From no identity to being worthy in Christ
Victor Vythalingum Pillay was born in 1957, in a semi-ghetto in Overport, Durban. Descendant from a family of indentured labourers on the coastal sugar cane fields and before that from Chennai, Tamil Nadu in India.
His religion was grounded in Hinduism and the practical rituals of Kavady (a procession in the streets of people under the spell of spiritism, piercings and the carrying of wooden structures adorned with flowers, brass milk containers, lime and artefacts), sacrifices of animals, the worship of icons and many other Hindu practices.
At around 9 years old he attended the Sunday School of a full-gospel church. Such was the enthusiasm that he and his friends ventured to other churches as well. They ended in a Reformed church Sunday school and eventually Victor was catechised. These early teachings made the gospel message very clear for them.
His real commitment came at the age of 20 at a youth camp. He was baptised and, by the Lord’s grace, mercy and guidance, became the only Christian at home. But after many years of toiling in prayer, his entire family came to the Lord. His dad gave his heart to the Lord at 66 years old.
After serving the Lord through all aspects of church services, the call of the Lord weighed heavy upon his heart. Sustenance was the key question for his wife and son. However, one day at about 2 AM he read Mark 4:13 ff. Verse 19 hit him square in his heart and mind, challenging all his concerns.
His theological academic journey started in 1989 at the University of KwaZulu Natal with BTh (Hons) and MTh Degrees, while serving the Lord in the Reformed Church in Africa (RCA) – Emmanuel Durban – for 27 years in lay- and full-time ministry. As the first clerk of the international executive of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod for five years, he was able to travel and minister in many countries.
Subsequently, he completed his PhD in Missiology at the University of Pretoria whilst serving the RCA Charisma congregation in Laudium, Pretoria from 2007 until today, with the full active support of his wife and two sons.
“The Lord has also granted me the privilege to serve the Mukhanyo Theological College as a part-time lecturer for a few years and from January 2021 as a senior lecturer”, says Dr Pillay. “Trusting the Lord to keep my family and me in the centre of His mission and ministry”, he concludes.
Siyanda started studying our Bachelor of Theology degree at the beginning of 2020. He’ 28 years old and is a high school teacher in Umlazi, close to Durban.
Siyanda grew up in Umlazi within a Zulu family which practiced African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR involves polytheistic ancestor worship and makes use of traditional healers.
His father died when he was 14, and subsequently Siyanda began to have questions about Christianity. His initial view of Christianity was that it was a colonial religion without any relevance to Africans.
Yet despite this, he started to read the Bible from Genesis. It was during this period, as he read John’s Gospel, that he received Christ, at age 17.
He started to attend a Pentecostal church in Umlazi and became involved in the youth and teaching adult Sunday School. Some years later, a friend told him about the diploma-level courses offered by Mukhanyo at a distance learning centre in Scottburgh, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
He started the diploma programme with Mukhanyo in 2019. It was through studying at Mukhanyo that Siyanda was exposed to the doctrines of grace and Reformed theology, which had a massive impact on his faith and his understanding of the gospel.
After a year of studying at the diploma level, he enrolled at Mukhanyo’s Durban Advanced Learning Centre in January 2020 for the degree. His lecturers find him an excellent student who has done very well in the programme so far. He now attends Covenant Waterfall Presbyterian Church and would like to one day plant a gospel-teaching, biblically faithful church in the Durban area.