Bheki Bembe is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Bible Church in Olieven, a township of Centurion on the northern side of Johannesburg. For years, Bheki has sacrificially served his church while also maintaining a successful career in business management. Like his friend, Chris Mnguni, Bheki is a leader in the growing wave of township church-planters laboring to build biblical churches on the strong foundation of the true gospel and sound doctrine.
Testimony of Salvation
I was born in a non-Christian home, but a Christianized home. In that I mean that the family was aware of the existence of God and consequently they would encourage us to go to church, and they would hold to a few Christian ethics. My belief system was very confusing, to the point that I ended up not knowing the reason why I should believe, although I continued to be a church person without Christ.
Later on in life, I found myself being a leader in the New Apostolic Church and, sadly, I planted a ‘church’ in my hometown. But soon after this, I left to the big city to find a job, and I was again living in my sins openly. The year was 2001 when the Lord spoke to me through a Christian friend which I met at my new place of work. I was very religious-minded and stubborn, but the man kept on bothering me about Jesus. I ignored him for almost a year, avoiding him and making excuses not to be on lunch time with him.
It was towards the end of that year when the friend finally got me to come to church with him. There I heard the gospel preached but I was not convicted still. Three days later, I was alone in my own room trying to read the Bible, looking for ammunition to fight against the friend who was bothering with his religion as he continued to speak about salvation. I remember I was reading the gospel according to John. There my heart was opened – I did not find ammunition but I found the truth. The message was very simple and straight to the heart “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This really bothered me. I could not find rest within my soul because, deep within, I knew I was not born again, whatever that meant.
I became very distressed because the words could not leave my mind. I tried hard to blow it out of my mind or suppress such truth, but I could not. I felt guilty and did not understand, so I decided to call the friend but he was not available. Finally I went before my bed and prayed to the Lord to take away my guilt. Funny enough, I did not recognize or acknowledge that I was a sinner and needed to ask for forgiveness. I finished that short prayer but I felt no different – I was still feeling guilty of something. I ended up saying “Lord I am sorry” and stopped there – I could not say anything more. I kept my eyes closed for a few minutes, speaking within my own heart. There I saw my need for a Savior because I could not take away my own guilt. Suddenly it was like something was lifted up from my shoulders. Then I prayed a bit more. I don’t remember much of what I said but I know it was a lot of repetitious apologies.
Finally I got hold of my friend and told him of my experience. He was so happy, as though he was the one who just got his sins forgiven! I learned from his joy that I should also rejoice. I began my Christian journey with him and later on I became a member of the church.
Call to Ministry
It was later on in my Christian walk when I began teaching in home groups and it was very encouraging. I loved studying the word and teaching others. The pastor suggested that I think of going to a theological seminary because apparently he sensed that I would be a good preacher, but I turned him down since that was never in my heart. It was a year later, while serving in the church as an elder and having more opportunities to preach and counsel others, when I began to realize that I loved preaching and wanted to be a preacher.
I consulted the pastor for advice. I began my theological studies and grew in the Lord. When I finished my three years I served in the church for a year and then was sent out to plant a church. Eventually doctrinal conflicts developed between us, and though I planted the church, I was soon forced to leave the domination and the church plant. I joined Bethany Baptist Church, which I found to be of the same doctrinal convictions as mine (Reformed). Later I felt a deep desire to plant a biblical church. Today my desire is even greater than that. I want to see more biblical churches planted in our townships – I want to see churches planting churches. My great prayer is that I serve Him in my own generation. I pray that I may be among the few who lay the foundation in our townships.