The Church Reaches Black Township in South Africa
January 1988

“The Church Reaches Black Township in South Africa,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 79

The Church Reaches Black Township in South Africa

“Wake up, Miriam!” said Albert Thanzie, shaking his wife. “Wake up. I saw it!”

“Saw what?” she sleepily asked.

“In my dream I saw the church we’ve been trying to find! It was so real! I know exactly what it looks like!”

Albert and his family, residents of Ennerdale, a black township in South Africa, had been searching for a church that would satisfy their spiritual needs. They had attended several nearby churches, but had not found one they felt comfortable joining.

Discouraged, Albert had organized a Bible study group that met on Sundays in his home. And he continued to pray that God would guide him to the right church.

Several days after his dream, Albert and his friend, Steven Mkonza, broadened their search to Johannesburg, a city of two million people, to look for the church Albert had seen. The search seemed hopeless. Then, one Sunday, tired and disheartened, they rounded a corner. In front of them stood the church Albert had seen in his dreams!

Albert uttered a prayer of thanksgiving and hurried closer. There on the church’s wall was its name: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

It was late afternoon, and the church was closed. But Albert and Steven returned another Sunday, arriving during services. They met Elder and Sister Blaine Lundquist, a couple from Scottsdale, Arizona, assigned to the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

The Lundquists asked to visit with the Thanzie family the next evening to explain the doctrines of the Church. Albert readily agreed. Everything he had seen and heard at the worship services seemed right and natural; he had the distinct feeling that he was on familiar ground.

When the Lundquists drove up to the Thanzie home for their appointment, they saw Albert run out the back door. A few minutes later he returned with seventeen people. All were eager to hear about the restored gospel.

In the following months, several missionaries gave discussions to many eager listeners at the Thanzie home. During a typical evening, two elders would be teaching the discussions in one room with the help of Albert and Miriam’s eighteen-year-old son, Johannes, who would translate English into Zulu. In a second room, more investigators would be taught by two elders speaking Afrikaans, while in the kitchen two women would be receiving the gospel message in English from a missionary couple. At the same time, the Lundquists would be teaching the Thanzies in the living room.

On Sundays, additional spiritual sustenance was provided the hungry investigators by Bishop Royston Pritchard and members of the Vereeniging Ward, fifteen miles south of Ennerdale. The stake mission president transported the investigators to meetings in his van.

Within a few weeks, arrangements were made with the local authorities to rent classrooms in an Ennerdale elementary school each Sunday. With the approval of the Johannesburg South Africa Stake presidency, the Ennerdale group was established as a satellite of the Vereeniging Ward. Now, each Sunday morning, a member of the bishopric arrives at the school with enough members and missionaries to hold a sacrament meeting and auxiliary meetings.

In June 1987, three months after Albert’s dream, he, Miriam, and six other Ennerdale residents were baptized and confirmed. The four men baptized received the Aaronic Priesthood. Two more men were baptized, confirmed, and ordained priests in July, including Manual Solomon, who was baptized by Albert’s friend, Steven Mkonza.

The future is bright for the Ennerdale Saints. Relief Society homemaking meetings are held monthly, and a home teaching program is strengthening the members. The Vereeniging Ward leaders are providing leadership training, support, and—most important—love.

Approximately forty investigators are receiving the missionary discussions, and the average attendance at Sunday services is thirty-six and climbing. The projected growth has caused stake leaders to consider including Ennerdale in the 1988 building program.

Correspondent: Kenneth R. Shepherd. Elder Shepherd and his wife, Charlotte, of Woodland Hills, California, are serving a full-time mission in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission.

Members in Ennerdale, South Africa, with missionaries. The new branch was formed after two residents of the township discovered the Church in Johannesburg.