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Chiliza

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IF FOUNTAIN LANE COULD TALK...
Only if that shabby little street could at least say something!

 

Rev. Job Y. Chiliza (1886-1963)
FOUNDER OF THE AFRICAN GOSPEL CHURCH

To the Glory of Jesus
jobha2.jpg
Rev. Job Y. Chiliza (uJobha)

Rev. Job Y. Chiliza was born in 1886 in uMzumbe, KwaZulu-Natal. His home church was the American Board Mission. But something had to be done to satisfy Chiliza's hunger for God. He became associated with the Zionist group of Ezra Mbonambi although he later criticized it severely *(Anderson 1992: 44). He believed, for reasons known to him, that they did not base their service on the Word of God. He usually said, "...I was hungry for the Holy Spirit" (Sundkler 1976: 86). He then joined the Full Gospel Church and was later baptized in water by Pastor Archibald Cooper in the Umhlatuze River. He was later joined by Nicholas Bhengu who wanted to see God working in his life as he did in Chiliza's life. Because of the uniqueness of what God wanted to do, Chiliza had to move from the Full Gospel Church. The voice of The Lord ordered him to form a church that was to be "a hospital and a college." Then Chiliza became the first Moderator of the African Gospel Church, which had also sat under the Pentecostal Holiness Church.

Known as uJobha kaYenge or uKhehla by his converts, Chiliza prayed for the sick and they got healed and filled with the Holy Ghost. Sundkler recalls the impression of Chiliza during the service. "In the midst of it all, Job Chiliza stood there on the platform. An immense volume of sound rising and falling, swelling and surging and fading, directed by the two fingers of Chiliza's slow-moving right hand. One felt that he held them all in that strong and quiet hand of his" (**Sundkler 1976: 85). The miracles that The Lord vested on Chiliza captivated Bhengu in a tremendous way. Their relationship was like that of Elijah and Elisha. In my view, it was God's plan that Bhengu left his friend Chiliza and the African Gospel Church. It was not because of a squabble or something like that. "Right from the beginning Nicholas Bhengu felt that his calling was that of an itinerant gospel revivalist. ***(Khathide 1993: 10) That was soon after Chiliza had laid hands on him as a sign of relaying the anointing. Another thing is that Bhengu wanted to also bridge the gap between the educated and uneducated sections of the community.

My father also remembers Chiliza very well. "UChiliza wayengumuntu ophantsi," which simply means that he was humble.  He also told me that Chiliza was a man of prayer. Chiliza would not immediately expel a backslider, but instead the backslider could not resist the power of God in Chiliza's church. He/she would eventually expel him/herself. Chiliza would then send some men to that person for therapeutical counseling. That endorsed the fact that Chiliza formed a college and a hospital. Among other things, Chiliza emphasized the power of confession of sins in a Christian's life, separation from sin, and godly love. For some of the information presented here, the credit goes to Mrs. C.Z. Mzolo and Bro. Qinisela Chiliza.

CHILIZA'S ATTITUDE REGARDING POTRAITS OF HIMSELF

My father tells me that, Chiliza often came to visit his people at their homes. When he came to see his photographs hanging on their walls, he would be very angry. He would lambast them and say, "SUSANI LO DOTI," which meant, "REMOVE THIS RUBBISH." Chiliza was angry because some people would claim that by hanging his portraits they frightened the demons away. We all know that people believe in tangible things, which is wrong. Chiliza did not want to be idolised.

FOUNTAIN LANE: South Africa's Azusa Street

In history we are told of the remarkable place in the US called Azusa Street. It was a place where the Holy Spirit manifested Himself profoundly. A man called William J. Seymour led the Apostolic Faith Mission there. The Holy Spirit descended in an umeasurable scale. The media called the occurences "weird babel of tongues." Here in South Africa, in Durban, there was a similar experience. It was in Fountain Lane, a little street near YMCA (Beatrice Street). Job Chiliza was there leading the revival. Pastor Phillip Msiza (AOG) maintains that, WHEN CHILIZA HELD A REVIVAL, PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GO PAST THAT STREET. THAT'S BECAUSE THERE WAS GOD'S MAGNET ATTRACTING PEOPLE. So one could not go freely without being drawn to the place. Fountain Lane stands in history as a place where God came down. The blind saw, the sick were healed, the demon possessed were exorcised, and multitudes baptized in the Holy Ghost. As for the new converts, as soon as they said yes to Jesus, they would be filled with the Holy Ghost immediately. People saw God moving in a manifest way. More on what happened there can only be asked from Fountain Lane itself. Only if the street can open its mouth and share something to the newer generation. Whenever I walk past that street, I look and look only to see a shabby deserted place. Not a word from the street: Not an evidence of what history tells us. But when I go to YMCA in Beatrice Street on Sunday, I see God embracing and comforting His people. The man of God, Rev. Shezi and the local preacher Miss Doris Mthiyane work hand in hand to ensure that the divine inheritance is kept safe.

When Job Chiliza died, he was so old that he had only ONE TOOTH left in his mouth. God used him to the fullest.

*Anderson, A. 1992. Bazalwane: African pentecostals in South Africa. Pretoria: UNISA

**Sundkler, B. 1976. Zulu Zion and some Swazi Zionists. London: Oxford.

***Khathide, A. 1993. What a giant of faith. Johannesburg: Gospel Publishers.

 

To the Glory of Him whose NAME is above all names

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