“When I pass away, I want Mr. Smith to bury me.”
It took a great deal of courage for Mrs. Khawula to share this with just one member of her family. Mrs. Khawula’s health was failing. She had HIV. The elderly Zulu woman contracted the deadly virus bathing her daughter each day without gloves.
In 2015, ITMI’s Kelly Smith shared the Good News with Mrs. Khawula, and she believed in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. In Zulu culture, denying ancestral worship to follow Jesus is a big deal, and Mrs Khawula hadn’t told anyone else about her decision.
She was scared of how they would react.
Each week, Kelly and Cherise’s daughter, Nobuhle Smith - or “Fifi” as her friends and family call her - visited Mrs. Khawula to study the Bible with her.
The Smith Family, South Africa - Fifi is on the far right.
“She was growing,” said Fifi. Mrs. Khawula’s understanding of the concepts of grace, forgiveness and the free gift of salvation were deepening as Fifi listened and discipled during her weekly visits.
Fifi and Mrs. Khawula
Mrs. Khawala worshipped regularly with the little Zulu church that the Smith family is part of. The small body of Zulu believers recently welcomed a new Zulu minister and his wife, Pastor Kaka.
Pastor Kaka and his wife were the answer to the prayers of the Smith family and their church.
With Fifi’s help, Mrs. Khawula kept her appointments at the nearest clinic for checkups, but her condition didn’t improve. Last month, the Lord called Mrs. Khawula home.
“In the Zulu culture, a funeral is a big thing,” Fifi, who has lived in the area her whole life, explains. The family fought over who would officiate it.
The Smith family helps with a Zulu funeral.
Eventually, the one relative Mrs. Khawula confided in came forward, and Pastor Kaka was allowed the honor of burying Mrs. Khawula. The Gospel was proclaimed for her relatives and friends at Mrs. Khawula’s funeral.
That was a Saturday.
The following morning, while attending worship with her church, Fifi noticed something exciting.
After many invitations from Fifi to join the group of believers on Sunday mornings, a lady from the community, who had also been at the burial the day before, was present at the gathering!
Happy to see her, Fifi approached to welcome her.
“Fifi, the reason I came was because I heard pastor Kaka preaching at the funeral,” she shared.
Meet Nobuhle “Fifi” Smith
Fifi is one of ITMI’s newest partners. As the daughter of our partners Kelly and Cherise Smith, she was already part of the ITMI family, but now she is an official partner.
Fifi grew up in Zulu Natal, where the Smiths minister. As part of the Smith family, she has been naturally training for ministry for years. She studied at a Bible School in South Africa, then returned to 7 Rivers.
Fifi’s keen understanding of the Zulu culture and language makes her an immediate asset for the mission and the Kingdom.
Kelly and Cherise have found that one of the most effective ways to reach the people in this area with the good news it is for someone to interact with other Zulu believers following and sharing Jesus.
This is part of the value Fifi brings to the people of Zulu Natal. She understands their perspectives, has the same first language, and knows how to explain the good news to them in a way that makes sense to a person with the same background.
Along with her brother, Wyatt, Fifi runs an after school soccer ministry and makes regular visits to new believers and those in need in the community.
Young women of the community who need income come to 7 Rivers Farm, where they are provided with beads grown on the property. They use the beads to create crafts that are sold for income.
Fifi leads this ministry, which begins with a Bible study.
Fifi and a friend making beaded necklaces.
We’re pleased to welcome Fifi as a partner, and eagerly await the ways the Lord will use her to reach the Zulu in South Africa with the fantastic news that the Creator of the world cares deeply and unconditionally about them.