Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika – Pastor to Pupils

From Pastor to Pupils

Presenting the National Anthem in a School environment

Crystal Park High School

Crystal Park High School Assembly. Click image to enlarge.

If South Africa is to experience a renewal, a revival, a renaissance, it will come when the ethics, the moral fibre, the direction of our people is aligned to the Word of God.

To that end Pastors ought to apply themselves diligently to reaching out to their communities with the Gospel. One door which is open to the church is that of schools. The opportunity to address a local high school or primary school’s assembly on a regular basis is a blessing to the local church on a number of levels.

However, how does one start? I have found that a principal faced with a compelling value proposition is most inclined to be accommodating to a local church. Our church has the opportunity to address the local high school and primary school on a weekly basis because we went to the school principal and clearly stated what content we would present, how long we needed to present that content and how the school would benefit from allowing a pastor to conduct devotionals in the school’s morning assembly.

In the following set of articles I briefly describe the devotionals that we’re currently presenting to the schools in our area. We work line by line through the national anthem of South Africa. The Gospel goes out each week, which is what the church wants, and the school benefits because currently nation building and the national anthem are in the spot light.

This is a work in progress and I’ll be most grateful if you gave me feedback.

Lesson 1

Lord bless Africa – Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika

It is wise to familiarise oneself with some of the basics of the national anthem. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in the year 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist school teacher. It was originally sung as a church hymn but later became an act of political defiance against the apartheid government. Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by C.J. Langenhoven in 1918. Our anthem is unique in all the world in that it includes 5 languages and is the only anthem to begin in one key and end in another.

The first line, ‘Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika’, translates to ‘Lord bless Africa’, the key word to transfer in the first lesson is the word bless, what does it mean? why did the author use it?

A good text to read in this lesson is Numbers 6:24 – 26,

    24 “‘“The Lord bless you
        and keep you;
    25 the Lord make his face shine on you
        and be gracious to you;
    26 the Lord turn his face toward you
        and give you peace.”’

The text above is unlocked by seeing how it advances our understanding of how God’s blessing extends those whom He loves. Firstly there is a prayer, a desire if you will, ‘The Lord bless you’, this is clarified by the sentence, ‘the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you’, and then further enhanced by the phrase, ‘the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’

God’s blessing is experienced by God’s people when He turns His affections towards them, when He presences Himself amongst them.

Consider the companion blessing in the New Testament, 2 Cor 13:14,

    14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Communion with God, experience His very real presence, His love, His grace, His blessing.

The Gospel message is very appropriately expounded at this point. God is Holy, He is separate from sin. Man is sinful, he is separated from God. In a very real way we are not under blessing but under curse. Jesus died for our sins as a substitute. By believing in Him, trusting Him completely, turning from our sin and turning to Him, receiving the free gift of salvation, we are reconciled to God, we enter into His presence, we enter into His blessing.


Baptist Assembly: Day 1, Final Thoughts

I’m tired, the day’s been long, but I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts about the Baptist Union of Southern Africa’s 2012 Assembly so far:

  1. Organisation makes for happy delegates: I’ve really been impressed by the slickness of the planning so far. Registration was a breeze – really I mean it – 400 delegates and I registered in 5 minutes flat. Add to that the parking was really well organised, the programme was followed and ended on time; that supper was good (although I missed it because life throws curve balls all the time)… I’m happy.

  2. The worship: The Rez band will be leading the worship at the conference this year. Besides that fact that there are plenty of familiar faces in the band (Soon-Jong, Billy-Joe, Al, Mikey-Jay…) the songs were God honoring. What a blessing.

  3. The speakers: I’ve been very critical of conference speakers in the past. This year’s conference has kicked off and so far I’m not pulling out my hair. The out going president was somber and weighty; the incoming president thoroughly entertaining but still rooted in Scripture. All in all I think they’ve set a good tone for the rest of the conference.

  4. The fellowship: Old friends reunited. I love that there is a ground swell of good solid Baptists around. I so honored to be counted amongst this people.

All in all the first day of the conference was a blessing to me; I’m looking forward to the early start tomorrow morning.

Baptist Assembly: Day 1

So the 2012 Baptist Assembly starts today and I’m kinda excited. I’m really looking forward to seeing some friends (especially the guys that don’t stay in Johannesburg like Malcolm and Rocky). I’m also looking forward to some great discussion, there are sound thinkers in the Union and I love to spend time getting sharpened by them. I’m looking forward to the morning devotionals (which were a highlight for me last year) and the keynote addresses (last year there were some outstanding expository sermons, especially Trent and ilk). Oh, and Gideon Mpeni is going with me and I’m really looking forward to introducing him to all that is good about being connected.

I’m a bit miffed that the Assembly is over a weekend, a Sunday away from the flock. I’m sure that the conference could (and maybe should) run from Tuesday to Friday. But the joy is that while I’m away our congregation will, for the next two weeks, receive teaching from two preachers from amongst our own number for the very first time, Charles and Gideon. Also while I’m on the Westrand I get to preach away from home this week which is always exciting.

Basically I’m going into the Assembly on a high note; which is much better than last year when I went in on an apprehensive note. I’ll check in regularly and hopefully take some good pics this year :).


Baptist Union of South Africa Assembly 2011

The key highlight of the Assembly was the two hours each morning dedicated to inductive Bible study. Click image to enlarge.

I attended the Baptist Union Assembly this past week and was greatly encouraged; having arrived a disengaged delegate; unconnected, uncommitted and a bit uncomfortable but leaving reconnected, reinvigorated and excited.

The greatest swing for me was the assembled delegates commitment to God’s Word. Each morning began with a 2 hour inductive Bible study where all delegates met in small groups and studied through the book of Nehemiah. If I ever doubted the devotion of fellow Baptists to the Bible I can no longer.

Baptist Union of South Africa Assembly 2011

Some thorns. Malcolm Cunningham (Knysna Baptist Church), Rocky Stevenson (Living Waters Baptist Church), Tyrell Haag (Constantia Park Baptist Church), Me (Crystal Park Baptist Church) and Ian Stuart (Pretoria North Baptist). Click image to enlarge.

Secondly, whereas before I might have mistakenly thought I was a conservative thorn amongst more liberal roses I have since realised that Union is far more conservative than I had perceived. While it is true While I perceive that the more Reformed, orthodox, traditional voices are somewhat muted, apathetic or disconnected one cannot but acknowledge that they’re still there; with what I perceive is a growing desire to interact and intertwine for the cause of the cross.

All in all, I’m glad I went and I’m now looking forward to ways that I can positively contribute to the cause of Christ within the fold of the Baptist Union of South Africa.