Letter to Kjell Olsen and the leaders of Kwasizabantu

By a panel of Christian Leaders

12 September, 2000

Dear Kjell and the leaders of Kwasizabantu:

Thank you for your letter and the copy of your “Response to various documents about Kwa Sizabantu” which we received on 17 August, 2000.

In the letter you mention “We thank the Lord for the many positive reactions as a result of the document. A number of people have contacted us and we are in the process of seeking reconciliation with them.” A couple of those who testified to us on March 23rd have affirmed that as a result of invitations in the “Response to various documents…” they have sought the opportunity to talk about issues with the KSB leadership. While they have shared that so far there have been no “breakthroughs” or resolution of the issues of their concern, they have expressed that they now see what appears to be an open door for them to discuss problems. We are encouraged by this. It is our sincere hope that these individuals will find reconciliation.

Yet, we hope that at the same time, the Kwa Sizabantu leadership will not neglect to pursue the Matthew 5:23 imperative through putting too much of the responsibility of reconciliation on others. This is especially true with regards to the many reports of those who claim to have been victimized by the KSB leadership. We hope that where the leadership knows a brother or a sister has something against them that you and the other leaders will find ways and opportunities to go to them and take the responsibility to initiate reconciliation. We also hope that you and the leadership of KSB will realize where you have possibly previously broken their trust. Many of those whose testimonies we have heard feel you have done so too many times. This was one of the reasons why these people took the opportunity to speak to us. There is wisdom in the scriptural imperative for people to come in groups of witnesses. Also, there is warrant in people involving the Church, when they feel the situation comes to that necessity. To restrict them would not be in the interest of reconciliation, and could suggest that the KSB leadership still, in keeping with allegations, seeks to manipulate people by denying them their duty to involve others where they see this is necessary.

While we have heard that a couple of people have sought to discuss matters with the leadership, we have also heard from others who testified that they do not see the “Response to various documents,” as a positive step at all, but rather, a confirmation that the problems KSB attempts to refute in the document are very much still a reality. We feel we need to draw your attention to the many negative reactions we have received as a result of KSB’s statement. As a panel, we believe that in light of the extent and severity of the grievances, the process of reconciliation will not be achieved too quickly or simply. But we pray that true and sincere reconciliation will take place.

With regards to matters pertaining to the panel of ministers, we regret that in your response to our report, the panel is once again accused of having been used by former members who have allegedly involved the secular medium for false and illegitimate purposes. In point 2. you mention “it would seem that the panel is being used as a means to pressurise KSB into submitting to ex-KSB members and others’ demands.” You also mention that the KSB leadership is “saddened that as far as (you) know, these principles (we add here: the imperatives of Matt 18:15 – 17) were not followed by those who testified before the panel while still within the KSB fellowship.”

We have explained in detail more than once that these are not realistic grounds for KSB’s refusal to meet with us. We, the panel, explained why KSB’s suspicion of media involvement and an alleged anti-KSB initiative by ex-members is not accurate, but based on false assumptions. Your repeated insistence of these incorrect views, despite our explanations, suggests this could be a determination on yours and the KSB leadership’s part to distort reality and discredit the panel and those who testified to it. This misrepresentation of our position would seem to support testimony that the KSB leadership is known to allegedly twist information to protect itself and discredit those who question its policies.

To prevent any further confusion, we have decided to publish the correspondence between the panel and KSB from March until the present so that those who seek to discern our motives and intentions and understand our efforts in these matters can do so more effectively. We are grateful to the many who have discerned and affirmed our report to be of sincere concern for Christ’s kingdom. We have received much positive feedback from it, and in some cases, official endorsement of it from certain churches and organizations. This is in addition to those we mentioned in the report, since it was published.

With regards to the specific points in KSB’s “Response to various documents about Kwa Sizabantu Mission,” we understand them to be generalized responses to concerns, allegations, and accusations from a variety of very different sources and documents. We recognize that our own report is both referred to in some places, and seemingly alluded to in other points.

We honour your right to defend yourselves and offer explanations with regards to allegations mentioned by us. Yet, it is our duty to gauge and assess your explanations and tell you how we see them in the context of the many witnesses who have spoken to us.

We would like to summarize our reaction to your point 3. Responses to Specific Issues by saying that we are not satisfied that you have appropriately or accurately addressed the specific issues which we wrote in our report after hearing close to twenty testimonies on March 23rd 2000.

We suspect that on various points you have “stepped to the side” of the specific issues we have raised. In other instances we are concerned by what seems to be your affirmations of innocence without “unpacking” the necessary details with regard to the matters of concern.

In other points, if we compare your report to the information we have been given from multiple witnesses, we begin to suspect the possibility that you are involved in blatant untruths in your response, or that a serious suppression of memory is at work on the part of the Kwa Sizabantu leadership, or perhaps, that those who wrote the document are not as aware as they should be of grievances allegedly caused by Mr Erlo Stegen and other top leadership. We indeed must balance your response with the reports and testimonies we have heard. In doing so, we find discrepancies between your “Response” on matters and the “close on twenty testimonies (we heard) first hand across the cultural, linguistic, and age spectrum, and representing family members, former colleagues, and former members of KSB’s leadership.”

The question we put forward to you, the KSB leadership, as well as the wider Body of Christ is “who is telling the truth and who is not telling the truth?” Our interactions with those who testified, and the consistency of their reports still stand as valid in our opinions, despite the rebuttals of KSB’s “Response.” It is for these reasons that we feel we do not have sufficient reason to believe that in your response you have been successful in your efforts to “‘examine and prove'” yourselves.

We feel we need to express our confusion at certain statements you make in point 3.1.2 in that you regard yourselves as part of the Evangelical community and that you “are accountable to the wider Body of Christ and therefore (you) are transparent in (your) various functions.” The question we would pose to you here is why, if this were the case, did you, the KSB leadership, so sharply refuse to meet with our panel?

We expressed our sense that your “Response to various documents” does not sufficiently address and therefore does not resolve the issues which we have brought to your attention in our report. We would like to again underline the fact that, as a panel, we still do not understand or agree with the reasons you have given for not accepting our invitation to meet together and denying us the opportunity to come to KSB as a panel. In your response it is stated that in your decision to refuse to meet with us and discuss vital issues, you sought counsel from members of the “wider body of Christ, both locally and internationally.” Later in point 2. c) you state we have discussed matters concerning KSB with Church leaders and will continue to do so. There is no “refusal to discuss vital issues.” Indeed, we must say that we find this to be somewhat contradictory.

We do not feel that you and the Kwasizabantu leadership have had some inherent obligation to meet with our panel. We would never want you think we esteemed ourselves worthy of an obligatory meeting. Yet, we still do not understand or see the validity of the KSB leadership’s refusals, in light of both Scriptural instruction and in light of the KSB leadership’s spoken commitments to evangelicalism and the wider Body of Christ.

We are of the persuasion that a meeting between the KSB leadership and our panel to discuss these matters would still be of benefit. But we would wait for the KSB leadership to take the initiative, as we have exhausted our efforts in trying to arrange an opportunity for discussion. We feel it is up to the leaders of Kwasizabantu Mission to give any indication, if and when they are ready to meet. Many who have testified to us feel this is now, for them, the proper prerequisite for the KSB leadership to prove its integrity regarding the invitation “for those who have grievances to come and speak about them.”

Since the publishing of our report, it has come to our attention that the KSB leadership has seemingly held and communicated the belief that our panel was acting out of hostile motives for requesting to meet with them. It is our earnest prayer that the KSB leadership will remember the significant support and endorsement members of the panel, and in some cases those they represent, have given to Kwasizabantu over the years, and more recently, when news of wrongdoing at KSB first made the headlines in the secular press. Our correspondences with the leadership testify to the spirit of our concerns. If we compare alleged misrepresentations of our panel to public statements made against Dr Colin Peckham on December 12, 1999, we feel we must say that the imperative is growing that Mr Erlo Stegen, as well as other leaders of KSB, recognize they cannot continue to misuse representatives of the Body of Christ in such injurious ways.

We had noticed on August 7th, 2000 that KSB’s “Response” was featured on your website. We do thank you though, for informing us about this and sending us a copy of the response.

In June when we met and subsequently drafted our report on Kwa Sizabantu our panel decided that we would confine our distribution as much as possible to the Christian community. We received requests from some who wished to include our report on an internet website. Nevertheless, we were hesitant to allow them to do so because we wanted to limit the access the secular world had to these church concerns, particularly because the Kwasizabantu leadership had heavily emphasized this concern.

In light of Kwa Sizabantu’s “Response” being available on the internet, we feel that we should allow those who have asked us for permission to make it available on this medium to do so, as well. This is important that those who have read KSB’s response can also read our report to which KSB was referring. Thus we have released our report into the public domain.

As to the seeming denial of problems in KSB’s “Response,” and in other statements, we observe with sadness that it verified by the ongoing convulsions at KSB which bears out that what we are saying about Kwa Sizabantu is the case. In view of what appears to be increasing upheavals, especially the exit of branch congregations, and top co-workers in South Africa and Europe in the last two months, unless the Kwa Sizabantu courageously faces the issues, we fear the KSB Mission is in danger of further, severe internal devastation.

We realise that we have addressed many grave and painful issues in this letter. We do not know how we could have avoided this in light of the situations we have described. At the same time, we want you and the leadership of Kwa Sizabantu to know that we do so only out of a brotherly love for the leaders of Kwasizabantu, and a sense of obligation to Christ, and the wider body of believers. We pray that God’s will shall be done and His kingdom uplifted in all of this. We continue to pray for the restoration of Kwasizabantu Mission.

In His Name,

Rev. Moss Nthla

(On behalf of the panel)

Register of Communications:

17 March 2000 – From Panel to KSB

29 March 2000 – From Panel to KSB

29 March 2000 – From KSB to Panel

20 April 2000 – From Panel to KSB

End April or Early May – From KSB to Panel (Not included: KSB’s short note declining that they would not be able to meet in May because of the leaders being overseas).

End of May -From Panel to KSB (Not included: short note requesting meeting with KSB in June).

7 June 2000 – From Panel to KSB

12 June 2000 – From Panel to KSB

13 June 2000 – From KSB to Panel

4 July 2000 – From Panel to KSB