How do our member churches express the MWC Shared Convictions in beautiful, local variety throughout our global body?
The October 2016 issue of Courier/Correo/Courrier seeks to discern the variety of reasons why Anabaptist communities from around the world come together to form MWC. In the articles that follow, writers reflect on the question: How does Christ’s love for us motivate and guide our response to strangers in our local context?
Songs of the Trinity and shalom
We share the beliefs and practices of the global Anabaptist family as Brethren in Christ Church Zimbabwe. The songs we sing display our belief, thoughts and our kind of theology. Most services, be they in rural or urban congregations, will sing number 75 in our Zulu hymnal Amagama okuhlabelela: “Sinomhlobo onguJesu unothando” (Jesus is a loving friend).
A snap survey during the months of May and June 2016 showed that it was the song that was not only selected at district council meetings, but most congregants mentioned it as the song that featured in congregational music in many services that period.This song is sung even at funeral vigils. This song expresses our belief in Jesus. Attributes of Jesus featured in this song link directly to God.
He is not like other friends; he does not harbour disappointment; he is truly helpful. He is coming again to choose his own. Jesus never disappoints. He is coming again to take his own because of his unfail-
ing love. Those who are seeking are called upon to come to Jesus as he will separate them from their sins.
The last stanza calls upon the believers to walk in Jesus’ love with the promise of victory. Hymn number 4 in the Zulu hymnal (right) is commonly used in Brethren in Christ Churches. This is another song we sing that, says what we believe about God.
We believe in shalom
Our belief in shalom is one continued aspect of our identity with the worldwide Anabaptist family. Belief in shalom is expressed at different levels. The first level that comes to one’s mind is the absence of war and conflict at community and national level. Zimbabwe has seen such times.
The late Bishop Steven Ndlovu was head of denominations during the disturbances in Matabeleland in the 1980s. He mobilised the national heads of denominations to meet Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe in a move that led to the cessation of the bloody conflict between the Nkomo sympathetic dissidents and the Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwe defence forces. (The story is recorded in The Gender of Piety by Wendy Urban-Mead.) The church leadership did not take sides in the conflict, but spoke out in favour of the Lord’s shalom.
Mrs. Madlela expressed shalom at an individual level. She miraculously escaped a fire in her house. When she saw the arsonist in the hands of the police, she said, “My son, why do you attempt to kill me when I did not do you any wrong. I hold no grudge against you. All I pray is that the Lord touches your heart and you come to his saving power.”
Our hymns in the Brethren in Christ Church affirm belief in the Trinitarian God.These are sung with a fervency of affirmation. When we sing, we affirm what we believe together as Anabaptists so we can follow Jesus to express shalom.
Bekithemba Dube is a lecturer at Ekuphileni Bible Institute at Mtshabezi Mission, one of the largest Brethren in Christ mission stations in Zimbabwe. He has worked as a teacher; lecturer in a Government Teachers’ College; coordinator of HIV/AIDS programme for BICC in Zimbabwe; and for many years he was an interpreter of conference sermons in English or Ndebele. He and his wife have one adult son who teaches in one of the mission schools.
Woza Thixo Wethu
Woza Thixo wethu
Onga mandla ethu usisize;
Vez’ amandla akho
Ube phezu kwethu
Naw’ amandla onke,
Come to us
Come to us our God who art our strength,
Come help us now.
Father who art our ruler,
You who art conqueror,
You who art our helper,
Cast your eyes upon us.
Jesus our ruler, defeat our enemies;
Conquer them all, display your power,
The redemption of all thine own,
Their heart stand firm in you.
Holy Spirit, come and lead us through,
Come bless us all,
Cleanse our heart,
Descend upon us.
Make us righteous.
God the three in one.
Stand firm for ever.
Thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory.