Babilon Mahluza Manhique used to be a traditional Shangaan doctor, a diviner who would hlahluva tihlolo (cast the bones) to discover the sorcerers that made people sick or killed them. He was converted under the ministry of Rev. Paulo Siweia. Mahluza did not have much education, but he became a mighty evangelist sought by many churches on the Tavane District to come and hold campaigns. When he prayed, one felt a blessing.
A traditional doctor of considerable power and influence lived not far from Mahluza’s church at Malwelane, Fumane. He became sick and, one day, apparently died. Preparations were being made for his burial. The grave was dug and reed mats were being arranged when the doctor recovered consciousness and startled the family. He told them that he had seen a man dressed in white who told him that he would not die just then but would have opportunity to repent. The man said, “Call the preacher Babilon Mahluza and seek the way of salvation.” He did call Pastor Mahluza and found the Lord.
The converted doctor began to straighten out his life as best he could. Things dedicated to the ancestral spirits were collected: baskets, pieces of bark, roots, demon cloths, a little pot of honey, many medicines and charms as well as chickens, a dog and a young bull. He called the church for a service in his homestead. The hut with all of the demon things was burned down. The chickens and dog were killed and left to the vultures. The bull was sold and the proceeds went for evangelism. He rejoiced in the new life Jesus had given him.
One day not long afterwards, still lying on the mat, he asked to be taken to the door of his hut where he could look in the direction of the church. Surrounded by Christians and looking towards that little grass-thatched, reed sanctuary, he passed away and went to be with his newly found Lord and King.
Babilon Mahluza’s wife passed away in 1978. In 1981, guerrilla soldiers attacked and sacked the village and home of Mahluza at Malwelane. He and the congregation fled for their lives and the church was dispersed. Pastor Babilon Mahluza passed away at a very old age.
Paul S. Dayhoff
C. S. Jenkins, “The Conversion of a Witch Doctor” in R. DeLong, We Can if We Will: The Challenge of World Evangelism, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1947), 100; Oscar Stockwell, “Taught, Transformed, Translated,” The Other Sheep, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, December 1951), 7.
Vicente James Mbanze, letter, July 20, 1995.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Living Stones In Africa: Pioneers of the Church of the Nazarene, revised edition, copyright © 1999, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.