Heart to Heart: Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa

With so much confusion in the faith, it is so refreshing to find women like Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa. Her transparency, realness and faith are what we need in the body of Christ as women.  She loves Jesus, she loves people and she loves life; and there is no doubt about it. She has overcome challenging circumstance and yet still chooses daily  to be an inspiration to the world with the love of Christ.  Not only is she an entrepreneur and a business executive, she has a great ministry called SheCares dedicated to encouraging women to find their worth and value in their Creator. Check out our heart to heart interview with her below.

Inside Woman: In what ways do you see God guiding your journey?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: Mhhh, God is so much more than what one perceives or understands. I always let God be in my life because He is Mighty, omnipotent and eternal. I have learnt to listen to Him, allow Him to show His purpose to me and let Him be my sound foundation. My relationship with God is the foundation of everything else in my life and without Him guiding me, my life will crumble.

Every morning before I leave my house I pray to God and tell Him I am not going out of the house without the presence of His Holy Spirit. I walk with Jesus Christ every day and He is leading me and helping me in a wonderful and sometimes miraculous ways. I fully depend and trust Him with all my life and everything in it. God refreshes me day after day, strengthens, encourages, fills and watches over me with a great love and peace. He is the living God.

Inside Woman: How did you come to know Christ as your personal Saviour? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I grew up in a Christian family. My paternal grandparents were pastoring a family Church, and after the passing of my grandfather my father took over and became a pastor. He has since passed on.

My maternal grandmother was a prayerful woman whom I learnt a lot from. As kids we attended Sunday school with my maternal grandmother and at 11am we joined my father’s church. This was a family ritual until the divorce of my parents at the age of 10. After moving with my grandmother we then attended Church full time.

When I became a teenager my cousin Nontobeko and I were introduced to Seventh Day Adventist church by her mother. Later, we both enrolled at their school.  I went to Cancele boarding school and she went to Bethel College, both institutions in the Transkei. That is where I deeply learned and understood the Bible and also helped me to know and understand the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ. But I still didn’t fully surrender my life to Him.

In 1990 I visited Thembeka High School on a friend’s invitation and heard a sermon by Apostle MVG Lephoko of COTH in Nelspruit Mpumalanga and there and it is there I took a decision to surrender my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour.  This was the beginning of my journey of faith! It has not been a rosy road and I have had my share of speed humps. As I journeyed with God, I slowly grew confident that He had me exactly where He wanted me to be, and that I am His child!

Inside Woman: There are so many religions, why Jesus?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I must say upbringing influences our “spiritual” choices as adults. As mentioned earlier I was raised in a Christian family and that influenced my decision later in life.

The Gospel I was taught says that Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth and the Life! In Christ we have love that can never be fathomed, peace that can never be understood, joy that can never be diminished, hope that can never be disappointed, light that can never be darkened, beauty that can never be marred and resources that can never be exhausted. 

Inside Woman: What is the one lie that you believed about being a woman that God has helped you to break free from?   

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I used to believe that worrying is part of being a woman until I began to understand Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future”.  When I read that I said to myself, “What, Who is this Woman? How is it possible that someone can laugh without fear of the future?” I cried out to God and said, “Father I desire to be like her”! And God has been working. 

Inside Woman: Disappointments happen to the best of us. How have you learned to deal with them?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: It is true that most of us have had someone let us down horribly! I’m more spiritual than religious. I believe there are certain situations that we have no control over. Over the past few months my faith and spirituality have been tested over and over, both in business and in my personal life by people that I trusted the most. Even as I write this, I’m struggling with it somehow. This all got me thinking about how letting go and combining a strong sense of faith with deliberate action is the key to success, both in life and business.

In 2010 God laid a vision in my heart to start a women foundation that can be a platform for women organisations, associations, NGO’s, women owned businesses, women in politics, young women to come together to share, discuss their challenges, uplift and empower one another.

In February 2014 I had a discussion with Nokuthula, who also had a vision of organising High Tea and we decided to combine the two and that is how SheCares was born.  But in the process of planning for its launch there was a lot of opposition regarding SheCares Women Foundation. This massive storm spilled over to my personal life causing extraordinary destruction in my family. This storm was greater than anything we ever seen in our lifetime as it was caused by people we trusted, people who are the children of God.

I had a lot of questions until I decided to let go and leave the work to God.  I took a break and spent a few moments connecting to my spirituality through prayer.  I decided to let God use me as a vehicle for delivering change on this earth through the women’s network.

And then something amazing happened before my eyes. I had a whole new concept for SheCares. God sent His Angels to embrace the vision and to take the foundation under their wing. It was amazing and exciting.

As Romans 8:28 tell us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”.

But what I’ve come to realise is that when you take a deep breath and tap into the faith that is already within you, it’s amazing the answers, the ideas and the solutions that show up. This helps you to continue as a better equipped person and you feel more prepared for the next road block.

Reading through the Bible also helped me a lot. In every disappointment I have learnt to look for a positive in it and that has helped me to turn my worries into workable ideas. 

Inside Woman: What, in your opinion, does the Bible say is Good News for women?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa:  Proverbs 31 shares with us many character traits that we as Godly women should pray to obtain. Many of these traits have to do with being a wife and a mom. However, much of the passage can be applied prayerfully to any woman’s life no matter what role she predominately occupies --- wife, sister, leader, business, co-worker, friend, mother, or daughter. 

Inside Woman:  Can you tell us a little about the path you followed to find both a rewarding professional and personal life?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: When I was a little girl I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make a difference that would impact lives and last for all of eternity. I wanted to do something different, but was never sure about it.

Working for the ANC exposed me in a number of social ills which led me to have a passion for coaching young people and as a result I landed a position with the National Youth Development Forum which is now called the NYDA. While working there I realised that women in general are faced with a number of challenges. I also realised that this is where I am called to be.

My life’s journey and the lessons learnt from life inspired me to start a women’s network to be a change in the world.

I have experienced many moments where I felt discouraged and yet somehow I was able to notice or encounter one small reason to have hope. This small bit of hope has always been able to illuminate darkness and provide a way forward. I know that through my thoughts, words and actions, I can influence the lives of those around me, and so I make each choice with care and with the intention of making the world a better place. In the simplicity of each small act of kindness, greatness can be achieved.

Inside Woman: Which creates a bigger sense of pressure for you in the workplace, your faith or your gender?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: Should I say it’s by luck? No... It’s by the grace of God that I never let the pressures of this world get to me.

First of all God values and uses women just as much as men.  I think a lot of these pressures are in the mind. As a result I am neither experiencing nor being threatened by it because I don’t pay attention to it!  Currently I'm spent most of my working hours in the newly acquired venture manufacturing where the white male Afrikaans dominates. As a shareholder, I am expected to sit in every board, client and cluster meetings. Sometimes I am the only black female who is not fluent in Afrikaans in a meeting. On several occasions I come across men who wonder how I am got in the industry and managed to be a shareholder as well. Interestingly some women are surprised too. But I never allow it to consume me. A lot of it comes from confidence and also knowing whose you are.

Through watching my faith at work, people have learned about the faithfulness and the love of God!  The interesting part now is that they call me to pray when we start our staff meetings. And of late the staff asks me to pray for them and their loved ones.  A few still object but that doesn’t bother me because I will always acknowledge God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in all I do! 

Inside Woman: What is the purpose that God has placed in your life for such a time as this?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I think every one of us wants to make a difference in the world just like when I was a young girl. From a young age I wanted to make a difference that would impact lives and last for all of eternity. In my mind that meant serving God!

I know that God wants us to go into each day with boldness, filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11), knowing that He will never give us more than we can handle.

I believe God has called us all to live a life that is so much bigger than what we often envision for ourselves! There are countless young people looking for an older woman who has walked their season of life, someone who can help them navigate the different situations they face and who can model how to walk with Christ in whatever roles they have.

My daily prayer is that I may find purpose and fulfillment as I allow God to use my life experiences to encourage younger women in their life journey! 

Inside Woman:  How important is it for you to have the support of matured Christian women surrounding you?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: To be honest, almost every area of my life has been impacted by mentoring. I believe when women encourage each other we unleash potential that glorifies God. As I look back on my life, God has strategically placed women in my path that have had such a gift for speaking love and truth into my heart. I am a better mom, a better friend, daughter, and wife and business woman because of all that influence. I am now able to use my gifts and talents to serve God and others because of the work most of these matured Christian women did in my heart.

A mentor once told me that if you want to be truly great, you must have three essential people in your life at all times:  A person who is older and more successful than you to learn from, a person who is equal to you to exchange ideas with and person below you to coach and keep you energized.

Dr. Howard Hendricks said it this way we need someone who has come before us to mentors us, we need another person besides us who shares our burden and we need someone beyond us whom we’re mentoring. Otherwise, we grow stagnant.

The book of Titus 2: 4-5 also affirms this truth by instructing older women to teach other women especially young ones. Matured Christian women have a responsibility to minister to others through their good works and to be known for who they truly are through their Godly Christian character in a variety of ways such as showing hospitality, encouraging others and teaching other women. 

Inside Woman: What do you say to women who are struggling with the confidence to break out and be all that God has called them to be? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: Trust me when I say I still battle with this sometimes and feel bad often about the scars on my legs and many “image imperfections” that I have. Yet, I know that this is not how God wants me to see myself. It’s not how God sees me.

We live in a world which is not godly. It is fallen. So, this makes Christians aliens living in a world which has very different idols, ideals and influences. If we’re not careful we become more affected by those things.

So how can we combat this? We have to ground ourselves firmly in the Bible, feed from it every day, allow the words and promises of God to permeate and change the false beliefs we may have about ourselves to become more like the ways that God sees us.

My advice will be:- 

  • Draw near to the Saviour and allow Him to bring peace to the storm of influences around you and focus your life on the kingdom of God.

  • Guard against influences which don’t fit into the kingdom of God. 

Inside Woman: When you close your eyes and see an empowered woman in Christ, what do you see?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: A changed WORLD! Studies have proven that women have power to identify problem, find solutions and change the world for the better.

Inside Woman: How should women measure success? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: It is my belief that success is realised when you are able to balance everything. i.e. family, friends, career, spirituality and extracurricular activities, etc. Secondly you know you have achieved success when those around you are inspired. Never consider yourself a success if those around you are not successful or inspired by your passion for what you do or have achieved. I always say action + inspiration = SUCCESS. 

Inside Woman: What is the one thing that you've learned from your mother on being a godly woman and that you would like to share with other women? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I always give credit to my late grandmother who taught all her 3 girls: my mother and her two sisters, including us to fear God in a Biblical way. And the following were her teachings:-

  1. Let your hands work the tasks of God.

  2. Let your mouth speak the truths of God.

  3. Let your heart love the things of God.

Inside Woman:  You have been married for 17 years. What’s has been your secret to developing and maintaining a healthy and happy marriage? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: The commitment to marriage comes with many responsibilities and must be taken as a serious yet beautiful journey of life. The main goal is to PLEASE and RESPECT GOD through your marriage!

How? Praying for my marriage, husband, children and myself has been the secret weapon and through daily prayer God has revealed so many things to me. They are:

  1. Applying Galatians 5:22 in our marriage

  2. Making him my best friend – we have created a mutual satisfying love and friendship bond and we enjoy the little things and moments with each other. When couples share truly meaningful experiences, they bond on a deeper level.

  3. Show Affection to each other. Be faithful and truly committed. Pray together!

  4. Good communication - to resolve any issues

  5. Have external Godly support system besides your husband. The reason being that men don't understand our emotional ups and downs and they don't understand how to respond to them. And as women we sometimes expect too much from them and that may end up ruining a marriage.

  6. Accept his relationship with his mother. My husband had a very close relationship with his mother. I came to realise and understand that our mother-in-laws will always see their sons as their little boys.

Inside Woman: Many women have been told to aim to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Is that realistic? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I believe it is realistic as long as we can  trust God 100 %! Basically we need to die to ourselves and let Christ live in us. The only major thing that makes this looks like it is not realistic is that worry simply plagues our feminine hearts.

Before I state the impossibility of this task, let me say, there is a solid difference between concern and worry.  But we confuse the two. One is profitable while the other robs us of our joy and ability to trust. Concern addresses and solves problems, while worry obsesses over and creates more problems. Concern involves a legitimate threat and looks to God for answers. Worry threatens and looks to others or self for answers, causing circles of confusion.

After an intense study of the Proverbs 31 Women, my worries were simply replaced by peace and this resulted in laughter. 

Inside Woman: Do you believe dating adequately prepared you for marriage? Why? or Why not? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: It will be beneficial to first understand the word “dating” in a Christian context. This is one way of meeting a possible marriage partner. Dating is not necessarily sinful, but many young people fall into sin as a result of dating. The danger in dating is that one will do something that will seriously damage the chances for future happiness and a successful marriage.

As a teenager I vowed to myself that the man I will date will be the man I will marry but it wasn’t so. My first relationship was when I was 18 years of age and unfortunately the guy was physically abusing me and after a year we broke up. I was heartbroken but I thank God that I healed.
A lesson learnt was that as children of God we cannot choose our life partners but only He can choose for us. I then began praying that God prepare me for the man He has chosen for me. And indeed I met the man of my dreams. We met on the 27  December and on 14 January 1996 he proposed. I was shocked and I asked him for time so that I can ask God if this was part of His plans for my life. We traditionally married in Swaziland on the 9 August 1996. Our white wedding celebration was in Nelspruit on the 5th May 2001.

The truth is a large part of dating is flirting. Flirting is acting like you love someone. Dating also leads to physical intimacy which is often mistaken for love that results into marriage. Findings have proven that a marriage or a romantic relationship based on sex only will not last.

Breaking up a romantic relationship is always painful but breaking up an already sexually active relationship is ten times worse. The reason is that you have each given yourself in the most intimate way to the other person. You have given away a part of yourself and you can never get it back.

Dating can bring a lot of baggage into a marriage. All those physical intimacies become “emotional baggage” that can wreck a marriage. I normally get asked this question by young people: How will I find the one God has in mind for me?

And my usual response to them is “It is God’s plan for most Christian young people to marry and raise godly children. At the right time God will stir up your interest in the opposite sex.”  My advice to them is to choose “Courtship instead of dating”.

The purpose of a courting relationship is to consider marriage with one of God’s choice for you. Secondly courtship promotes self-control and moral purity. It promotes responsibility. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification that you should abstain from fornication”. 

Inside Woman: What’s the best marriage preparation advice you received?               

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: I remember when I told my grandmother that I received a marriage proposal; the first question she asked me was “are you happy that you will become a wife or a bride”? She challenged me to take time to think about it and come back after a week. Trust you it was a tough one. But what I saw was wisdom and it’s so funny that most of the time we get so excited about being the bride and we forget the bigger part of being a wife.  In my deliberations I discovered that infact a bride is defined as a female participant in her own marriage ceremony. And a wife is defined as a female partner in marriage or a woman joined in marriage to a man.

When I came back with my response, she gave me her understanding of marriage.  She first gave me her own description of a wife and said “although you cannot become a wife without first being a bride, a wife has a higher, more purposeful calling”.

She also taught me that marriage is the first institution God established and it is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman designed to please Him (Gen 2:16). Therefore it is important to respect the hierarchy of marriage and she said “it’s marriage first, then the spouse and then you”.  Marriage should be a made of best friends who want to be together forever! 

And the most valuable gift she gave me was a very short prayer which I cherish every day in my marriage.  It goes: I pray that you not only be a beautiful bride, but a wife that is a true beauty to behold”. 

Inside Woman:  What would you say is the greatest contributing factor to a Christian single woman’s ability to enjoy a fulfilling life?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: While it’s true we are in the world but are not of the world, even the strongest Christian single woman needs a little help to survive the daily grind sometimes. The challenges of Christian single women are greater and more demanding as women contend daily with a multitude of cross-cultural stresses and demands.

I have discovered that the most contributing factor affecting Christian women to enjoy a fulfilling life is loneliness. Sometimes the overwhelming fact of singleness causes most people to forget just how valuable they are to God and that He loves them. Even when you are single it is important to always remember that you are a child of the King with so much to offer this world.

I have this to say to these women: You are a woman of great value and worth! You are Beautiful Enough and Valuable! God has deposited gifts in you and the body of Christ desperately needs what you have to offer. Your single status does not change the fact that you are a strong, beautiful woman who is becoming all that God has purposed you to be.

They easy way to conquer loneliness is to choose how to apply your gifts. You can volunteer, mentor, entertain, etc, the list is endless. But one of the best ways to combat loneliness is to have a personal praise party & worship songs are my personal recommendation. I do this all the time when either when I am driving alone or when I am feeling stressed. I find this so fulfilling. 

Inside Woman: When you’re busy with a career, family, and following your passions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you harmonize all of these things? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: Like you said I wear many hats in life and that means I need to keep everything in perspective. As in every other aspect of life, balance is the key.  And when our goals harmonize with our values, and our activities contribute to achieving those goals, life becomes more unified and harmonious. Have you ever noticed that when you’re really tired or stressed, even the smallest problem can seem like a nightmare?  This is something most people don’t ever become aware of and as a result personal relationships often suffer when stress levels gets out of hand. Researchers say that stress over money is one of the most emotional topics in marriages.

Where I can, I make an effort to complete smaller tasks so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I have learnt to keep re -evaluating my goals, values, etc. This is key to achieving some balance in my estimation.

I have also found exercise as the best way for me to reduce stress; this involves making some time for me and looking after my personal well-being! Me time is one of the first things we tend to sacrifice when we are busy. Instead, we devote all of our energy and attention to being productive and taking care of those never-ending demands. “Me time” for me is crucial to not let my thoughts run away and create the stressful feelings.

One other thing is a morning routine of prayer or meditation; it cleanses the mind and reset it for the day. It gives the mind a base point of calm and openness and focus. Being calm is one of the top priorities in my life, and I practice this feeling every day. Every day I allow myself a few moments just to be.

Having said all the above, I have struggles of my own. One of my problems is that I am a perfectionist. I can spend endless amounts of time trying to get something just exactly perfect. Even with this interview, I needed to set aside time to make sure that I answer as accurate as possible. I am still learning to let good be good enough. And I believe that one day I will get it right!

Inside Woman: Our call is also to bring people to the loving arms of Christ. How would you introduce Jesus Christ to a woman engrossed in depression, oppression and pain? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: The sorrows of this life are too heavy for us to bear alone. It’s sometimes hard and you can’t give what you don’t have.

Let me share briefly my story. I was once in pain due to an accident that I had in 2003 which left me with so many scars in my body. A 4 year terrifying journey of servant-hood and faith!  Due to injuries sustained I was in a comma for a month and sedated for another month. I stayed in hospital for a period of 3 months and I spend 3 weeks in a rehab centre. I had to be in a wheelchair for a period of 6 month with external fixators on both my legs and pelvic bone. The worst part was the colostomy bag and catheter. I had to learn to walk like a baby but in all those challenges God came through for me. Today I call myself a victorious woman. Even the accident tried to break my spirit and life I survived and overcame the situation at the!

While trying to survive the changes in my life I went through different stages of healing. I have come to understand that the pain, the struggles, the challenges and sorrows have the greatest impact on our desire for change, awareness and intent.

The most difficult times in my life were terribly sad and challenging but I am who I am because of them and I wouldn't be here without their truths.

Sickness helps us to glorify God. Sickness makes us more like Christ. The purpose of salvation is to conform us to our blessed Lord. Philippians 3:10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.

God is interested in saving people! He knows that believers can win others to Christ, especially when they live with them and demonstrate the benefits of the gospel daily.

It is our responsibility  to lift Jesus up (John 12:32), and that happens when we present the love and forgiving grace of God. If we try to impose guilt or coerce a conversion, most people will reject our message. It is important to first show the love that is within us, the love that was deposited by Jesus Christ Himself when He prayed for us in the book of John 17. Telling of His wondrous love and sharing what Jesus has done in our lives and demonstrating that gentleness of Christ will draw people to God’s love.

  1. Focus on Jesus as God’s Son and resurrected Savior. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9; Luke 10:20; Revelation 21:27)

  2. Present the promises of acceptance, forgiveness, assurance, and eternal life. (John 1:12; 6:37, 40)

  3. Lastly the Bible is full of things to comfort us. It assures us that God knows all about us.

- When we are troubled: Matthew 11:28 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest".
- When we are afraid: Psalms 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” and Psalms 23: 4 "Yea, though I                            walk  through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me…"

Inside Woman: If someone has never prayed before or never asked God for help before and would like to start now, how would they go about doing that?

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: An essential part of prayer is simply saying, “Thank You, God”. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus calls us His friends! Thus we need to respond to God as they would respond to a best friend. I would tell them that unlike a human friend, God will never be surprised or shocked by us. God is always available and is never inconvenienced. He welcomes us whenever we go to him. As Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and wondrous things you do not know.

Perhaps the most obvious place to start is with the Lord’s Prayer. These are the words Jesus gave as a model prayer for His disciples. It includes praise, praying for God’s will to be done, confessing sins and asking for forgiveness; help to forgive others, asking for daily help and provision and strength to overcome temptation. At the end of the prayer, one can ask God to help in times of need. Nothing is too big or too difficult for Him.

Inside Woman: If left to define your own story and its meaning, what would you like to be seen to symbolise? 

Khulile Mashaba-Mtetwa: A journey of a servant!  Servants are people of substance.  Sacrifice is their lifestyle.  Servants are not controlled by circumstances but they respond to the master’s call. Servants live by faith!

Our struggles strengthen our faith in God. They make our hearts more tender and sympathetic towards others and finally keep us humble. God's comfort us in our tribulations so that we are enabled to comfort others in their trials. To have compassion is to enter in alongside of the other person. Suffering enables us to better understand the needs of others.

We cannot always understand the "whys" of God's love but we keep hoping and exercising our faith nevertheless. God has many promises for us. All we need is to believe them and apply them to our lives and adopt an attitude of a SERVANT!

Phil 2:7 “He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”.

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