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Address by Minister Jeff Radebe at the Assemblies of God Easter weekend church service
14 April 2017, Thaba Nchu, Free State Province
ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE JEF RADEBE, MP, MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR PLANNING, MONITORING AND EVALUATION; AT THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD EASTER WEEKEND CHURCH SESSION; THABA NCHU, FREE STATE PROVINCE
14 APRIL 2017
Greetings to the Leadership of the Assemblies of God church
The Executive and the Back to God Teaching Team
Pastors and their partners
Fathers, Mothers and the Youth
Special greetings to the Mothers’ Supervisors who lead Mothers nationally as this gathering includes Mothers’ convention
Fellow worshippers and Children of God;
I greet you all in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I feel blessed to be standing here before you on this very important day. It is such an honour and a privilege for me to be in the house of the Lord this Good Friday.
The Easter weekend provides many of us with a glorious opportunity to reconnect with our souls, to be in touch with our inner beings, and recommit ourselves in service to the Lord. This is indeed a moment for me to reconnect with the Lord. A moment of self-introspection. A moment of spiritual revival.
The Assemblies of God brings back fond memories of my own upbringing in KwaMashu township, at the G-2 Section Methodist church. Although I come from a family of staunch Methodists, with my father, Fishela Radebe, being an active member the church, we could not resist the lure of the Assemblies of God. We benefited from the teachings of Rev. Nicholas Bhengu, the founder of this church, who opened the doors to everyone.
Rev. Bhengu was a devout Christian, a true Apostle of the word of God and, to this day, he remains one of the most revered evangelists in southern Africa. Rev. Bhengu carried out the message of Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew, where he instructs his disciples to go out there and preach the gospel of God. In Matthew Chapter 10, Jesus says to his disciples:
“Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”
Rev. Bhengu was called to serve the Lord and spread his gospel throughout the land. He would travel from one town to another and people would come in droves to listen to his teachings. I have vivid memories of Rev. Bhengu pitching tents and preaching in my township of KwaMashu.
He travelled around the country healing the sick, establishing new church plants and nurturing new leaders across southern Africa. Many people accepted Jesus as their saviour during these crusades. That is why today, the Assemblies of God boasts over 5000 churches across all provinces of South Africa.
Whenever Rev. Bhengu came to preach in our township, he changed lives. The levels of crime and violence would be significantly reduced. Well-known criminals would embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and saviour. He was fulfilling the mission that Jesus Christ sent his disciples to the world for. Jesus said in Mathew 10 verse 16:
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.”
This is the conviction that drove many of those who dedicated their lives to the South African liberation struggle. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we persevered because we believed that no human race was created to be above the other. The Lord that emancipated the Israelites from Pharaoh was going to liberate the oppressed masses of our people from the yoke of apartheid.
The very foundation of the African National Congress (ANC) was established on strong religious grounds. It was through the direction provided by the traditional and religious leaders that the oppressed peoples of South Africa converged in 1912, in this province of the Free State, and formed the South African Native National Congress, the predecessor of the ruling ANC.
The very first president of the ANC, John Langalibalele Dube, was himself a man of the cloth. Chief Albert Luthuli, who served as the President of the ANC during one of the most difficult periods in the history of the struggle, was a lay preacher. What is less known is that O.R. Tambo, the longest serving President of the ANC, was on course to become an Anglican priest before the political situation forced him out of his ancestral land.
Religious leaders have always been part of human struggles and occupied the frontline trenches alongside other political activists. They played a pivotal role in mobilising society and keeping the fires burning when many political leaders were incarcerated, organisations banned and every political activity suppressed through the draconian apartheid laws.
In the same way that religious leaders played a fundamental role during the liberation struggle, they have an equally important role to play in our society today. The church is the embodiment of human dignity and positive social values that can take South Africa forward. It provides the moral compass to the nation.
The leadership of the church is needed in our society now more than ever before.
Our society is confronted by numerous challenges that need the intervention and guidance of the church. The high levels of crime and violence in our society are threatening to reverse the gains of our freedom and democracy.
At the time when we thought we had eradicated the scourge of racism, it keeps rearing its ugly head.
It is highly regrettable that even the supposedly politically enlightened members of our society, would perpetuate racism by embracing colonialism. It is inconceivable that a prominent political figure, twenty-three (23) years into the democratic dispensation, would praise colonialism despite its well-documented devastating effects to humanity across the globe.
Those who crucified Jesus Christ do not deserve praise for allowing Simon to assist in carrying the cross. The Son of God was never supposed to be crucified in the first place. We must rid South Africa of all racial prejudice. Racism does not have a place in our democratic society.
The recent credit downgrades of our economy by ratings agencies are a major setback in our journey towards creating a better and more prosperous South Africa. The implication is that the downgrade will accelerate the outflow of capital from the stock exchange and bond markets.
The loss of foreign funds means that government and private companies will effectively have to pay more to borrow. That in turn will tend to squeeze state services, as government pays more on its debt. The capital outflows could lower growth even further and this means less jobs for the poor.
We must all put shoulders to the wheel and accelerate inclusive growth so that we can reverse the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in our society.
I am making a clarion call to religious leaders across society to pray for our country. The economic challenges that we face are not insurmountable. We know that with the Lord on our side, we shall overcome all obstacles. I believe that religion can bring us together and promote nation-building and social cohesion.
Prayer is the guiding light that illuminates our paths as we journey through this valley of darkness. With the power of worship, with our prayers, we will restore the moral fibre of our society. We will find salvation. We will triumph against adversity.
Because when we put our trust in the Lord, we know that victory is certain. We shall overcome.
God bless you!
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