Members of the Word of Truth Seventh-day Adventist Church. J. J. Ndlozi is on the far left. [Photo: Adventist Mission]
Members of the Word of Truth Seventh-day Adventist Church. J. J. Ndlozi is on the far left. [Photo: Adventist Mission]

A Little Unusual Church

News July 17, 2023

Ndlozi has pastored here for years, but only recently as a Seventh-day Adventist. The members have attended for years, but only recently as Seventh-day Adventists. And not long ago, the sign outside posted the times of Sunday services.

But all that began to change when Sonia, one of Ndlozi’s members, went to a flea market. There she met Andy and Carmen Rijavec, a Global Mission pioneer couple who were giving away Bibles. Sonia helped them that afternoon, and as they chatted, she discovered they kept the seventh-day Sabbath. Sonia was intrigued with what she heard, and she wanted Ndlozi to hear it too.
Over a friendly dinner Ndlozi explained to the Rijavecs why he thought the seventh-day Sabbath was no longer binding. But later, he couldn’t get some of their questions out of his mind. Determined to learn more, he began to study the Bible with Andy and Carmen.

Over time, Ndlozi’s conviction to honor the Sabbath grew. But he faced daunting challenges. How would his relatives react? How would he support his family if he lost his job? And what about his wife, Selina? They had started Word of Truth together. Would she support him in a decision that would mean not only abandoning his religion but his members as well?

Ndlozi prayed for the Holy Spirit to soften Selina’s heart and then told her the news. “I couldn’t understand him,” Selina said. “Everything was going well for us, and he wanted to throw away a good salary to join a church that didn’t even have a full-time job to offer him. I was so worried about how we’d survive. But then I had a strange dream.”

Selina dreamed about Mark 2:28, the Bible text where Jesus calls Himself “Lord also of the sabbath” (KJV). “That dream changed everything,” Selina said. “From that point we observed the Sabbath together.” With the support of his wife, Ndlozi was baptized and became a Seventh-day Adventist.

When Ndlozi’s employer heard the news, he issued him an ultimatum. “You must either quit or I’ll fire you,” he said. The pastor agreed to resign, but there was something he was determined to do first.

“I wanted to tell my congregation about the Sabbath so they could decide the issue for themselves,” Ndlozi said. “But I wasn’t sure how to do it. I was afraid that if I just told them Saturday was the Sabbath, they’d never listen to me.”

The Word of Truth congregation has grown so much that there is no room inside for the children to meet for Sabbath School. [Photo: Adventist Mission]
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Global Mission pioneers Hospa and Nonhlanhla Sibanda. [Photo: Adventist Mission]

Andy and Carmen couldn’t help Ndlozi present the Sabbath to his congregation because they didn’t speak Zulu. But they knew someone who could — Global Mission pioneers Hospa and Nonhlanhla Sibanda.

When Sibanda presented the fourth commandment to the Word of Truth congregation, they listened intently, asked many questions, and invited him back for the following week.

At the end of Sibanda’s second presentation, one of the church members looked squarely at Ndlozi and asked, “Pastor, when are we going to start worshiping on the Bible Sabbath?”

All eyes turned to Ndlozi. Slowly he stood to his feet and spoke, “My wife and I have already decided to keep the Sabbath. We have been waiting to see what you want to do.”

“Well, now we are waiting on you!” the church member replied.

Although the decision was not unanimous, there were enough members who wanted to observe the Sabbath so that Word of Truth became a Seventh-day Adventist congregation that very day. Ndlozi posted a sign on the front door stating that services would be held the following Saturday.

Ndlozi asked Sibanda to hold a series of evangelistic meetings at Word of Truth. At the conclusion of the meetings, 23 members were baptized, including Ndlozi’s wife, Selina.

He showed such a passion to share Jesus and the Sabbath with his community that Justino Paulo, the Adventist Mission director for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, made him a Global Mission pioneer.

Now Ndlozi holds evangelistic meetings every year in Pretoria, and many of those who originally left his church are coming back. In fact, the Word of Truth Church is growing so quickly that they’re looking for a bigger building to accommodate their congregation.

Ndlozi is currently studying theology at Solusi University in Zimbabwe. “It is by the grace of God and the people that He sent into my life to encourage and strengthen me that I have been able to continue with this Sabbath message and preach it to the world,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on Adventist Mission.

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