Before You Start Reading: This bears no reference to a church in America of the same name (http://www.zionchristian.org).
South Africa is known to be a predominantly Christian country; about 70% of the population is classified as Christian. But, as with many countries, the term is used broadly. Today I will write about one of the largest denominations here in South Africa; and then show you the problems with it.
What is the ZCC?
This is about the Zion Christian Church in Southern Africa (hereafter referred to as ZCC). It was started in 1910 by Engenas Lekganyane. He was a former member of the Free Church of Scotland, Apostolic Faith Mission and Zion Apostolic Church. He allegedly had a vision from God in 1910 and founded the ZCC. It was initially based in Thabakgone in the Limpopo Province and was officially registered as a church in 1942. Today its headquarters are at Zion City in Moria, Limpopo Province. Every Easter, ZCC members flock in their thousands to Moria on a pilgrimage. Its current leaders are Barnabas Lekganyane and Saint Engenas Lekganyane, the grandsons of its founder.
The ZCC has flourished on the idea of celebrating traditional African culture and was affected by the exclusion of Black people from the main churches during Apartheid. You see, back in those days there was a lot of racial segregation and some mainstream churches would actually have churches for White people and churches for Black people (one notable rebel was Beyers Naudé, a Dutch Reformed minister who left the Broederbond and ministered in Soweto). Although its members do not express any hatred towards White people, its breakaway from the mainstream was mainly because they wanted to escape colonialism, slavery and the idea of “White Christianity”. But also, Engenas Lekganyane clashed with “White” Christian church leaders over his actions. He practiced and welcomed polygamy, which means that a man can have many wives. The ZCC also uses external symbols, especially staffs in worship and wearing robes.
But the core foundations come from a Pentecostal church in America; the Christian Catholic Church (now called Christ Community Church) founded by John Alexander Dowie, which is based in Zion, Illinois. Not a very “kosher” church! Also it was influenced by the Pentecostal missionary John G Lake, who started working in Johannesburg in 1908. Worth noting is that many Western Pentecostal branches do not include the ZCC as being Pentecostal.
John Alexander Dowie.
Who is in the ZCC?
In Southern Africa, it’s not hard to identify a ZCC member Followers proudly wear a broche on their chests; a green ribbon with a metal star, with ZCC inscribed on it. Male members will also wear a “captain” style hat with the ZCC star on it. I don’t think it is compulsory – I know ZCC members who don’t wear them – but it is very common to do so. And virtually always, the followers are Black Africans (it has nothing to do with race, but that's just what one observes. I have been told of members from other groups, though I've never observed one).
A ZCC star. Either on a "captain's hat" or on a broche (seen her).
So what’s wrong with a star?
Now, personally I don’t see the need for symbols – even the crucifix. No Christian should engage in using images. But the use of the star is a concern. You see, the five-pointed star has almost always been associated with evil. Today, the star is used in the flag of every Communist country’s flag as a symbol for Communism. In case you didn’t know, Communism was founded by a Satanist, Karl Marx, and was devised by him to deliberately be anti-Christian. Separately, the star is also used as a symbol in Freemasonry, Satanism, Paganism and Witchcraft.
My Christian brother at Christ Movement has done a video to show you that the ZCC star comes from Satanism; as the Pentagram of Baphomet is an upside-down star. But you should also know that the “not upside-down” star is also a holy symbol in Paganism and witchcraft! See the similarities.
ZCC star - Pagan Pentagram - Satanic Pentagram. See the similarities?
Why do people join the ZCC?
The main reason for the ZCC having many followers is that it combines Christianity with traditional beliefs. This is clearly a bad thing! One of the core traditional practices is the prayer to and worship of ancestors.
Luke 16:27-31 - Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Hebrews 9:27 - And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment
In other words, when you die, you will either be in Heaven or Hell; so then how can there be a spirit floating around on earth?
I have heard it said by someone who combines Christianity with ancestral beliefs; that to pray to God, they must go through Jesus – and to pray to Jesus, they must go through the ancestors. Besides the painfully obvious:
John 14:6-7 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
Throughout the Old Testament, sorcerers often claimed to make contact with the dead and this is sorcery! Sorcery is another factor in traditional beliefs; they believe in witchcraft and the ZCC offers them protection from evil, sorcery, superstitions and sickness.
What does the Bible say about sorcery, or about people trying to communicate with dead people?
Deuteronomy 18:10-12 - There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Leviticus 19:31 - Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
I have often had ZCC members write to me, angry for writing this article. Most will simply say I’m bad, but some will seek to defend the ZCC. The one thing that they always fail to do is read the above Scriptures. One member even told me that they are proud to engage in witchcraft as it makes them feel proudly African! I don’t care at all about national pride, tribal pride, or indeed any pride. One can debate from now till the end of time. But there is witchcraft in the ZCC and the Word of God calls that an abomination. Period!
Baptism is very important in the ZCC; but members may only be baptised in a river; not just any water. Baptisms are also conducted in the name of Lekganyane! (this was part of an ex-ZCC testimony, but I have heard it said that baptisms are done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost - well I sure hope so!).
Matthew 28:19 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
(In other words, do not baptise in the name of Lekganyane! Can it be any more clear?)
ZCC Calls Their Bishop Christ!
As is always the case, if you run a website about religion, I have been attacked over this. The ZCC believes their leader is Jesus Christ! I’m not referring to Jesus Christ from the Bible, but their own church leader, Lekganyane! I have had a couple of people write in to tell me that I’m lying about this. Well…
Matthew 24:24 - For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
If you watch this video, you will see a ZCC congregation sing in mantra that “Jealous Down Ramarumo” (that is, Bishop Ramarumo Lekganyane) is Christ.
Also interesting is something I found online. This is an excerpt from the website of the South African Tourism board, writing to promote the ZCC. (click here) Remember, this is a government organisation writing this! (their words are in red)
The belief that the religious and administrative leader of the church (or bishop) is a mediator between the congregation and God; that, like Christ, he can perform supernatural acts. The use of different mechanisms for faith-healing.
These include the laying-on of hands; the use of holy water; drinking of blessed tea and coffee; bloodletting with needles (now obsolete); the wearing of blessed cords or cloth and the burning of blessed papers called mogau.and faith-healing.
I can only answer this claim with Scripture:
1 Timothy 2:5 - For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
And if this is not clear enough, it is believed that Lekganyane sees every believer – only God has that power! A former member of the ZCC said that Lekganyane would show him people whom he should go and interact with by means of dreams and visions; he would get confirmation from him that he was sent by other prophets of Lekganyane. Members are also told that Lekganyane can control their minds! There are even sacrifices offered to him! I have been advised by former members that the element of mind control is rife in the ZCC.
Lekganyane. NOT CHRIST. Pictured left of Jewish Rabbi Moshe.
Followers of Pentecostal churches are big into faith healing. The Pastor will put his hand over you and either pray for healing, or try to cast out a demon. The ZCC has taken this and turned it into a seriously Pagan practice; “healing” by means of intercession with ancestral spirits (sorcery!) and “sacred tools” such as “holy sticks” (now they are heading for idolatry!). They also believe that they can heal both humans and the environment, even simultaneously.
What are their “sacred tools”?
ZCC Bishops and “Prophets” each have a staff. They are used to provide protection from evil, because they have been prayed over. They use them with faith healing. They also use flags which have been prayed over, again for protection against evil spirits; but also as a symbol of the Holy Spirit (symbol? Idolatry!) and to be placed at the houses of new members as motivation.
Just in case you need reminding that idolatry is seriously anti-Christian – just a few of the many Bible verses condemning it:
Deuteronomy 29:17 - And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:
2 Kings 17:12 - For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
Exodus 20:4 - Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Yes, they have so-called Holy Water. They call it “Blessed Water”. This is just plain sick - literally. As a part of faith healing, members are asked to drink this water. And then they must force themselves to vomit it out! They consider this to be a way of expelling their sickness from their bodies, be it physical or spiritual sickness. The water is seen to be purification from evil, sin, sickness and ritual pollution; this stems from traditional beliefs.
Holy Tea? Holy Products?
As an Englishman, we love our tea; but apparently the ZCC even has holy tea. The name varies by language; in seSotho it is “Tea ya bophelo” (tea of life). In Zulu it is “Ndhayela”. It is known as “tea without sugar”. Again, it gets drunk and, by some, vomited out. Actually, the ZCC has an entire range of products; labelled with a picture of Lekganyane. Tea, coffee, body lotion, perfume, and nobody know where or how they are made. Nor are ZCC members allowed to ask. Just shut up and buy them! I have received two sources of information, from clergy that was formerly in the ZCC, that they are made from - among other things - flesh from dead bodies! (note: this is a claim)
The ZCC considers ash to be clean and pure, and after it is prayed over, becomes an agent for healing and protecting against evil spirits. Ash is mixed with water, then it will be drunk, used in a bath or put on door posts and window frames. It is also put in the “Holy Tea”. Other substances used for healing are lime, blue stone, Epsom salts, milk and blue soap.
There are many symbols that are important within the ZCC. They have a Holy Mountain, where one feels closer to heaven. Another symbol is water, a symbol of cleansing and purification. They also have trees, stones, and candles. They also have a ‘Holy City’ (an earthly Zion) which would be Moria.
ZCC clergy often wear robes that are white (purity), blue (water), or green (vegetation); all of these symbolise group identity and the wilderness of human life. Other robe colours are khaki (dust) and red (blood of the Lamb). Star and moon-shaped ribbons or patches can sometimes be found on the back of the robes. Crosses are often worn or carried by members. ZCC members sometimes carry a bunch of sticks tied together by wool. Many men (but not all) do not shave their facial hair, so that they look more like Biblical prophets.
Gospel of What?
There are mixed ideas about what the Bible is in the ZCC. They do hold it in very high regard. But a ZCC member, for example, said that the Bible was God’s message and a map of our lives. Everything about us was revealed in the Bible. The purpose of the Bible was to teach about God and what God was saying today. Another ZCC member said that the Bible was a book that gave us ‘God’s words’. Yet another commented that the Bible was a guide of how to live. One member stated that the Bible strengthened and helped a person encountering problems. Another Zionist said that the purpose of the Bible was to teach people the word of God, and to reveal the good and the bad things in life so that people could choose for themselves how to live – boy does this sound familiar:
Genesis 3:5 - For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
ZCC members are taught how to give to the church. This comes down to forced tithing. The golden rule of thumb is: if a church pressurises or forces you to give them money, run away!
Ruled By Fear
ZCC members are bound by fear. They are led to believe that if they leave the ZCC, they will become mentally disturbed. They are told that Lekganyane has the power to control their minds because they are baptised in his name. Or, if they do something, they are told that if they tell other people, their legs will be cut off. So when a ZCC member claims to know nothing, oh they do; but they are bound by fear to keep quiet!
Since writing this article, I received some stunning testimonies. I also received messages from other followers and ex-followers alike. The pattern is the same - fear of physical intimidation or curses if and when they leave the church. To those I say:
Proverbs 26:2 - As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
Secrets and Ranks
Almost like the Freemasons, there are different levels within the ZCC. One new member was murdered because he got exposed to the secrets of the ZCC by accident!
(note: this next paragraph is alleged)
The “captain” rank is the one where you get exposed to human flesh sacrifices to Lekganyane, which are given in his sanctuary at Mount Moria. It is claimed that those who are in the know will use secret codes. When referring to “seeds” they are referring to human body part sacrifices. This new ZCC member, who was accidentally in the presence of captains, didn’t know this, so collected real seeds as “crops”. He entered the private room with a group of captains and they opened their bags of “seeds” to offer sacrifices to Legkanyane. The new member’s bag had normal seeds in it. When they made him open his bag, they immediately knew he wasn’t a captain, and could possibly expose their secrets because he didn’t follow the procedure to reach their level; so they killed him!
The sacrifice of human flesh may seem like hogwash. But it does happen in Africa. It is referred to as “muti”. Obviously it is illegal, and people of traditional beliefs are supposed to use herbs instead; at worst animal body parts. But those who truly believe in it want “the real thing” which is human body parts. For example, for someone to have a high-powered job and lots of money, they will bury a hand under their house’s entrance “for good luck”. They would say in their defense that the bodies were already dead; but often people have been murdered for their body parts. It is a real problem in Africa!
Here we have yet another example of why you cannot just assume that an organisation which claims Christianity is automatically Christian. While the ZCC claims Christianity, it is anything but! Its founder and leader is worshipped as a god and mediator, sometimes with dire consequences. Its members are subjected to sick rituals and “medicines” in a bid to “heal” them. It has levels of knowledge within the ZCC which are similar to the Freemasons. It is rife with idolatry, sorcery and witchcraft. It claims to worship God and His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and to use the Bible – yet its level of paganism, in the form of “traditional beliefs” would even make regular pagans look decent.
Friends, we have another false church in our midst! Beware! And if you know anybody in this Satanic organisation, GET THEM OUT!
Sources (in case anyone gets funny about the information, which is freely available elsewhere via other sources):
Information of foundation
Information regarding setup, beliefs, practices
Extra Source (I didn't use this; what has happened, the source page regarding extra information, as well as regarding incidents, has been removed. I cannot possibly have a broken link in this case; I am honest, I take 1 Thessalonians 5:21 extremely seriously, and would even have removed certain info if there were no longer a source available. But I see that on this particular link - which as of 3 January 2013 definitely works - has extra information, plus the said testimony of ex-ZCC Pastor NJ Sithole. Satan almost got me there, but the information lives on via Yahoo!)
Also read: Who Was Engenas Lekganyane? by Barry Morton, UNISA - who kindly asked me to publish his very detailed article about the life, and conflicting accounts, of Engenas Lekganyane's life.
EXTERNAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
There is not much information available on the ZCC. When I first wrote the article in 2011, there was only one other I could find, as well as the NJ Sithole testimony. There are more resources available now, which I list below for you to get further information. Don’t just read what I wrote and believe it – see for yourself the information and testimonies of other people!
Therismos Kairos Mission – They have lots of detailed information (click here)
Youtube Videos – Courtesy of Christ Movement on Youtube. I have been assured by them that there will be more videos to follow, but for now there are five:
ZCC Worship of the Cow
ZCC Believes Their Bishop Is Christ
ZCC – Explanation of the Badge and Uniform
ZCC - ZCC Places Their Bishop as the Mediator on Wikipedia
ZCC Exposed (former member)
ZCC Spiritual Dancing
ZCC - Christianity or Cult?
Facebook – Here is a group you may join, where Christians who were ZCC debate with current ZCC members: Born Agains vs ZCC Lekganyane
24 June 2012 - Mercy
22 September 2012 - Mokgadi
17 December 2012 - Margaret
5 March 2013 - External