On November 13, 2014 the vision of Pastor Albert Mbenga, become a reality when Africa Bless Israel was officially launched to the media and stakeholders at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre.
A number of pastors, reverends, church and spiritual leaders were present from Madagascar, Uganda, the Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Namibia, Burundi, Sudan, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Blessed are those who bless my children…” Gen 12.1-3. These are the words that moved Ps Mbenga to action. He referred to ABI as an assignment from God and shared his vision of mobilising Christians in support of Israel. A programme for volunteers will be launched and the main goal is to gain a national footprint within SA as soon as possible. This will be followed by rolling out similar programmes in different African countries. ABI will not operate in isolation and will reach out to other like-minded groups in support of Israel. Strong support is evident for ABI say the launch team and the initiative will be launched in Johannesburg on Tuesday, November 25.
Julie Berman, Executive Director of the SA Zionist Federation Cape, spoke on behalf of the Jewish community and welcomed the initiative.
The keynote speaker was Pastor Umar Mulinde from Uganda, a converted Christian from Islam, who has expressed his support for ABI.
Pastor Mulinde shared his ordeal following an attack by Mulsim radicals who sprayed acid on his face and back. He said they praised Allah as they attacked him and he was left to battle for nearly 2 years to overcome pain and complications. He shared the miracle of his healing and gave special mention to the Israeli medical staff who aided him. He reminded the guests that the battle waged by Islam is not a political battle but a spiritual battle attacking Christianity and humanity. He expressed his concern at the lack of knowledge of Christians who are unaware of the growing threat of Islam which is taking advantage of a perceived apathy that seems to withhold Christians from taking action. Christians should make their voices heard and start to express publically their stand against minorities whose main aim it is to undermine and demolish Christian values. He reminded Christians that they should be aware of what the Halaal certification represents and that a percentage of the proceeds are used to promote Islam. As a converted Muslim he knows that such meat was subjected to rituals that could be described as “satanic”.
The Africa Bless Israel choir performed the ABI song in different African languages. It was specially composed by Pastor John Osa for the launch. The evening was closed with an open panel discussion hosted by five church and community leaders. The panel consisted of Ps Mbenga, Ps Mulinde, Luba Meyekiso, Ashley Cloete and Ps Elizabeth Stevens. Cloete and Stevens emphasised the work being done amongst Muslims by building bridges within the community. Luba Meyekiso (International Christian Embassy Johannesburg) called on all Christians to become actively involved in movements such as ABI and to voice their opinions. Education of students was an evident requirement and closer relations between Jewish schools and Christian schools should be promoted. The general consensus was that the time has come to take action; for Christians to embrace each other and to start collaborating interdenominationally in support of Israel and on matters that clearly pose a threat to Christianity.