Bernard Mizeki: one story of God’s unique call and gifting

Bernard Mizeki.jpegI first came across the compelling story of Bernard Mizeki in Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrom’s outstanding book, Clouds of Witnesses: Christian Voices from Africa and Asia.

Born in Inhambane, Mozambique, in 1861, Bernard Mizeki trained as a linguist while living as a migrant worker in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1891, at thirty years of age, he was recruited as a teacher and missionary for the new Anglican diocese of Mashonaland in present day Zimbabwe by George Knight-Bruce, an Anglican bishop and pioneer missionary in Southern Africa.

Using his natural abilities and spiritual gifts, Mizeki translated much of the Bible and Prayer Book into the local languages. With his own experiences in traditional religions, he was able to explain the good news of Jesus Christ through terms the Shona people could understand, leading many to a deeper understanding level of discipleship with Jesus.

During the war of resistance to colonialism in 1896, Mizeki refused to leave his mission and was stabbed to death. He is remembered as the “Mashonaland martyr.”[1]

It was Mizeki’s unique gifts and abilities, his unique creation and experiences, that God took within His hands for the sake of the Gospel, even as it cost Mizeki his life.

We, too, are created uniquely by God, with abilities and talents, experiences and gifts, that God has knit into our lives by His sovereign grace since before we were born.


[1] “Mizeki, Bernard,” Dictionary of African Christian Biography, https://dacb.org/stories/zimbabwe/mizeki-bernard/ & https://dacb.org/stories/zimbabwe/mizeki-bernard2/.

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