Speech by Paul Tungwarara, advisor to the Zimbabwean president
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We want to thank Rev Stegen and the executive board who have opened the doors for us to be here. We represent the government and His Excellency, our president of Zimbabwe. He heard about this great work of God in this area and he sent us to come and see it with our own eyes. What we have seen so far has proved beyond words that the work of God is done here in a good and practical way.
When I walked into the auditorium and saw how the people were dressed, I realised that they were Christians. They say that when you walk like a baboon, eat like a baboon, laugh like a baboon and dress like a baboon, it means that you are a baboon.
We are overwhelmed by what we have seen. We can recommend this type of Gospel to our country as well.
I have heard testimonies of drug addicts who were converted by the Gospel that is preached here. We do not know how you are helping these people, but the drug issue is also a problem in our country. We are happy to invite the mission to come and help our country.
This mission is practical. Some people run away from Christianity, not because they do not like it, but because of how Christianity is handled by other people. They fail to display the life of Christ and the life of the Gospel – instead they use the Gospel to get what they want from the congregants. What I have seen here, all the developments in this area, have been brought about by the missionary and the preaching of the Gospel. If this Gospel is brought to African countries in this manner, everyone will swallow the Gospel. You are welcome to Zimbabwe. If we reject this type of missionary work, we will be unwise people. My duty as the adviser is to make sure that this type of missionary work and development is welcome in my country. Very good work is being done here. There is one principle I believe in - the Bible says, ‘Give and it shall be given...’ I have never seen a person who stretches out his hand to help and remains poor. I can see that the buildings and developments that can be seen are being given back to the community. God is obligated to bless those hands. Amen.
We want to thank you all. Congratulations to the new couple.
On 20 January 2007 at 14h00 I was in the same situation as this couple today. I was 21 years old. If you want God to bless your house, be faithful to each other. Since 2007 I have only one wife. I don’t even dream of having another. I am satisfied with my wife. God can only bless a united couple.
This Gospel is not only theory, it is practical. Jesus was also practical. Once he had a meeting and he preached to the crowd. When he finished, the people were hungry and there was no food. The disciples said to Him, ‘Should we send them away without eating anything?’ Jesus said, ‘We must make a plan.’ Then, as a practical man, because God is practical, He said, ‘I am now going to do something practical.’ He took the bread and the fish and multiplied it. The people were fed.
We see that He is practical. Before He went, He told the disciples, ‘Be practical – preach the Gospel, cast out devils, because theory does not work.’ Theory cannot be eaten. Here I have seen practical people. I am glad to open the doors to Zimbabwe for practical people like this. If the preachers and prophets of today would become practical like this, using the Bible, I believe Africa would be changed. Thank you everyone. Thank you very much and God bless you all.
Albu van Eeden
Brethren, my heart is overflowing with joy. We hope to see you again and again in the future. Blessed is the nation whose leaders quote from the Bible and acknowledge God.
This is a great day for me because it is my spiritual daughter, Gloria, who is getting married today. I am so happy.
One comment on Mr Tungwarara’s speech. When Rev Stegen began preaching among the Zulu people, their general perception of preachers was that they just wanted money from people. Because of this perception, he prayed and said, “Lord, if you do a work in our midst, I promise that I will never ask others for money.” We can testify to the fact that he has kept his promise. He has never ever asked for money or even hinted for donations from the pulpit. At the same time, however, he said that Christians should not just sit and wait for donations. We should do what we can to generate money. In the New Testament we read about Paul who made tents to finance his activities. The activities on the mission were initiated by Rev Stegen to generate an income so that he would not need to rely on donations. This never meant that he did not need to pray. God kept him on his knees, praying for the different needs at times when there was insufficient money. We have learned this from him. God will never remove you from a place where you are dependent on God. You will always be in need and dependent on Him. This is good - because it keeps us close to God and causes us to examine our lives to see whether our relationship with God is what it should be.
Rev Stegen said that his first duty was not to preach the Gospel, it was to make sure that the relationship between him and God was in order. This is the desire and passion of all of us who are following in his footsteps. If your relationship with God is in order, everything else will work out. If things between you and God are wrong, nothing will work out.
11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
This is the text selected by the bridegroom for his wedding day. I asked him to share some of his thoughts on this text. This verse is about the word of God. Mbongeni said that the word of the Lord saved him when he first arrived here. He was a sinner. He was condemned. He had stains on his heart, soul, mind and his spiritual garment. There was nothing in eternity that could wash them away if the blood of Christ did not. He first had to be saved. He had to be saved by God’s word.
Friends, you can enter politics and yet drag all your sins with you, but as long as you are popular with the people, you feel fine. You can enter the business world, become a millionaire and be successful together with all your sins. You can be a teacher, a doctor or a lawyer with all your sins that you were born with and grow up with. But you cannot drag your sins into heaven one day - because no sin is allowed there. If you want to reach heaven, the blood of Christ will first have to wash away those sins. This was the beginning for Mbongeni and I trust for Gloria as well. They reached a point where their sins were washed away.
Friend, do you have a clean heart or is there still blood on your hands? Are your hands defiled? Is your body defiled? Are your eyes dark? The Lord Jesus said that the eyes are the light of the soul. If your eyes are dark, how dark is your soul? What do you look at with your eyes? What do you look at on your cell phone? When you are in the city and you see half-dressed girls, are your eyes light or dark? The Lord Jesus said that if your eyes are dark, how dark is your soul? It was here that light entered his eyes.
In his second point, Mbongeni said that the word of the Lord aided him to see through the many things that can deceive young people. There are so many deceptions in this world - a person may even be deceived into marrying the wrong person. Marriage is one of the areas of the greatest deception imaginable – people do not marry in God’s will and to the person God selects and in God’s time. They marry according to the desires of their flesh and eyes.
Thirdly, he said that God’s word gave him hope to persevere in living a pure life. We speak about faith, hope and love, and the greatest of all is love. We speak much about faith, but hope is not often spoken about. This is where many young people fail. They lose hope in the battle against the lusts of the flesh that rage in their bodies. God’s word gives people hope against opposition from family and friends when they become Christians. Young people give up hope to ever overcome the world. They lose hope that the Gospel is liveable in the 21st century. They see people around them giving up on the Gospel and a life of purity and sliding into the world and going lost.
Fourthly, Mbongeni said that a young person needs God above all. No time spent with God is ever wasted. It does not matter how dry the Bible may be when you read it, or even how boring - no time spent with God or reading God’s word is ever in vain or wasted. This text suggests a certain amount of fear. I hide God’s word because I fear to sin against the Lord. Mbongeni said that this verse and this place helped him live under a constant healthy fear. (There is an unhealthy, sick fear - but a healthy fear puts you on guard and helps you not to sin against God.)
Fifthly, Mbongeni said that we should evaluate every step against God’s word. Friends, do you remember to pray? Not in the beginning and end of the day only, or when you eat - but throughout the day, in everything you do; even when you stand before something impossible which you feel you cannot survive. I am reminded of Ms Dube’s vision of the broad and narrow roads. She was required to exert herself. At times there were sharp stones next to the narrow road which could cut her feet to pieces. At times she had to humble herself. At times the road to heaven was so steep, she had to go down on her belly. At times she had to be on guard and sacrifice everything just to go forward on the narrow road. There were large stones at times and if a person sat on them, the stones would roll and they would fall to their death. It was a time of total exertion. At one stage she reached a vertical cliff. The Lord Jesus stood at the top. He beckoned to her to come up. She said, ‘Lord, I cannot, I cannot.’ Suddenly, she found herself on top of the cliff, next to Him. He had lifted her up to Him. Always pray. Make sure that God is with you in every step you take. When you are asked a question, pray and say, ‘Lord, how must I answer?’ Keep one ear open to the person asking the question and one ear open to God to hear what He says. It does not mean that you must always show God’s word to everyone – there is a time to hide God’s word in your heart so that not everybody hears and sees it.
As a young man, Mbongeni says, this verse, the word and the revival assisted him to discern and resist temptations. This word made it possible for him to discern the most deceptive thing of all – not the devil - the most deceptive thing that exists is the heart of man. It is deceptive above all things, and desperately wicked. God’s word helped him to discern his own deceptions and to know when to give in to his desires and when to push them aside. I doubt whether everyone realises what this marriage has cost these two people. They have had to fight many battles to stand pure and spotless here today.
Here are a few thoughts on an example from God’s word. I always look for a Biblical example of a principle that you find in the Bible. I thought about Esther and I believe we can learn a lot from Esther. We are not as beautiful as she was, but there are many lessons that support today’s text.
Esther was extremely beautiful. She lived in a land of captivity. The Bible does not only say she had a beautiful face, but she also had a beautiful figure. This makes men stumble and fall into sin, desire and lust. There is nothing through which you can be surer that a person will serve the devil, than to create a very beautiful girl. For a beautiful girl it is nearly impossible to be saved. Why? They often worship men. Why? Because men worship them. Beautiful girls usually have so many men they can choose from, that the temptation is to select the one who suits me the best - the one with lots of money, the one who can take good care of me. A beautiful girl can just pick them like ripe apples off a tree. Beautiful girls are often extremely proud because God made them beautiful, not because of anything they have done.
God has shown us in this revival that all these reasons to marry do not count in this revival. One particular girl once said to Rev Stegen, ‘Mfundisi, is it possible that God can tell five men at the same time to marry me?’ Five men had conveyed to her that God had laid it on their hearts that they should get married to her. ‘I want to live for God. I am not interested in men,’ she said, ‘so if the sixth one asks, please tell him God has not told me to get married. You do not even need to ask me, just tell him that.’ When two people marry in the revival, it means that God has led them. They are not marrying because of beauty and personal interests.
The Persian king did not have a queen. So, he had all the beautiful girls from across the country brought to him so he could select one. He selected Esther. He was Persian, she was Jewish. She agreed to marry him. How many girls would not grab at that opportunity? To be a queen with 20 handmaidens serving me, living in luxury, people bowing to me. But, in spite of all the glory and luxury that she experienced, there was something more precious. There was something more precious than her beauty, more precious than her position as a queen, more precious than the luxury - her identity as a Jew and being part of the nation of God.
To every young person who get married, Mbongeni and Gloria, there should be nothing that you experience in or through your marriage that should be more precious to you than the fact that you belong to the nation of God and are part of the children of Christ.
Esther had to keep her identity a secret. Her uncle Mordecai said that she should not tell anyone that she was a Jew. She had to hide the secret in this case. A time came when God tested her to see what was the most precious to her.
Although we rejoice today and glorify the name of the Lord because of your marriage, you can be sure times will come where God will test what is the most precious thing for you. Mbongeni, if Gloria becomes more important than the Lord Jesus, things will go wrong in your marriage. Gloria, the same – then you have missed the blessing.
God brought a test across Esther’s path. She had to decide whether to publicise the fact that she was a Jewess to prevent Haman killing the entire Jewish nation. She had to make a choice that could have cost her her life. Haman was the right hand of king Xerxes. He hated the Jews. He built gallows to kill Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. He notified all the nations under the rule of King Xerxes to kill the Jews on a particular day. The king gave him permission to go ahead with the plan. Esther had to step forward and tell the king that she was also a Jew and that if he was going to go ahead with the plan to annihilate the Jews, she would also have to be killed. Her uncle said, ‘Do you think that you will be spared if you remain quiet now? Do not think that because you are in the palace you will be spared.’ The Bible says that everyone who wants to live a God-fearing life will be persecuted. This was a dark time for Esther. If she remained quiet, she would be killed. If she approached the king and he did not raise his sceptre and allow her an audience, she would also be killed.
What was her answer: I will go to the king and if I perish, I perish because I have something more precious to me than being the queen of a king.
Do we have this attitude? God’s word says that if we are not willing to resist sin to the point of the shedding of our blood, we will not overcome. Friends, there are certain sins that you can easily conquer but some sins you will never overcome unless you are willing to rather die than commit them. You must reach the point where you say, ‘I would rather die and fail my examination than copy from someone else’s paper.’ I would rather die poor than get money unlawfully.
Esther prayed and fasted before going to the king. (It may be hard to believe it, but it could have been a cross for Esther to be the Queen of Persia. Everybody thinks it is glorious, but it may have been difficult.)
My final message to the couple: the role of older people in your loves is important. Esther had an older person who advised her. Even when you are married, do not isolate yourselves from older people who fear the Lord. Do not be afraid to go for advice and prayer.
Humanly speaking, Esther’s uncle saved her. He was a man of wisdom and discernment. He told her not to tell anyone she was a Jew. I think Mordecai saw the writing on the wall, he saw that a time was coming where she would be willing to die and cast everything aside to be faithful to her Jewish identity. Mordecai was a man with spiritual discernment. The night before Esther went before the King to request that the Jews would not be killed, the king could not sleep and he asked that they read the books to him. He read that Mordecai had once saved his life. There were people conspiring to kill the king and Mordecai knew about it and exposed them. The people were arrested and killed.
Mordecai was a captive. The Jews were a captive nation in the hands of the Persians. If Mordecai had been a carnal man, he could have gloated over the fact that these men were plotting to kill the king and said, ‘Now the Persian king will get what he has been looking for. They keep us Jews captive. You wanted to invade Israel, I’ll just keep quiet about this conspiracy because I hate the Persians, I hate you. God has answered my prayer. I don’t even have to kill you; others will do it for me and I will rejoice!’ Had he done that he would have messed up God’s plan for the nation of Israel. He knew he had to warn the king, and he did so.
Young people do not get rid of older people. Mordecai told Esther that Haman was planning to kill the Jews and now was the time to speak. What blessed me most was the way in which Mordecai and Esther worked together - each in his own place, for God. One did not criticise the other. Esther never argued that she was being coerced, or that Mordecai was doing nothing while her life was at stake. Both were willing to put their lives on the line for the kingdom for God.
In the church nowadays, it is the opposite. Churches are torn apart and split because each one cannot be faithful where he or she has been called. They point fingers at one another saying, ‘He is not doing things the way I think they should be done.’ Shame on you Christian! Instead of shutting your mouth and doing what God wants you to do, you gossip, break people down and tear the church to pieces. You strut around like a proud cock criticising the people who do not think as you do.
This is one of the causes for divorce. If a husband and wife cannot work together in submission, each one doing his/her part for God’s kingdom, they go to court. Court papers state that the couple have a personality clash. One partner is unhappy with every small thing the other one does. In the USA a couple divorced because of toothpaste. The wife squeezed the tube of toothpaste from the bottom and the husband squeezed it just anywhere. They argued so much about the toothpaste that they divorced.
There are similar insignificant things that tear the church of Christ apart. No one is willing to stand back. Each one fights for his way of doing and saying things. A dozen means 12. One counts in dozens, the other counts in 12s. Because they do not see things in the same way, the one does not want to stop counting in dozens, there is friction and the church is torn apart. This is the curse that Satan has brought upon the church today. If this should ever happen with you (I pray that God will help you that it will never happen) there are Mordecais with wisdom and insight, who do not do things in a carnal way, who can help you.
15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:15 – 16
Remember there is a portion of His Spirit in your union.