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From communism to Christ: South African minister shares his story

Blogging live from Oklahoma City
“I never liked church. … It was a symbol of the system that oppressed us.”
Thankfully for hundreds of souls, Machona Monyamane changed his opinion of church after he became a student in the World Bible School correspondence ministry. The native of South Africa has helped plant congregations and baptized untold numbers of his countrymen. He serves the Seeiso Street Church of Christ in Pretoria, South Africa, and currently is a student at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
Speaking at an Oklahoma City benefit dinner sponsored by the Texas-based ministry, Monyamane shared the story of his conversion. (He’s one of many African Christians who came to faith through WBS. See our recent post about Kenyan minister Jacob Agak.)

Machona Monyamane speaks during a World Bible School fundraiser in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

A former communist sympathizer, Monyamane enrolled in WBS after he saw his roommate studying a lesson. He wasn’t looking for a relationship with Christ. He was looking for ammunition to debate against Christianity in South Africa, then under the racial segregation system known as apartheid.
His teacher, John Morgan of Chattanooga, Tenn., patiently “answered my stupid questions,” Monyamane said. After months of back-and-forth correspondence, Morgan asked Monyamane to get in contact with a South African preacher who would give him some additional books on Christianity and answer any questions he had.
The minister’s name: George Funk.
Monyamane knew immediately he was white — one of the oppressors. Nonetheless, he found the courage to call Funk and set up a meeting for May 18, 1996.
“We talked for two hours,” Monyamane said. Every time he asked a question, Funk “put a smile on his face and a finger on the passage” in the Bible.
After the discussion, Monyamane decided to leave communism behind and become a Christian. They found a swimming pool with locked gate and looked for the owner. Though apartheid had ended in 1991, racial tensions still existed, and the pair weren’t sure how the pool’s owner would react.
Unable to locate the owner, Funk decided they should jump the fence, perform the baptism and, if necessary, beg the owner’s pardon.
In the years since, Monyamane has performed hundreds, possibly thousands, of baptisms among his countrymen, said John Reese, World Bible School’s president.
Monyamane thanked Christians in the U.S. for sacrificing their funds and their time to teach students around the globe through WBS.
Now “we’re serving Christ together,” he said, noting the Great Commission delivered by Jesus in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Though Jesus was specific in what his followers should do, he didn’t specify how to do it, Monyamane said, adding that “WBS is one way to go.”
When it comes to taking the Gospel to the world, Jesus “didn’t give instructions in black and white,” he said.

  • Feedback
    Great article, reminds me of when we would meet up with Machona at the Johannesburg Downtown WBS book store where we talked about bible things. He has been a great inspiration to us all who have since taken up the cross through his blessing in dynamic preaching and delivery of the word.
    July, 30 2013

    It is encouraging to hear about how the Spirit is moving. I would like to hear more about the issues he struggled with as he was breaking free form communism and how he resolved them.
    August, 8 2013

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