Introduction Ntokozo Nhlabathi
A hearty welcome to all our distinguished guests. This is a Sunday with a difference. Today we are here to give thanks to God for what He has accomplished during the past 10 years in CYPSA. We welcome our world-wide audience. We especially greet Reverend Stegen, the director and founder of KwaSizabantu Mission. What we see today is the fruit of his labour.
Today we celebrate because of what the Lord has been doing in the lives of ex-drug addicts. They are an example and a beacon of hope. What is impossible with man is possible with God. They have come a long way out of their drug addiction into completion or nearing completion of their degrees. A special thank you to our dear sister, Lydia Dube because CYPSA was her vision. She longed to give these broken lives a second chance. Allow me to pay a tribute to Reverend Stegen: Thank you for your life and for what you are doing and have done for us. In 1989 the auditorium was built by people who came from all walks of life and different language groups. The work was difficult because they could not understand each other. Reverend Stegen began to teach these builders one language in order to communicate better. As co-workers, we remembered when Reverend Stegen would excuse himself from a meeting because his class was waiting to be taught. Reverend Stegen does not only talk about good things, he himself reaches out to the people. Work amongst the community has always been on his heart. We thank and praise God for your life, Reverend Stegen, and we want to follow in your footsteps.
Various students were presented with awards from CYPSA.
Testimony Bongani Phoso of CYPSA
I was born in Richmond and grew up in KwaMashu. I loved soccer and dancing. In 1994 when I was 12 years old, MK soldiers were employed to help the community. They would be involved in crime, rape and teaching crime. I was drawn to this lifestyle. I would watch soap operas at night which gave me ideas of what to do at school. I moved around with older boys and I became involved in every type of crime.
A gang of criminals stayed in a nearby forest and I would visit them and they taught me how to do crime. I was told that I was good at learning. I was told to go with the gang and because I was small I could get into small places. There were times when we were successful but once we were arrested and was sentenced for cuts but then I was sent to Westville due to the severity of my crimes.
I was expected by the other inmates when I arrived because through their network they knew who was coming. When you have made a name for yourself, a place is prepared for you inside. My parents could not bail us out of prison because of the severity of our crime even though they tried very hard. On the day I was sentenced my father passed away. I was sentenced to 15 years because I was so young and impressionable and the others to 25 years. Other prisoners had visitors but I had none. When the others were busy with exercises, I would pinch drugs and dagga do that prison life would be more bearable. I joined the 26 gang. I was told that in prison they live by blood and in order for me to get strong, I must use this blood and be involved in this blood. They have me advice on how to lie while being beaten so that I could survive. I was going to receive a shortened sentence, half the time but eventually I did more than 9 years. After 9 years and 6 months I was released on parole to go home.
When I got home, the community who knew about me, did not want me there. Because of the reception I received I resolved that the only way back was through guns and violence. I joined another gang involved in murder and killing. On a day, when Bheki Cele was in the area, we killed 7 people. We were not welcome in any home. We lived like orphans, people without relatives or parents. We had to see to ourselves.
Others who knew I had been in jail and had joined the 26 gang said they also wanted to learn from me how to live this life. To join this gang a person had to shed blood and stab a victim so that they would cry and scream. Once that deed has been committed the person became a gang member. Eventually I became so infamous – I was sought by the community, the police and hitmen. I could get out of any situation. I was fearless because I had a powerful witchdoctor and I used the medicine he gave me which made me almost invincible. Any body part that he required, at whatever time of the day, I would get for him.
If I was with my mother, wherever we moved, the community would burn our house down. We always had to flee. I was a gang leader and wherever I moved I would form a gang around me. If the community rose up against the gang, stone them, kill them or chase them away, I would move to another place and form another gang. I was never a loner and always had people who were willing to associate with me. What made them accept me was that I would not just speak but I would show them that I meant business. I taught them how to shoot.
I carried witchcraft medication on me and the witchdoctor would explain that particular signs would result in particular actions. One night at midnight, a bottle I had with me, rolled away and broke into pieces. On that day 6 of us were arrested. From prison I sent my sister to the witchdoctor. He said my arrest was a trivial matter and gave her six things we had to take. He said there would be lightning and thunder and we would be set free. We did indeed get out but the community was not happy. They gave the police large notebook filled with the crimes we had committed. The community said that they would look for me themselves and get rid of me. There were high profile political people who hired me as an assassin to eliminate certain people.
Then I moved to Marianhill in Pinetown where I would be surrounded by other killers like myself and be safe. I formed another gang there and we did house robberies and stole vehicles in that area. One day I had just hit it rich – three laptops, cameras, and I was smoking with a woman. I was told that we had another job to do. We knew how to get into any building even though there were alarm systems. If a door key was left in the door, it was as good as not locking the door at all. At one house robbery, someone outside stood guard and when the police came he fled without warning. Because the police were looking for me they did not ask any questions but came in with their guns blazing. On that day three policeman died. I was also hit and disabled. I spent two years in a wheelchair.
In all the activities we were involved in, women were not innocent. They are in the forefront – encouraging us. Whenever we wanted to get away with guns and drugs, we would give them to our female associates who were seldom searched and could get in anywhere.
Thank you very much to the Lord for His grace. I thank Reverend Stegen, although he receives many arrows and stones directed at him because of the work done through CYPSA, and Ms Dube, for allowing us to be here, the co-workers and aunties, for all their help in counselling and prayer. I am a cripple today and many feel sorry for me but I have been to make restitution with old associates and many of them are in a much worse condition than I am today. Even though I have apologised at home, the people do not want me back there.
Dr K Molefe and Dr M Buthelezi addressed the audience.
A powerpoint showed various aspects of the ten years of CYPSA
Service Albu van Eeden
I am privileged that I may share God’s word today. We are all born from the same root, Christ. I want us to look at the root from which this work sprang through looking at the life of a man who is rather unknown. He is very seldom spoken about or used in sermons. He is a man who was born, lived his life and was snatched away during a time of war. This man has been one of my heroes and role models. He was the son of a king, the crown prince who was to inherit the throne when his father died but he gave away his kingdom because that was God’s will. This person is Jonathan, the son of King Saul.
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armour and even his sword and his bow and belt. 1 Samuel 18:3,4
Jonathan gave his kingdom to King David. Who is King David? Who is your and my King David? It is the Son of God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to this world to save you and me from our sins. If we want to receive forgiveness for our sins we must be willing to give up our own kingdoms. Each man, no matter where he comes from, whether he is addicted to drugs and is sleeping on the streets or whether he is a king in his own country and has his own kingdom which is the kingdom of self within him.
You have heard the testimonies of young men who were willing to give away their kingdoms in order to receive forgiveness of their sins from Christ their Lord. They had to die to their own kingdoms and confess their sins which is one of the most painful things for a proud, selfish sinner to do. Then they could enter into Christ’s blood and receive His forgiveness. Dear friend, unless you are willing to give away your kingdom, you cannot partake in the kingdom of Christ and receive forgiveness of sins and be washed in His blood. If you have done it, there will be a love in your heart for Him that nothing can quench.
Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as his own soul. Do you love Christ as your own soul? Are you willing give away your robe – your pride that stands up if somebody suddenly drives in front of you as if the whole road belongs to him, as if he is a king? Are you willing to take off your armour of self-defence of your rights and personal honour? You have been fighting with so many people for your own honour but are you willing to take off your sword, your bow and your belt because you love Him as your own soul?
When Jonathan did this there were consequences – a rift developed between him and his father. Friends, this was the result of a man who decided to give up his personal kingdom. God’s calling was on this man’s life to give up his own rights and kingdom for others.
Reverend Stegen’s mother used explain what a sickly child he was and how many times she feared for his life. There were times when she thought, “Lord, where are you going to with this child? This child is special.” Then Christ came into his life and he gave up his kingdom, his inheritance, the farm he could have inherited. For what purpose? To carry the gospel of Christ to the Zulu nation – people of another nation, another race. He was not concerned about his own kingdom, the people of his own race. He had given that kingdom away and he received the love of Christ for other people. God descended at Maphumulo and gave His stamp of approval through the Holy Spirit on a group of Zulu people who were with him. That was the beginning of this work and friends that is his heart until today for all people, not just the Zulu nation. He is willing to lose his kingdom so that the kingdom of God can come into their lives. This friends, is the root from which the fruit has grown which we have been eating and enjoying here. His Saviour, Christ the king, came into his life and he loved Him as his own soul and because of that love, he took the gospel to other nations.
Something that the Honourable Dr Buthelezi mentioned which some people may not have noticed – at the core of this work of revival is a love between white and black, people of all races that you will not find anywhere else. This is not a structure that was created and that forces people to live under it. The heart of the leadership is united. Those through whom God originally worked and are still alive are Reverend Stegen, Ms L Dube and Mr J Dube. Through the years, storms have hit this place but I the heart of the work has stayed the same and has never been lost. It is God’s house – a place for all nations.
God often works in a church comprised of mainly one group of people. Yes, they may be a few of other races but the churches are mostly African, or Indian, Coloured or White. But at the heart of this place is a love for people of other races. How is that possible? Because they gave up their own kingdoms to become part of God’s kingdom. You will always get a reaction if you do that.
Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 1 Samuel 20:30
Not everybody will be happy with you if you follow Christ. There are people who will call you all kinds of names. Saul called Jonathan a traitor, a jellyfish who could not stand for his own rights, he called him a man without backbone, he said to Jonathan, “Don’t you realise the royal line is in you? The royal line of Judah is in you. You are not just bringing shame on yourself and me, you are bringing shame on the whole tribe.” Woe to the Christian who listens to the enemy because there is an enemy who wants to remove you from God’s kingdom. May God give us the grace not to do that.
I will close with a final thought. Some people give their kingdom to Christ and receive forgiveness of sins but as time goes on, after years, the self awakens in them. You may have been a Christian for years and slowly but surely the self returns to your life. Your kingdom is becoming important again to you and you slowly give in.
Do you know what Martin Luther said? We have to drown the old Adam every day but we must watch out because the old scoundrel can swim. You will drown him today and tomorrow you will see him get up again. I would like to direct this especially to those who have received honours and success in their studies. Dear young people, young members of CYPSA, after God has healed you and saved your soul, after you have given everything to Him and then you become qualified, the possibility of making money will enter and it will become unpleasant to live here. Rev Stegen has said at times that this is the worst place in the world to live. Why? Because you have to die to yourself every day. He said that he could not remember one day when he did not have to die to himself. This revival is an unpleasant place. We have so many blessings and gifts but for some reason God put this place together in such a way that you must die to yourself every day. Young people from CYPSA, once God has washed and cleansed you of your sins, as he speaks about Israel – He picked you up in your dirt, your umbilical was not cut, you were covered in blood – God picked you up, He washed you clean, He wiped and dried. He made a human being out of you once again. Be very careful that after some time, the self does not awaken in you.
Rev Stegen has refused to allow his own kingdom to return. He has refused to stop living a life of self-sacrifice. How many pastors, once they have a congregation, start building their own kingdoms again? They fight against other pastors for their own kingdoms. Not only against other pastors but they have the guts to fight with Christ Himself for His kingdom. Honour that belongs to Christ, they take for themselves. Friends, God forbids that we take His honour for ourselves. You know what is a mystery? When a man lives a life of self-sacrifice, it may appear as if others are overtaking him and achieving more honour than he is. It may appear as if others are taking over his role and he is staying behind and the temptation is there for the man of God to stand up and fight for his kingdom. If a person is spiritually blind he may follow someone who appears to be overtaking and look down on the man who sacrifices himself and lives for others. I have seen people do this on the mission. They join in the work and hold hands with Reverend Stegen and they grow in popularity that they eventually appear to be overtaking him but not once has he stood up to fight for his own kingdom. He remains there and is faithful where God has put him, caring for others and not himself. Why? How does he do that? The Son of God walked into his life and he loved Him as his own soul. That is why we can enjoy the fruit today.
Friends, it is wonderful to enjoy the fruit but allow me to challenge each person here today – who is the king of your life? Whose kingdom are you taking care of? Are you caring for your own kingdom? Did you start off by accepting Christ’s kingdom but slowly the old Adam took over? As you are seated here, you have your plans worked out. You young people from CYPSA have your plans worked out. Now that things have improved, you can start living again, making money, doing this and that. Do you know what the devil will tell you? Do this and that – you can use it for God’s kingdom where you are going.
You cannot leave this place for your own kingdom and maintain God’s blessing on your life. Unfortunately you know too much, God has shown you too much, you have too much light. Do not dare to return to your old way of living or the world’s way of living. At the best you will end up being lukewarm and Christ said to that congregation: …so because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16
May God be merciful to us and may His Spirit once again have communion with us in our hearts and souls, calling us to a new commitment to Christ so that His name will be glorified.