His People Name Change: it has been changing

On my right leg I have a mean looking scar. I was scarred on the day news of Pastor Paul Daniel’s resignation as pastor and president of His People Church were officially announced to all the members of the church. I was not there. On that day, perhaps during those same hours, I was bitten by a vicious dog. It leapt from behind the walls of a house and it bit me. How it was able to jump that high, nobody knew. The owners were apologetic. They said it had never done that before. It was an evil day. I was beyond upset. Why did bad things happen to Christians I wondered? I stood in the cold waiting for a lift that would take me to hospital, who knows if the dog had rabies? I spent what felt like hours contemplating why bad things happened to Christians. I found solace in the apostle Paul who was beaten many times, shipwrecked, imprisoned, at times he thought he was going to die and yet, he was more than a conquer in Christ Jesus. The day was cold. The clouds were beyond gloomy. I wondered, what is going on? It was a day I wished had never existed. The Biblical Apostle Paul had provided me with perspective though the cloud of evil would not lift. If such tragedies befell a devoted follower of Christ such as the Apostle Paul, why should I escape?

I arrived late at night where I was staying in Rondebosch. “So? What was the announcement at church about?” Louisa feared to share the announcement with me particularly upon learning of the extraordinary events I had already suffered. She believed that I would be crushed. Naturally, it seemed as though everyone was already knocked hard by the news. Reluctantly, Louisa shared the news with me and for the first time, my day from hell made sense. I responded with a sense of relief: “Ah, now I understand what was going on today!” My soul had been in turmoil for at least 12 hours. Nothing was easy. My traumatic experience all of sudden felt like a gift of grace for me to understand how to receive the news. All my thoughts had a reason for being. I watched people suffer for months and years because of that experience. Many fell away. I felt shielded from it all, the ugly wound over my calf muscle was my perspective. I’m not proud of the scar but it is my scar for life.

Louisa had told me that they had watched a video where he announced his personal failure and was therefore resigning. This was the dreamer who once wrote these words that still echo in my heart: “beating the door of my heart for something larger.” This is the founder of His People Church who began with one mere University of Cape Town student, a church which he built up to several congregations and church plants. It was a church decorated with the finest young leaders whom he had developed. This was the man who dared us to dream dreams so large that only God could fulfil. This was the man of faith under whose leadership the word impossible seemed illogical. This is the church I was told Nelson Mandela once walked in upon hearing music as he walked past. This is the church of dreams and that dream shutdown quite suddenly, with this announcement. It had obviously been ending for a little while before the announcement. Months before he had been sharing stories Sunday in and Sunday out about the history of the church. Little did we foresee it, we were being prepared for the imminent dark cloud that was already approaching.

I had felt compelled to write him a letter to tell him my story and to thank him for the work he had done. I thanked him for blasting the lid of smallness and for daring us to dream. I came from a place where I had not encountered people of true faith and then I found young people, hundreds of them who were captivated by God, full of purpose and were encouraged to be more. Of course, there were problems but I was lost in the euphoria. Every worship service I saw a cloud of light inside the building. I thought this was not uncommon, until one day I realised that I no longer saw it. Now, another kind of dark cloud closed in on us and we were trapped inside of it.

On the first Saturday of this August, I was walking around at His People building at N1 City. I found myself remembering how the name His People had come about. I recalled how it never came through a strategy meeting; it was born out of a movement. I recalled how I heard Pastor Paul tell the story. People were asking these new converts as they were growing on campus: “who are you?” They told him that people are asking; who are we? What should we tell them? He responded: “Tell them you are God’s people. You are His People.” And so it was. His People. I smiled as the story came to mind. I loved that it was born out of a movement.

I had been away from church for a while since I had been out of town for a work program. On that Sunday I heard an announcement that there will be a meeting about a possible name change. What?

… to be continued


8 thoughts on “His People Name Change: it has been changing

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  1. Sigh. Wow. I feel like such an outsider to this, though i’v been part of this family of churches for years. I didn’t know Pst Paul, but he was obviously a significant leader and had a great place. I came in after him. I guess the lens i see this whole thing from is not laden with the same history that is here in CT. it’s a hectic time for HP. That I know.

      1. Wow Siki. Beautiful. I remember that announcement well, though I had not been at N1 when church history was shared.

  2. Oh wow! Thanks Siki for this. I joined HP in 2012 while attending a premarital course (Baxter). I have heard the story about the name but your post explained it even better. On the name change, I am one of the people with a lot of “whys”. I am looking forward to the second part of the post.

  3. Waiting for your follow up on the HP name change.They asked us to vote and did not receive majority vote so the name remains or so we thought.
    Then came the survey ,for what…really dont know why.
    Once again the push for name change.So now on the 12th Dec voting once again.
    Truly THIS IS NOT OF GOD,so one ask the question has the Dollar Bill taken over the position that belongs to God.
    Cause the way i see it some leaders will benefit substantially from this name change.
    Im reminded of Christ walking into the Temple and cracking the whip,when will it happen at HP so that the Leadership can realise that what they doing is not inline with God’s Word and as leaders you are responsible for the souls sitting in the seats in church.
    My fear is that a lot of people will leave the church and many will turn their backs on Christ,all because of leaders chasing a Dollar Bill.
    So im patiently waiting for your follow on,on the HP name change saga.
    Thankyou for your Boldness in Stepping Out.
    God Bless

  4. Hi, I’m reading a book by Paul Daniel published in 2001 before everything. I hate how common a story this is, but I’m no one to cast stones.
    We have been blessed with exceptional leadership after a very dark time at our local church. Been scandal and spilt free for about 15 years now. God does wonders.

    Did the sequel to this post ever get written?


    (PS – I see Daniel is leading another church in Cape Town now.)

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