Testimonies of Revival
The first time I heard of the remarkable ministry of Erlo Stegen, it was in 1980, at the 6th South African Infantry Battalion at Grahamstown military base. Marius Pretorius related to our Bible study and Prayer Fellowship extraordinary testimonies of the Revival at KwaSizabantu Mission. I must admit to being more than a little sceptical. The many healings and miracles sounded too good to be true. However, when I was invited to speak to a parents conference at KwaSizabantu Mission, January 1987, I was able to see for myself that Marius had actually understated the case.
Seeing is Believing
The dynamic community and vibrant Christian witness of KwaSizabantu mission is striking and refreshing in a world that has become so secular, selfish, superficial and decadent. Early in my Christian walk I had grown dissatisfied with the shallow and worldly standards of all too many congregations. Where was Book of Acts Christianity? Well, at last I had found a community that took the Bible, particularly the book of Acts seriously. Lives were transformed. I met people from all walks of life and from all over the world who had been dramatically changed through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. Thieves who had made restitution. Witches and Satanists converted. Gangsters and drug addicts set free. People healed, body, mind and spirit. Around the dining room tables I learned many a testimony of transformation.
After my first presentation at the conference, Uncle Erlo rebuked me for finishing so quickly. "We are not playing around here!" He declared. "We are serious and want you to feel the liberty to say what needs to be said. Hold nothing back! Do not give us an abbreviated sermonette! Next time, we expect more from you!” That was certainly the first, and maybe the only, time I was rebuked for presenting a message that was too short!
I was also horrified to have Uncle Erlo and Aunty Kay give up their bedroom for me! As a young single 26 year old missionary, I was more used to sleeping on the floor in a sleeping bag than taking the bed of people double my age!
But apparently that was normal for Uncle Erlo to move into one of his children's rooms to host a guest.
In January 1992, I was driving, with my wife, Lenora, and our first child, Andrea, en route to KwaSizabantu mission when the engine of our car seized and we were broken down by the side of the road in the blazing heat, of the Karoo, not far from Three Sisters. Approximately 560 km from Cape Town and still a thousand kilometres away from KwaSizabantu mission. I wrote a message requesting help from the Automobile Association and gave this paper to a passing motorist. Some hours later a tow truck arrived to tow our vehicle to Richmond. After some fruitless hours trying to organise repairs, I found a call box and telephoned the switchboard at KwaSizabantu mission. They put me through to Kjell Olson.
I informed him of our vehicle breakdown and the fact that I would not be able to make my commitment to speak at the Discipleship Training Course beginning the next morning. Kjell told me to “wait a minute” and within a minute he returned to inform me:
"Uncle Erlo says that you should wait right where you are. He is sending his driver with his car to fetch you!" But we were a thousand kilometres away! Yet, 3 hours later, Gideon Jacobs arrived to tow our vehicle to the KwaSizabantu mission station at Smithfield in the Orange Free State. That was over 280 km away. When we arrived there his wife had supper cooked and on the table for us. As we were finishing supper, Uncle Erlo's driver arrived with his vehicle to transport Lenora, Andrea and I through the night to KwaZulu-Natal. As we drove through the gates of KwaSizabantu Mission, the sun was rising. After a quick shower, I was able to make the first meeting of the Discipleship Training Course. Two weeks later, Gideon Jacobs came through to pick up one of our missionary field workers to drive my vehicle, which now had a repaired engine, back to KwaSizabantu so that we could drive home again. The coordination of uncle Erlo's co-workers to make all this happen was impressive. And who do you know that would go a thousand kilometres out of their way for you ?! A friend in need is a friend indeed!
Historic Field Trip
Knowing of my interest in history, Uncle Erlo once organised for his pilot to fly Lenora and I to Ulundi, so that we could visit the local Museum and battle site. He also arranged for a contact of his in Ulundi to drive us through to UMgungundlovu, Dingaan's Royal kraal.
Home away from Home
Our firstborn daughter, Andrea, took her first steps at KwaSizabantu mission. Andrea was so welcomed into the Stegen family that she could run into uncle Erlo's room and leap on his bed, or jump onto his lap if he was reading. The Stegen family graciously included Andrea in their outings and she enjoyed many wonderful experiences with them.
Ready At All Times
There were times that Uncle Erlo would send someone to call me to his room where he would ask me if I would be ready to take that Sunday morning’s sermon at the auditorium. Each time I responded that Francis Grim, the head of Hospital Christian Fellowship, under whom I had trained, had declared: “a missionary must be ready to preach, pray or die at a moment’s notice!” “We need to be BA and RFA – Born Again and Ready For Anything!” It was a privilege to receive critical feedback and instruction from Uncle Erlo. Many an evening after the service, I would sit around the kitchen table with Uncle Erlo having tea and biscuits discussing different aspects of ministry and discipleship. Uncle Erlo was wonderfully used of the Lord to inspire me to a deeper devotional life, a lifestyle of repentance and a hunger for holiness. He regularly called upon me to give presentations at Ministers Conferences.
Uncle Erlo was gracious to write Forewords for a number of my books including: Biblical Principles for Africa, Practical Discipleship, Character Assassins, and Frontline – Behind Enemy Lines for Christ. Uncle Erlo also wrote the Foreword for my father-in-law, Bill Bathman's book Going On.
Uncle Erlo visited our home and mission house in Cape Town, and prayed for the healing of our son Christopher when he was born with kidney failure, and given no chance of survival by the medical specialists. On two occasions, before departing on missions behind Iron Curtain into Eastern Europe, I received an envelope with Deutschmark cash from Uncle Erlo. Evidently there was a time that the South African Postal Service was reliable and efficient! However, as a matter of policy, for security reasons, I did not reveal upcoming missions to anyone, especially missions behind Iron Curtain. Yet Uncle Erlo was so in touch with the Spirit of God that he was prompted to send the provision we needed in the very currency we would most need just before these important behind the Iron Curtain missions!
In October 2016, Uncle Erlo sent the Euro Choir to us in Cape Town to help launch our Reformation 500 events. We organised a bold outreach with the Euro choir singing from the amphitheatre at the waterfront. As Uncle Erlo led in prayer at the beginning of this open-air concert, security guards came to me demanding that we clear the stage and cancel the event as “a Jewish woman had complained that the man had mentioned the Name of Jesus! We cannot have proselytising here at the waterfront," I was told. As a delaying tactic, I requested to see the supervisor, explained that the choir were guests from Europe, that this event had been long planned, its significance as part of the Reformation 500 movement and that the constitution guaranteed Freedom of Religion. But the supervisor remained adamant that we must stop the concert. By this point, Uncle Erlo had completed his prayer and the large crowd was joining in singing with the Euro choir.
I pointed out how popular the event was. "The crowd loves it!" The supervisor finally agreed to drop the matter. It was a successful outreach and many evangelistic conversations resulted in this busy tourist attraction.
The Euro choir then sang at the Reformation Sunday service at the oldest Protestant church in the southern hemisphere, Strand St, Lutheran Church. On Reformation day, the Euro choir led us in worship for the Reformation Celebration at the Huguenot monument, followed by a concert in the Dutch Reformed Church in Franschhoek.
In October 2017 Uncle Erlo organised for the Euro Choir to join us for the Reformation 500 celebrations in Wittenberg, Germany.
Love in Action
When, my wife, Lenora contracted cancer, Uncle Erlo donated to us a Kangen Water machine which definitely improved the health of all of us and kept Lenora cancer free for years.
When after months of being cared for from home, Lenora passed into eternity, Uncle Erlo sent co-workers Ian and Karin Engelbrecht, with gifts and meals to our home. When Uncle Erlo heard that I was looking for a suitable farm where we could bury Lenora, he offered the Mission’s farm at Franschhoek and the mission organised a supper for family and friends who attended the graveside service. In so many thoughtful ways, uncle Erlo and his children have cared for our family. When I suffered a stroke, they invited me to come and recuperate in their home at KwaSizabantu Mission. The Stegens are a magnificent testimony to the grace of God.
When one considers the immense spiritual impact of the various ministries launched by Rev Erlo Stegen, including Radio Khwezi, Cedar College of Education, Domino Servite School, the Emsini Care Centre for HIV/AIDS patients, the CYPSA drug addict rehabilitation ministry, The Maqhogo mission in the Tugela valley and mission stations as far afield as Malalane, Paraguay, Romania and Russia, Erlo Stegen stands out as one of the most productive, effective and blessed missionaries in the history of South Africa.
Most Blessed and Effective
KwaSizabantu Mission is the most extraordinary, exemplary and effective Mission in all of Africa, possibly in the world. When I asked Rev. Bill Bathman, if I was overstating the case to declare that KwaSizabantu Mission is “the most blessed and effective mission in Africa”, he replied: "Peter, you can upgrade that to the world.
I have ministered in 114 countries and there is no ministry on earth to compare with KwaSizabantu Mission in terms of missionary effectiveness and spiritual impact." I cannot think of any ministry, or government department for that matter, which has accomplished more to practically help people than Uncle Erlo and the Mission of KwaSizabantu. His biography: Bondservant of Christ should be Required Reading for all missionaries and Theological students. It is an inspiring case study of an Example of Excellence in Missions, ministry and Revival. Not since Andrew Murray has South Africa seen a minister of the Gospel so blessed by evident mercies of God.
Bondservant of Christ
This inspiring and challenging book by Dr Elfrieda Fleischmann consists of over 300 pages, with over 209 photographs, many of them in colour, including the historic context, conversion and calling behind the Revival. It reveals the historic roots of the unique work of God at KwaSizabantu mission, beginning with the Revival in Germany in the 19th-century and the launch of the North German Mission Society in Hamburg and the Ministry of Louis Harms and the ship they built, the Kandaze, to transport Christian missionaries and farming families to reach Africa for Christ. Bondservant of Christ is an extraordinary record of the family background and early life of Erlo Stegen, who from his teenage years has been dedicated to reaching Zulu people for Christ.
To obtain your copy of the inspiring Bondservant of Christ book: https://www.christianlibertybooks.co.za/item/KSBBONDSERVANT
You can learn more about KwaSizabantu Mission. Visit their official website: https://www.ksb.org.za/
See also: https: https://www.frontlinemissionsa.org/articles/70-years-of-revival-at-kwasizabantu
See also: https://www.frontlinemissionsa.org/articles/erlo-stegen-an-example-of-excellence-in-missions-ministry-and-revival
You can listen to From the Frontline: Considering and Celebrating the Incredible Legacy of Missionary Erlo Stegen
Funeral service for Erlo Stegen
10 AM Sunday 8th October, KwaSizabantu Mission, live streamed: https://www.ksb.org.za/
A Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Rev Erlo Stegen was held at Livingstone House on 06 October 2023 at 18:00.
To view the "Order Of Service" click on the image below..
To watch the Memorial Sercive as a video click the image below:
To listen to the Memorial Service audio only click the image below:
To view the Memorial Service Presentation click on the image below:
Dr. Peter Hammond
PO Box 74 | Newlands | 7725 | Cape Town | South Africa
Tel: +27 21 689 4480