Train station in Zion, Illinois. Photo by Gidonb, licensed under Creative Commons.

South African "Zionists"

Every summer I relish spending lazy evenings watching minor-league baseball, which in my neck of Penn's Woods means following the State College Spikes.

Going to Spikes games for leisure does not mean that I escape my professional interests, however—as I learned when I first noticed the name of a talented young player, Gift Ngoepe. Taken together, those names point not only to a South African origin but also to roots in one of that country's many African-initiated churches (or AICs). Gift's mother was praying in a building of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) when she re­ceived a visitation from a woman prophet who assured her that her pregnancy would have a good outcome and that her son would prosper—hence the name Gift.

 

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