Rev. Simeon Maphanga repented at Mshingishingi in 1918 although this church had no pastor at the time. Both of his parents had died and he was afraid of dying. This led him to attend church where he one day declared, “Today I give myself to the Lord.” Joseph Mkwanazi and other preachers visited from Endzingeni. He attended school at Mshingishingi where his teacher was Mr. Gideon Khumalo. Sibhaha (missionary Harmon Schmelzenbach) had been preaching that all young men should devote themselves to the ministry. James Malambe became their pastor, and Simon began accompanying him as he visited, and they preached in the homesteads around that area. Simon wanted to go to school at Endzingeni. There they were taught by missionary Lula Schmelzenbach, Vulindlela (One who opens the path), in a small hut. At the end of the course, they were urged to go out and preach the gospel because people were dying in their sins. Maphanga completed the course of study in 1923, and indeed he did feel a deep concern to preach the gospel.
That same year, Maphanga married Miss Kelina Vilakazi (1903-1967). She was born at Hhelehhele and became a believer when the gospel message first came to their place in about 1918 or 1919. She was one of the first pupils in the school taught by Mr. Hezekiya Dlamini. Then, she continued in school at Endzingeni as she had become engaged to Simeon Maphanga who was studying there for the ministry. That same year, Simeon and Kelina Maphanga went to Mpumalanga in South Africa to join Pastor Titus Dlamini. They pastored at Lusaba (Sabie) and visited at Mhuluhulu, in the Mnombeleni area (near Acornhoek).
Kelina always stood for the truth of the faith. She was a great hero in the work of God. She loved the work and gave herself to it wholeheartedly. She played a concertina at church services and taught Sunday school. She built small huts for the children where fires could be made to warm them on cold days. Kelina was a midwife attendant and delivered many babies in homes. She loved homeless children and always took care of them. She could work with clay and made many articles such as mugs and clay pots. She loved this work also.
The Maphangas returned to eswatini and started a church at Mphondla in 1925. They were given a place to build a church. There was a great response and many people repented. They stayed for many years and the church grew greatly. They started a school there and, at first, Kelina did the teaching. A traditional doctor, Mr. Mbube Mhlabani, repented at his home. Maphanga described the event, “When I was told that he had become a believer I went to visit him. We made preparations to burn all of his medicines and charms. The congregation gathered at his home. Mhlabani brought out all the things and they were burnt. After that the chief of the area came to the church with his councilors to attack us but God rescued us.”
In 1927 Maphanga wrote: “I want to thank our powerful Lord who has saved me from my sins and has washed me in His powerful blood. Today I am alive in my spirit and I am working for the Lord through His Spirit. The power of the Lord is still with me and He lives with me.”
The Maphangas served at Bulandeni, Manzini, Hhohho and Hhelehhele. In spite of the extremely small amount of help the mission could give the pastors during those years of the depression, the Lord helped Simeon and Kelina Maphanga with the education of their eight children, six sons and two daughters. Both parents loved their children and their daughters-in-law. Part of the time Maphanga himself taught school. He went out to preach on horseback. At Hhelehhele, his daughter was taught for a time by Rev. Leonard Sibandze. They were able to plant fruit trees to help themselves. Maphanga was ordained by General Superintendent Hardy C. Powers in 1947. After serving five years at Hhelehhele, they went to Piet Retief in Mphumalanga, South Africa for eight years where they served at Mavumbuka on the Idalia Zone.
Kelina became sick while they were there, so they returned to Manzini where they pastored the Sharpe Memorial Church. Even after she became sick and was in pain, Kelina would speak very much about God’s work. She passed away after twelve years of illness. Around l967, Rev. Maphanga had to retire because of poor eyesight and his wife’s illness.
Paul S. Dayhoff
L. C. Sibandze, “The Wife of Rev. S. M. Maphanga Has Passed Away, 1903-1967,” Umphaphamisi, (The Herald), Swazi-Zulu magazine of the Church of the Nazarene for eswatini and South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, November-December 1967), 10.
S. M. Mapanga, letter to the editor from Pigg’s Peak, Umphaphamisi, July 1927, p. 4.
Dr. Robert Perry, 1985, notes of interview with Simon Maphanga, Nazarene Archives, Manzini; Maphanga children, notes, July 1989.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, copyright © 2001 by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.