Changes I See in the Zion Church

Posted in Listener Stories

Samuel testimony AmazioniAmaZioni means "the people of Zion." They are religious groups that trace their history back to an evangelist who came from Zion, Illinois. The Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa (ZEMA) is a mission organization working to teach and reinforce God's word among them. Before 2012, their nineteen Bible school classes across Swaziland have been their main point of contact with the amaZioni. Since then, they use an additional tool to reach out even further to the thousands of adherents in Swaziland: FM radio.

“The first sounds coming from the Trumpet of Zion, a radio programme created by ZEMA missionaries and local Zion church leaders, were heard on Sunday, March 4, 2012 echoing across the hills of Swaziland and into the ears of siSwati-speaking people. 

The Trumpet of Zion programme includes Bible teaching by a local Zion pastor and music sung by local Zion church choirs and is a great way to reach the millions of amaZioni in Southern Africa who have a desire for Biblical teaching.

Trumpet of Zion is broadcast at 19:30 Sunday evenings on Voice of the Church (VOC) in Swaziland. VOC was started in 1994 by Trans World Radio to broadcast the gospel locally. Today, VOC, now operating as the National Partner of TWR in Swaziland, is very popular among the Swazi people and is heard everywhere you go in Swaziland.

Trumpet of Zion is also broadcast every Sunday evening at 21:30 on Radio Khwezi, South Africa.

Dudley Donaldson, serving with ZEMA in Swaziland, recently wrote: “We are often asked, ‘Are you seeing any progress in your work with the amaZioni in Swaziland?’ It’s not always easy for us to see progress, because we are so close to the work. We know change is happening, but we can’t be sure of the extent of change. That’s why we value the insights of those outside our ministry regarding the changes they see in the amaZioni churches and their leaders. Recently, a Swaziland pastor began telling me of the change he was seeing in the Zion Church. I asked him to write down his comments so I could share them with others.”

My name is Samuel Dlamini. I am married to Happiness Fakudze. We have three girls and one boy. I was born into a polygamous family in Mankayane, Swaziland. The Themba Church in Zion under the Genezareth Christian Church in Zion was our family church. When I was in high school I got saved while I was still going to the Zion Church. I was reading the Bible while tending the cows. God spoke to me through His Word and I came to faith in Jesus Christ. I continued in the same church until I finished school and I went to college. Because of the tension between the youth who were saved and the leadership of the church we were officially released from the Zion Church. The tension between us and the leadership was all about the preaching of pure salvation.

The Zion church has been a marginalized church because of its background and doctrine. Since Zion Bible College (ZBC) started in Swaziland, I have seen a great positive change toward preaching proper doctrine by the Zion leaders. Syncretism is gradually fading away. Many pastors now preach the pure gospel of Christ. Not only that but we see a lifestyle change. Those who have gone to ZBC now understand that a leader or a pastor must have only one wife. Many church members now do not worship ancestors. One close example is my brother who is the pastor of the Zion Church I used to attend. He does not worship ancestors, he has only one wife, and he preaches pure salvation. He can now attend Evangelical or Pentecostal churches, yet before he thought the only church that is a true church is his church. He was influenced now from the pastors who have gone to Zion Bible College. I am now a senior pastor of International Missions Centre based in Moneni. …I also observe in funerals and night vigils, Zionists now conduct the funeral in a sound manner with good preaching. Zionists now are marriage officers and they marry in the Christian way. Many are upgrading their traditional marriages to Christian marriages. To me this is revival. Now Zionist pastors are invited in national crusades to preach and they share the pulpit with non-Zionist churches, a thing that was not known in the past. I know this because I was once under the same system.

I also appreciate the idea of Zion Bible College to have a radio programme, because that has made many Zionists realise that there are other Zionists who are now trained theologically and also preach the sound doctrine of the gospel.

I don’t think there is anything that needs to be done more than the training that is going on. Training will eventually transform the Zion church in Swaziland. I understand that this is reformation that is happening now and it shall be followed by a great revival. The revival will be sustained because this training will continue through Zion Bible College.