Pastor set to ‘re-fire’ at 84
Well-known EL pastor dedicated his adult life to ministry
More than 60 years after first stepping onto a pulpit for the first time, renowned East London pastor Harold Prince will hang up his clergy coat and step down from full-time ministry next week.
While his congregation considers this move retirement, Prince insists he is “re-firing”.
If his list of plans is anything to go by, the 84-year-old’s life is only beginning.
In an interview on Monday, Prince recalled many memories of his highest and lowest moments since becoming a minister in East London at the age of 22.
“I was ordained as a pastor in 1957. I was one of the youngest pastors then and I am one of the oldest pastors now.”
Prince dedicated his entire life to his ministry as the senior pastor at Elshaddai Assembly of God, now based in Buffalo Flats.
Before this, he said he had just begun a cabinet-making apprenticeship. But he soon changed paths to bible school and has never looked back. His life behind the pulpit has spanned many parts of the country including Johannesburg, Kokstad, Durban, Komani and Mthatha, and he has preached in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Malawi, Sweden, Norway, Germany and England.
“It’s been a joyful journey but I’m very excited for this new chapter. This is my long walk to freedom. I will get to spend my time doing what I love: fishing, writing books, rekindling my love for woodwork, and spending time with my wife.”
Prince and Maxie have been married for 54 years.
They have five children and “many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren”.
Like clay in the potter’s hands, Prince allowed God to mould his life from early on.
He fondly remembered reciting a verse for Sunday school that planted a seed for ministry at the age of six.
At the age of 16, a preacher on a street corner reignited his passion for the Lord.
“I was standing outside a shop like young people do. I don’t know why young people are always attracted to shops.
“A man came up and started preaching. He was an ex-convict, a notorious character, but he preached that day and God spoke to me.
“I got a deep conviction in my heart. I made a commitment to Christ at that age and that desire was rekindled.”
Prince’s earliest moment in ministry was the 1951 revival with late Assemblies of God founder Reverend Nicholas Bhengu.
“I worked very closely with him and was a personal witness to the souls that we won for God. I was born spiritually in that climate,” Prince said.
His own ministry days began in Kokstad, before he moved back to East London to establish his own church.
He said the special moments were too many to recall.
“I consider myself the least of God’s servants. There is no room in my life for pride. I’m not a man of God – I’m a man of a great God. You’ve got to get your priorities right,” he said.
“Ministry has never been a profession, it’s been a calling.”..