PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Umlazi: 19 May 2018
The Most Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa; the Right Reverend Dino Gabriel, Bishop of the Diocese of Natal; Rector of the Parish of St Emmanuel the Rev Fr Morolong and members of the clergy; the Church Wardens, congregants of this Church; Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
It fills me with great joy to see the church expanding in Umlazi. The opening of this new parish, aptly named St Emmanuel’s, is evidence that the Lord is indeed with us. He is multiplying His disciples and a harvest of believers has created the need for expansion.
The church is Umlazi has followed the instructions of the Lord given through the Prophet Isaiah, when He said:
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left…”
I want to thank our Archbishop for coming to Umlazi this morning to open this parish. His presence assures us that St Emmanuel’s is under the spiritual authority of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. This parish is part of the body of Christ and will work within the body to fulfil a shared purpose. I encourage the clergy and the elders from surrounding churches to support this new parish, and I ask all of us to pray that St Emmanuel’s will set down strong roots. Your Grace, your frequent visits as our Metropolitan to minister to us, as is the case today, is something that makes us feel that we are indeed part of your flock. In Your Grace we are fortunate to have such a caring shepherd. It is always a Blessing to one to be in the presence of other shepherds of God’s flock such as the Bishop of Natal, my former Bishop, Bishop Dino Gabriel and other Bishops.
There are several times in scripture when the church was multiplied, from that first visitation by the Holy Spirit, to the many times that miracles saw a great number added to the believers. But there is one moment that stands out for me, and that is the moment of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
He was going to Damascus to arrest believers and to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As it says in Acts Chapter 9 verse 1, Saul was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples”. With his every breath, he opposed the church, and he was bent on destroying it.
But after Jesus spoke to him on the road, and after Ananias had been sent to restore his sight and baptise him, Saul became one of the most fervent advocates of Christ. He spoke fearlessly in the name of Jesus and debated with the Jews. In verse 31 it says:
“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and” (please take note) “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, they were multiplied.”
As we celebrate the multiplication of the church in Umlazi, I would like us to meditate for a moment on the two aspects that accompanied the church’s growth after Saul’s conversion.
The greatest enemy of the church had been neutralised, so to speak, for the disciples no longer needed to fear persecution from Saul. So the Bible could have said that “walking without fear”, the church multiplied. But instead it refers to the fear of the Lord. The fear of man was suppressing church growth, but the fear of the Lord saw the church multiply.
I think it important that we consider where our focus lies as we grow the church in Umlazi. Are we walking fearlessly, believing that we need not fear man? Or are we walking in the fear of the Lord? For the one signifies pride, while the other is the beginning of wisdom. Today we think of some of the departed servants of the Lord who served the people of Emlazi in the past decades. I cannot be in the Church in Emlazi without thinking of the late Canon Clement Garland Mdhladhla. I cannot help thinking of the late Bishop Alphaeus Zulu who was a teacher here before he was ordained as a Priest. He prepared me for confirmation at St Faith’s here in Durban, and I was confirmed in his Church by Bishop Stainton. He was the suffragan Bishop of Bloemfontein who stood in for the Bishop of Natal who was then on furlough.
Certainly as believers we should not fear man, keeping silent about our faith in Christ in case we offend or upset anyone, or in case we are judged harshly. We should speak openly about our reliance on our Saviour and the need in every human heart for forgiveness and healing. But if we are simply being loud about our knowledge of the Bible, quoting scriptures and claiming riches as though the Lord were some spiritual ATM, we are walking in pride. We need to walk in the fear of the Lord.
But what does that mean? Does it mean living in fear of judgement so that we do what is good and right for the sake of scoring spiritual points? No, the fear of the Lord is the knowledge of His character. He is righteous and just, He is gracious and merciful, He gives life and He takes it away, He is jealous for our devotion, and endlessly capable of love. When we know the Lord, we live in reverent fear of walking outside His plans, going against His wishes, or speaking against those whom He has chosen.
The difficulty is that we are still sinners. We will disappoint ourselves and fail the high standards of Christianity. It isn’t easy turning the other cheek, or going the extra mile, or putting others first. Christ set the bar so very high when He said that adultery was even looking at another man’s wife and wishing she was yours. So even as we walk in the fear of the Lord there will be times, many times, that we stumble and fall.
This is where the second aspect of a growing church comes in. When the church multiplies, it goes through a season of walking in the fear of the Lord AND in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. When we try and we fail, the Holy Spirit is quick to comfort us, encouraging us to try again. It is only when we stop trying, or fail to try at all, that the Holy Spirit brings conviction and that uncomfortable feeling of the loss of peace.
I have been comforted by the Holy Spirit time and time again. Indeed it is because of His comforting that I am able to walk in the fear of the Lord. I am not surprised that when the church multiplies, these two things are present, because they speak of a body of believers who know Christ, are acting on what they know, and are being led and encouraged by the Holy Spirit.
I therefore pray that these two things will be at the foundation of St Emmanuel’s. May this church continue to grow. May it thrive and flourish, and in its time may it cast out branches so that the church will continue to expand. We need people of faith in Umlazi. We need people who are focussed on the needs of others, who believe that good overcomes evil, and who are willing to act on their faith through works of service.
It is people like this who make me believe that we can overcome the many challenges in our country. When I am downhearted over the economy, or the depth of corruption among leaders, or the hardship still facing so many South Africans, I look to the people I work with day in and day out. I am surrounded by people who are working and building and praying for our country. They are my greatest encouragement, for I know that for as long as the people of goodwill are fighting, the battle will not be lost.
Thank you for inviting me to share this celebration, as St Emmanuel’s is birthed. Being with you today has refreshed my spirit. I will keep fighting the good fight for as long as the Lord instructs me.
May He bless this church and bless His people.