Rev Moss Ntlha reflects on the Pilgrimage of Grace.

“A powerful spiritual moment”

Reflection on the Pilgrimage of Grace: Rev Moss Ntlha

“Reconciliation is a profoundly spiritual process. Jesus is the only credible answer to the problems we find in our society,” says Rev Moss Ntlha, general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA) as he reflects on his participation in the Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace, a three-day journey towards repentance, reconciliation, restoration and prayer in the Genadendal community, the Moravian Church and South Africa as a whole.

“Being part of the Pilgrimage of Grace was a powerful spiritual moment for me. To see long-held tensions dissolve in the light of a genuine desire to be obedient to God’s call to reconciliation was a wonder to behold. This could only happen as a result of months of prayer for the pilgrimage.”

For Rev Moss, the Pilgrimage symbolised an important milestone in Christian obedience. “It saddens me that it took hundreds of years to right the wrong that happened so many years ago against the Moravian missionaries and their work in South Africa. So sad that human agency – or lack of it – can stall the purposes of God for generations.”

The Pilgrimage has set the wheels in motion to bring about lasting change in the individuals and communities involved, and practical steps have already been taken to continue the journey of relational healing and mission collaboration between the Dutch Reformed Church and the Moravians.

“Reconciliation is a profoundly spiritual process, and the only way to exorcise the demons of racism and prejudice from our society. It is for this reason that Jesus is the only credible answer, par excellence, to the problem of social alienation, gender-based violence, ethnic chauvinism, corruption and such pathologies as we find in our society. Legal and political instruments are not enough.”

One of Rev Moss’s highlights was the launch of the 54 Days of Prayer for Africa on the last day of the Pilgrimage at Cape Agulhas. “This massive prayer mobilisation is aimed at igniting similar processes of reconciliation and healing across the African continent that is known for its gaping wounds.”

BACKGROUND TO THE PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE

From 23 to 25 September 2022 a group of diverse individuals from South Africa and abroad participated in the Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace – a three-day journey towards repentance for past injustices in the Genadendal community, against the Moravian Church and in South Africa as a whole, along with reconciliation, restoration and prayer. The Pilgrimage formed part of prayer initiatives and actions from various groups across South Africa over the past few decades that centred on Jesus’ prayer in John 17: 20b – 22 (NIV): “I pray that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us.”

The Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace was organised by the South African Christian Leadership Initiative (SACLI Reconcile) and supported by Global Voice of Prayer, in Harmonie, the Moravian Church of South Africa, the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and various other ministries, denominations and individuals. The three-day Pilgrimage included:

23 September: A service at the Dutch Reformed Church Groote Kerk in Cape Town

24 September: A public event at the Moravian Church in Genadendal with a focus on repentance

25 September: A prayer gathering at the Southernmost Tip of Africa (l’Agulhas) for healing of the African continent. This also kicked off a 54 days of Prayer for Africa movement.

Read more here

Christian network for Businesswomen enters new phase

Written by Neziswa Kanju

The Christian Women Business Network (CWBN) Build and Grow rebranding event took place virtually on June 11. CWBN was established in 2017 and the goal has remained the same to create a safe place for Christian business and professional career women to they can come together to connect, network, support, and uplift each other. The network comprises women from different sectors, backgrounds who are in different positions and stages in business and corporate. 

Commenting on the green and gold colours chosen for the rebranding of CWBN, founder Kea Modise-Moloto says: “Gold and green says we are bold. We are strong. In our weakness we are strong. Green shows life and new beginnings and that is what we want in this new phase.

“This new part of our journey. Together we can build. To build you need different materials. You need different mindsets or inputs as you build. We need those who have more than us. In the first chapter of the Bible God talks about multiplying. We cannot be stagnant in our lives; in our business in our careers. We must always be looking for room to grow. The Bible says I will prosper you. Prosperity to me is about growth.”

Michelle Tyron from CWBN says of this season: “It is a season of enlargement where God is going to usher us into such glory. It is time for us to be what we have never been before. To do what we have never done before. As we step into this season of unprecedented favour that God has for us. We are called for such a time as this We are the finishing generation. We need to make sure that our focus is correct.”

Ayanda Allie Paine the spokesperson of the Department of Transport was the guest speaker at the relaunch. She motivated women to take more risks. She shared stories from her own life; how when she was younger, she launched many businesses and community projects but now she has become more hesitant. She admits that her growing family responsibilities and commitments have led her to be more cautious.

Teaching from the stories of Peter who drowned after removing his focus on Jesus and Moses who gave God a list of excuses why he was not the right man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Paine encouraged the women to launch out into the deep in their businesses.  

In their 4th year of existence the Christian Women Business Network exists beyond South African borders, reaching the United Kingdom; Asia and America. There is an African idiom that says: “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” This is why the CWBN exists, says Kea — tTo provide a space where Christian business and career women can encourage one another and take their businesses to greater heights.

She says: “When women know and trust the spaces that they are in that surround them, they thrive, they succeed. We look forward to connecting with women from across South Africa and abroad to empower, support, network, encourage and inspire them towards flourishing spiritual and business lives, we are inviting you to come and join our tribe, our community. Contact us through our social media. We want you to participate in our different connection points for your business and for you spiritually.”

You can call +27 82 970 6035, write to kea@christianwomenbusinessnetwork.com or visit www.christianwomenbusinessnetwork.com

Government does not want to regulate religion, will ‘look carefully’ at the PEPUDA bill, says Deputy Minister of Justice

Originally published in FORSA.org.za

Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) requested (and was granted) an opportunity to meet with the Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery, to discuss the religious community’s concerns regarding the PEPUDA Amendment Bill.

The virtual meeting, which took place yesterday, follows the unprecedented opposition from South Africa’s religious community to the highly contentious Bill which – if passed in its current form – will drastically infringe the religious freedom rights of people and organisations of all faiths.

It was a constructive and fruitful engagement during which FOR SA and various senior religious leaders, representing a cross-spectrum of denominations, churches and faidth groups, were able to relay to the deputy minister – with reference to faith-specific examples – their concerns regarding the bill, and how it will potentially impact their organisations and faith adherents.

In response to our submissions, the deputy minister stated that “it is not the intention of government to regulate or to interfere with religious institutions, what they believe and how they put it forward”, but that this was nonetheless something that the department could “look at making clearer” in the Bill. (In this regard, he referred to FOR SA’s previous interaction with the department in relation to the so-called Hate Speech Bill, which resulted in the inclusion of a religious exemption clause in the bill).

The deputy minister’s verbal assurance that government does not intend to interfere with the religious sphere certainly does bring a level of comfort. However, the reality is that unless this is specifically written into the Bill, it leaves the door wide open for the state (or activists pushing an anti-religion agenda) to target and enforce the Bill (once adopted) against persons and organisations of faith. Ultimately, the courts have to enforce and/or interpret the law as it is written, and it is therefore critically important that government clarify whatever their intentions are within the legislation itself.

In so far as the process and anticipated timeframe are concerned, the department indicated that they will now have to consider all the comments received on the bill, as well as make possible amendments to ensure the Bill is constitutional. In all likelihood, the Bill will only be tabled before Parliament next year. As an example, the Deputy Minister referred to the three gender-based violence bills that were “priority bills”, yet took six months before being passed by the National Assembly and which are only now before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

What transpired during the meeting
In addition to the FOR SA team, the meeting was joined by a number of senior religious leaders from across the faith-spectrum, who were invited to represent the concerns of the religious community, namely Imboni Dr uZwi-Lezwe Radebe (Founder and Chairman of Inkululeko Yesizwe Association); Apostle Gerome Mintoor (Spokesperson:  New Apostolic Churches of South Africa); Bishop Samuel Ndlovu (National Spokesperson:  Alliance of Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches in South Africa); Bishop Nathi Zondi (Presiding Bishop:  Truevine Family of Churches); Sheik Faizul Khamker (Senior Executive: Sunni Ulama Council Gauteng); and Sheik Yusuf Patel (Secretary-General: United Ulama Council of South Africa). On the Department’s side, the deputy minister was joined by various persons involved in the drafting of the bill and representatives of the minister of justice himself.

The meeting started out with a brief introduction by FOR SA’s executive director, Michael Swain, highlighting that the issues raised by the bill are societal and therefore political – hence the request to deal with this matter at this level and at this time. This was followed by a short presentation by FOR SA’s Adv Nadene Badenhorst on some of the legal aspects and the negative impact of the bill on other constitutional rights, including specifically the right to religious freedom (section 15) and freedom of expression (section 16). Thereafter, opportunity was given to each of the above leaders to raise their concerns regarding the bill and the impact thereof on their organisations and members.

In response, the deputy minister affirmed that government respects the rights in the Bill of Rights, including the section 15 right to religious freedom. Since this right is superior to any legislation, they will “look carefully” at the bill. Interestingly, he also stated that there is “complete freedom” for religious institutions to state their beliefs as long as it does not amount to violence. However, when it comes to how people live out their religious beliefs, they have to abide the law of the land. (FOR SA does not agree with this narrow interpretation of the right to religious freedom).

In conclusion, FOR SA appealed to the deputy minister to reconsider the bill in its entirety. We do not believe that in its current form it will pass constitutional muster and it is evidently not acceptable to a major sector of the faith community of South Africa. As an alternative to being scrapped in its entirety, we called for various clauses in the bill to be amended to bring it in line with the Constitution. In particular, we argued for the inclusion of a clause that specifically prohibits unfair discrimination on grounds of religion (similar to the existing prohibitions in PEPUDA on grounds of race and gender). This would serve to avoid the interpretation or application of the bill in a manner that destroys other constitutional rights, including religious freedom (s 15) and freedom of expression (s 16).

Joburg receptionist saddened by looting starts viral clean-up movement

When a young Johannesburg woman posted a message on Facebook offering to help clean up looted stores, she had no idea that her act of kindness would spark a movement that would gather tens of thousands of volunteers within a few days.

Emelda Masango, 25, of Crown Mines, said she was at home over the weekend after the retail company where she works as a receptionist elected to close for a while because of the looting. She said she felt sad about the violence and lawlessness taking place around her and wanted to reach out and “put a smile on the faces” of affected business owners.

So, on Monday morning she posted the following message on the “I Know a Guy” Facebook page: “Anyone who needs help to clean up after the looting in their business, I volunteer.”

To her surprise and delight, her message was shared nearly 1 000 times within 24 hours and by the time I spoke to her on Wednesday afternoon, more than 28 000 people has joined the “Rebuild SA — Volunteers Group” she started on Facebook together with several other volunteers. They also started a Whatsapp group that rapidly became full.

Members of the Winnie Mabaso Foundation Members of The Winnie Mabaso Foundation helping with the clean up of looted shops on the informal settlement of Meriting #MabasoLove #RebuildingSouthAfrica #TogetherWeCan 💙🇿🇦 (Photo posted on the “Rebuild SA — Volunteers Group” Facebook page)

Emelda, who said her Christian faith played a part in her reaching out, said: “I am very happy about it [the flood of people wanting to help] . I am feeling so much hope inside of me. And I feel like this is the New South Africa that I need — and which it was like before this. We just need to recover, I think and get back to where we were. This is how we reunite again.”

She said that, inspired by her example, a foundation in Soweto has already mobilised people and started cleaning looted malls.

Asked how she and her partners plan to mobilise their tens of thousands of volunteers, she said: “We are just busy for this week with administration so we can get everything into order. And from next week we will start the work.”

In addition to the many offers of hands-on support on the volunteer Facebook group, are offers of donations from people further afield in South Africa or outside of the country.

Emelda said that with all the support streaming in she wants to expand the help they offer beyond cleaning up looted premises to include professional emotional support for victims of the mayhem “who are damaged inside” as a result of the trauma.

Asked what her company has to say about her off-duty outreach, she said: “My boss is a kind person and he encouraged me and he is very proud of me.”

Three months of revival prayer starting at crosses at Fountain Vineyard, PE on Sunday

A campaign of three months of revival prayer from August 1 until October 31 will be launched at the three crosses on the Fountain Vineyard Christian Fellowship fields at 22 Newcombe Road Walmer Heights, Port Elizabeth from 3pm to 4pm on Sunday.

The theme for the three months will be The Fervent Prayer of a United Church and local churches are asked to each come and pray at the crosses for an hour on one Saturday during the campaign, said the campaign visionary, Pastor Blessing Marunga.

He said the participation by South Africans and people from other parts of the world in a revival prayer campaign he initiated over the same period last year had exceeded his expectations.

“It was not my intention to have another three months but then I felt led in 2021 that we must pray as the united Church. When the Church prays together the people are united. So, I am saying, as the Church, let us arise, let us unite, so that the people of the nation can also be united,” he said.

“Why are we doing this? Because we know that the world revival is going to start from South Africa. And even though the devil may try with his different schemes to divert our attention, we know what God has spoken and we are taking hold of that Word and we are going to be on our knees for three months to pray for healing for South Africa, for unity, and for revival that has been spoken for many years that it will start in South Africa. And there are people who have been praying for more that 20 years expecting this revival,” said Blessing.

Churches are asked to book their congregational Saturday afternoon slot (3pm to 4pm) as soon as possible with Blessing at 078 944 1391 or with Pastor Joan Keeling at 084 766 2270. [Congregations are welcome to come on as many Saturdays as they choose but are encouraged to at least commit to one afternoon in the 3 month period.

Individuals can join the campaign by WhatsApping “REVIVAL” to 078 944 1391. They will be sent more information and weekly prayer points.

“So, let us pray for the rebirth of South Africa, for healing and restoration, and for God’s purposes to prevail in South Africa because we know that the schemes of the devil are defeated in prayer,” said Blessing.

Our choices affect our democracy — Nelson Mandela Bay church leaders

The Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leader Network condemns the blatant criminality, looting, financial sabotage, and incitement of violence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which threatens to spill over to other parts of our country.

The South African democracy is at a crossroads. The way we choose to go forward will determine our future, be it one of destruction and suffering or flourishing. We need to be clear about who we are and what kind of society we want to build, and what we reject.

We have a biblical, prophetic witness and message to deliver. Firstly, we witness against:

  • The thieves, looters, thugs, and arsonists. We say: stop your criminal activities. You are sabotaging the economy robbing people of jobs and livelihoods and will tear us down into the abyss of lawlessness. You are in fact stealing from the most vulnerable who will languish in the aftermath of your destruction. Please stop.
  • The instigators and organisers of violence. We say: you use the very real issues of hunger, poverty, unemployment, and poor service delivery to flame chaos for your own gain. You try to light the wildfire which will uncontrollably destroy us all. Please stop.
  • Those who flame lawlessness through race, ethnicity, or tribalism. We say: you sow division and set citizens against one another. You endeavour to consolidate your own power but destroy the ability of South Africans to work together and to build a better future for all. Please stop.
  • Those who spread fake news and distort the truth. False narratives about the judicial system, court verdict, political leaders, issues concerning Covid-19 and vaccination are being spread. You construct a false rationale for thuggery and destruction. Please stop.
  • Corrupt politicians who do not serve, but seek to enrich themselves and their families, often in cahoots with equally corrupt businesspeople, robbing the public of necessary services and opportunity. Please stop.

We call on every South African to refrain from what is corrupt, destructive, violent, false, and merely self-serving.

We call on the South African police and the military to stand firm against the destruction we are witnessing in our land. Please be loyal only to justice, fairness, the common good and the protection of the public. We support our security personnel.

We commend the justices and magistrates who measures justice out without fear or favour, but in fairness and in a principled way.

We thank health care workers who diligently care for our sick, especially in this dire pandemic. We are grateful for the programme of immunization.

The current events should not be allowed to harm this rollout.

We call on all South Africans to remain calm and collected. Be circumspect in the actions you take to protect your loved ones and your property.

Our prophetic voice also points to God’s preferred future for us.

God intends a better future for us all.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Church Leader Network advocates a caring, open society with opportunity, employment, and security for all. For this reason, we call on all leaders in all tiers of government to work together with civic society, business, and education to create a better life for all.

The current crisis is symptomatic of the deep inequality, poverty, and hopelessness in our society. We are sitting on a timebomb. Our problems will not go away without a concerted effort to address inequality, poverty, and growth in the economy to promote employment.

In addition to short-term actions to solve the current crisis, our problems.

As the collective church we are taking practical steps to improve our plight:

  • Our Prayer Network — which reaches right around the Bay — prays diligently for the volatile situation in the country and for God to protect the Bay and flourish her people
  • We are feeding literally thousands of economically marginalised families in our metro. Our Against Hunger programme prevents starvation
  • We are committed to plant vegetable gardens and to teach people to grow their own nutritious food
  • We are present in schools to support educators and learners
  • We are developing training to enable voters to use their votes wisely in the upcoming local elections and to resist the nomination of corrupt candidates by political parties
  • Our diverse leadership (denominations, networks, race, culture, gender, gifting) witness to the society we are building and set an example for others to follow.

We ask congregations to link communities together. Create networks which can communicate and advocate through digital platforms to protect themselves, disseminate information, mobilise against criminality, and keep government structures accountable.

Our people carry a heavy burden.

As spiritual shepherds our immediate concern is for the people who are shaken, numbed, shocked and feeling hopeless by what they are witnessing.

We are committed to a ministry of hope. We will prevail because God our Father cares for us, Jesus Christ our Lord reigns over us, and God the Holy Spirit empowers us to seek the Kingdom of God.

Bishop Jacob Freemantle:  Methodist Church of SA (Grahamstown Synod)
Apostle Neville Goldman:  Ebenezer International
Dominee Danie Mouton:  Director Synod Eastern Cape DRC

The destiny of SA, and Africa, depends on our prayers — Mogoeng

Written by Andre Viljoen

“What time is it? And what season are we in?” Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked South African Christians at the start of an online prayer meeting for the nation that he led on Sunday.

Unless we are like the Sons of Issachar and truly know the times and the seasons we risk praying against God’s purposes, he said during a Zoom prayer gathering on the final day of a seven-day period of repentance for the sins of the nation called by the Hope, Healing, Restoration Project of the Lord, which he leads.

The 7-days of repentance prayer followed 40 days of intense spiritual warfare for the nation convened by the campaign and Mogoeng’s Sunday message, which was also streamed on Facebook Live, marked his first public address since he announced in early May that he was going on long leave.

Answering his own question about the time and season, Mogoeng said that according to trustworthy prophetic voices we are currently in a time of judgment, a time of repentance and a time of birthing the destiny of South Africa — and Africa.

In order to pray as God wants us to pray to release “the biggest move of God in the history of the earth”, beginning in South Africa — “the revival we have been praying for” — we need to understand these three components of the current spiritual season, he said.

“We dare not allow this moment to slip through our fingers.”

“Let me begin with judgment,” he said, as he began to expand on each aspect of the current season.

He said that for too long the Church has been lukewarm, politically correct and sought the approval of politicians, celebrities and the media resulting in it perverting the Word of God and condoning immorality..

“And that is why judgment has been unleashed upon us as the children of God and the people of God,” he said.

Had the people of God, called by His name, stood in the gap, Coronavirus, poverty, corruption and other evils would have disappeared a long time ago because God is an almighty, covenant-keeping God, he said.

He said greed, corruption and serving mammon are widespread in areas of the Church itself. We don’t unite to fight criminality. We are lazy about prayer. We deliver motivational speeches and love positions, publicity and power. We pursue personal and sectional agendas “and even the agenda of the devil”,

“That’s where we have been and that is why there is judgment, and that is why the next point is critical — and that is repentance.”

He said that whenever we talk about repentance, we quite correctly refer to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

But he said, the children of God mostly make the mistake of praying for the sins of other people.

“That is not what the Scripture says; I must begin with myself,” said Mogoeng.

He said: “It begins with my own heart. I must ask the Lord to search my heart, to purify my heart with fire so that I can then be in a position to pray for others.”

“We must acknowledge our wickedness and from the depth of our hearts repent — and then only will the Lord hear,” he said.

Mogoeng also said the Body of Christ needs to repent for its lack of unity. Unbelievers and witches are more united than the Church which allows “anybody and anything to divide us”, he said.

“People can shut our mouths any time. Restaurants can be open but not churches because they know there will not be any consequences. We have allowed ourselves to be impotent,” he said.

Moving to “the time of the birthing of SA” Mogoeng said he was struck by two recent prophetic words published in Gateway News — by Veronika West and by Naomi Sheneberger — which “reiterated what we know, that- the time for the Kingdom of God is here, the Government of God is here. The time that Kim Clement prophesied about in May 2008 has come.

“But the devil — the spirit of Leviathan — as warned in Revelation 12, has risen up, and the dragon wants to steal and kill and destroy the destiny of South Africa and of Africa by extension — and the nations of the earth. Because, as you well know, the greatest move ever in the history of the earth, is destined by the Almighty God to begin in South Africa.

“That revival we have been praying for, we have seen in part, needs to break out completely. It just needs you and I; it needs our hearts saints. We dare not allow this moment to slip through our fingers.”

He said that happily Jesus left believers a pattern for dealing with Satan. As recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, when the devil tried to tempt Jesus, the Lord kept saying: “It is written..”

He said Satan cannot stand the written or spoken Word of God.

 “We have got to believe it ourselves first because four times in the Bible we learn that ‘the just shall live by faith and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

Unfortunately, as believers, we listen more to the devil than to the Word of God, by listening to fake news and evil narratives that provoke unbelief and fear.

He said that we need to appropriate the power in the Word of God (Revelation 12:11 — They overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony) and to start praying with the boldness that releases God to wage war on our behalf.

Mogoeng concluded his message by inviting his audience to pray through a list of prayer points in line with the current spiritual season and with the prophetic words he mentioned. He said they should keep on praying that way until there is a breakthrough. 

“The Lord is waiting for us to pray this way so that the destiny of South Africa we have been fasting and praying for happens.”

The prayer points are:

  • My own repentance and the repentance of the Church of God — 2 Corinthians 7:14, and “It is written” — Luke 4, Matthew 4
  • Declare that Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly — John 10:10
  • Declare there will be no more stench of death — not by Coronavirus and other diseases and disasters. 
  • Declare the light and the glory of the Lord is rising upon SA and Africa and that darkness shall flee — Isaiah 60:1-3 
  • Say that our God has not given us a Spirit of fear but of love, power and a sound mind —  2 Timothy 1:7 — so we command you to flee Satan in the name of Jesus — James 4:7
  • Based on Rev 12:11, say: Satan, you spirit of Leviathan, we overcome you by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony and in Jesus name we resist you and command you to flee
  • Declare that South Africa fears God and His glory from the rising of the sun — Isaiah 59:19 
  • Declare that the waves of the death and destruction of the spirit of Leviathan will not flood the land and the Spirit of the Lord is raising up the standard against the demonic flood of the enemy, against witchcraft, occultism, against all forms of idolatry, deception, immorality, perversion, criminality, corruption, injustice, iniquity, and unrighteousness — Isaiah 59:19; 2 Samuel :22, 5, 17, 20
  • Say the battle belongs to God — 1 Sam 17:27 — and ask the Lord to judge all forms of wickedness and all the wicked who are unrepentant 
  • Declare victory is assured — 1 Corinthians 15: 57
  • Declare that the new nation of South Africa is being birthed in a day — Isaiah 66:8 
  • Say: It is finished in Jesus name — John 19:30

SA Olympic golden-girl Tatjana Schoenmaker gives glory to God

Written by Andre Viljoen 

Adapted from the original story in Faithwire

South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker today claimed SA’s first gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics as she won the women’s 200m breaststroke final on Friday, smashing the world record in the process. 

Swimming in lane 4, the 24-year-old swimming star timed her race perfectly, sitting behind American Lilly King for the first 100m before surging over the last 100m. She touched the wall at 2:18.95  beating the previous record of 2:19.11 set by Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen at the World Championships in 2013.

Schoenmaker who also set Olympic records in the 100m and 200m breaststroke during the heats and took silver in the 100m breaststroke earlier this week has been using her success to point others to God.

In all her competitions in Tokyo, Schoenmaker has worn — under her green South Africa swim cap — another cap proclaiming her faith.

The white Speedo cap the athlete is wearing features a blue Jesus fish under the phrase “Soli Deo Gloria,” which means “Glory to God alone,” printed on the side of it.

Schoenmaker today became the first South African woman swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal since Penny Heyns — another bold ambassador for Jesus — at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Her win takes Team SA’s medal tally in Tokyo to three. In addition to her two medals, surfer Bianca Buitendag also won a silver medal on Tuesday. Buitendag, who was only ranked 17 out of 20 before the event also acknowledged God during an interview on the podium.

In an Instagram post last week, Schoenmaker posted a prayer as she traveled to Tokyo for the summer Olympic Games.

“Father God, may Your will be done, may Your peace fill us up, may we praise You no matter what the outcome, may we be empowered by Your strength to give our all and may we forever be in awe of Your goodness!” she wrote. “Thank You for bringing us to this very moment.

Reconciliation and repentance on Senekal Prayer Hill – ‘a blueprint for South Africa’

Written by Nichelle Steyn

Community members of Senekal gathered on “Prayer Hill” outside Senekal yesterday morning for a special thanksgiving and repentance prayer meeting in response to God’s help in the town during a time of crisis in October 

Senekal pastor John Mathuhle, who believes God intervened miraculously in the town to turn the devil’s plans for civil war into God’s plan’s for reconciliation and revival, invited Christians throughout the country to join local believers in the prayer event on the Day of Reconciliation

At the gathering economist, author and public speaker Dr Arno van Niekerk shared a heartfelt message on the true meaning of reconciliation.  He said it is quite significant that the prayer meeting took place in the middle of country on December 16.

“This is the place where the enemy wanted to bring the sparks for civil war but God took over.” 

He said Christians must put their identity in Christ first and set everything else aside just like God worked in the hearts of community members two months ago. “These community members were brave enough to let the spirit of the Lord take over and God stepped in working behind to scenes to give us hope. God showed us that he is serious about our country, and about Africa.” 

Dr Arno van Niekerk, left and Pastor John Mathuhle at yesterdays Prayer Hill gathering

He encouraged South Africans of all races to let go of their pride and truly humble themselves before God to set the past right, and open the doors for a new future.

“As a white South African I just want apologise on this mountain today, on behalf of the race I represent. I want to humble myself before God and before my fellow black South Africans, to set aside my pride.” 

He said that after apartheid ended in 1994 change came but pride remained.

“We still wanted to do our own thing. After 1994 secular humanism also took over the country, opening the door for abortions, and other ungodly policies. The leaders started to build a nation on sand, but today we want to return the rock, our Lord Jesus Christ, and ask our nation to start building a new nation together,  on the rock.” 

According to Van Niekerk we all have our own cultural identity, and that is fine but it should not take precedence over our identity in Christ.

“What defines you? Is it your identity in Christ or your identity that you found something else? Repent surrender your life to the one and only God – The cross will be the only thing that can save our country. We have to understand the extent of the injustice of apartheid so that we can walk into a new future. Bow before the God of heaven and earth and ask God and our fellow South Africans for forgiveness. Only then can we truly move on.” 

He then went on his knees and went into prayers of repentance.WATCH: A word from Pastor John Mathuhle at the gathering

“For the oppressions, for the hatred we have sown as white people – we are so sorry Lord, please forgive us.”

He then asked Pastor Mathuhle to come forward and asked him for forgiveness, representing the races the whites oppressed during apartheid.  It was a poignant moment. The two men hugged each other and Mathuhle had to take a moment to gather his words.

“We forgive you, and we repent also for the black people who became prisoners of bitterness,”  he said.

After the teary moment, Van Niekerk served communion on the hilltop as a prophetic act to symbolise what had happened there. He asked community members of different races to serve each other while taking communiionn.

“Walk to your fellow South African and pray together for the healing of this nation. Let’s express our forgiveness, because we were forgiven while we didn’t deserve it. I believe this is a prophetic act on behalf of the people of South Africa. We invite the Lord to reign in our nation and stand in the gap for the country. We believe for a new future, for a new South Africa!” 

He urged the community members to open their hearts toward each other.

“None of us can say we never sinned, that we haven’t contributed to the downfall of the nation. God will arise in the hearts of His people. Like dew on a mountain coming down, the unity and the healing of Christ will come down on our nation. As the blood of Jesus was spilled on this earth, we will receive the Lord’s forgiveness and each other’s forgiveness.” 

In an interview after the event he said it was an incredible day, a divine appointment by the Lord.

“It was a public statement by the people of Senekal that they will take hands and will stand in unity.  It was so special as we prayed for each other. It was a reflection of God’s plan for this nation. I think what happened here should happen on a national level.”  

In an interview afterwards Mathuhle thanked all of the people who attended the event, online and on the hill.

“We were so overwhelmed by the Spirit of the Lord. God filled our hearts with a fresh fire for our country and our communities. I am really so excited about what God has done. When we started to repent it was such a blessing — to see the hearts of people that were separated and then experience how the Spirit of Lord allowed us to connect with each other. To see Black and White truly come together, was a holy experience.” 

He said only the power of God can do this. 

“As the remnant we need to call this nation to reconcile with God – Christ is our mediator – a true reconciliation in the Church must start in the house of God.  When we reconcile with God it becomes possible to reconcile with our fellow South Africans. It is not an artificial reconciliation; it is true repentance that leads to the healing and unity of the nation.” 

He said God is birthing a new nation: “We are up for a great surprise in this nation! I believe what happened on this day will have a ripple effect, something significant happened in the Spirit on that mountain.”  

Speaking of his own time of repentence on the hill on behalf of his race, he said: “I repented for things we have allowed to come into the land, a lot evil – demonic influence that we have allowed in our land.

“One of them is the shedding of innocent life, things like the killing of farmers who produce food for our country, and the killing of women and the children. 

“We abandoned our mandate as shepherds of the people of God” 

He asked white people to forgive his people for allowing rapes, killings, crimes, harassment inflicted on them, and implementing evil policies dividing the nation.

“We have abandoned the mandate of 1994 – forgive us. He prayed for God to raise men with boldness who will speak against these things and God to raise them up to change the course this nation is taking. It was such an awesome experience – people were on their knees. Crying and praying. There is a great anticipation in our hearts to see what God will do next.” 

‘Women of SA: forgive others so God can use you to build new nation’

— Nikiwe Apenteng

God wants Christian women in South Africa to unconditionally forgive and love others so that He can use them to build a new nation, says Nikiwe Apenteng in the first video in a Women’s Month series called Wisdom From God’s Daughters posted by Christian Leaders Forum SA.

Last month Apenteng, who is an intercessor, prophet and founder of a community upliftment NGO in Bisho, sent a widely-shared message on social media calling on White South Africans to forgive Blacks for hating them and refusing to forgive them “for what your forefathers did” in the apartheid era”.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to ask Ramaphosa to allow religious gatherings

Originally published in Independent Online

Ethekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda will plead with President Cyril Ramaphosa this weekend to relax Covid-19 restrictions on religious gatherings, to enable a spiritual injection for “a highly stressed” South African society.

Since the advent of the pandemic, which led to restrictions on economic activity, many people have died. Throngs of others are battling for their lives in hospitals, many jobs have been lost and last week KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng saw scenes of unprecedented looting and destruction.

As the city’s executive committee heard during its special meeting this week, these challenges, which are insurmountable for many people, will cause untold trauma in society.

Council chief whip Sibongiseni Mkhize argued that churches could be a useful source of much-needed spiritual support and upliftment during these trying times, as they were during the dark days of apartheid.

“While as leaders we understand the importance of imposing restrictions on activities as a way of containing the spread of the virus, the reality is that already people are sick and tired of this lockdown, simply because it has resulted in job losses and killed a number of small businesses which were a source of food for many families,” Mkhize said.

“Please, Mr Mayor, kindly lobby for the end of the lockdowns, but with an emphasis that we will all ensure strict adherence to the safety and health protocols,” he said.

In response, Kaunda said that in his capacity as a member of the presidential coordinating council, which will be meeting to advise the president this Sunday, he would advance the plea for the easing of the restrictions.

“Of course, the decisions that are taken at that forum are based on the statistics and trends regarding the level of infections.

“But we will forward the appeals to say that even if the numbers (of congregants) are limited, let us allow churches to open up as a platform to provide that spiritual counselling as it has been suggested,” said Kaunda.

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) said the need for opening up churches has never been more pressing than it is at present.

“Church leaders express a desire to use their limited influence at a community level to foster a positive mindset away from the looting and destruction. However, the churches consider this unworkable without the capacity to bring even limited numbers of people to places of worship,” said SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

“For example, leaders of local churches in Soweto and Zululand are desperately seeking to bring congregations together to pray and spread the spirit of persuasion against people joining looting rampages,” said Mpumlwana.

Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, a public health virology and immunology researcher, said the devastating violence of last week had only increased the pressure to ease restrictions especially due to the economic trauma inflicted.

“I fully understand the pressure to open up that religious and business leaders feel. The events of the past week only increase the pressure. From a public health point of view, I think restricting large gatherings is still the right approach, but I can understand some relaxation with strict adherence to Covid-19 (health and safety) protocols,” he said.

God multiplies missionaries’ plan to restock shops hit by looting

Written by Andre Viljoen on August 4, 2021

“What can we do to help?” Kent and Lyndall Vanderyacht asked after they got over the initial shock of looting that had broken out in their area days before and their hearts went out to people in a nearby township left without food and hope.

The next morning — the Saturday after the Monday when the looting started — Lyndall prayed about their desire to help and then she asked Kent what he thought about the idea of restocking a looted spaza shop — just to help get their economy going again.

They just had one, or maybe two, shops in mind, said Kent. It was like their Hearts That Hope orphanage ministry in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, he explained, where they care for 11 children in addition to their own four kids. “We know that God can do great big things. But for us we are happy with getting relational, getting in people’s lives.”

He said they thought that with donations of about R100 or R200 and gifts of groceries from friends and family they could help a shopkeeper or two to get back on their feet again.

So they found out it would cost about R7 500 to restock a typical spaza shop and with the help of Lyndall’s marketing-savvy brother they had a “Stock-A-Shop” web page up and running by that Saturday evening and they launched the campaign on a Sunday morning.

Kent Vanderyacht, centre, talking with a shopkeeper in his looted shop in iLembe District, KwaZulu-Natal

“By Sunday night we had a hundred grand in our bank to stock shops. And it was like, okay, I guess we’re doing this and let’s just keep going until it stops,” he said.

When I spoke to Kent earlier this week he said donations to the campaign had reached R660 000. They had restocked 26 shops in the relatively small ILembe District township nearest to them. They had also fixed and secured many of the shops which had also been vandalised.

Kent said he and two local men who were assisting him were now in the next nearest township, speaking to shop owners and assessing their needs. He estimated they would be able to assist another 60 or 70 shops. He said it was amazing how people had come on board with the campaign to help shopkeepers start again. As long as donations kept coming in they would continue with the project, he said.

Kent estimated that in the 12km stretch between Ballito and Stanger, about 150 shops were looted. In the bigger townships closer to Durban he believes thousands of small shopkeepers lost their livelihoods through the looting.

Reflecting on their recent experience, Kent, who is a missionary from the United States, said he and Lyndall were shocked on the first Monday of the looting as they watched television footage of businesses being attacked with no police in sight. As they wondered whether looting which was happening just across the freeway would spread to their suburb they considered whether they should be thinking of moving to the US. He said he had been in Lebanon when war broke out but what he saw on TV that was happening in KZN was much more scary than that war.

Subsequently, local security companies protected Ballito and businesses there were not looted. On the Thursday of that week, without telling his wife, Kent prayed for God to protect him and rode his scooter into the township across the freeway and started speaking to people. Despite the racial tension that had been building over the past few days he said ordinary people in the township who were not involved in the looting welcomed him. He visited again on the Friday and that night he and Lyndall began asking the Lord how they could help.

Kent said one of the amazing things that has happened through the Stock-A-Shop campaign is that he has ended up working with a lot of Muslim shopkeepers. He said he had always wanted to go to the Middle East as a missionary. “And I said: ‘Wow God, it’s just like you. Now I’m in South Africa and you brought the Middle East to me and I’m getting to pray with these guys.’”

He said one of the Muslim people they were helping said: “God gave you Christians Jesus as a gift, so that you can give this gift to us.”

He said that shopkeepers they have helped have said their support has given them hope and a reason to start again. He said all of the shops in the first township they helped are up and running again and there was an improved atmosphere in the area.

When I spoke to him they had just been to the next township and found that no shops were open and there was great animosity between shopkeepers and the people who had looted their businesses. He said they have met with community leaders and various role players and want to help heal relations and remind people “you are all in this together”,