VISIT TO PEACEVILLE MISSION
PEACEVILLE MISSION, HAMMARSDALE : MARCH 9, 2002
It is a privilege for me to be here again this year after my visit to Peaceville Mission in 1999, and as a Christian, it is a great privilege to be present again at the 78th Pilgrimage of the Church of the Holy Ghost.
One of the privileges of my life was meeting the Founder of this Church in the 60's if I am not mistaken, when he visited my late first cousin, His Majesty King Cyprian Bhekuzulu Nyangayezizwe at his Khethomthandayo Royal Residence. I also met him on another occasion when he visited the King when the King was in Durban and when he used to have quarters at the old Somtsewu Road Township in Durban. Just his bearing and dignity impressed me that indeed this was the Lord's messenger and servant. He was highly respected by all of us as a man of God. I regretted the fact that even when His Majesty the King visited Peaceville Mission, I was not one of those who were privileged to accompany him, as I often did during the King's reign. Although I met the founder of this Church of the Holy Ghost, the Reverend Mfunwa Paul Nzuza, on the two occasions that I have mentioned, I never had the privilege of visiting the headquarters of the Church during his lifetime.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is therefore a great privilege for me to join you during this time of Lent as we all participate in this 78th Annual Pilgrimage of the followers of the Church of the Holy Ghost, with the Lord's anointed amongst us. I also welcome this opportunity for us to come together in fellowship to celebrate our unity as the Church and collegially seek direction, so that together we may pursue the will and way of our Maker in all of life. May we use this time wisely, completing all that must be done, and leaving time to listen and to talk to one another so that we may offer encouragement, insight and support for our individual spiritual walks.
I appreciate moments such as this when I am allowed to take time from my political schedule, and my other national duties, to attend to matters of the spirit. However, I remain aware that the dualistic division we often emphasise between the secular and spiritual aspects of our lives, is a false division. Our spiritual beliefs cannot be separated from how we lead our lives, from our convictions or from our attitude. As a leader of many years, I have often found myself in a position in which compromising my personal beliefs could have been politically expedient. Yet I have never been an ambitious man, beyond the ambition of achieving whatever is in the best interests of those I serve, and I find myself unable to act contrary to my conscience, no matter how appealing the alternative may be. We all remember that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself left us with a very clear injunction on this subject, when some of his detractors tried to trap him by saying "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's."
I feel that this is not only the mark of a good leader, but the necessary characteristic of any man or woman who is honest with themselves. When people live according to their beliefs, it is easy to see what those beliefs are, how strongly they are held and how consistently. If I look at the actions of some people, even in leadership positions, it seems there are very few people who know what they believe, and even fewer who know what they do not believe. It seems some people shift position too easily and believe one thing for one circumstance, and its opposite for another. Often people seem to know how they want to act and will then manipulate a belief until it justifies their action. But our beliefs should not be used to justify our actions, rather our actions should justify our beliefs.
How we act as Christians in South Africa must express what we believe. For years I have called upon the people of goodwill in our country to stand and actively usher in a more stable, more prosperous, more secure environment. I feel that those of us who have goodwill in our hearts should be acting on our goodwill. It is often said that for evil to prosper, good men must simply fail to act. It is also said that there is not a problem with a lie being in the marketplace, so long as the truth is given an equal opportunity. I am saddened, then, when I see Christians afraid to take up the reins in politics, law, medicine, the media and the arts. Some even feel that politics is dirty and that Christians should not involve themselves in it. This is an utterly wrong belief and it will cause South Africa serious incalculable damage if we continue to act on it. A field of human endeavour is only good or bad according to the actions of those involved in it. If we fail to get involved as people of goodwill, we cannot bemoan the fact that we are led by people in bad faith. The body of Christ must return to a biblical world view in which individuals choose influence even over position. We have the capacity and the responsibility to influence our world.
It has been said of the early Christian Church that it took only a few men to turn the world upside down. God used the Greek language of the time and the Roman roads to spread the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. The early Church was given the anointing of the Holy Spirit and received the gifting of diverse tongues. In fact, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the upper room after Jesus’ crucifixion, tongues of fire appeared above their heads. They spoke in such strange tongues, with such ecstatic joy, that non-believers thought them to be drunk. From the teachings of the apostle Paul, we know the gift of diverse tongues to be for all believers baptised in the Spirit. Paul said, we do not know how to pray as we ought, but we may be led by the Holy Spirit in tongues. Our mind need not know what we pray with our spirit, but our mind must be occupied with petitions and praises and thanksgiving to God.
It is not by might, nor by power that we will change the world we live in, but by the Spirit of God. The gift of prophesy is likewise a gift of the Spirit, given according to His will. We should desire spiritual gifts, but never pursue them so that we may attract glory or respect to ourselves. We must be aware that there are counterfeit gifts and always test what we receive through prophesy against what we know is the will of God, expressed through His word. His word does not change to adapt to what we would like to believe is our destiny. Neither does His word change so that it can be used to justify actions which are taken of our own accord, in our own strength, by our own understanding. It seems obvious enough, but I feel I must warn my fellows in Christ, that we do not use God, but God uses us, if we allow Him to use us merely by obeying Him.
I am angry that so many atrocities have been committed in the name of the Church. Some people even justified apartheid, and there are still those fringe groupings throughout the world who justify segregation by pointing to verses of the Bible taken out of context and ascribed meanings they do not have. But the truth is that man was never given dominion over man. We have been created equal, and given dominion as mankind over every living creature. I sometimes shudder to think how we are living up to our dominion mandate when I consider the ecological destruction already wrought by man. But I am more saddened still to see that throughout the ages, in every society, there are those whose desire is for power over their fellow man.
I address this subject today because whenever I witness leaders being appointed and taking up leadership positions, I am reminded that Christ said whomever seeks to be elevated amongst men, must serve men. As a leader, I have never sought power. I believe that a true leader leads with authority, while a poor leader must resort to wielding power. I am also reminded of Christ’s warning about the good shepherd. He pointed out that the sheep know the shepherd, and the shepherd knows the sheep. Moreover, the good shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep. But when a hireling looks after the sheep and a wolf threatens, the hireling will run away to save his own skin, and the sheep will be scattered.