It is amazing how we find ourselves ending up in the most unexpected places in life! It was years ago (in the 1990’s) that a friend of mine had passed on some tapes which contained preaching by Erlo Stegen and Trevor Dahl (of which both are ministers in South Africa). I remember the spiritual challenges they laid out in their messages and how they persistently gave a call for a holy, Spirit filled life in Christ. Over the years I had searched to come in contact with these men to see where they are spiritually speaking today? There had been reports about God working among the Zulu people in the early 1960’s through the ministry of Erlo Stegen and I was curious about the state of the community today. Ultimately God would work out events in my life that lead to a trip to Tugela Ferry, South Africa in March of 2010.
It was a long journey (36+ hours by plane) but eventually we landed in Durban, South Africa. We were met by two members of the Tugela Ferry Rock of Life church and were kindly transported to Tugela Ferry. As we drove further from Durban and closer to Tugla Ferry it became obvious that the living standards in these communities were worlds apart. Here are a few facts taken from a newsletter by the Rock of Life Church in Tugela Ferry:
Tugela Ferry is the largest populated area in the Msinga district of Kwa Zulu-Natal. The Tugela River flows through the Northern border of the rural village of Tugela Ferry. There is an estimated population of one million people.
Rock of Life Christian Church started in 1964 as a very small local church. The congregation grew steadily and in 2000 the membership totaled 400.
The church has on staff six full time pastors, ten elders, and seven deacons.
Worship services are held on Sundays at 10:30am with Sunday School for the children. The church has twelve branches that serve the region.
Below is a typical Sunday morning service at the Rock of Life Church:
This is perhaps the poorest region in South Africa and is literally the “heart” of Zulu-land.
The needs in this region are great. There are souls at every mountainside, living vast distances away from civilization making it hard to reach many. AIDS is an unprecedented epidemic is this area where once the cycle begins, it is nearly impossible to stop. 4 out of every 5 children under 15 will die before they reach adulthood. Orphans are many and poverty is in the majority. I was completely overwhelmed by what I saw and I cried out to God for this people, that He would send labourers and indeed if it is His Will I would go.
Elzeth Malherbe, a dear woman of God has given her life to care for orphans in the area having worked among this people for decades. She administers the Khayelisha Care Orphanage where children who would otherwise die are taken in and cared for.
At the time of this writing I cannot say for certain in what way I will be involved with this need that would take many lifetimes to address, but I pray and cry out to the Lord for His Grace and His Church to get a feeling for the vast need. As the scripture says:
Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
While the church body in Tugela Ferry is running full blast to help in every way they can (lead by Pastor Barney Mabaso), we the rest of the body of Christ should seek the Lord and ask Him in what way He would have us to help. Let me say that the greatest need (in my opinion) is NOT money. These people need help, prayer support, encouragement, intercessions and a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit! Yes, God is among the Zulu’s and these people are WIDE OPEN to the gospel. They have many customs that in some ways prepare them for coming to Jesus.
I recall a discussion with pastor Barney regarding musical instruments. Barney mentioned “we blacks don’t need them, God placed it in our mouths”. I must agree with this dear brother:
In conclusion I would love to answer any question that my readers may have regarding this people, just send me an email to (mark_vejvoda @ h o t m a i l . c o m ) but I will post contact information for the Christians working directly in this area. These people are trustworthy and very competent, God fearing servants of Christ:
Rock Of Life Church
Tugela Ferry Mission
PO box 397, Tugela Ferry, 3010 email: tugmission @ x s i n e t . c o . z a
Ph. 033 493 0087 FAX 033 493 0083
For more photos of Tugela Ferry, check out my facebook photo album: