By Rafael Oliveira
Broadcasting to indigenous Southern Africans in their native languages, the TWR Nguni language ministry aims to create disciple-making movements throughout Southern Africa among its widespread audience who speak or understand any of the Southern Africa Nguni languages such as isiZulu, isiXhosa, Ndebele, Siswati and Ndebele. By airing programmes centred around biblical and leadership training, the ministry is able to enhance its listeners’ sphere of influence and bring them the Gospel within their cultural context.
The Nguni consists of ethnic groups originating in different parts of Southern Africa, including South Africa, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe.
KwaZulu Natal, a province in South-Africa, is home to the majority of Zulu speakers, but Zulu language programmes are well understood by all other Nguni ethnic groups due to the similarities in their languages.
Since the 18th century, internal conflicts between each group, coupled by later wars with European colonisers, and most recently, apartheid, has left these ethnic groups divided and impoverished. Today, Nguni has been reclassified into a linguistic term, rather than a word referring to specific people groups.
Petros Gwala, TWR Ministry Projects Manager, stressed that the Nguni speaking listeners are very vocal in expressing their thanks in receiving theological training and knowledge in their own language from the broadcasts, which are not available to them otherwise. This fulfils a great spiritual need for the people.
The Thru the Bible (TTB) programme is the epitome of such teaching. TTB broadcasts run for 30 minutes at a time and contain expository teachings covering the entire Bible.
“Over the years, we realised, according to the feedback we receive from the listeners, that the popular Thru the Bible programmes serve as their bible school. We receive many requests for bibles, and also for prayer, because they want to deepen their walk with the Lord. It’s amazing when we receive such feedback,” he said.
Between copious programmes such as TTB, Building a Man, Christ to the World, and Women of Hope, the Nguni broadcasts cultivate a culture of initiative and spiritual maturity to these ethnic groups.
“We always pray for the extension of our platforms,” Petros continued, “When people access this content, we believe that we will have better families, we will have well-equipped church leaders, who will be the change they want to see in their communities. They will take responsibility and be part of the solutions.”
When asked what would best describe the current goal of the ministry, Petros emphasised the notion of creating disciples who make disciples.
“That’s what the Bible promotes,” he said, “‘Teach these things to others, who will teach others.’ We are happy to see people coming on board, taking the material, using it to change their lives, and also to influence others. That is expansion.”
“When you look at our country, we have leaders, but leaders that are without Christian values, which are relevant to any sphere of life. These people are influential, and we believe we have the potential to have a better country through teaching the perspective that comes from the Word of God.”
Petros also highlighted that the needs of the Nguni people extend to practical, everyday matters as well. “With inequalities still existing in countries such as South Africa, we get lots of people asking for prayers for employment. Some are without shelter. They need food, clothing, and blankets,” he added.
These needs are widespread throughout many African communities, and TWR is able to partner with organisations on the ground who can help.
“In partnership with other organisations who have hands on the ground, where possible, we are able to refer people to them. We [as TWR] are able to network with organisations that provide these services.” Petros said.
As a result of these equipping broadcasts, listener feedback reported that many have a deeper hunger for the word of God, and are more motivated to study scripture and share and teach it to others. Listeners report that even family values are improved, and many marriages are restored with TWR’s help.
- That the Nguni programmes will bring transformation to all the ethnic groups who are able to hear the Word of God in their own language.
- For funding to translate and produce more programmes in the Nguni languages.
- For Sphiwe Nxumalo-Ngwenya, Regional Ministry Director and Petros Gwala, Ministry Projects Manager, and their team, as they expand the ministry through partnership with local FM radio stations and other organisations, and grow the concept of listener groups in Southern Africa.