Saturday, August 14, 2010

Opposition Under Apartheid Rule

Integrity of our Black Brothers in South Africa...
(following experiences on pgs 119-122 of the 2007 Yearbook)

During the early years of apartheid rule, the black brothers did not face the same tests of neutrality that the white brothers did. For example, blacks were not called up for military service. However, when political black groups began to challenge apartheid rule, severe trials befell the black Witnesses. Some were killed, others were beaten, others fled as their homes and possessions went up in flames—all because they refused to violate their neutrality. Yes, they were determined to obey Jesus’ command to be “no part of the world.”—John 15:19.

Some political groups required everyone in their area to buy a political party card. Representatives from these groups called at people’s homes to demand money for weapons or for the funeral expenses of their comrades who had died in battles with the white security forces. Because the black brothers respectfully refused to pay such money, they were accused of being spies for the apartheid government. While engaging in field service, some brothers and sisters were attacked and accused of spreading white Afrikaans propaganda.

(Elijah Dlodlo - endured a whipping)

...Take for example, Elijah Dlodlo, who gave up a promising career in sports to become one of Jehovah’s dedicated servants. Two weeks before South Africa’s first democratic election, tension ran high between rival black communities. Elijah’s congregation decided to cover their seldom-worked territory, located a few miles away. Elijah, baptized for only two months, was assigned to work with two boys who were unbaptized publishers. While speaking to a lady at her door, they were confronted by a group of youths, members of a political movement. The leader wielded a sjambok, a heavy leather whip.
“What’s going on here?” he demanded.
“We are talking about the Bible,” replied the householder.
Ignoring her, the angry man said to Elijah and his two companions: “You three boys, join us. Now is not the time for the Bible; now is the time to fight for our rights.”
Elijah boldly replied, “We cannot do that because we are working for Jehovah.”
The man then pushed Elijah and began to beat him with the sjambok. With each blow, the man shouted, “Join us!” After the first blow, Elijah no longer felt pain. He found strength in the words of the apostle Paul, who said that all true Christians ‘will be persecuted.’—2 Timothy 3:12.

The man eventually became tired and stopped. Then one of the attackers criticized the man who had the whip, saying that Elijah was not from their community. The group became divided and began fighting among themselves, the leader receiving a severe beating with his own sjambok. Meanwhile, Elijah and his two companions escaped. This test strengthened Elijah’s faith, and he continued to make progress as a fearless preacher of the good news. Today, he is married, has children, and serves as an elder in his congregation.

(Florah Malinda - a regular pioneer whose daughter was brutally murdered by a mob)

Our black sisters also showed great courage in the face of pressure to stop preaching.
Consider the example of Florah Malinda. Her baptized daughter, Maki, was burned to death by a mob of youths because she tried to defend her brother who had refused to join their political movement. Despite this tragic loss, Florah did not become embittered but continued spreading God’s Word in her community. One day, representatives of the political movement who had murdered her daughter demanded that she either join their movement or suffer the consequences. Neighbors came to her rescue, explaining that she did not take sides in politics but was busy helping people to study the Bible. This resulted in a debate among the activists, and they eventually decided to let Florah go. During all that trialsome time and until now, Florah has faithfully continued to serve as a regular pioneer.

A regular pioneer brother describes what happened to him while traveling on a bus to his territory. A young political activist pushed him and asked why he was carrying literature produced by Afrikaners and selling it to black people. The brother explains what happened next: “He demanded that I throw the literature out of the bus window. Because I refused, he slapped me on the face and put the burning end of his cigarette against my cheek. I did not respond. Then he grabbed my bag of literature and threw it out the window. He also pulled off my tie, saying that it is the white man’s way of dressing. He kept on insulting me and making fun of me, saying that people like me should be burned alive. Jehovah saved me because I was able to get off the bus without further harm. The experience did not deter me from continuing to preach.”

The South Africa branch received many letters from individuals and congregations telling of the integrity of the black brothers. One such letter came from an elder in a congregation in KwaZulu-Natal. It said: “We write you this letter to let you know about the loss of our lovely brother Moses Nyamussua. His job was to weld and repair cars. On one occasion he was asked by one political group to weld their homemade guns, which he refused to do. Then, on the 16th of February, 1992, they had their political rally, where they had a fight with those of the opposing group. On the evening of the same day on their way back from their battle, they found the brother making his way to the shopping center. There they killed him with their spears. What was their reason? ‘You refused to weld our guns, and now our comrades have died in the fight.’ This has been a very great shock to the brothers, but we will still carry on with our ministry.”