From Multi-denominational Heads of Churches Affiliated With the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, The KZN Church Leaders Group and IDAMASA
Words of Appreciation
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch and Nation
Founder and President Emeritus of the Inkatha Freedom Party
St Mary’s Anglican Church, Nkonjeni: 12 April 2023
Your Eminence Cardinal Wilfred Napier, Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group and our apostolic representative resident in Eshowe; Bishop Nkosinathi Myaka, Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council; Bishop Vikinduku Mnculwane, Our Zululand Diocesan Bishop; Bishop Nathi Zondi, KwaZulu-Natal Chairperson of IDAMASA; His Worship Councillor The Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi, Mayor of the Zululand District Municipality; leaders of churches across various denominations who have come to visit us today; the leadership and congregation of St Mary’s; Members of my family who have joined us; Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
I feel tremendously blessed to know that throughout my life I have been held up in prayer by many people. Even before I was born, my mother, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu, prayed for the child who would become her husband’s heir. For almost 95 years, prayer has been my constant covering, both in tribulation and in celebration. It has kept me safe, and it has kept me humble, because it reminds me that nothing I do is done in my own strength. All this means my dependence has been entirely dependent of God, the Rock of Ages.
Today, I am humbled all over again by the visit of leaders from various denominations. I am deeply grateful that you have come to spend time with us here at St Mary’s, in order to pray for me and my family. This pastoral visit is very kind and I recognise the Lord’s hand in it. I am humbled by God’s servants and all my Brothers and Sisters who are here today.
I know that you have been wanting to come and see me for some time now, but the heavy burden of responsibilities that still rests on my shoulders prevented us from setting this time aside. It seems quite appropriate that we have finally come together at such a significant time.
We as Believers have just celebrated the most profound moment in the Christian calendar. We have focussed on Christ’s great sacrifice and God’s immeasurable love. We have remembered the death and resurrection of our Saviour, and marvelled afresh at the incredible story of redemption.
I pray that all Believers have experienced a renewed understanding of the hope to which God has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. As St Paul reminded the Church in Ephesus –
“That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1 verses 19 to 21)
This reminder of God’s power is so important to us as Believers, because we are inundated at every turn by the crises and distress of our country.
Being in politics, I am faced every day with the reality of leaders who are not walking uprightly, who break their word to their people and transgress against what is just and fair. But one doesn’t need to be in politics to see this. It is obvious to anyone who opens a newspaper or watches the news. It is obvious even to those who simply look around them at the poverty and hardship so many endure. There is something terribly wrong in South Africa.
Knowing this, we are tempted to fall into despair. Many South Africans, even Believers, are living their lives in functional hopelessness. We keep going, but we don’t truly believe that the problem can be solved. We no longer recognise the greater power of justice, fairness, goodness and truth, or that these things can overcome the present darkness.
How sad that we are living like people without hope, when God is able to do infinitely more that we could ever ask for or imagine. We have direct access to the greatest power in the universe, through the simple medium of prayer – something that anyone can do. One does not need to be a theologian or a prophet to pray with power. One simply has to be earnest, and believe.
The most powerful prayers that have been prayed in my life were not only those prayed by internationally acclaimed preachers, on public platforms, but by widows and old women in the quietness of their homes, where no one heard except God Himself. I am so grateful for these prayer warriors who faithfully speak to the Lord about me. I seldom even know that they are praying, until they send a word of wisdom directly from the Lord.
Although I don’t hear their prayers, I certainly feel them. It is remarkable to experience God’s peace that passes all understanding in the midst of a fiery storm. But it is then that one knows: someone is praying.
I have experienced His peace so many times, when all outward circumstances scream for a reaction of distress, despair and hopelessness. When I lost my five children to car accidents and illness; when I lost my beloved wife after nearly 66 years of marriage, when I stood at the grave of yet another Black youth who had been murdered in the senseless violence of our country’s past; when yet again our efforts at liberation were met with the unmoved obstinacy of power.
I appreciate these prayers from our ecumenical Christian bodies and other God’s children assembled with us here today what has blessed us today is that we have moved away from the Christendom, which confused humanity and Christians in the past. We thank the Holy Father for Eminence who gathered VITACAN I and VITACAN II. Bodies represented by the leadership in the church today are an assurance that we have only one God. Your Eminence I have been blessed to have had audience with no less than three Pontiffs. And I will never forget that when I was greeted by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the VATICAN I was fortunate to be in your company Your Eminence is not an emphasis of one ecumenism era that I am a simple layman and what in the past we would have been only described as a Protestant, have had privileged of meeting these three successors, of St Peter. My first visit to the Vaitcan was too present certain grievances to the Pope. When the sisters of the Ingwavuma Prefacture asked me to do so it was shortly when I had been elected by the Zulu people as the Head of the KwaZulu Territorial Authority. And I tried to avoid arguing to do what the sisters asked me to do, and as it appeared as if I am an Anglican layman that as poking my nose into the Affairs of the Catholic Church. However your predesessor the most Reverend Denise Hurley, who was already speared in Ecumenism encouraged me to go to see His Holiness and Vican of Christ Pope Paul VI. Archbishop Hurley did not only encouraged me to go to Rome, he asked one of the Priests the Rev Father McKinnon to accompany me to Rome. I did not only meet His Holiness Pope John Paul II in the audience once, and later with the President of South Africa but also with my Cabinet colleaugues when the Pointiff paid an official state visit to South Africa.
Today it is enevitable for me to recall these blessings in your presence Your Eminence and with presence of the other faithful servants of the Lord.
In these times, I could never have endured, except for the power of prayer which unlocked a storehouse of patience, far beyond my own. I thank God for every time He intervened, preventing me from sinking into my human nature. And I thank Him because I know that every intervention came as an answer to prayer.
I do not say that I deserve it as a sinful human being that I am. So, I urge you to please keep praying. Pray for me. Pray for each other. Pray for our country. Pray for those who have given in to functional hopelessness, living as though nothing can be done to change the way things are. Pray that we can be the salt and light that we have been called to be. Pray for hope to be reignited. Pray for God’s power to move again.
I know that the Lord will hear us. What a blessing it is to be surrounded by men and women of such unshakable faith. Thank you for coming to see us, and thank you for your payers.