Rev. Zephania D. Ngobeni was born at Greenvalley and went as a missionary to the Gananwa people at Blouberg in the Northern Province. Zephania attended the church school at Greenvalley in 1916. Pastor Joseph Nzimande taught him about the Lord.
In 1921 Ngobeni went to church to see the white missionary, Rev. H. A. Shirley, when he visited Greenvalley. Missionary Shirley’s message stirred his heart. Ngobeni’s sins troubled him and he realized he was lost. The passage in Matthew 16:24-28 spoke to him strongly, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” He prayed much but his friends said he could not be a Christian. He threw his burden on Calvary and found the Lord as Saviour. He began to testify for the Lord to his friends.
Returning home from working at the Simmer and Jack Mine in Johannesburg, he found a great welcome feast prepared for him. The women of the homestead had brewed a great quantity of beer. He told them that he had repented and did not drink beer anymore. His father said, “Who will drink the beer that is made for you?” Zephania Ngobeni excused himself and spent the next day at the Acornhoek Mission while they finished the beer at home. This was one of many temptations and they caused him to weep and pray at night. God helped him to overcome them.
He felt God calling him to the ministry but at first he ran away to Johannesburg to work and earn money. This gave him no peace and he felt guilty. He wept about his call and it caused him great pain. He had promised Rev. Joseph F. Penn that he would return to Sabie and prepare to go to Bible College.
Ngobeni finally surrendered to God’s call. He declared, “I no longer feared witnessing. Great joy filled my heart. May God help me to finish my days serving my God.” After working at the printing press in Sabie for about ten years, he and his wife Esther began pastoring at Klaserie in 1933. In 1943 they went to serve at Zoeknog.
Completing Bible College at Siteki, Swaziland, they went to Ga-Malebogo at Blouberg in 1953. This meant learning the customs and language of the Gananwa (Northern Sotho) people. Rev. Ngobeni was in charge of the work in the Blouberg area and he led the local congregation to self-support. He was ordained in 1958 by General Superintendent Samuel Young.
Just three years later he became sick and was taken to Tintswalo Hospital, Acornhoek. He praised God as he went for his first operation and quoted the twenty-third Psalm when he went for the last one. His great prayer was for the Gananwa people to repent and he entered Home peacefully. His life was devoted to God and the church. Rev. Ngobeni was a fine example of a Christian in every way. He was always busy winning people to salvation, testifying to the lost and teaching the Word of his Lord.
Paul S. Dayhoff
Rev Z. Ngobeni, “My Conversion” Montsoša-Bošego (The Herald), Pedi/Sotho magazine of the Church of the Nazarene in South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, July-August 1960), 5, 12.
Report in Annual Meeting Minutes of the Transvaal Region, 1961, p. 22.
J. R. Saoli, “The Promotion of Zephania Ngobeni” Montsoša-Bošego (The Herald), Pedi/Sotho magazine of the Church of the Nazarene in South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, May-June, 1961), 3; Rev. D. R. Alexander, “The Last Victorious Journey,” idem, (March-April 1963), 11.
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.