Bringing the Light of God’s Word to the People
Pastor Matthews Vilakazi is a man with a vision and a man on a mission:
“I want to bring the light of God’s Word to the people. I want to be a light to them. I want to encourage them. I want to be able to share and teach even more,” he said.
And not even the tough restrictions imposed by South Africa’s strict COVID-19 lockdown have deterred him.
Pastor of Mount of Olives Ministries based in Duduza, Pastor Vilakazi also ministers in KwaThema and Tsakane on Johannesburg’s East Rand. He is a busy man who balances his time between pastoring and teaching his congregation and working in steel work and maintenance. Pastor Vilakazi is one of the pastors who was equipped at Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa’s Pastor’s Circle events.
Launched in 2019, Pastor’s Circle is a new initiative from Walk Thru the Bible Southern Africa which encourages Bible teaching by providing easy-to-use sermons and tools for pastors, as well as a network of support. The aim of Pastor’s Circle is to support the local church—recognizing that pastors face immense challenges that often include time constraints, and sometimes a lack of resources and training.
Prior to lockdown, Pastor Vilakazi had already been live teaching the Pastor’s Circle sermon series: Choices that Change Your Life Forever (based on our course Crucible and the life of David) and the sermon series Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (based on our course Detour and the life of Joseph). And before the lockdown, he had already reached more than 647 people with this material, doing live teaching for at least 10 different groups.
“I believe God was preparing me to continue teaching this material using technology, even before the government imposed its restrictions.”
“But I believe God was preparing me to continue teaching this material using technology, even before the government imposed its restrictions,” he said. “Before the lockdowns, as I was teaching the various groups, I got into the habit of recording my teaching. That way, the messages could be used at our church plants in other areas like Tembisa and KwaZulu Natal. And I could also send the message to anyone in my home church who had missed the live teaching,” he said.
“Since the lockdown was imposed and we’re unable to meet together in person, I have arranged to send recorded teachings and sermons to various groups using WhatsApp. So, I have been able to teach the new sermon series Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense to 11 groups, a total of 798 people, since the lockdown started.”
The groups that he sends the sermons to are carefully compiled. Some are Bible study groups that he had previously established. Others are groups of people that he has specifically targeted within his community and taught before. Still others are made up of people who hear about the sermons and ask to receive them.
“Many times, when I meet and interact with someone new and I tell them about what I’m doing, they ask to receive the sermons. I’ve also received requests for the sermons and teachings from people I didn’t know before.
“After listening to the sermons, the group participants will message me in response. Or I contact them to follow up. We have also been able to ‘meet’ afterwards on Facebook to discuss with the people what they have been learning.
“I have had so many encouraging messages in response to these sermons. There are so many people who feel that life doesn’t make sense right now. These teachings based on Detour bring hope and are so relevant. People in my community are facing many challenges with job losses and food security. Everything is worse during this COVID-19 crisis, and people are dejected.
"These teachings based on Detour bring hope and are so relevant. People in my community are facing many challenges with job losses and food security. Everything is worse during this COVID-19 crisis, and people are dejected. Detour reminds us that just like with Joseph, when things don’t always appear to make sense, God has not forgotten us. He is still at work."
“Detour reminds us that just like with Joseph, when things don’t always appear to make sense, God has not forgotten us. He is still at work. He will use the challenges and difficulties we go through for His glory. Just three weeks ago, I heard the testimony of a pastor who for the last two years had given up on Jesus and was demotivated. But now, because of these teachings on Detour, he is starting to develop a positivity again,” he said. “These same sermons have also appealed to non-believers. They tell me: ‘This teaching brings knowledge and light. All along I had been living without purpose.’
“My wife, Matilda, is together with me in this ministry. She has also been able to teach the sermons on Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense to her ‘Sisters for Life’ women’s groups, which reach out to women in our community.
“These same sermons on Detour have also spoken to me personally,” he said. “You cannot give what you do not have. Once I have received what is good, I have a passion to pass it on and bring encouragement to others.
“What I really appreciate about Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastor’s Circle is the ready and easy-to-use sermons. The sermons have really helped me as a pastor with my preparation and study. Every time I preach these sermons, they fill me up with new ideas and I learn more,” he said.
“I will continue to bring the hope and light of God’s Word to the people,” Pastor Vilakazi says. He is, indeed, a man with a vision.
by Brigette Helling; WTB Southern Africa