Rev Erlo Stegen, celebrating 70 years in ministry

By Gerda Potgieter

On 11 December 2022, the KwaSizabantu Mission in Kranskop, KwaZulu-Natal celebrated Rev Erlo Stegen’s 70th year in ministry. More than 10 000 people attended the thanksgiving service in honour of Rev Stegen and the positive impact he made on the lives of so many people. Numerous dignitaries attended the thanksgiving ceremony, including the royal houses of the Zulu and Swazi families.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch relayed a heartfelt message of gratitude in person at the event. He said he has been blessed to have the reverend walk so closely with him: “The story of Erlo Stegen is an inspiration to millions of Christians all over the world. He has expanded the work of KwaSizabantu to every continent on the globe.”

The former premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala, attended the thanksgiving event and said, “KwaSizabantu is a mirror for South Africa of what we want to get to. These seventy years were a success but it is not the end. We’ve learned many things from Rev Stegen and the co-workers who have worked with him.”

Called to ministry, especially to the Zulu people, Rev Stegen, fondly known as “Baba Mfundisi” by the community he serves, has devoted his life to sharing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. His dedicated service, love and generosity have resulted in a powerful bond with the nation. Millions of lives have been touched and given new hope through his ministry, not only in South Africa but also worldwide

In 1952, Stegen started his ministry in Maphumulo. The lack of development in the rural area prompted him to uplift the local community. With limited resources, the preacher, workers, and early supporters started construction and agricultural projects to accommodate and feed the people who came to hear the gospel. In the more than 52 years since KwaSizabantu was established, the mission implemented numerous poverty alleviation and several job creation ministries and outreach projects across a broad spectrum that have grown out of the evangelism ministry.

The preacher has worked side-by-side with the community members and others to build the mission into a community-based organization aimed at improving the lives of those it serves while spreading the gospel. The mission has established, among others, vegetable gardens, pepper greenhouses,  avocado and other fruit orchards, a yoghurt factory, water bottling plants, and honey bottling plants. They are making their own compost which they use back in the orchards. KwaSizabantu has become sustainable for the benefit of the community it serves.

A special publication has been put together in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the ministry of Reverend Erlo Stegen: