Tears flow at the Xapiles farewell

2018-04-26 06:00
Hordes of children look on as Reverend Xapile and his wife Zethu prepare to slice the farewell cake, during an event organised by the church’s Pathfiders on Saturday. PHOTO: TARZAN MBITA

Hordes of children look on as Reverend Xapile and his wife Zethu prepare to slice the farewell cake, during an event organised by the church’s Pathfiders on Saturday. PHOTO: TARZAN MBITA

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On Sunday, the congregation of the J.L Zwane Presbyterian Church paid homage to their departing minister and his wife in an emotionally charged and moving affair.

Zethu Xapile and her husband, Dr Reverend Sphiwe Xapile are leaving after spending 29 years with that flock, ministering to generations of worshippers.

On Saturday, the Pathfinders of the church had also bid their beloved couple goodbye.

Tears seemed to flow like the waters of the great Nile river on Sunday, which later turned to whistles of celebration, as the duo were showered with praise for their dedication and commitment to the people of Gugulethu and surrounds.

The previous day, children presented the couple with cakes and other niceties as they too, felt they owed their being to the Xapiles.

It is a historical fact that when they arrived, it was at the darkest of hours for people suffering the stigma of the dreaded HIV/Aids pandemic.

Their church was the only one that opened doors to countless people who bore the brunt of the disease, be they actual sufferers or relatives of the sufferers.

Zethu Xapile, a qualified nurse, had her work cut out for her, standing by the side of her husband, to find solutions to an incurable plague.

It was that memory that led many to shed tears on Sunday as the hour of realisation dawned, that the Xapiles were moving on and not coming back.

This fact was confirmed when he said: “I will journey with you(in your challenges), and your children, but I will not be coming back.”

This drew even more tears from those present, for it was like the severing of the umbilical cord.

A tearful Norma Piki said: “Its not nice at all(seeing you leave), because some of us were young kids when you arrived, and now are grown women.”

Vuyokazi Majokweni, who was the emcee at the event said the couple has meant everything to them over the years.

“You meant everything to us ... They opened their hearts so we could come in.”

She drew the analogy of a coconut whose exterior is rough and unassuming, but whose insides are as sweet.

“On the outside, the coconut is prickly, brown, but once opened, reveals its sweetness. You were everything to everybody. As one life ends, so does another begin

“Thanks for loving us, opening your heart to all of us and breaking down the barriers to progress,” she said.

In response, Xapile said anything less than love has no G-d in it.

“You have been an amazing congregation, a group of people for whom the only thing we could do is love in return. We leave with sweet memories, you are doing this but for the grace of G-d.”

Xapile encouraged the congregation to “reciprocate that love to one another, in order to invest in relationships, for the purity of intent.” On Friday, the community of Gugulethu will also host a farewell service for the Xapile family.

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