By Kwasizabantu Coworkers
In the light of questions and allegations in various newspapers and documents we, as co-workers at KwaSizabantu Mission, present the following response:
On various occasions KwaSizabantu Mission (KSB) has responded to documents to clarify the issues raised by them. This document addresses those and more recent concerns.
We believe we are accountable to the Church and that is why this response is an open letter to the Christian community.
Before we respond to the various allegations made about KSB and its leadership, we express our sincere regret concerning the hurt that has been caused to those concerned. We are very sorry where people have been hurt or negatively affected and would like to make ourselves available to be approached by those individuals in order to be reconciled.
2. KSB’S REFUSAL TO MEET WITH A PANEL OF CHRISTIAN LEADERS
We wish to explain the details behind our refusal to meet with a panel of Christian leaders (Rev Moss Nthla and others), and do so by quoting from a letter KSB sent to them earlier this year:
“After praying about the matter and seeking counsel from our church leaders and others in the wider body of Christ, both locally and internationally, we feel it is inappropriate for us to accept your call to meet with you…”
Some considerations were:
a) KwaSizabantu has often been mentioned negatively in the press. In contradiction to the Scriptures, people have resorted to the world to discuss church matters. This has caused much damage and makes KSB feel that true reconciliation is not being sought, rather it would seem that the panel is being used as a means to pressurise KSB into submitting to ex-KSB members and others’ demands.
b) KSB is not just a mission organisation but has, through the past 30 years, developed into a church. We have leaders in South Africa and many parts of the world. We act like any other denomination – problems within the church are dealt with by the leadership of that church.
c) In 1977 KSB submitted to the outside arbitration of the leaders of an international Christian organisation. The meeting was held in Pietermaritzburg, and lasted over a period of 4 days. Despite the fact that we all parted in peace, we saw no lasting positive results for reconciliation and some of the people who were there are still raising the same issues.
In one of the documents referred to above, Matt 18:15-17 has been cited. KSB recognises and affirms the imperatives set out in this portion of Scripture. We are saddened that as far as we know, these principles were not followed by those who testified before the panel while still within the KSB fellowship.
We once again, as on numerous occasions, invite those who have grievances or are hurting, to come and speak to us.
As we have said previously, we have discussed matters concerning KSB with Church leaders and will continue to do so. There is no “refusal to discuss vital issues”.
It is especially hurtful that some Christians have made the media the catalyst for their accusations against the Mission.
We feel that KSB has been pre-judged and that our guilt has already been decided. This is evident from the injunction that we “listen, repent and change”, as the “Concerned Christians” called it in their document.
3. RESPONSES TO SPECIFIC ISSUES
We would like to address issues which have been raised in various documents.
3.1 Accountability and Openness
It has been stated that KSB lacks accountability and openness. Over and above our accountability to God, we realise that accountability should be both internal and external.
We wish to reiterate that Rev E. Stegen (contrary to the allegations) does not make decisions on his own. He has repeatedly stated that before the revival started, he liked to do things on his own. But since the beginning of the revival, it changed. He consults with others in all decisions concerning the Mission. The leadership of KSB is made up of over 400 leaders.
Financial accountability also exists and any member of KSB Mission may see the audited financial statements at any time.
We are accountable to the wider Body of Christ and therefore we are transparent in our various functions. It is because of this that we are prepared to “examine and prove” ourselves in the light of criticism or advice from the Body of Christ.
We also regard ourselves as part of the Evangelical Community. We are genuine in our interaction with Evangelical and other Christian leaders and do not interact with them because of any ulterior motives.
We advocate accountability to the government of the day as stated in Romans 13:1-7.
Above all we reiterate our accountability to God and His Word.
3.2 Willingness to face dialogue and reconciliation
It has been alleged that there is a lack of willingness to dialogue about perceived problems and to face the reconciliation imperatives of Matt 5:23. One of the strongest characteristics of KSB Mission is that we are prepared to confront problems, questions or grievances in open dialogue. We have on numerous occasions invited those who say that they have been hurt, to come and speak to us.
One of the marks of revival is reconciliation: reconciliation in families, between parents and children, husbands and wives, blacks and whites. It is acknowledged widely in the Body of Christ that KSB has been a beacon of reconciliation and our track record speaks for itself.
It grieves us every time reconciliation efforts fail. Therefore we once again extend an invitation to these individuals to come and discuss their grievances in an effort to reconcile. We, as co-workers, would like to facilitate a process of reconciliation between those who are hurting and those of us who are blamed for the hurt.
3.3 Elitism and exclusivity
It has been alleged that there is an elitist spirituality and a lack of servant leadership. KSB teaches no new doctrine and does not believe that it has exclusive ownership of the truth. This is evidenced by:
a) A person is never told by KSB to leave his/her denomination.
b) Our pulpits have welcomed hundreds of ministers from a host of denominations. Contrary to the accusation that we are seeking endorsements, most of these ministers have come without invitation at their own request, at any given time and not only at the Ministers’ Conferences. Few churches have welcomed as many ministers.
c) Our preachers are invited regularly by a very wide cross section of churches and Christian organisations in South Africa and abroad. These invitations are increasing to such an extent that we have to turn down many of them.
It should be stated however, that we always emphasise striving for a high spiritual standard based on Biblical teaching, which can incorrectly be perceived as “elitist spirituality”. It is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16, NIV).
3.4 Alignment to oppressive systems
KSB has been accused of being aligned to oppressive systems. KSB is not aligned to any political party structure, but individuals at KSB are free to join or align themselves with any political party of their choice. We have worked and are still working with the government on programmes which we feel are beneficial to the community.
If any ex-KSB member or present KSB member has ever aligned him-/herself with any oppressive system, this has not been because of Mission policy but rather because of the individual’s choice. Where (as some have alleged) criminal acts have been committed, the law should take its course.
3.5 The accusation of unbiblical teaching
The revival was born through the Word of God, and throughout the years all experiences and revelations have been tested by and are subject to the Scriptures. We believe in all the gifts as explained in the Word of God. Revival is the natural outcome of a Spirit-filled life, when God comes to His people and revives them. We do accept that God can work through special revelation but then it must be within Biblical lines. We test everything that comes through a person, to see whether it is Biblical and whether it comes into fulfilment and reject anything that has spiritist or occult connotations.
No one makes “prophetic statements” to coerce others. All preaching and activities have a Biblical foundation. The ministry of KSB would have long ago wandered off into major heresy if the utterings (or “channelings”) of “prophets” were taken to be the Word of God.
Throughout the years many mainline churches, organisations and denominations have made studies of KSB doctrine and they were satisfied that it is Biblical. (See Addendum I: Statement of Faith of KSB Mission.)
The revival which broke out in 1966 is still continuing today. Various revival experiences still take place and are within a Biblical framework.
We admit that what God starts as a real revival can degenerate, but by the grace of God, as we submit ourselves to His Word and continue to seek His face, we trust that His work will continue.
3.6 The role of fear
It has been alleged that fear plays an unbiblical role at KSB.
Many revivals have and will still be accused of over-emphasising the fear of God. The mark of all revivals is a presence of the fear of God. We cannot experience God’s love and mercy without realising our sin and His judgement upon sin.
Jonathan Edwards states the following concerning the role of fear in the work of God: “It is no argument that a work is not from the Spirit of God that it seems to be promoted by ministers insisting very much on the terrors of God’s holy law, and that with a great deal of pathos and earnestness.” He goes on to explain his words in this way, “If I am in danger of going to hell, I should be glad to know as much as I possibly can of the dreadfulness of it. Some talk of it as an unreasonable thing to fright persons to heaven; but I think it is a reasonable thing to endeavour to fright persons away from hell. They stand upon its brink, and are just ready to fall into it, and are senseless of their danger.”
However, KSB does NOT control people through fear.
We as co-workers can testify to the fact that Rev Stegen is very approachable. Co-workers and other members have a respect for him as a man of God. We regret that in the history of the Church (see 1 Cor 3:1-4) there has always been that carnal tendency of man-worship, but KSB strongly discourages it. Man-worship is a sign of spiritual immaturity and such people need counselling.
In KSB preaching we cover, not only the fear of God, but also God’s mercy, love and compassion. The catalogue of the cassettes of the last decades of preaching is openly available.
3.7 Physical punishment
It has been alleged that there had been excessive physical punishment at KSB.
It was the practice of Domino Servite School (DSS), which is at the Mission, since its inception in 1986, to use corporal correction. In 1994, a year before the Department of Education banned the practice of corporal punishment, DSS suspended it. In early 1996 it was officially banned by the school at a special meeting for parents. The school insisted, despite much opposition from the parents, that it was the duty of parents and not the school to use corporal correction.
There were aberrations and excesses of corporal correction, which were dealt with by Church discipline and teaching. As we have said in the past, we say again: If there are still any outstanding issues regarding corporal correction, the individuals concerned should please come forward so that reconciliation can be facilitated.
Reference has been made to the tragic case where a child died in the 1980’s. This child was not a DSS pupil neither was this a Mission activity. It was a family affair that unfortunately took place on the premises of the Mission. It was reported to the police and an inquest was held. The family member involved was appropriately disciplined by the Church.
It has never been the policy of the Mission to beat adults, for whatever reason. We have become aware, however, of a few cases where this happened. We have since spoken to some of these individuals and are prepared to facilitate reconciliation between the people involved.
An incident much referred to is when a Peeping Tom from the outside community who had been harassing girls sexually over a period of time, was caught in the girls’ dormitories and punished by them. The Mission disagrees with this method of punishment.
3.8 Psychological control
The Mission has been accused of psychological control. We reject any control, whether spiritual, emotional or psychological, as being unbiblical and of a cultic nature.
Contrary to accusations, Rev Stegen denies ever putting a curse on anybody’s life.
It comes to us as a surprise that KSB counsellors are accused of taking the place of the Lord in people’s lives. On the contrary, a general complaint has been that counsellors at the Mission, including Rev Stegen, do not tell people what to do and insist that they must ask the Lord themselves (John 10:27).
We are not aware of any cases where people have been “shunned and censured but not given explanations”, but if there are such, the door is open for them to come to us so that we can reconcile.
Concerning the accusations about people committing suicide: we receive many visitors who have psychiatric problems. We know of a few cases among them where suicide was committed, but we are not aware that it was the result of KSB counselling or preaching. Many people are sent to KSB for help whenever all other avenues have been exhausted. We give God the glory for the countless depressed and suicidal people who have met with God and have been set free and kept from such problems through this ministry.
Pastoral counselling; which includes sharing victories and burdens, as well as the confession of sin, is Biblical and characteristic of revivals.
Counsellors have no right to control the lives of those who come to them for counselling. Should a counsellor divulge information which is given in confidence, he/she is not worthy of being a counsellor. What is shared in the presence of the counsellor should remain between God, the person and the counsellor. Cults like Scientology use the information divulged in counselling to control the minds and futures of their followers. We regard this practice as wicked and it is definitely not our policy to expose confessions “strategically” to the fellowship “as a means of sustaining control”.
Should such breaches of confidentiality be brought to our attention, steps will be taken to redress the problem.
3.10 Marriage relationships and family life
There have been accusations that the Mission actively or intentionally split families, or advised people to divorce, or arranged marriages. To the contrary, there are hundreds of people who can testify to their marriages and families being healed through the KSB ministry.
We as co-workers are always saddened to see a family split up. We are not aware of any cases where the leadership of KSB has ever encouraged spouses to divorce one another. We do realise that some families may have drifted apart as a result of differing convictions regarding their faith, but this has never been the result of directives from the leadership. One document referred to two women in particular. These women are known to us and are available to be spoken to if anyone wishes to hear their story.
It is not Mission policy to ban members from attending weddings or family gatherings. These private matters are left to the discretion of those involved. We are not aware of anyone ever being expelled because of family associations outside of the Mission.
It is a school rule of the Domino Servite School that romantic relationships between boys and girls are not allowed. Contravention of this rule can result in expulsion. It is, however, neither Mission nor school policy that expulsion from school should result in mandatory expulsion of children from their families. Each family deals with this matter in its own way, but is encouraged by the Mission to seek pastoral care within its local church.
However, where steps taken by parents have left scars, this should be addressed and we invite such individuals to come to us so that reconciliation can be brought about.
3.11 Untruths and deception
We have been accused of spreading rumours about people who have left us and that it is acceptable to tell lies to protect the Mission.
It is not Mission policy to tell lies to cover up.
We are aware that rumours and lies have been spread, and some of these are then ascribed to us, but it is not our policy or practice to spread “untruths and rumours about those who leave”. Some of these rumours spread about KSB and about those who have left, have come as a surprise to us as well.
3.12 Discipline of leadership and church members
There is an allegation that we have sheltered and protected leaders who “appeared to have committed serious sins, and in some cases, alleged criminal acts”. Two specific cases were cited:
The first case of the “female leader” referred to in the Natal Witness, has caused us a lot of distress. The truth is that she has been expelled from the Mission. The matter has also been referred to the police for the law to take its course.
The leader who was allegedly “allowed to remain in a key and prominent position” while living in sin was stopped from ministering immediately the Mission became aware of what he was doing.
KSB Mission strives to have consistency in the application of church discipline with regard to all church members.
3.13 Exclusivity – “the Way”
It is claimed that KSB practices are presented as “the Way”. We affirm again that we do not see KSB as “the Way”, but we acknowledge and have fellowship with many other dear children of the Lord all over the world in many other churches. Let it be known once more: whereas we thank God for His blessings, we do not believe that KSB is the only place where people can find God’s way.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, as it is written, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). At KSB we teach this Biblical principle. No tradition, doctrine, custom or liturgy may take the place of Jesus Christ Himself.
It is alleged that the exclusivity extends even to marriage, but it is not KSB policy to either arrange marriages or to stop men and women from getting married to others outside the Mission. Believers are expected to seek God’s guidance concerning marriage.
There have been cases where co-workers felt uncomfortable about factors leading up to a marriage. In such cases they did not stop the marriage from taking place but rather recused themselves from conducting the ceremony. We never hinder a marriage and once the couple is married, we never hint or advise that there should be a divorce.
We are thankful for the opportunity to examine ourselves and our policies and to make them known to the wider Body of Christ. We trust that the above adequately explains our position.
Once again we invite those who might be hurting because of past experiences with the Mission to take the liberty of coming to us and discussing their individual case with us. We will meet them in a spirit of reconciliation.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:1-3)
In His service,
Contact people: Fano Sibisi, Peet Botha and Kjell Olsen.
Private Bag 252
Tel: (032) 481-5500
Fax: (032) 481-5510
KwaSizabantu – CONFESSION OF FAITH
1) The Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original manuscripts, the complete revelation of His will for our salvation and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.
2) There is one, and only one, true God: Creator and Sustainer of all things, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Self-existent, Immutable, Spirit, Incomprehensible, Eternal, Sovereign and Master of the universe, infinitely perfect in love, goodness, holiness, and justice.
3) Within the one Being or essence of God, there eternally exists three distinct yet equal Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
4) In the full Deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ. These two distinct natures, perfect deity and perfect humanity, are inseparably united in the one Person.
5) In Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, death on the cross for our sins, burial, bodily resurrection from the dead, ascension into heaven (where at the right hand of God, He is our High Priest, Advocate, Saviour, and Lord), and in His visible and bodily return.
6) In the full Deity and full personality of the Holy Spirit and in His work in regeneration and sanctification, and His work of uniting His Church.
7) Human beings were created in the image of God, to glorify God and be in fellowship with Him. We, however, rebelled against Him and are now sinners by nature and by choice. We, therefore, stand condemned before God, deserving of His wrath and are unable to reconcile ourselves to Him by any form or amount of human works, merits, or ceremonies.
8) Salvation comes only by the grace and love of God, through regeneration by the Holy Spirit, repentance of sin, and faith in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
9) In the bodily resurrection of the dead, of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgement, everlasting conscious torment and separation from God. We further believe in the conscious existence of all souls between death and resurrection, of the believer in heaven with God, of the unbeliever in Hades apart from the Lord.
10) In the existence of angels and Satan and his demons. Angels are personal, spirit beings in the service of God. Satan and his demons are personal, spirit beings who are in rebellion against God, His angels, and His people. Their fate of eternal damnation was sealed by Christ at the cross and authority over them and their activities has been granted to all believers.
(KwaSizabantu also holds to the Apostles’ Creed):
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen