Juliet Kayise Ndzimandze was the youngest child of the pioneers, Rev. Solomon and Mrs. Martha Ndzimandze. Juliet was born on Christmas day at Hhelehhele in the year that Rev. Harmon Schmelzenbach (Sibhaha) died. When word came that Schmelzenbach was near the end, Juliet’s father was sick, so her mother walked the long and arduous mountain trail to Endzingeni to be at his death bed. She was pregnant with Juliet at the time.
Although it was highly unusual in those days for a Swazi man to be seen holding an infant, Juliet’s father often carried her in his arms. The congregation began calling her Intombi Kayise (Daughter of her Father) and the shortened “Kayise” stayed with her. In later life she said, “My father loved me more than all the children in the home.” Rev. Petrus Pato, a Swazi pastor and longtime colleague of Juliet, said, “Juliet’s father was a giant - he was strong. And Juliet got many characteristics from her father.”
Once when Juliet was about 6 years old, she and her three year old sister Patricia were alone at the parsonage when a demented man staggered up to the church building. This congregation was known all over northern Swaziland as a place where the physically and mentally ill could come and be prayed for. Little Juliet felt that she had to do something to help this poor man. She could not read but she could sing so she and her little sister sang to the man, “I Will Make the Darkness Light Before You”. As they continued to sing it over and over the jerking of the man’s body diminished, his mutterings quieted some, his rolling eyes finally focused and the man regained his senses.
Juliet began school at the age of six and went to boarding school at Endzingeni for standards 5 and 6 to complete primary school. In 1943 an evangelist from Zululand, Rev. Bhengu, came to conduct services at Endzingeni, and a great revival took place. Juliet was saved but then her experience cooled and soon after that she left for Manzini to enroll in High School.
During the early weeks of her final year there in 1947, special meetings were held for young people. At first there was general resistance to the message. One day she packed her box privately preparing to leave the school but she said she heard a voice at night telling her not to go so she stayed. She would sit right at the back and was angry at the preacher. She wanted the meetings to finish so she would no longer feel conviction. However, during the last service she says, “God spoke to me forcefully. I was to make a choice as Moses made a choice.” She was the first to go forward to the altar and others followed. Dr. David Hynd prayed with her. Later that year she was sanctified. Although criticized and ridiculed by her peers she determined to follow Jesus even if she had to walk alone.
Two weeks before she planned to leave for nurses training in Johannesburg some students from the Nazarene Bible College at Siteki came for a Sunday morning service. While the students were speaking a seemingly audible voice said, “God wants you.” All of the excuses that she presented did not help and finally she responded and went forward to offer herself. Her peers at school taunted her, “You’re crazy.” There were no courses at Bible School given at her educational level and she was slow of speech. She finally settled her call while praying in the home of one of the lady missionaries.
At Bible College she made a point of going for prayer in the prayer hut each evening at five o’clock as her father had always done. She learned humility in being the highest educated student at college. She and her friend Salome Dlamini taught at a wayside Sunday School about a mile from the college. In 1996 an elderly lady in whose home she had taught said, “She was always the same. I cannot remember any bad thing about her life from then until the day she died.”
After completing Bible College the District Advisory Board felt that she was too young to be a pastor, so she helped in the College, translating materials and interpreting. Then in 1950 Rev. Kenneth Bedwell, Principal of the College, made her the first national teacher in the Bible College. For the next twenty years she was a successful and well-loved college instructor. Mrs. Margaret Bedwell, at eighty-seven years of age, remembers her as “Our best teacher. All you can say about her is that she was a woman of faith, prayer and obedience to God’s will.” Her speech became clearer and more precise than the average speaker. For five years she also pastored the Magugu Church below the mountains.
She prayed much for a place to live after leaving the college to go into full-time evangelism. The mayor in Manzini told her that he was saving a place for her in a new extension but she had no money and time was running out. Then a missionary teacher in England left her a large inheritance which was just about what she needed to buy the house that had been kept for her. She made it a great hospitality centre. Rev. Ellen Sibandze said, “I never heard her speak harsh words to anyone.
Juliet gathered about herself a group of prayer partners and in 1970 founded the Luketane Lwenthandazo (The Prayer Chain) in northern Swaziland. They would meet for several days each year. On one occasion there was a great drought throughout Swaziland. Food supply was in danger and people were desperate. The prayer chain met at the Black Mbuluzi Church and fasted and prayed. Around noontime God came in a mighty visitation upon the group. They were, as in the words of Charles Wesley, “lost in wonder, love, and praise.” After going to bed, they began to hear distant thunder, and around midnight the rain began to pour down upon the parched ground. This group still continues today.
In the early 1960s the late King Sobhuza II chose her to be one of his queens and began sending her friendly messages. Juliet tried to evade the woman who was the emissary. According to ancient African custom rulers would endeavour to unite their kingdoms by taking multiple wives. Sometimes wives were taken not completely willingly and emissaries would be sent to take a woman by mild force. It was very difficult indeed for a woman to refuse the overtures of the king. For a number of years Juliet was afraid to leave the college premises. At the college graduation in 1963 the matter came to a head. During the ceremony at the church the king’s emissaries were waiting outside on the road in cars to intercept Juliet as she crossed the road. Some students told her and friends took her out a side door through a cornfield to a friend’s home where she was locked in a room. The king’s men did not find her. She was helped to fly to Malawi the next day. When she returned less than a year later the problem had subsided. Later in life, after all was forgiven, she was able to preach and minister at the royal homestead and was on very good terms with members of the royal family. Although Juliet was approached by other suitors over the years she chose to remain single. Her devotion was single-minded to the Lord.
She was the first Nazarene woman in Swaziland to be ordained in 1965 by Dr. Hugh Benner and the first Swazi woman to qualify as a marriage officer. Her ministry extended far beyond the classroom. She helped many of the men by teaching their wives the importance of their prayer life to their husbands’ ministry.
After ordination she preached at a youth camp. She had never seen such a response. From the first to the last service dozens of young people bowed at the altar and found their way to Calvary for salvation and entire sanctification.
She was Swaziland District Treasurer from 1969 to 1985 and trained Rev. Goodwin Chirwa to take over the work which he continues to the present (1998). Juliet was the District NYPS (now NYI) President for four years (the first woman to hold this position). Juliet Ndzimandze was also NWMS President for Siteki Zone for many years. She was the first African woman to be on the Africa Nazarene Publication Board.
Her call to evangelism came late at night on 18 March 1970 in the college chapel. It was hard for her to give up teaching. In 1971 Juliet Ndzimandze became the first full-time woman evangelist in the Africa Nazarene Church. She held a youth convention in the Western Cape. People just flocked to the altar.
When she first started traveling she learned to drive a car but on an early trip she accidentally hit a drunken woman and killed her. Even though she was exonerated by the judge in court, this incident troubled her so much that she never drove again but rather used public transport.
In 1978 she was asked to hold revivals in the Nazarene schools in Swaziland. She would usually visit two schools a month giving one week to each. Since there were forty schools and more than 12,000 students, it was a huge task. There would be as many as four services per day. Students were attentive and came to the altar and wept. There were great visitations of the Holy Spirit. She carried on with this work until 1984.
In 1984 she was appointed evangelist for all of Africa. In 1983 Pauline Kamanga in Malawi said, “She preached holiness and how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave us a way to understand holiness.” She continued in this work until 1991 when poor health prevented her from travelling. Evangelism tours took her out of Swaziland to Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Kenya. Her ministry overseas included the British Isles, Germany and twelve States in the U.S.A.
She suffered from diabetes and travelling was a problem as she had to watch her diet carefully. God used her in a wonderful way to win many to the Lord and bring a new maturity to the Church. This report came following her tour of Zambia in 1982: “Her clear uncompromising way of preaching the Word of God, her sense of humour and beautiful spirit endeared her to the people of Zambia. All of her listeners were inspired by her challenge to godly living, generous giving and loyalty to the program and standards of the Church.”
Juliet had a great sense of humour. She was a generous giver like her father. She would give a second tithe and more in her Alabaster box. Her ability to inspire people to give themselves was matched by her ability to inspire people to give of their money. During the early 1990s she helped pray for and raise large sums of money for building needs at the Manzini Church.
While sick in hospital at Manzini her condition deteriorated on May 4, 1996. The associate pastor, Rev. Michael Themba and Mrs. Phyllis Hynd went to her bedside. They found her in a semi-conscious state and Rev. Juliet Ndzimandze asked them to “Pray, pray!” As she too prayed she breathed her final words, “Jesus, I am coming,” peacefully closed her eyes and went to be with her Lord.
She left a cow for a feast at her funeral and had requested that there be no mourning clothes. This was not understood by many of the people but it was another witness to her faith. At her funeral Rev. Samuel Dlamini, D. S. of the Swaziland South District gave her a new name. He said, “She is Twalisizwe (‘one who carried a burden for the nations’).” Rev. Petrus Pato said, “Everything Juliet did was remarkable.” One of her last requests was, “Keep the prayer chain going.”
Paul S. Dayhoff
Juliet Ndzimandze, “How God Saved and Called Me to Preach,” Africa Calling, (London and South Africa: International Holiness Mission, vol. 8, no. 3, July-Sept. 1955), 4.
Trans African, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, March-April, 1988), 12.
Mr. Lodrick Gama, notes (Siteki, 2 March 1991).
Juliet Ndzimandze, interview by Beth Merki, tape recording, Manzini, 18 March 1992.
Phyllis Hynd, letter (Manzini, 8 May 1996).
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.