Message Of Support By
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President Of The Inkatha Freedom Party
Friends, I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was one with the Father, came to us as a man, humbling Himself in obedience to the Father, even to the point of the cross. On this Holy Saturday we meditate on the sacrifice of our Lord, anticipating Easter morning when we will say to one another, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.”
I was honoured to receive an invitation from Bishop Dr Enoch Shabalala to celebrate with you today. For fifty years the Church of God of Prophecy has gathered like this to remember the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Lord. But today’s gathering has particular significance, for today we celebrate the jubilee of this church. We celebrate five decades since Dr Clifford Mngadi stepped out in faith and founded a house of the Lord.
Dr Mngadi was full of faith. I remember meeting him when I was a young man, just out of university and about to be called back to Mahlabathini to serve as Inkosi of the Buthelezi Clan. The good Reverend was living in KwaMashu and I began visiting him to discuss the struggle of our country, our responsibility as Christians, and how we could keep hope alive in the midst of such darkness. I enjoyed our conversations, for Dr Mngadi had a way of strengthening one’s spirit, so that even if I arrived with a heavy heart, I left feeling hopeful.
I am delighted that Dr Mngadi’s family is here and has welcomed me into this service. It has been a long time since I saw them and it is good to renew our friendship as we remember and honour my friend.
When Dr Mngadi decided to plant a church here in KwaMashu, in 1967, we recognised the great need for a spiritual lighthouse. Our country was in turmoil and our people lacked a centre of mobilisation. Political parties had been banned and political leaders were either in exile or in prison. Things were looking bleak for the liberation struggle. The day to day hardships and indignities that so many people suffered were stripping away our sense of self-worth.
Dr Mngadi knew that unless we began seeing ourselves with the right perspective, we would be defeated by despair. Apartheid was telling us that we were unworthy, of poor character, without potential, and perpetually destined to dependency. Yet that was the antithesis of the Word of God, which calls us the righteousness of Christ, created in His image, infinitely worthy, and destined to become leaders in the expansion of God’s kingdom.
So Dr Mngadi planted a church, and he preached the gospel to everyone willing to listen. He was a respected servant of the Lord. In the very year he planted this church, he was planning a preaching tour of the United States. Unfortunately, civil unrest in America forced a change of plans. But that shows the vastness of his vision. He intended for this church to grow and to become influential for Christ.
It is testimony to Dr Mngadi’s vision that we stand now, fifty years later, celebrating the jubilee of the Church of God of Prophecy in Southern Africa. And we are not alone. This building is but one of many that houses the congregants of this church. We are joined by 70 branches throughout South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana, as we praise the Lord for growth, unity and sustenance.
I want to thank the many shepherds of this large flock who have served the needs of God’s people for half a decade.
In the early days of this church, people found solace, support and encouragement within the congregation. The church fulfilled its role as a beacon of hope, keeping faith alive in our communities and showing the love of Christ to those who most needed to see it.
There was always a sense that words were not enough, and Dr Mngadi encouraged people to serve each other with actions. This is biblical, for we read in the book of James, Chapter 2, in verses 14 to 17 –
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Dr Mngadi and I tried to live by this principle.
In the seventies, the apartheid regime imposed the system of homelands on South Africa. I received a message from Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Mr Oliver Tambo through my sister, Princess Morgina Dotwana. They believed that, if the people elected me to lead the government of KwaZulu, I should not refuse. We didn’t have a choice to become a homeland; it was imposed on us. But the leaders of the liberation struggle saw an opportunity to undermine the apartheid system from within.
I therefore accepted their request and became the Chief Minister of the erstwhile KwaZulu Government. Like Dr Mngadi, I followed the biblical injunction to express my beliefs through my actions. I believe in equality and human rights, and I wanted to see all my people freed from the bondage of political oppression, as well as from the chains of poverty, ignorance, disease and despair. I therefore acted to bring freedom. My administration reached out to amakhosi, to businesses, to community organisations and to churches, building partnerships for the benefit of our people.
We worked hand in hand with the Church of God of Prophecy in Southern Africa, teaching the principles of self-help and self-reliance. Together, we encouraged people to build rather than break down. We brought people together to start projects of community development. This church, like many churches in KwaZulu, was a necessary partner in our work to uplift the oppressed.
It was through partnerships at community level that my administration was able to build thousands of classrooms. Even under the harshest trials of apartheid, here in KwaZulu we managed to build houses, assist entrepreneurs, empower the youth with skills, and put food on the table through subsistence farming.
Together we created a lasting legacy. I remember working with servants of the Lord in my own Cabinet and in the KwaZulu Legislature. Among these was the father of Reverend Mzwandile Gumede. It is encouraging to know that his son is now a leader in the Church of God of Prophecy, and is continuing his work of serving those in need.
It is also encouraging to witness the leadership of Bishop Enoch Shabalala, who carries the mantle of my friend, Dr Mngadi. He is following in the footsteps of Bishop Aaron Khumalo, who also served with excellence.
When I think of the great men and women who have served in this Church over the past fifty years, I am reminded of the words of St Paul, in Hebrews Chapter 12, verses 1 to 3. He speaks about all the servants of the Lord who have gone before us, and then says –
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
The Church of God of Prophecy has not grown weary. It has not lost heart. It has marched forward, from strength to strength. You might ask, “How?” On the basis of a sound vision, principled leadership, and a unified congregation. Because of these things, fifty years after its founding, this church is still able to serve in partnership with government and community structures, as it did from the earliest days.
I want to thank all those who partner with the Church of God of Prophecy, because these partnerships make it possible to drive feeding schemes, fight disease, alleviate poverty, and reduce crime. They are having a real impact on the community of KwaMashu, and on every community where the church exists. I believe that these projects will continue to find support for as long as they are premised on the principles of God.
As servants of the people, we must never lose sight of why we do what we do. It is not simply to fulfil a social responsibility, or to experience a warm feeling of generosity. We serve because of the Lord’s instruction. In Micah Chapter 6 verse 8, we read – “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
I have tried to fulfil this calling all my life. I am grateful that it brought me into contact with wonderful men and women who have served, not for fame or reward, but because of Christ. Today, as we await Easter Sunday, let us meditate on the lessons of our Lord that are expressed through His life, through His death and through the resurrection.
Much has changed since 1967. Over fifty years, our country has undergone a massive transformation. The world itself is a different place. But the word of God remains the same. I take great comfort in knowing that the Lord is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the one in whom there is no shadow of turning. Because of this, we can rest assured that He will continue to work through His Church, as He has done since the Church was founded on the rock of St Peter.
We are living now in troubled times. While we have overcome so much and achieved so much as a country, we have not yet secured the things that are needed to create growth and enduring strength. These things are the very things that I spoke of when I said that the Church of God of Prophecy has never grown weary nor lost heart. This church has a sound vision, principled leadership and a united congregation. South Africa needs these very same things if we are to prosper.
Right now, our people need hope. We need to know that things can turn around for the better. We need to believe that the Lord holds the future of our nation. But we cannot sit passively, waiting for hope to come. Our calling as Christians is to strengthen our spirits by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Helper.
We must stir ourselves up in the Spirit, so that faith will increase and hope will rise. We do this through prayer, praise and worship. We do it through the power of our testimony and by speaking the word of the Lord. We do it through prophecy that aligns with scripture. We do it by praying in tongues, and meditating on the sacrifice of our Lord.
All of these things are actions. They require us to move. I therefore encourage the Church of God of Prophecy to get moving. You have an essential role to play in saving South Africa. Pray, serve, and lead by example. This is the legacy of the church over fifty years. May it continue by the power of the Spirit.
God bless you. I thank you.