Up Close & Personal with Pastor Sono
Mosa's all about outreach and preach
GRACE Bible Church was once hailed as the church of celebs and the well- heeled.
Pastor Mosa Sono's church continues to rake in a wide selection of followers, some straight, some gay, some rich, some poor - and the hook seems to be the eloquent man himself.
One of his first celeb followers was the late Brenda Fassie.
She once spoke of turning over a new leaf after coming clean about her serial infidelities.
Sono also led a few prayer services at her deathbed.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday World and in the spirit of Easter, the leader of the biggest church in Soweto expresses a need to reach out to sinners.
Sono says Bible-punching Christians alienate prospective churchgoers.
"I always speak about this domestication of the gospel and how it makes others feel like outcasts," he says. "Even the songs we sing, calling Jesus 'my Jesus' do not send a welcoming message to new members."
Seated in his luxurious lounge at the church in Pimville, Sono speaks of this year's Easter mandate to reach out to a different audience instead of preaching to the choir.
"That's the reason for the choice of venue (Orlando Stadium). We don't want to leave people looking for a safer place."
He stresses the importance of churches leading by example.
"There's a greater way of preaching the gospel. And that is reaching out to the needy. There is a lot of sadness in the world."
He says those who haven't come into contact with social ills tend to think of their circumstances as dire - until the truth is unveiled to them.
"Last year, we took our children to the rural areas and after they witnessed the extreme poverty in communities such as Skierlik in North West, AmaSwazi in the Drakensburg and Mhinga in Limpopo, they came back with a changed world view."
He took over the reins of the church in 1983, after his mentor, Dr Ray McCauley, had to shift focus back to the "mother ship", Rhema.
He is feted as one of the finest pastors in South Africa, some say he's had to chase suitors off with a stick.
"Infidelity isn't morally acceptable. Married people are supposed to honour their marriage vows.
"Unfaithfulness damages the integrity of a marital relationship, as the one who is cheating will subsequently have to lie about their infidelity."
Then there are outsiders who make new churchgoers feel ashamed.
"I always tell people there's nothing wrong with being in church when they are 'fra' [frustrated].
"There's nothing wrong with seeking the gospel when you feel frustrated with your own methods.
"Jesus said 'if you seek me you will find me' - if you long for him, if you seek him with all your heart," Sono says.