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Mahlatji, Josias
1937 to 2008
Church of the Nazarene
South Africa

Rev. Tseke Josias Mahlatji was born on October 12, 1937 and grew up at Marake near The Heights, high in the Drakensberg Mountains. He was the fifth child of Tabudi Jack and Ramaesela Mhlamo Mahlatji. He attended school at The Heights and in 1954 found the Lord in the Nazarene Church there on the farm.

Hearing God's call to the ministry in 1956 he enrolled in the Swaziland Nazarene Bible College. He completed the ministerial course there in 1959 and began pastoring the Mabins, Lepelle and Strassburg Churches.

In August 1958, while he was home for the winter break, he helped in evangelistic campaigns. One night he told how some of his nonChristian friends taunted him asking him if he belonged to the white man's church now. His reply was, "No, I belong to God's church", and he took the opportunity to witness to them. [1]

He married Miss Orphina Moyele on September 9, 1961.They first pastored at Botšwana and Lorraine. While living at Lorraine in 1962 Mahlatji began serving the Calais and Metz Churches. In 1963 They moved to Botšwana and began serving the Botšwana, Lepelle and The Oaks Churches. He was ordained by Dr V. H. Lewis in 1969 at Thabeng. Mahlatji started the London Church in 1970. In 1977 Orphina became pastor of Botšwana, where they lived, while he continued with The Oaks and London Churches.

In 1977 Josias Mahlatji wrote, "Modern vehicles such as motorcycles are held together with steel. That is their self-discipline. Without it they are dangerous. A Christian too needs the steel of self-control in order to live for God and be a blessing to others and not a danger." [2]

In 1987 the London congregation, under his guidance, was the first on the district to build a permanent church building entirely on their own without any outside help. They provided a goat, a sheep and a cow along with maize meal for a great feast to celebrate its dedication. [3]

For many years he travelled long distances by bicycle until he was able to get a car. In later years he used bus or taxi service. The Mahlatjis were enabled to build a nice home for their retirement on a lot adjoining the church at Botšwana and they praised the Lord for His help in this.

Rev. Mahlatji's mother passed away on 13 April 1999. She was 95 years of age. Most of the pastors on the district attended the funeral and it became a blessing when they shared the word of God with a large number of people who spent the night before the funeral at the Mahlatji home. [4]

Shortly before he passed away Rev Mahlatji wrote a brief account of his life and closed it by praising God for His help and blessing and quoted Acts 1:8, "But 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."[5]

Rev. Josias Mahlatji passed away after a prolonged illness on 29 March 2008. He was survived by his wife, Orphina, four children, eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Their son Peter gave a tribute to his father at the funeral: "Thank God for having blessed us by giving us a father who knew God. He taught us to trust God. Thank God for my Mom who nursed him in his final illness. Shortly before the end he gave us his blessing: 'Trust God in everything, my children. Mother, trust God in everything. He will lift your head. Be like David after the death of his child. He washed, changed his clothes and worshipped God and then went home and ate.'" [6]

Paul S. Dayhoff



Notes:

1. Paul and Margaret Dayhoff, Prayer letter, The Downs, August 1958.
2. Rev. T. J. Mahlatji, "The Sin of Lacking Self-discipline", Lebone la Kgalalelo (The Lamp of Holiness), Pedi/Sotho/Tswana magazine of the Church of the Nazarene in South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, July-September 1977),3.
3. Trans African, (Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, May-June 1987),12.
4. Calvin Maenetja, letter of 26 April 1999 from Thabeng Mission.
5. Josias Mahlatji, Handwritten sketch of his life in Pedi.
6. Obituary sent by Dr. Enoch Litswele.



This article is reproduced, with permission, from the updated manuscript of Living Stones In Africa: Pioneers of the Church of the Nazarene, revised edition, copyright © 1999, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.