By Tsakani Mathebula
LULEKANI- A respected leader of the Full Gospel Church of God, Bishop Magezi Wilson Mashimbyi Bila (82), was given a dignified send-off on Thursday at Full Gospel Church, Diplomats Centre in Lulekani. He died at his home in Humulani on September 16 after a long illness.
Bishop Bila, as he was affectionately known, was a respected and admired Pastor and community leader. His funeral service, which was attended by church leaders, political and traditional leaders celebrated a life well-lived. Various speakers described his death as a big loss to everyone who knew him. A representative from Lulekani fraternal, Pastor Lauzurus Chauke described him as someone who would run a race until the end. “We worked together for 33 years and we have benefited and learned a lot from the old man,” said Chauke.
The man of God was described as a humanitarian, hard worker, visionary leader who always led his congregation in the right direction. His spiritual son, Rayson Chawane said his father preached the real gospel and he was not after money but the true gospel of God. “I wish the family can learn the prayer to say God should grant them the serenity to accept things they can’t change, courage to change things they can, and wisdom to know the difference,” said Chawane. He further presented a gift to the Bila family as a token of appreciation.
Majeje Traditional Authority Chief Mlungisi Ntsanwisi said that Bishop Bila was characterized by humility, while BaPhalaborwa Mayor Merriam Malatji said the man of God always assisted and prayed for the Municipality.
Sipho Mashimbyi, a son of the Bishop and a local pastor of the church, described three instances where he encountered the God of his father. “In the year when I was born, miracles took place, I believe that’s when I took the first mantle. The last encounter was the day my father died, he told me that his journey ends now and I must follow on his footsteps, ” he explained. He further acknowledged and promised to take care of the old woman.
When reading the obituary, Musa Mashimbyi said Bishop Bila has been born and raised at Roadhouse, Xigalo under Malamulele District. He had been saved and baptized under the crusade of his spiritual mentor Pastor Maluleke in 1955. “He was expelled from school in 1956 while doing standard two due to his involvement in God’s work. He worked in Johannesburg as a garden boy and later worked at Denva mine,” Mashimbyi said.
He further said that the Bishop started his pastoral work in Venda, and in the 1960’s he went to Namakgale to serve at the Full Gospel Church of God. “He was one of the black preachers to spread the gospel through Trans World radio station. He was a humanitarian activist who was passionate about helping the Mozambican people who fled their country because of civil war. It was through his intervention whereby the Gazankulu Government approached the national government to allow the Mozambicans a refugee status,” he further explained.
He retired from full-time ministry in March 2004 and handed the baton over to his son. He began to serve as a missionary to Mozambique under the leadership of the late Pastor Roberts. He ministered to different provinces in Mozambique.
Bishop Bila was survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Picture: Ba-Phalaborwa Mayor Merriam Malatji giving the message of support.