Rory Dyer is the Lead Pastor at 3Ci church in Pretoria, and the CEO and Owner of Montrose Shell Ultra City near Harrismith. He was recorded live on 24 June 2021 at the Ziwani launch. You can watch the full video here or listen to the podcast here.
Well, I am pretty much a glorified hamburger salesman that sells some petrol, and preaches the Gospel. But I am here, and my qualification (like every one of you) is Christ. And today we find ourselves in crisis, in chaos, in COVID, in Christ. So actually we are not concerned about South Africa, or about Africa – because we are in Christ! If I look at all the speakers here today, many are highly qualified. Some are black, some are white, some are young, some are old, some are educated, some are not – but our qualification is Christ. The number one address in our lives is Christ. I represent Christ here today as we speak about all these different things.
The community of Jesus came under unbelievable pressure over and over again. They were attacked by the Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, and the Roman Empire. Every one of those empires is gone now, and the church and the Kingdom of God still exists. We should not worry about whether we are allowed to meet, or not to meet, or about how many can meet – you cannot kill the church. It is designed by God, ordained by God, and sustained by God. Ziwani is not a man-made idea. It was birthed in the heart of God – before any of the men and women running it were even born, Ziwani existed in the heart of God.
I want to talk about four things today: what it means to be a son, what it means to be a steward, what story we find ourselves in, and the scriptures that hold us. There are so many theories going around, but we have to position our businesses and our churches by the scriptures.
What it means to be sons and daughters of the Father
The first topic is my status as a son. In Luke 3:38 it says that Adam was the son of God. So the first way that God wanted to present Himself to the world was as a Father. Adam messed that up, and so God gives humanity a second chance – He says, “Israel is my firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22). And Israel messes that up, and so He gives us another chance – He appears to Solomon (2 Chr. 1:7–12). And Solomon messes that up. And then God closes the Old Testament with this: “[Through the prophet Elijah, I] will turn the hearts of fathers to their sons and the hearts of sons to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:6).
After that we have 400 years of silence – silence that is finally broken with a voice from heaven. One of the greatest problems in our world today is that we are listening to too many earthly voices. There is a Father’s voice from heaven that says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mat. 3:17).
So I see the scriptures through the lens of a son relating to the Father. Jesus primarily came to show us what the Father is like. The destination of Christianity is not heaven, the destination of Christianity is not an accountant, the destination of Christianity is not an economist. Jesus did not say, “I am the way, the truth and the life. The only way to the accountant is through me.” No, He said the only way to the Father is through me (Joh. 14:6). Jesus came to show us what the Father is like. If we understand the Father, we understand that a black sister or an uneducated brother has exactly the same privileges as anybody who is in Christ. We should not be having these gender debates – we should actually get to the Father, so that we can find an equality that goes across every single barrier that human beings put in place.
I believe understanding our status as sons will change our nation. People say South Africa has an economic problem, we have an injustice problem, we have racism. Actually, South Africa (and Africa’s) number one problem is that we have systemic evil that has broken apart families. Racism put men into mines and now we have two generations of South Africans who grew up without their fathers, and two generations of South Africans who were born out of wedlock. We have a major father problem in this nation, and we have to redeem the role of a father. In my church and in my business, I have to redeem the role of a father – which is to create opportunity, education, care, discipline, inheritance and all those things. Mothers have not given up their role, they never walked away from their responsibility. Fathers have, and so we have millions of orphans throughout this nation (and throughout the nations of Africa) that need some form of an inheritance and something to underpin them.
Our responsibility is to restore
In theology there is the creation, the fall, redemption and restoration narrative. Some of you will be looking at how to restore business principles in this world, how to restore society, how to restore justice, how to restore racial equality. And that is one of the ways we read the scriptures. Our job is to restore.
Our responsibility is to bring life
If you look at the book of Genesis, it starts in a garden. But man wants to be autonomous, he wants to rule his own life, and the very last sentence of Genesis reads, “[Joseph] was put in a coffin in Egypt” (Gen. 50:26). So it starts in a garden and ends in a coffin. Part of our responsibility is to bring life. Jesus came into the world, and He brought life. Wherever there are coffins, He pulls things out of the coffins. For some of you, your business mandate is to take a dead business and speak resurrection life into it. You go into a situation, for example a mine is closed down, God has given you resurrection power – you give your gift to the mine and the mine starts to live.
Some men, like me, use their business to introduce people to the Father. Some use their business acumen to redeem and to restore. Others have resurrection power, and their job is to bring the life of God. Like Jesus said to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come out!” (Joh. 11:43), we have to speak to economies, we have to speak to systems, and we have to make them come alive again.
Our responsibility is to walk in God-given authority
Then we have to consider the Kingdom. God gave man authority to rule over the garden. He wanted to be autonomous, he took the authority too far and wanted to be his own boss, and so all hell broke loose. Now we have destructive systems of man-implemented leadership all over the earth, and we have to teach people how to rule and reign.
In the Gospels, Jesus speaks about three things the most: the Kingdom, the Father, and money. As businesspeople, and as Christians in Christ, we have to have a thorough knowledge of how the Kingdom of God works, and how the relationship between a son and a father works. (When I say ‘son’ I am not being gender insensitive – I am being culturally radical, because in most countries women do not have equal rights. When Jesus said you are the son of God, He was not undermining your gender, He was being culturally radical in saying that even if culture does not give you an inheritance, I will give you the same inheritance as a firstborn son. So to be called ‘sons of God’ is like me being called the ‘bride of Christ’ – it is a radical statement against a system that denies people equal opportunities.)
We have to learn how to reign and how to rule. After the book of Genesis, we see the kings, and the judges, and eventually we see David come to the throne, and then we see Jesus come to the throne with a different kind of leadership – servant-hearted leadership. As business leaders we have to get underneath organisations and pin them up from the bottom, not looking for the naming rights, not looking for fame, walking away from popularity. We have to learn the Kingdom rules. We have to find our status in sonship, we have to teach people a relational model where they are connected to the Father in heaven. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Mat. 6:9). You see, we are on earth, and there are so many problems on earth, and there is so much stuff on earth, and there are so many perspectives and histories and hurts on earth – we have to have access to our Father in heaven, to understand our identity on earth.
I inherited my businesses. They are 50-year-old businesses, started by my father. I have authority there because I carry my dad’s surname. I continue to run them, build them, improve them, but the reality is that I inherited them. That is exactly the same as a Christian on earth. We have inherited authority from our Father in heaven. As Queen Elizabeth I said, “I know I have but the body of a week and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too!” It does not matter what frailty we find ourselves in, we carry the blood of a King. Whether we bring relational restoration, whether we aim to systematically change societies, whether we have the ability to resurrect that which is dead and speak to the graves of Lazarus and raise up finances and economies, whether we bring Kingdom rule into situations – we must exercise authority with an underpinning of theology.
We have to remember that the Bible is written to Christians. It is not written to non-Christians. We have to make sure we are not judging ungodly men for ungodly practices. When Paul speaks to the Corinthian church about sexuality, he says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (1 Cor. 5:12). There is a lot of judgment from the church on people’s behavioural patterns, but they do not have our belief system. So we have to take our belief system and put it into practice in churches, in governments, in businesses, and build cities upon hills to which people will look and say, “I want some of that!”
What it means to be a steward
The second topic I would like to speak about is stewardship. Not only am I a son of God, and I can operate with the authority that comes with being a son of God on this earth, but I am also a steward. I am a son of Abraham. In Genesis 14:19, Melchizedek, who is the king and priest of Salem, blesses Abraham “by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth.” At that moment, Abraham, who is a very rich man, understands that he does not own it, he is just the steward of it. We have to understand that I do not own the church that I lead, I do not own the business, I am just the steward of it.
I believe that we are stewards of five things: our time, our talents, our treasures, our opportunities and our relationships. I have a relational gift. The poor guy sitting next to me on an aeroplane will either become my best friend for life, or I will put him into a business deal, or I will tell him about Jesus and lead him to Christ – but that is one of the gifts I have. Every one of us has been given these things: time, talents, treasures, relationships and opportunities.
Business is called business because of busyness. Whenever I see businessmen, I ask them how they are doing. They answer, “I am busy. I am rushed. I am running around. I am under pressure.” But not Jesus. Jesus never runs. Throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – Jesus does not run once. Our time belongs to God. In Mark 1:35–38 we read, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a solitary place, and there he prayed.” The disciples came to him and said, “Everybody is looking for you!” That is what happens with businesspeople – everybody is looking for you. Jesus answers, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” He can walk away from everyone’s demands because He knows what God has called Him to. We have all been given five things: time, talent, treasures, opportunities and relationships. We do not own them. They belong to God, and every day we must come before God, because if we do not, the enemy will steal those things from us and rob us of our effectiveness.
In Luke 19:28–38 we read about Jesus sending two of his disciples into a village with the instruction, “you will find a donkey tied, on which no-one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.” The Greek word for ‘lord’ and ‘owner’ is exactly the same. It is just different in the English Bible. One has a capital letter and one has a lowercase letter, so you might say it like this, “When the lord (with the lowercase L) asks why are you doing it, tell him the Lord (with a capital L) needs it.” or you can do it the other way around, “When the owner (the little O) asks why are you untying the donkey, say it is because the big O needs it.”
The point is that my business, which I inherited from my dad, is just a donkey which Jesus is going to use to ride into Jerusalem, and people will shout, “Hosanna!” And the staff that work for me will see the Father – they will get opportunities; they will be underpinned by grace. We do not worship the donkey. We do not say, “Well done, Rory!” We do not say, “Well done Ziwani!” We do not say, “Well done, Mergon!” We just say, “Jesus, please use this donkey to ride into town.” We do not worship the donkey. We are just the stewards.
I do not know how you work, but I was reading the Message Bible as we went into lockdown. My business went into lockdown for four months, and I employ 230 people. On the first day of lockdown I opened up Isaiah 61:8 that says, “I, God, love fair dealing… I’ll pay your wages on time and in full.” So I phoned my managers and said, “We are paying our salaries in full and on time. They said, “That does not make sense.” Well, it does not make sense to the world, but if God speaks, it does make sense and so I trust. I treated every staff member like a son and daughter in the house of a father, who could feel safe, knowing that despite the crisis that our country is going through, there is a higher power that controls this business. Yesterday I spoke to my accountant, who said, “Actually, we had a very profitable year despite not trading for four months and paying full salaries.” We are stewards. We do not have to keep our businesses going – they belong to God. Untie your donkeys and let the owner, the true Owner, ride them into town.
Our church just built a big building. We happened to break ground on 21 January 2020. We did not know about COVID. We had to raise a lot of money, and in the middle of December 2020 we ran out of money. We had R600,000 left, we had to pay an R8 million bill by the end of the following week, and we could not raise any money in any way. I went to my business to get my bankers to lend money to the church, we tried all sorts of things. And one of our elders said, “Why don’t we give the money away?” I thought, “Wow, I didn’t think of that. We need money.” He said, “Well, let’s give the R600,000 away and trust God.” So you have to hear God. As an eldership, we gave the R600,000 to an Afrikaans church in Montana, Pretoria, whom we have no relationship with other than knowing that they are trusting God to build their building.
Then I went on holiday. The guy said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I am going on holiday. Whether I go to jail from holiday or whether I go to jail from home makes no difference. We can’t pay the money, but we are trusting God and praying to Him, and He owns the church. It was His idea, not my idea. I don’t have to raise money for buildings.” Five days later, a woman drove into our church property with her mask on. She never took her mask off. She said, “Don’t ask me who I am, don’t ask me where I’ve come from, but God told me that you need money.” She dropped gold coins worth R6 million at our reception desk. And she got in her car and drove away.
A man attending the Ziwani launch has a vehicle, a ‘donkey’ – a foundation that raises money for education in the Kingdom. He came to one of our elders (who is deaf), and he said to him: “If you ride a bicycle race and you get sponsorships, the money you raise can go to your church building project.” He had six weeks to train for a 1,150 km bicycle race. A one-stage race. He said, “My legs are strong Rory, trust me.” I said, “We trust you wholeheartedly!” And this foundation untied their donkey so that he could use his strong legs to ride a race. He raised R2 million. We had R600,000, and we gave it away. We had zero in our bank account, and ten days later we paid R8 million cash, because God is perfectly in charge of building churches. We are just stewards of his church, and our businesses, and all the things that are going on around us.
Stop worrying, South Africa. Stop worrying, Africa. Jesus is in control. He is perfectly in control. He will use us – black and white, young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, married, single and divorced. He is going to use every one of us to take his Gospel to the ends of the earth. We are stewards and we are sons and we are restorers and we are resurrectors and we are reign-ers.
What it means to be part of His story
We have to know that that our story fits into a bigger story. I like the book of Acts. Our businesses and our churches have to fit into the book of Acts. It starts with announcing Jesus and the Kingdom, and ends with proclaiming Jesus and the Kingdom. It is all about Jesus and the Kingdom. We must understand that everything in the Old Testament points towards Jesus and the Kingdom. Do not say to people: “Raise up a David generation who will kill Goliath!” David is Jesus. He killed Goliath! I am the chicken who is sitting in the army, crying and shaking with fear. I put my faith in David, the Christ who kills Goliath. We do not have to go and ‘kill Goliath’ in Africa – we just have to trust Jesus and the Kingdom.
I love the story of Boaz and Ruth. I always think I am Boaz; I am the main guy who stands up straight and help people who are broken. But, in reality, I am Ruth. I am the expat. I am the one who does not have citizenship. I am the economically impoverished. I am the spiritually impoverished. I am the alien and stranger who finds myself in the fields of Boaz. And Boaz restores me, and helps me to stand up straight. From that union comes a birth right that eventually gives birth to the King. We are the aliens, orphans and strangers, and when we come into the field of Christ, He restores us. That restoration of intimacy with Christ creates a seed that changes the nations of the world. Towards the end of the book, Ruth is deemed to be worth “more than seven sons” (Ruth 4:15). Do not think you are the Messiah – just have intimacy with the Messiah, so that you become better than seven sons. Imagine a farmer in Groblersdal taking a Zimbabwean refugee lady and restoring her. She becomes better than seven sons, and becomes part of the history of the Kingdom of God, into the continent of Africa. It is a remarkable story!
Every time I go through a church crisis, or a business crisis, I read the book of Acts. Jesus and the Kingdom! Then I see generosity. Then I see healing. I read chapters eight, nine and ten. There is an Ethiopian eunuch, a black man, who is trying to understand God. He cannot reproduce, he is feeling insecure and inadequate. He is reading Isaiah 53. Philip meets him and the eunuch asks him, “Who is he talking about? Me, or himself, or someone else?” Starting with that Isaiah 53, Phillip continues reading to Isaiah 56 which says, “I will give [the eunuch] a name better than sons and daughters.” And all of a sudden, the eunuch understands that he fits into the story, he comes alive, and he is baptised. In Acts 9 we read about a Jewish rabbi called Paul, who is stopped dead in his tracks, “Why are you persecuting me?” Jesus stops him, turns him around, and Paul gets saved. In Acts 10 we read about Cornelius, a military man, offering sacrifices to God, who gets touched and turned around.
Whenever I am in trouble, I think, “If God can save an Ethiopian eunuch and a Jewish rabbi and a military man in three chapters, then He can do anything for my business.” In COVID, in crisis, in chaos, in Christ. Acts 12 starts off with James dead, Peter in prison and Herod on the throne. Then we read, “but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church”, and the chapter ends with Herod dead, Peter free, and the word of God on the throne. Any situation can turn in an instant.
Paul dreams of a man in Macedonia begging him come and help, and when he gets there, he meets a businesswoman called Lydia. Instead of meeting a man, Paul meets a businesswoman who deals in purple cloth. She opens her home, and today we read the book of Philippians because of the blessing of one businesswoman. What about Priscilla and Aquila? We all fit into a story, a big story. Mine happens to fit into Harrismith, between Johannesburg and Durban. You are sitting here, between Cape Town and Cairo. And between Cape Town and Cairo there are men, women, houses, businesses, opportunities, resources, time, talents, and treasures. Just say, “Yes God, use my business, Lord. Use my church, Lord. Use my gold, Lord. Use my money. Do whatever you want, Lord God, but it is all for you, Jesus.”
What it means to root ourselves in the scriptures
And then the final topic, the scriptures. We have to build by scripture. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches… apart from me you can do nothing.” The problem with business is that we trust experience. God does not want us to trust experience, He wants us to trust Him.
I love Psalm 139; it is a Psalm I use over and over again in my own life. It says that if I go up to the heavens, God is there. If I make my bed in the depths, or if I go to the far side of the sea, God is with me. We have to know that it was God’s idea first. My business was not my idea, it was God’s. My church was not my idea, it was God’s. Ziwani was not your idea, it was God’s. And so when we get to work, we say, “Good morning, Father. How can I help you? What can I do for you? How do I align with you?” Psalm 139 goes on to say that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I have been knit together in my mother’s womb. Every day was ordained for me, written in God’s book before one of them came to pass.
Not only am I a genius, but you are a genius. We must understand that we were meant to be alive in South Africa at this time, with this government, in this crisis, in this pandemic. We were meant to be alive, because we have a genius inside of us that has the solution to this nation’s problems. You and I have to open our eyes to every genius around us, sitting in this room, speaking at this launch. Inside of you is a genius that can change the world. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. No-one can tell you what you are, and what you are not – only God can do that.
Then Psalm 139 says that we hate God’s enemies. We must hate God’s enemies. We must hate discrimination, greed, guilt, and gossip. We must love humility, love, peace, and reconciliation. And finally it says, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart! …see if there are any offensive ways inside me, and lead me in the life everlasting!”
I close with this story. I played A-team rugby my whole life, but I dropped to the B-team when playing under-15. My dad watched every rugby match I ever played, but the day I played for the B-team he was watching rugby in Johannesburg, and I was playing in Natal. I ran onto that B-team field for the first time in my life, and suddenly I heard these two words from the other side of the field, “Go boytjie!” He had left Johannesburg and driven 600 kms to stand on the side of my field, shouting, “Go boytjie! May Ziwani stand on the side of every field, of every African person, in Nigeria, in Egypt, in South Africa, in Swaziland, in Lesotho. May Ziwani stand on the side of every child who has been dropped. May we stand on the side of the field as sons, as stewards, in the story of Acts, rooted in the scriptures of God, and shout these words, “Go boytjie! Go, girlie!” In Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless you.