Ernesto Makamu was from Mozambique and found the Lord there. He came to work in Tongaat, Natal where he married and had a family.
As he had settled down in Tongaat, Makamu felt a great concern for his fellow workmen and his neighbours. He began spending his evenings visiting, telling the great story of redemption. Eventually he began Sunday meetings, first in his home and then in a hall when the crowd of listeners grew. He had had no Bible College training but he could tell them about Jesus and Calvary, using vivid illustrations. He carried a tremendous burden for people who were lost spiritually. He was both strict and tender and in that hall many, both young and old, found Jesus as Saviour. In 1953 he was the Nazarene leader when Rev. J. M. Mazivila visited them from Mozambique.
In 1962, missionaries Rev. Reginald and Mrs. Lilian Jones, went to Natal to begin work for the Church of the Nazarene. One Sunday morning, Reg entered the municipal office in the Tongaat African Township to ask permission to visit in the township. The senior clerk knew him and told how that many years before, when he was ill in the hospital at Acornhoek, Northern Province, Lilian Jones had helped to nurse him and had prayed for him. He told Rev. Jones, “You helped me. Now I will help you. You may visit here any time you like.”
Reg and Lilly were driving slowly down one of the roads in the town when they encountered several men with Bibles under their arms. They stopped and Reg greeted them first in Zulu and then in Shangaan. At that the men’s faces lit up and they said that he must be a missionary. When Reg explained who he was and why he was there, the spokesman for the group, Mr. Ernesto Makamu, just stood and wept. Eventually, he explained that for years he had been praying that God would send a missionary of the Church of the Nazarene to help them.
A youth rally was held with Miss Juliette Ndzimandzi from Swaziland as their special speaker. The hall was packed with 250 to 300 people and many victories were won. Makamu stood and wept. Later he explained, “I saw God answering my prayers.”
Eventually ground was granted and a church was built in Tongaat. Makamu, as the pastor, continued his visitation, and many times the church was packed, with men standing and young people sitting on the floor. Makamu wore himself out for God and for lost men and women.
Rev. Samuel Ndlovu held Makamu’s funeral. Lilian Jones wrote that Tongaat had never seen a funeral like that.
Paul S. Dayhoff
Pastor Ernesto Makamu, “Your Heart is the Source of Your Being,” Umphaphamisi (The Herald), Swazi-Zulu magazine of the Church of the Nazarene for Swaziland and South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, May-June, 1967), 4.
Mrs. Lilian Jones, letter in 1992 from Durban.
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.