The South Africa Story—2011 Version
The work in South Africa got off to a good start. I arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday, August 13, at 5:10 p.m. (after a sixteen hour flight from Atlanta) on time. Leslie Motsalane, director, JGHM—Southern Africa Branch, was there to greet me, along with his colleague. We proceeded to Harrismith, 210 miles east of the airport on N-3 toward Durban, which was to be our headquarters until Friday. The next day, Sunday, we traveled thirty miles to Emmanuel Baptist Church in QwaQwa where I preached. QwaQwa is spread out and is home to three million people. Due to political problems, many of the factories have closed and large numbers are unemployed. The building was packed out and five adults came to Christ. After lunch with the pastor and his family, we returned to Harrismith to preach at the New Life in Christ church. Again, there was a good crowd and reception. Seven adults came to Christ. When I finally retired, I looked forward to the first prayer seminar on Monday. The weather was good and spring was in the air.
Since there had been no rain for an extended period, we had prayed for rain during the service at Emmanuel. Around 2 a.m. heavy thunder sounded and continued for several hours. I have never heard such loud thunder. Then I was aware that it was raining and went back to sleep. When I awakened, I could hardly believe my eyes—a heavy snow was falling. To make a long story short, a late-winter storm had come into northeast Free State and even worse toward Durban. It was bitter cold and windy. At 11 a.m., the power went out. We drove back to QwaQwa to begin the 2011 prayer seminars. The people assembled, many walking up to three or four miles. There was no electricity and no heat. Before we finished, candles were brought out. It got down to 22 degrees. I was bundled up, but my knees knocked as I taught. I don’t remember ever being so cold. I remembered a time in Owerri, Nigeria, when I taught in over one-hundred degree weather and that was memorable—the hottest I have ever seen. At the time, the large congregation sat on benches without backs for the six-hour seminar. I felt sorry for them, but my empathy for the QwaQwa participants made me want to forge on and make every sentence count. Even in the candlelight, my students excelled.
By Tuesday morning, the weather had moderated. When we drove into QwaQwa, the tops of the surrounding mountains were covered with snow, but the sun was shining. A cold wind was blowing off the mountains. It was pretty cold during the day seminar. When we returned to Emmanuel to complete that seminar beginning at 5:30 p.m., it was very cold and still no electricity. The candles were lighted. Again, many had walked miles to be present. In both seminars, Leslie and I agreed that those present were among the sharpest we have ever had in the many seminars in southern Africa. Many committed themselves to becoming light houses of prayer for their nation. Once again, I have been reminded of the awesome responsibility that God has placed upon JGHM, to teach God’s children, the purpose and power of prayer and to mobilize prayer warriors.