By Gerda Potgieter
On December 11, the KwaSizabantu Mission in KwaZulu-Natal celebrated its founder, Rev Erlo Stegen’s, 70th year in ministry.
More than 10 000 people attended the thanksgiving service in the KwaSizabantu conference centre in Kranskop to honour Stegen for his 70 years of ministry and his positive impact on the lives of many people. Many dignitaries, including members of the Zulu and Swazi royal families, were present.
Addressing the congregation, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch said he has been blessed to have Stegen walk closely with him throughout his years of ministry. He said the reverend’s ministry had deeply impacted his life and the lives of members of the Zulu nation which he loves dearly.
A visibly emotional Buthelezi said: “The story of Erlo Stegen is an inspiration to millions of Christians all over the world. He is an example of what God can do through a man who is obedient to Him. He has expanded the work of KwaSizabantu to every continent on the globe.”
The former premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, said: “KwaSizabantu is a mirror for South Africa of thāt what we want to get to. (This would be) the day we say South Africa has truly received freedom … These 70 years were a success but it is not the end. We’ve learned many things from Rev Stegen and the co-workers who have worked with him”.
Rev Dr Kenneth Meshoe, president of the ACDP, said that Stegen “has blessed millions of people over the world.”
“Thank you to Rev Stegen for the Gospel he came to preach. He did not preach a Gospel of salvation that only looks at the soul of a person … the spirit of a person, he looked at the total Gospel, the full Gospel–the Gospel that teaches Jesus loves your body, your soul, your spirit – the Gospel of the whole person,” said Meshoe.
Called to ministry, especially to the Zulu people, Rev Stegen, who is known to his community as “Baba Mfundisi”, has devoted his life to sharing the Gospel. In 1952, while South Africa was still under apartheid, he started his ministry in rural Maphumulo. The lack of development in the area prompted him to uplift the local community. With limited resources, the preacher, workers, and early supporters started construction and agricultural projects to accommodate and feed the people who came to hear the Gospel.
In the more than 52 years since KwaSizabantu was established, the mission has started many poverty alleviation ministries and a number of job creation ministries and outreach projects. All of these community-based initiatives have grown out of the evangelism ministry.
Today, the mission is self sutainable, with vegetable gardens, pepper greenhouses, avocado and other fruit orchards, a yoghurt factory, water and honey bottling plants and compost production.
KwaSizabantu impacts people of all races and cultures through a message of repentance and hope and through spiritual guidance, educational support and counselling. Millions of people have visited KwaSizabantu and its twice-yearly youth conferences and international ministers conferences draw many attendees.
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