George Bizos – the Refugee who helped build South Africa

Xenophobic violence in South Africa (pic. from Rand Daily Mail)
Xenophobic violence in South Africa (pic. from Rand Daily Mail)

With further news of attacks on foreigners, and increasing numbers of foreigners being displaced in South Africa, I am reposting this article/review in the hopes that it will stir us to protect those who are South Africa’s guests. News reports today said that around 360 Malawians are stranded in South Africa having lost their homes and possessions including their passports. Thousands of foreigners are presently in transit camps.

George Bizos' stunning autobiography, 'Odyssey to Freedom'
George Bizos’ autobiography, ‘Odyssey to Freedom’

George Bizos’ story is one of courage and tolerance and teaches us to value South Africa’s guests. He arrived as a refugee and went on to become Nelson Mandela’s famous lawyer; a true nation-builder.

Click here for the story

©2015 Lex Loizides / Church History Review



Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town!

John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
Good News for Cape Town!
It is with great joy that we were able to host the visit to Cape Town of Professor John Lennox and Michael Ramsden.
Professor Lennox is a highly respected academic from Oxford University who has debated Richard Dawkins on three occasions and who regularly receives invitations to speak on matters of faith at leading academic institutions. Michael Ramsden is the European Director of RZIM and a much sought after speaker to business leaders as well as on university campuses.
Lex Loizides
(On behalf of Jubilee and RZIM)
To hear John on Jo’burg’s Talk Radio click here. This is a brilliant example of how to answer questions intelligently, in a confident and winsome manner.
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof John Lennox and Michael Ramsden in Cape Town
Prof Lennox and Michael Ramsden fielded tough questions at Jubilee in Cape Town.

Tuesday 12th 

University of Cape Town Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture
Professor John Lennox
‘A Matter of Gravity – God, the Universe and Stephen Hawking’
This event was oversubscribed.
See the VIDEO here which includes VC Max Price’s excellent introduction.
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor's Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town
Prof John Lennox delivers the Vice Chancellor’s Open Lecture at The University of Cape Town

Wednesday 13th

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Has science buried God?’
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox speaks in Observatory, Cape Town
Engaging Hearts and Minds 1 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Thursday 14th 

1.00pm – 1.45pm
Lunchtime: UCT Mission with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Christianity and the tooth fairy!’
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa's top high schools
Prof John Lennox also spoke at one of South Africa’s top high schools
Engaging Hearts and Minds 2 – John Lennox
Followed by Q&A
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town

Friday 15th

Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
Prof John Lennox speaks to students at the University of Stellenbosch
John Lennox speaking at Stellenbosch University
1.00pm – 1.45pm
UCT Mission: Michael Ramsden
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
Michael Ramsden addresses students at the University of Cape Town
‘Michael in the Lions Den’ – Q&A
 For more info: Open Secret
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael Ramsden speaks to students after his lecture at UCT
Michael also spoke brilliantly at a business leader’s dinner in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town.
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
John Lennox and Michael Ramsden will address business leaders in Cape Town
Business Leader’s Dinner with John Lennox and Michael Ramsden
‘Truth and Trust in Life and Leadership’
Moyo Restaurant, Kirstenbosch Gardens
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa
Professor John Lennox will be speaking at Jubilee Community Church, Cape Town, South Africa, Sun March 17, 2013

Recordings of John Lennox speaking in Cape Town

John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
John Lennox speaking in Cape Town
Jubilee Community Church
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
8.00am & 10.00am 
114 3rd Avenue, Kenilworth
City Wide Celebration  – John Lennox
Venue: Jubilee Centre, 21 Nelson Road, Observatory, Cape Town
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London
John Lennox at the Houses of Parliament, London (Photo: Bible Society/Clare Kendall)
You can also listen to John Lennox addressing a Prayer Breakfast at the UK Houses of Parliament here
John Lennox
John Lennox

Prof. John Lennox

John Lennox is a highly respected Oxford University Professor with formidable academic credentials. He is Professor of Mathematics, Oxford University, Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford.
Along with a razor sharp wit, John has a sincere care for those who are genuinely troubled with questions or objections concerning the truthfulness of the Christian Faith.
He has successfully debated Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (both high profile atheists), and has spoken to large audiences at Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities. This is his first visit to Cape Town.
John will be delivering the highly acclaimed Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture at UCT for the first time this year as well as several non-academic talks which will be inspiring, and challenging.
Our non church-going friends will be intrigued to listen to, and ask questions of, one of the finest intellectual minds in the church today. All the meetings will be relevant to those who are not convinced of the truth of Christianity.
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden
Apologist and Evangelist Michael Ramsden

Michael Ramsden

Michael has been European Director of RZIM Zacharias Trust since its foundation in 1997. He is also Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and Lecturer in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
While at Sheffield University doing research in Law and Economics, Michael taught Moral Philosophy and lectured for the International Seminar on Jurisprudence and Human Rights in Strasbourg.
He has been invited to lecture to a variety of groups including the White House staff in Washington, D.C., leaders at NATO HQ in Brussels and Members of the European Parliament.

Remember the Poor by Simon Pettit

Remember the Poor

Simon Pettit

[Scroll down for the video]
At an international leader’s conference hosted in the UK in 1998 an unsuspecting church-planting network of churches was about to undergo a powerful and lasting shift.

It was a moment that has left a younger generation of leaders impacted and inspired. One writing to me said, ‘I wasn’t there to hear Simon’s sermon, but I sometimes feel like I was; such is the ongoing legacy of that one message.’

It was a sermon that re-focussed the outreach of the Newfrontiers family of churches, and has generated conferences, think tanks, and a myriad of local church initiatives across the world.

It effectively united so-called ‘social ministries’ to the apostolic and evangelistic priority of a church-planting movement.

Simon Pettit preaching in Blantyre, Malawi

Simon Pettit and his family left England in 1990 for Cape Town, South Africa to lead the team at Jubilee Community Church. He served in South Africa and Africa for 15 years, before his sudden death from a heart attack in 2005.

This message comes from those years of living and learning in a context of contrasting wealth and poverty. He quickly realised that the church cannot merely preach a message of hope but must directly engage with the needs of the poor.

Simon’s legacy is not confined to one church, of course, but to the whole family of Newfrontiers churches. However, the multi-racial Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, the local church where he learnt and taught, and which has continued to remember the poor in many ways, remains his ministry’s legacy.

Many of us still share the pain of losing Simon, not only in Jubilee, and South Africa, but also in Africa and in many other parts of the world. We feel Simon’s sudden departure was the loss of a genuine father in the faith.

I hope the inclusion of this message will stir you to ‘remember the poor’ where you are.
You won’t regret watching the video below.


For audio you can listen or download here

Simon joking around just before speaking at City of God Church, Accra, Ghana

PS. Some, while not doubting the need to serve the poor, questioned whether Simon’s exegesis of Gal 2:10 was correct. Did the apostles in Jerusalem intend a general care for the poor or were they only referring to the poor in Jerusalem? A fine answer has been given to that question here.
© 2012/2018 Lex Loizides / Church History Review

Serving Africa

Samuel Daniell's painting of the Khoikhoi, 1805

Early resistance in the Cape

It would be an obvious mistake to portray European involvement in Africa as entirely benevolent. But not all Europeans moving to Africa were baddies.

Likewise it would be false to give the impression that the communication of the Christian gospel was always welcomed as an ally to colonial interests. We must learn to separate European and colonial agendas in Africa from specifically Christian ones.

But even the ‘Christians’ hindered the impulse to serve local people. Sometimes settled European communities were extremely nervous about the Christianisation of Africans.

For example, Jonathan Hildebrandt, in his ‘History of the Church in Africa’, tells how the Dutch made the evangelisation of local people in the Cape practically impossible. Moravian missionaries were successfully building relationships, sharing the gospel and baptising new converts, but were very deliberately stopped.

The Moravian missionary George Schmidt baptised several Khoikhoi believers but this drew resistance from the Dutch church in the Cape.

‘They made a complaint in Cape Town that Schmidt had conducted the baptisms incorrectly and so should not be allowed to continue working in that area.

‘The Dutch made the work so difficult that Schmidt was forced to leave for Europe in 1744. He tried to return to South Africa to continue the work, but the Dutch would not permit it.

‘So the missionary work among the [Khoikhoi] came to an end. It was fifty years before another missionary came to work with these people.’[i]

Those who did return were Moravian (German) missionaries who were so successful that a church facility able to hold 1000 worshipers from amongst the Khoikhoi was built. By 1810 an established Khoikhoi Christian community was thriving.

The struggle to bring the gospel to modern Africa was tangible from the earliest era of the modern missionary movement.

This was also true of attempts to bring the gospel into central Africa, with disease and violent opposition as standard trials for those who came.

But more of that next time…

© 2011 Church History / Lex Loizides

[i] Jonathan Hildebrandt, History of the Church in Africa, Africa Christian Press, Ghana, p.71

A Colonial-Era European still Honoured in Africa

Biography of David Livingstone, Missionary to Africa

Honouring Africa

Livingstone’s fascination and admiration was not only for the land but the people of Africa. And he seems to have received genuine respect from those he was seeking to serve.

Alvyn Austen writes, ‘Livingstone treated his hosts with decorum. Tribes usually reciprocated by treating him like a visiting dignitary. ‘Africans are not by any means unreasonable,’ he wrote. ‘I think unreasonableness is more a heredity disease in Europe.’[i]

He lived among, learnt from and suffered alongside Africans. When white farmers attacked the Bakwain tribe they also completely plundered Livingstone’s house, taking all his belongings. Their loss was also his loss.

This kind of identification with the African people has won a lasting place of affection for Livingstone in many African hearts.

An American Journalist’s Dream

When rumours spread that Livingstone had died trying to find the source of the Nile, Henry Stanley, an American journalist successfully hunted him down. When they met at Lake Tanganyika and Stanley uttered the now famous words, ‘Livingstone, I presume?’ he was an old, 60 years of age, weakened by disease.  Stanley tried to convince Livingstone to return to Europe but he refused.  In May 1873, while kneeling by his bed in prayer, he died.

Alvyn Austen continues, ‘His African friends, former slaves he had freed, buried his heart under an Mpundu tree 70 miles from the shore of Lake Bangweulu. Then they carried his body back to his own people, an 11-month journey through equatorial jungle and open seas.

All Britain wept. The … world wept. They gave him a 21-gun salute and a hero’s funeral among the saints in Westminster Abbey.’

Honoured by Africa

‘Today, at a time when countries are being renamed and statues are being toppled, Livingstone has not fallen. Despite modern Africans’ animosity toward other Europeans, such as Cecil Rhodes, Livingstone endures as a heroic legend.

Rhodesia has long since purged its name, but the cities of Livingstone (Zambia) and Livingstonia (Malawi) keep the explorer’s appellation with pride.

Furthermore, the [commercial] capital of Malawi, Blantyre, was named for Livingstone’s birthplace.  And Livingstone’s massive bronze statue still points to the world’s largest waterfall, Victoria Falls.’ [ii]

Livingstone, more a discoverer than a missionary, probably did more to introduce the continent of Africa to European readers than anyone of his generation.

For the first part of the Livingstone story click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

[i] Christian History magazine, 1997, See here for more

[ii] ibid

Audio Message of the Month Terry Virgo

The Qualities of a Christian Leader – Terry Virgo

Terry Virgo

Terry Virgo is one of the great Bible teachers of our generation. His influence has gone far beyond the local church he pioneered in Brighton, England.

His ministry has resulted in literally hundreds of churches being planted and cared for in many nations.

Arguably the British successor to Martyn Lloyd-Jones as a passionate and authoritative expository preacher, Terry has championed the life of God in the local church in the context of global mission.

This powerful and touching message was preached in 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa on the occasion of the appointment of three new elders in Jubilee Community Church.


Click here for the link

For the work of Newfrontiers, the family of churches led by Terry’s team, click here

To read about how 18th century church leader Jonathan Edwards would have been helped by having an Eldership Team click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

Up Close and Personal with Nelson Mandela’s Defence Lawyer

George Bizos' stunning autobiography, 'Odyssey to Freedom'

‘Early in the afternoon of 11 July 1963, a fine winter’s day, the telephone rang in my chambers.

‘I heard a coin drop into the call box and then the muffled voice of Harold Wolpe. He named a corner in the city centre and asked me to meet him there.
‘Our meeting place was outside a bookshop and I found him staring intently into the window at the books on display.

‘He didn’t turn round when I greeted him but pointed at a book.

‘We stood side by side, facing away from the pedestrians while he whispered that the leadership of the ANC had been arrested at its Rivonia headquarters and that he was going into hiding.

‘He handed me a file, asked me to find some excuse for his absence from court, and to report what had happened to his brother-in-law and partner, James Kantor.

‘I was not to see Wolpe again until he returned from exile almost thirty years later.’ (p.204)

In his autobiography ‘Odyssey to Freedom’, Nelson Mandela’s defence lawyer takes us on a journey on the inside of the legal processes and secret ANC meetings that ultimately led to democracy in South Africa. It is a tremendous story of how one modern day ‘Daniel’ helped influence a nation towards freedom.

Full the full book review and article on xenophobia, and how we, as Christians, should regard foreigners in our home countries click here

© 2011 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides

The Missional Impact of an Outpouring of the Spirit

What results should we expect to see from a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel
Count Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader, preaches the gospel

In Scripture we see a definite link between believers receiving the power of the Spirit and an increased boldness and desire to communicate the faith with others.

This is evident in many places. In Acts 1:8, just prior to His ascension, Jesus tells his followers, ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ First the experience of God’s power, Second, an evangelistic community.

We see this again in Acts 4:30-31. Note what they prayed:

‘Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ (v.30)

And see the response of God to their prayer, and their subsequent behaviour:

‘After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.’ (v.31)

It is therefore, not surprising that we see this Scriptural pattern repeated in church history.

The Moravian community had experienced a ‘Pentecost’, ‘an overwhelming flood of divine grace’, as Zinzendorf had described it. Let’s see what happened next!

Their zeal for unreached peoples
As a result of the grace of God on this amazing group of believers they began sending out church planters long before William Carey (often called ‘the father of modern missions’) went to India in 1793.

Their first conference on world missions was held in 1728.  They were already involved in several countries because they had either been driven out of them or had fled into them for safety.  Nevertheless on January 4th 1728 (not even five months after their ‘Pentecost’) they began to intentionally plan to reach un-evangelised nations.

Moravian Historian Bost writes,
‘This first missionary meeting was celebrated by meditations on different portions of scripture, and fervent prayers; in the midst of which the church experienced a remarkable enjoyment of the presence of the Spirit.

The Brethren felt themselves urged to attempt something that might redound to the glory of the Lord; several distant countries were mentioned, and particularly Turkey, Northern Africa, Greenland and Lapland…They were thus inspired with great courage and disposed to hold themselves in readiness to engage in the sacred enterprise whenever the Lord should give the signal.’ (A Bost – History of the Moravians, London 1862, Religious Tract Society p.246)

The Moravians then went on to plant churches in the Virgin Islands (1732), Greenland (1733) – they saw a revival there in 1738 when hundreds of Eskimos were converted, North America (1734), Lapland and South America (1735), South Africa (1736), Jamaica (1754) and Labrador (1771).

Challenged yet? Inspired? Next time we’ll look at how they achieved this…

© 2009 Lex Loizides

John Calvin and Church Planting


We have seen how John Calvin was not passive about the Great Commission.

Calvin  commissioned four church planters to go and preach the gospel to the Indians in Brazil (Ruth Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, p. 67). Yep, that’s right! John Calvin!

As Luther and other Reformers were struggling to establish the rediscovered truths of Scripture in heir own nations, Calvin was propelled into mission.

From exile in Geneva, he sent over 100 church planters to France. In fact, on the basis of his outreach to France, one could argue for Calvin as a genuinely apostolic church planter. In 1555 he planted his first Church in Poitiers.

Over the next 7 years there were 1,750 ‘Calvinist’ Churches planted in France. Not only were Calvin’s hundred there, but others were raised up to lead this new church movement.

The Protestant population increased rapidly! Loraine Boettner, in an article called ‘Calvinism in History: Calvinism in France’, writes:

‘So rapidly did Calvinism spread throughout France that Fisher in his History of the Reformation tells us that in 1561 the Calvinists numbered one-fourth of the entire population. McFetridge places the number even higher. ‘In less than half a century,’ says he, ‘this so-called harsh system of belief had penetrated every part of the land, and had gained to its standards almost one-half of the population and almost every great mind in the nation. So numerous and powerful had its adherents become that for a time it appeared as if the entire nation would be swept over to their views.’ [Nathanial McFetridge, Calvinism in History, p. 144]

Smiles, in his ‘Huguenots in France,’ writes: ‘It is curious to speculate on the influence which the religion of Calvin, himself a Frenchman, might have exercised on the history of France, as well as on the individual character of the Frenchman, had the balance of forces carried the nation bodily over to Protestantism, as was very nearly the case, toward the end of the sixteenth century,’ (Samuel Smiles, Huguenots in France, p. 100).

Not only Calvin, but many others spurred on to mission

A very large number of the 18th and 19th Century pioneering missionaries considered themselves to be ‘Calvinists’.  As we read their biographies we find that it was often their belief that God was Sovereign and had already planned to save many that enabled them to press through the most disheartening circumstances and discouragements.

These missionary heroes did not give up until the Christian faith was securely planted in other lands.
For example, William Carey (to India), David Brainerd (to the native Americans), John Elliot, Henry Martyn, Alexander Duff, Robert and Mary Moffat (to South Africa), J. Hudson Taylor (to China). The list goes on.

John Calvin, speaking of the gospel, said in 1536:

“Our doctrine must stand sublime above all the glory of the world, and invincible by all its power, because it is not ours, but that of the Living God and His Anointed, whom the Father has appointed king that He may rule from sea to shining sea, and from the rivers even to the ends of the earth.”

Read John Calvin’s Private Correspondence to other Reformers

© 2009 Lex Loizides