Today In Christian History: Notable Missionary & Martyr Bernard Mizeki Is Baptised

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Mamiyeli Misteki Gwambe (birth name) originally was from Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique). At a tender age of about 12, he left home and went to Capetown, South Africa. He attended a school run by Society of Saint John an Anglican. Under the influence of his teachers, from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist ( an Anglican religious order for men, popularly called the Cowley Fathers), he became a Christian.

Befriended by Anglican missionaries, on March 9, 1886 he was baptized. He enrolled at Zonneblen College to learn as a catechist. Bernard learned many languages including Zulu, Greek, Latin and Hebrew. With such knowledge, he became an interpreter for Fraulein and together, they went to preach the gospel to nearby communities in Capetown.

When Bernard understood the meaning of God, one book quotes him talking to Fraulien von Bloemberg,

“This is something I have not known. I ought to have done something for God, working for Him and serving Him, if He cares for me so much, do tell Him, Inkosazana, that I am very sorry that i have not done anything for Him, yet, but I did not know about Him at all.”

After graduating from the school, he accompanied Bishop Knight-Bruce to Mashonaland, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe.  Although he opposed some local traditional religious customs, Bernard was very attentive to the nuances of the Shona Spirit religion. He developed an approach that built on people’s already monotheistic faith and on their sensitivity to spirit life, while at the same time he forthrightly proclaimed the Christ.

Bernard was in danger from fellow blacks; he angered Chiefs and witchdoctors because he taught a foreign faith. Despite the threats to run for his life, he refused. ‘He worked only for Jesus,’ he asserted. This bold reply won him a crown of martyrdom and many Anglicans up to present day celebrate him.

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