Bishop Bheki Ngcobo of the Nkanyezi Church of Christ has received flak for calling on his church congregants to defy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s restrictions and go to church in their numbers.
Ramaphosa on Sunday announced a ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people, but the bishop claimed the rule would not apply to his church because the president “is not God”.
“I’m not disputing what the president is saying because it is his country. God is above presidents declaring this state of emergency. I’m not saying people must take a risk and do what they don’t believe in. We are saying, in our congregation we are going to worship the Lord in numbers,” he told the SABC.
Ngcobo questioned why companies had not been closed down, but were rather given safety precautions.
“Why can’t those same precautions be given to the churches so they can continue with Easter preparations?”
According to Ngcobo, this was the perfect time for the church to take its position and fight against Covid-19, because this was not only a “flesh and blood” issue but “spiritual warfare”.
“We took the decision looking at the Bible because we are controlled by the Bible and we are controlled by the prophets of the Bible. What I’m saying is that when we sat down as a structure, we decided that at the current moment, the church must stand up in numbers and pray for all the challenges that are happening in the country.
“The country is not only attacked by the disease , but so many issues that need God’s intervention. We survived apartheid, we survived a tsunami, cholera, malaria … we survived so many things in this country and we’re going to survive this Covid-19.
“But not to go to Easter services, I don’t think it’s proper. What government should do is to give up proper precautions. We came to the conclusion that the church must stand up and claim the position because this thing is not only a flesh and blood issue, it’s spirit warfare. This is why we’re saying let’s go and worship the Lord.
“God knows more than everyone in this world. I trust God more than the medical practitioner. I trust God more than presidents of all countries. If God needs to be worshipped in this time when the country is moving up and down, when presidents are declaring that churches must not gather and praise God, this is what I’m not agreeing upon.
“I am going to defy the president of the country,” he said.
Responding to a question of whether it would be the will of God should people come back sick, Ngcobo said yes.
“The will of God must prevail.”
This comes after one of the biggest churches in South Africa, the Zion Christian Church, confirmed it had postponed its Moria pilgrimage in the wake of the coronavirus.
“We are informing you the people and the groups who come to Moria on the weekends via buses to put on hold coming to Moria until further notice.”
Speaking on Power FM on Tuesday, ZCC spokesperson Emmanuel Motolla said the decision to postpone was taken after a meeting with government.
A new date would be communicated with members in due course and depending on “normality prevailing in this country”. He said they did not “want to risk the lives of our people”.