Siyabonga Shungube is a young man born in Swaziland whose job transferred him to South Africa where he is now living. We first met Siyabonga when he began studying through ZEBS at Sunbury. Recently we asked Siyabonga about his Bible training and ministry in his community.
G: Please share with us how the teachings you’ve received at the Zion Bible Schools have impacted your life, community, and church.
SS: Thanks for that. ZEBS and ZBC have impacted me hugely in my personal life, community, church, and even in my family. In my life personally, I was living in Swaziland when I received Christ. I didn’t have people that I could learn from concerning the Word. The doctrine of the people I was under wasn’t according to the Word of God. It wasn’t right. So when I received Christ I had a hunger for the true Word. I had to visit other churches and fellowship with them. As I fellowshipped with them I grew in the Word, but I also had that hunger for how I could grow fully in Christ. As time went on I met Bruce Britten who introduced me to Zion Bible College and I started studying there.
When the time came for me to come to South Africa, Bruce wrote a letter for me to be transferred to ZEBS here in South Africa. I saw my life changing. In the community where I stay right now, when I arrived, I saw that many of the youth were engaged in smoking, drugs, drinking and doing the wrong things. While studying at ZEBS I decided to join a church where I could teach young people the book of Mark from beginning to end. Before the main service on Sundays, I met with them. At the end of the study, I gave each of them a certificate to encourage them. I’ve seen them changing the way they do things. Though there are some who are not following the Word, I can see some, where there is a complete change and God has done a good work in them.
Even in my family there is change. Most of my family members are now Christians. Some have also attended ZEBS. My church gives me the opportunity to preach, even on Good Fridays. I don’t think I would be able to stand in front of such a large crowd without training from ZEBS. So ZEBS and ZBC have helped me in church, community, and even family.
G: How have you seen an impact on people in your church?
SS: Since I have gotten training from ZEBS, I have shared with them what the Bible says about some of the doctrines of the church. I’m seeing some people now going away from the worship of ancestors and wanting to worship God alone. The biggest problem we have here is the worship of ancestors.
C: Are you a pastor in your church?
SS: I am preaching in the church. I am an “umshmayeli,” because the church government is that we have an Arch Bishop, and I am a preacher under his leadership.
C: You came to South Africa from Swaziland. Is your family still in Swaziland?
SS: My father and my mother are in Swaziland, but I got married. My wife and my son are here with me, living in Stanger.
C: You go to a Zion church in Stanger?
SS: When I first came from Swaziland I attended another Zion Church. But there came a time when there was a problem in the church and they wanted to consult the spirits because of the problem. We said this was not right. When we said that, the church leadership said to me if I would not cooperate with them in this, we could not work together. At that time I decided I should start another branch of the Zion Church that I had attended in Swaziland. So now in Stanger (South Africa), I have started another branch under the leadership of the Zion Church I was a part of in Swaziland.
G: Siyabonga, thank you for taking the time, and allowing us this interview. We look forward to sharing your story with others who will pray for you and your church.
Addendum: The Zion Evangelical Bible Schools (ZEBS) and Zion Bible Colleges (ZBC) are Bible schools started by missionaries working with ZEMA and other mission agencies (currently TEAM, SIM, and DMG) who partner with us. These schools share a core curriculum, and the leadership comes together annually for training and fellowship. The difference between ZEBS and ZBC has to do with our desire to honor an established organisation of churches in Swaziland (now eSwatini, 19 April 2018). Those schools started by the leadership based in eSwatini did not want to create confusion regarding a large denomination of churches located there. To alleviate the potential for confusion with this denomination, called “Evangelical Churches,” they moved away from the ZEBS title, which had already been established in South Africa, opting for ZBC. At this time both ZEBS and ZBC may be found in many Southern African countries.