Maria (Dlamini) Malambe (c.1903 until 1995) and her mother, Ruth Mangwane Gama, were the first converts at the newly established Ndzingeni Mission in northern Swaziland where the pioneer missionary, Harmon Schmelzenbach, had arrived in 1910.
Fred Parker told the story of their conversion:
Though they had worked so intensely those first three years at Peniel (Ndzingeni Mission), it was not until the early summer of 1913 that the Schmelzenbachs had their first converts there. One memorable morning, kneeling in the missionaries’ house, Ruth Mangwane and her daughter (who took the name Maria) accepted Jesus Christ. What a day of rejoicing! These two remained loyal workers for the Lord throughout their lives.
In 1953 Maria wrote the following account of her conversion:
The first I heard of the gospel was from a blind man when we still lived at Ensingweni. I accompanied my mother to visit Grandmother near Mbabane, and we stayed several days. One day a blind man led by a boy came and preached. He kept repeating the words, “When will you believe that the final day is coming?” I was so troubled that my knees knocked together. After he left Mother declared that truly she would be a believer. I could tell that she really meant it. Returning home, we never recovered from the spiritual wounds of that message. There was no church near our home, so we remained with great spiritual hunger. After that my father moved to near Ndzingeni.
There was a Wesleyan congregation in the area but some of their members would visit our home drunk. They engaged in pagan dances and other nonChristian traditional practices. We saw no difference between them and unbelievers so we waited.
A few years later, we heard that a white man wanted to buy thatching grass. Our mothers went to sell to him, and when they returned, they were very happy having heard that a missionary had come to the area who preached true repentance. Four of us went to visit the new mission and attended services held in the stable of the former resident there who was a farmer. We were our mothers, myself and a younger brother. We all surrendered to the Lord and He changed our hearts. Although I was still young I was aware in my heart that my life had been changed. When we emerged from that service our mothers said that their sins were really taken away. They also said it seemed like when they looked up they would see Jesus with their own eyes. For myself it was also like that. Everything was new.
My mother and I attended school classes held under a tree. Mother learned to read the Bible while I continued with regular schooling. My other mother did not continue as a believer as she went back to helping to brew beer in the home. Everyone hated my mother because she would not help with that work. Father agreed for Mother to be a Christian. Ultimately he also believed. Oh! I am not able to express my thankfulness because He saved me. Today I am still truly His child.
James M. Pazimane Malambe married Miss Maria Dlamini (c1903-1995). He was one of the outstanding pioneer preachers of the Church of the Nazarene in Swaziland. He worked with the pioneer missionary, Sibhaha (Bitter Medicine) Harmon Schmelzenbach, in 1916.
On one occasion in October of that year they were travelling on horseback together to the Balegane preaching point. En route they encountered a deadly black mamba hidden in the path ahead and poised to strike. Miraculously they saw it in time to avoid being bitten.
Rev. Malambe was the first pastor of the Bremersdorp (Manzini) Church (one of the largest Nazarene congregations in Swaziland). James and Maria Malambe served there from c.1925 until 1942. James Malambe died on June 10, 1968 and was buried at Kwaluseni.
When Maria Malambe went to be with her Lord at Manzini in 1995 there was a great funeral and a great farewell.
Paul S. Dayhoff
J. Fred Parker, Mission to the World: the History of Missions in the Church of the Nazarene through 1985. (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1988), 121
Mrs. Maria Malambe, “How I Became a Believer,” 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 1953), 5.
H. Schmelzenbach III, Schmelzenbach of Africa: The Story of Harmon F. Schmelzenbach, Missionary Pioneer of Swaziland, South Africa, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1971), 66.
P. Dayhoff, 1996, Living stones in Africa: pioneers of the Church of the Nazarene,(Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 1999), 8.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, (Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 2002), copyright © 2001, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.