‘No sin’ for this pas­tor to chase pageant crown

Sunday Times - - NEWS - By LEONIE WAG­NER

Preacher Por­tia Radebe will swap pul­pit for pageant next week when she takes part in the Mrs South Africa fi­nals.

The 36-year-old mother of five said not ev­ery­one in her con­gre­ga­tion at the God Sanc­tu­ary Church in Ron­de­bult, Ekurhuleni, had been sup­port­ive when she an­nounced she had made it into the top 25 of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“With some it didn’t gel well at all . . . af­ter I got a chance to ex­plain, some of the mem­bers came around. There was an el­e­ment of think­ing that they may lose me, that I would be too busy and be­come this fa­mous per­son.”

But she said most mem­bers of the church, which she co-pas­tors with her hus­band, Seth, were ex­cited for her. “They see a model when they look at me,” she said.

Radebe said she had also had to deal with a back­lash on so­cial me­dia.

When Mrs South Africa or­gan­is­ers an­nounced the top 25 fi­nal­ists on Face­book there were many con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages but also some crit­i­cism of Radebe from peo­ple say­ing it was “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” for a pas­tor’s wife to be in such a pageant.

“A guy re­posted it on his wall and asked whether a pas­tor’s wife should dress like that. Then peo­ple started com­ment­ing on that. Other pas­tors’ wives ac­tu­ally de­fended me and then spoke about how pas­tors’ wives also have our own as­pi­ra­tions,” she said.

De­spite hav­ing the full sup­port of her hus­band and chil­dren, Radebe said she was “stressed” about mod­el­ling in a swim­suit.

“My only stress was around the swim­suit area, not be­cause I’m not com­fort­able in my own skin but I knew it was go­ing to raise cer­tain is­sues with a lot of peo­ple, which it did.

“But for me it’s some­thing I en­joyed do­ing. I’m not plan­ning on be­ing out there with­out my clothes but it was the state of the com­pe­ti­tion.”

De­spite some of the neg­a­tive feed­back, Radebe said one pas­tor’s wife had thanked her for be­ing brave enough to show ev­ery­one “it was not a sin” to fol­low her dreams.

The Mrs South Africa com­pe­ti­tion dif­fers from other beauty pageants in that en­trants must be mar­ried and be­tween the ages of 25 and 49. The pro­gramme has a strong fo­cus on em­pow­er­ment.

Radebe said the com­pe­ti­tion was an op­por­tu­nity for her to achieve her dreams, which she had put on hold to fo­cus on the church and her fam­ily.

She is an event co-or­di­na­tor and im­age con­sul­tant, but she al­ways felt there was more she could do.

Be­tween preach­ing when her hus­band is out of town and singing in the church band, she also de­liv­ers the “word of en­cour­age­ment” ev­ery Sun­day.

Mrs South Africa 2017 will be held on Fri­day at Em­per­ors Palace. The event will be broad­cast at 6.30pm on Novem­ber 19 on SABC 3.

Pic­ture: Masi Losi

Por­tia Radebe, one of 25 fi­nal­ists in the Mrs South Africa pageant, says some of her con­gre­gants were not happy about her par­tic­i­pa­tion.

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