PATRICK Mzamo, the father of the Rev. Petros Mzamo, was one of a number of the Fingo tribe who accepted Cecil Rhodes’s invitation to leave their homes in the Transkei, South Africa, and settle a thousand miles further north in Matabeleland (in what is now Zimbabwe), where the British had taken control. Rhodes was an astute politician who believed that the Fingoes were friendly towards the British and might have a stabilizing effect on the political situation in Matabeleland. Some of the Fingoes who accepted the invitation to Matabeleland were sincere Christians, and all had some education.
Patrick Mzamo is referred to in one of Rev. John B. Radasi’s letters to a friend in Scotland as being the preacher at Koco, a small preaching station about six miles from Ingwenya. He was one of the first of those Fingo Christian men who joined Mr Radasi, probably in 1907, in his work as the first missionary of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Mr Radasi said of those Fingo preachers, “I have known them for a long time, and believe them to be good men, and think they will be a great help to me. I shall now be able to go and preach to outside places.” Patrick Mzamo, said Mr Radasi, was “a man powerful in prayer, and a greatly-exercised Christian, who knows the plague of his own heart.” He was tall and spare in frame and of a very serious expression, but when greeting the people of the Church, he had a warm smile and friendly manner. The number of people coming to the services at Koco increased so much that by 1913 a larger meeting house had to be built.
On many occasions, when missionaries Rev. John Tallach and Rev. Dr R. MacDonald were holding communion season services at one of the outstations, Patrick Mzamo would be asked to conduct the services at Ingwenya. In his opening prayer he would begin by pleading for the help of the Holy Spirit, saying in a most reverential manner, “Make haste, Thou Holy Spirit, make haste!” The service was always short, lasting sometimes for only forty minutes. The content of his address was always of a serious nature, his manner of presenting it was lively and arresting, and the congregation listened attentively. After the service Patrick left the church by a door near the pulpit and could be seen, by anyone who was observant, going out of sight among the bushes some distance from the church. It was discovered that he was going away to pray in private for the blessing of the Lord on the Word preached. He would then mingle with the dispersing people and greet them warmly.
In a letter written in 1938, Rev. John Tallach recalls hearing Patrick give an address. “To begin with,” wrote Mr Tallach, “he drew a solemn picture of the state of the unconverted, caught in the rushing stream of time, and by it carried away to eternity. The force of the river, the helplessness of those being carried away, with hell waiting a little way down the river to receive them, were descriptions made real by the downright earnestness of the speaker.
“Over against this sad and tremendous truth he placed the church of Christ and its living members. These living ones are to be used by the Holy Spirit for the saving of the lost, and they are the only hope for those lost, helpless ones being rescued. He called them soldiers’, and they are placed in a line along the river bank with the great duty of living dangerously to save the lost. As he spoke of this army, the church, and what the Holy Spirit could do through it, one felt that the case of the people in the river was not so hopeless after all.
“There was a pause, then slowly and deliberately he proceeded: Soldiers, yes, but what would be the use of them if they were lying down like dead persons. You can call them soldiers only when you see them at the river’s bank, amidst stress and danger, seeking the salvation of the lost in the river. I grant that they are believers and that they will themselves never be lost. I grant that they wear the uniform of the King, and that they look well fed and strong, but we cannot call them soldiers until we see them doing the work of soldiers. We have the cries of these lost ones in our ears, yet we live as if there were no river, no lost ones being swept away, no hell, and as if it was not written in the Bible that we have this great duty to perform. And why will we not do our duty? Why can we not do our duty? Just because we are lacking in the power of the Holy Spirit. We need more of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
” ‘Our duty is down there in the low ground where the swift river flows, but we can never do our duty until we visit the high ground first. Let us go to the hill, to Calvary! Come with me as individuals, come with me as a church, let us go to Calvary, there to plead on the ground of Christ’s death and resurrection for the giving of the promised Holy Spirit. One great reason why Christ keeps His church in the world is that it may be the means of saving the lost. But we, as part of His church, cannot be the means without the Holy Spirit. Without Him we are but dead carcases, although wearing the uniform of the Prince of Life’.”
Patrick Mzamo was himself a man of prayer. In 1940, during the Second World War, Mrs Nicolson of the Ingwenya congregation was on board a ship which was captured by the Germans and was missing for several months. There was anxiety among the people of the Mission when they heard of it. In the goodness of the Most High she was preserved and arrived safely at Ingwenya. Patrick came to welcome her. Before greeting her he fell on his knees and gave thanks to God for keeping her and bringing her back safely. He then rose, shook her hand and gave her a warm welcome.
As a godly man and an elder of the Church, Patrick Mzamo had a real and deep concern for the young people of the congregation, knowing the temptations that surrounded them in their heathen homes. On the other hand, he expressed his anxiety lest any of them should make a profession of faith before being truly converted. When he became an old man, he was more and more concerned for our Church, in what was then Rhodesia, on account of the loss by death of a number of godly old elders, men of outstanding character, within the space of a few years. In addition, a few good men had left Ingwenya district to take up small farms elsewhere. The younger men who remained were, of course, less experienced. On one occasion some of the younger men proposed a certain man for the office of elder in the congregation. Mr Mzamo, who knew the man well and had little confidence in him, was opposed to the nomination. His clear discernment was confirmed, for the man soon showed that he was unsuitable for office.
Patrick Mzamo was a man who both lived near to the Lord and had a true sense of the divine holiness and sovereignty. There was a very sad occasion at Ingwenya when the Head Teacher, Mr Paul Hlazo, and his wife lost their little daughter by death. To their great sorrow they had already lost some of their little children. Although their beautiful little girl was healthy and strong she also took ill and died – in spite of having received medical attention.
A large number of the people of the community came to the funeral. The heathen came to show that they had nothing to do with the tragedy; Christian people came to show their sympathy, but they also wondered why such a sad providence should overtake Paul and his wife. Rev John Tallach spoke briefly at the funeral, and then he asked Patrick Mzamo to speak, as he was a relative of the mourning family. Patrick began, “When the Lord takes away a heathen man, the angels veil their faces and say, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy!’. When the Lord takes away a Christian man, the angels veil their faces and say, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy!’. And when the Lord takes away a child that is the apple of the parents’ eye, the angels veil their faces and say, ‘Holy! Holy! Holy!'” That was all he said. No doubt his words were an answer to those who questioned the wisdom of the Most High, and were helpful to the mourning ones who were seeking to acquiesce in the will of the Lord.
It was on Sabbath, 26th February, 1950, that the Lord took away this faithful labourer in His cause to be with Himself. Patrick Mzamo finished his course at a great age and entered into the rest which remains for the people of God. His passing away made a great blank in the ranks of the Lord’s people on the mission field. “The memory of the just is blessed.”