Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Lephoko, Daniel Simon Billy firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-08242010-101802 Document Title Nicholas Bhekinkosi Hepworth Bhengu's lasting legacy : a study of the life and work of one of Africa's greatest pioneers Degree PhD Department Science of Religion and Missiology Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Prof P G J Meiring Supervisor Keywords
- back to assemblies of God movement
- church planting
- church struggle
- South Africa
- assemblies of God
- back to God
- reconstruction and development
Date 2010-09-03 Availability unrestricted AbstractA number of articles in books and newspapers have been written on the life and work of Nicholas Bhengu, in the past four decades. However, to date no focused academic research had been devoted to his life, his mission, his message and his influence in South Africa as well as beyond the borders of South Africa.
The different chapters in the thesis focus on Bhengu’s life, his call to ministry and the role he played in South Africa, in rest of Africa, and beyond the borders of our continent. Although Bhengu did not overtly address political issues by supporting either the liberation movements nor the Nationalist Government, the impact of his work was felt by both to the extent that liberation movements such as ANC criticised him for not lending his public support to the struggle they waged against apartheid. On the other hand, the South African government also tried to co-opt him as an ally of their socio-political ideology. The government disappointed by Bhengu’s lack of support for its political programme, became suspicious of his intentions and set the Special Branch of the South African Police to monitor his movements, teaching and preaching.
Bhengu ministered during a tumultuous period in the history of South Africa which called for people as well as the faith communities to take sides for or against the system of apartheid. Bhengu’s teaching and preaching had a great impact on the social and political psyche of the people in South Africa. Through his Back to God Crusade he, with great effectiveness, called people to return to God. Thousands devoted their lives to God. Wherever Bhengu conducted his crusades, crime went down significantly, with criminals turning in their weapons of trade and returning stolen goods to the police. He also performed spectacular healings and miracles.
Apart from his evangelistic campaigns, Bhengu planted churches, established a formidable women’s ministry that to this day continues to raise millions of Rand to fund the Back to God Crusade. The Youth Ministry provides bursaries for young people to study in any field of their choice. Bhengu’s goal for providing these bursaries was to empower a new generation to contribute to the development of their country. He also established self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating churches, at a time when Black Churches were dependent on handouts from missionary sending agencies.
The study finally evaluates the contribution and lasting legacy of Bhengu: his example, his missionary endeavours, his preaching and church planting efforts, his socio-political involvement, and his leadership. The strategies that he employed to building a cohesive and successful movement – the Back to God/Assemblies of God Movement – receive special attention. The impact of the movement is still felt in South Africa and the neighbouring countries, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, twenty five years after his death. There is every reason to consider Nicholas Bhengu to be the Billy Graham of Africa.
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Please cite as follows:
Lephoko, DSB 2010, Nicholas Bhekinkosi Hepworth Bhengu’s legacy : a study of the life and work of one of Africa’s greatest pioneers, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08242010-101802/ >
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