans. “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” they said.
The Believers themselves must have been quite astonished! But Christ had told them in advance what it meant. In John Chapter 14 verses 16 to 20, He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever —the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
Later He told them again, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (This is from John 16 verses 13 to 15).
Finally, as recorded in the first chapter of Acts, Christ told His disciples, “…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I am inspired when I read these words from Scripture, because it reminds me that we are never alone. Walking the path of faith is seldom easy. There have been many times in my life when I felt quite alone, abandoned even by my own church, because I dared to question doctrine that, I believed, went against Christianity.
During the liberation struggle, for instance, the South African Council of Churches produced what became known as the Kairos Document, which suggested that this was a kairos time to engage in violence. But in my own heart, in my deepest convictions, I could not find space for violence against my people.
I did not consider my people to be only the black majority whom I served in KwaZulu, nor were they limited in my mind to the Zulu nation. My people were all the people of South Africa; the country of my birth and the country for which I was pouring out my passion, my sweat and my tears. I was branded a traitor and a sell-out because I would not lead my people into war. It was a very painful time, and very lonely.
But I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and that peace that passes all understanding. If peace had left me, I would have lost my strength for the fight. But as the Scripture says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” I felt that liberty, even in the chains of apartheid, even under persecution, even when I stood alone. And that taste of liberty spurred me on in the knowledge that freedom was worth the fight.
The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Advocate, our Counsellor. But He is not given for us alone. When we receive the Holy Spirit, it is not just for our own edification, but so that we can be witnesses for Christ. He gives us power so that we can declare the wonders of God to many nations.
It is interesting that so many different people were impacted when the Jerusalem Believers began speaking in tongues at Pentecost. That experience surely bolstered the faith of the Believers themselves, but the experience wasn’t contained in one house. People heard about it. People talked about it. And it had a far-reaching impact, bringing many to faith in Jesus Christ.
The same thing happened on 17 June 1917, when the Reverend Paulos Mfunwa Nzuza gathered Believers in prayer, and the Holy Spirit descended. The faith of those 60 people was bolstered. But the impact reached outwards, changing the lives of many more than just those who were present. People heard about it. People talked about it. And the church began to grow.
That growth has never stopped. As the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, one can plant a seed, and another might water it. But it is God who gives the increase. He alone causes it to grow. So it is that 100 years later this building is filled with Believers from across Southern Africa, all of whom know Christ and know the Holy Spirit. My prayer for this church on its centenary celebration is that the knowledge in our heads will drop down into our hearts, so that we will live according to our faith.
Friends; when uMqalisi married in 1921, two women of God prophesied that he would be blessed with a firstborn son, and this son would lead the church after him. Two years later, a son was indeed born. When uMqalisi went to be with the Lord on 17 June 1957, exactly 40 years after the founding of the Church of the Holy Ghost, his son stepped into leadership.
Archbishop Mthunywa Petros Nzuza led the Church for 38 years, yet the Lord never revealed to him who would lead after his passing. Instead, through prophecy, it was understood that the church would no longer be led by one man, but the Holy Spirit Himself would lead. From time to time, two members of the vicarage would be nominated to manage the day to day running of the Church, and they too would act on the leading of the Holy Spirit. This pattern has been followed for 22 years, since the passing of Archbishop Petros Nzuza.
I have seen remarkable unity in this church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. There is no longer a single leader, but many stewards of the Lord’s work. That is an image of the greater church body, where we are many parts under the leadership of the Lord. As a part of this body, I respect the work of the Church of the Holy Ghost, knowing that you are spreading the values of Christianity; the values of respect, integrity, unity and hope.
That last one, hope, is much needed in our nation. We are in a time of great turmoil in South Africa, not only in terms of natural phenomena like drought and fire, but in terms of politics, economics and social justice. There is much going on in the natural that leaves us perplexed. But we know that the natural is inextricably linked to the spiritual.
As the Bible says, “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…”
For many of us, the day of evil has already come. It is the day when there is nothing to eat. When we can’t find work. When our children get sick. When our homes are destroyed by fire. When our families are separated by circumstance. When a bad diagnosis comes. When our sisters are attacked.
When the day of evil comes, let us be found standing, already dressed in the full armour of God. Let us cling to our faith and look outwards to see whom we might help. Because we already have the Helper, the Spirit of Truth. We are already standing on the rock. When the storm comes, may we be a lighthouse, by the immeasurable grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What more is there to say, but thanks be to God.