Compiled from reports by African Enterprise Team
The opening night of the Fired UP! Mission to the University of Pretoria went off with a “big bang” with over 2000 students and members of the public attending an event headed up by Christian R & B singer Loyiso Bala and the world renown astronomer, Professor David Block.
Organised by African Enterprise (AE) the campus mission from August 24 to 29 features daily lectures, symposia, debtates, artistic performances and presentations by a multi-disciplinary outreach team including scientists, sports heroes, TV personalities, performing artists on the outreach team. The speaker at the final rally this evening (Friday, August 29) is farmer-evangelist, Angus Buchan.
Students went wild on the opening night as Loyiso Bala began with well known songs “I’ve got nothing to lose”, “Dali wami” and “Withholding nothing”. Stephen Lungu shared his testimony (from violent streetkid to international evangelist) and then David Block followed with an awe inspiring sound and light presentation called “The Universe: Accident or Design?” The audience were captivated and awe struck by images of the universe set to music. Block sets out to prove how the intricate design of the universe proves the existence of a Creator God.
When we look at the vastness of the universe it is easy to feel small and insignificant as human beings, yet Block demonstrated to the audience that the size of the universe is exactly the right size for life to be possible on Earth which means that actually “we are centre stage” in creation and not an accident. God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.
AE founder Michael Cassidy came on stage to wrap up the evening accompanied by Loyiso Bala singing “I give myself away”. The Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way in the hearts of many and 30 people responded to the call to rededicate their lives to the Lord. Four people committed their lives to the Lord for the first time, and another three responded with further questions. The audience were encouraged to attend Susan Van Niekerk and Phillip Calott’s presentation later on in the week which will explore “Why our huge Universe shows just how special you are: The interface of Science and Faith”.
Feedback from a few other Fired-Up events includes:
Former Proteas cricket star and coach, Gary Kirsten shared his testimony of how at one stage his life became all about winning, and performance as a sportsman. He then met his wife, Debbie, who was unwilling to compromise her values because of her strong faith in Christ. Over time he gave his life to Christ and relinquished his performance to God.
His life changed when he learnt the truth that God is more interested in who he was than what he did. He quoted Rick Warren who has had a big impact on his life: “We are human beings, not human doings.” Six students came forward to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord.
One of the sportsmen in the audience came in on crutches, having been told that day by the doctor that he would not be able to play sport for the whole season. He had broken his leg, had tissue damage and was experiencing a lot of pain. Some of the counsellors gathered around him and prayed for healing and the pain completely disappeared. The team saw him the next day at the Rembrandt Hall where The Arrows were playing and Pierre Spies and Michael Cassidy were speaking and he was walking without his crutches, completely healed! Praise the Lord.
Mahlatse Winston Mashua
Mahlatse Winston Mashua, Director of RZIM South Africa, spoke in the university chapel on the topic: Is Christianity against African culture? The controversial theme brought a varied crowd who were ready to engage and ask questions. Many people stayed long after the meeting finished to talk to Mahlatse, and he was able to arrange to have coffee with some of them the following day to continue the discussion. Mahlatse began by unpacking the term “African culture” and admitted that this term itself can be quite offensive as there are many different and varied cultures on the African continent. However he picked up certain “threads” that we find within many African cultures, for example “Ubuntu”.
Mahlatse argued that Christianity is an indigenous African religion and that the spread of Christianity by Western missionaries was a reintroduction of Christianity. “Christianity is not a cancer, the opposite in fact- it is part of African identity.” This session was extremely helpful as what Michael Cassidy calls “jungle clearing” for many of those who find this issue a stumbling block keeping them from coming to Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Saviour. Students were able to follow up in the evening by going to a talk by Pastor Afrika Mhlope entitled, “Should we consult the dead?” [See Afrika Mhlophe’s report on his experience at Fired Up!]
Simoné Nortman, a young actress currently known for her role as Nadia Croukamp in the soapie, 7de Laan shared her testimony about overcoming the orphan spirit.Sally Kiln reports: One has an image in one’s head of an actress and confidence one supposes they have, however Simone’s story was one of struggle and a glorious God who had made her whole. Conceived out of wedlock, Simone’s parents attempted on several times to abort her, however on every occasion something happened at the clinic to prevent this……the first time God saved her. She was then meant to be adopted but after her birth her mother decided to keep her and her father agreed to marry. However the marriage did not last and at about 4 or 5 her parents divorced.
As a teenager Simone experienced rejection as she found out the story of her birth. She also battled in her relationship with her father who was emotionally absent from her life. This lead to a deep depression. Although she had always attended church she had always related to God as distant and impersonal as her earthly father had been. It was during this time that she attended a Christian Camp and gave her life to the Lord and learnt to forgive. From then on she had a radical desire to spread the word of God and considered studying theology. However, sitting in her first lecture she felt God say to her, where do you really want to be and she wanted to act. So God said to her ….go and she joined the drama department.
At the end of her degree she was not sure where to go so decided to do a post graduate degree in education. It was during this time she was offered an audition for 7de Laan. Not feeling the audition had gone well she began her education degree but once again God said to her, where do you want to be? Again her answer was acting so in faith she left her studies. Not long after she was phoned by the 7de Laan casting agent to say that the other 2 actresses they had wanted had studies to finish, and as she was no longer studying the role was hers.
Simone then led us in prayer asking for those who wanted to give their life to Christ, those who wanted prayer for a spirit of rejection and those ,who felt they needed to forgive. To all these prayer requests several responded!
Dr Arno van Niekerk
Dr Arno van Niekerk, a professor at Bloemfontein University, spoke on Economic Inequality in South Africa and the Faith Factor. He captivated his audience with a clear understanding of the economic situation in South Africa evidencing that we have one of the Brick countries’ (countries with emerging economies) worst disparities of wealth. His understanding of economics was impressive but what was even more evident was his amazing faith that shone through all.
God’s heart, however, is for the poor, he said. The issue is often considered as a monetary issue, however Van Niekerk spoke of a poverty spirit. There can be a poverty of imagination….a deficiency in courage…..a dearth in personal vision…..a barrenness in the will that keep people passive and people convince themselves that they lack resources, but the reality is they don’t go out to meet God’s provision. Africa is one of the richest continents but a lack of Godly leadership has prevented it from moving forward. In essence we need God and Godly wisdom. Van Niekerk spoke of the future of South Africa as being one of the youth. The average age in Africa is 19 and as such these are the ones we need to target. We need hearts of compassion and a faith that God can do anything for us. ‘Jesus died on the cross so that we may have Life; Jesus became poor so that we may eat the Bread of Life and bear its fruit!’ Dr Van Niekerk ended with a much prayed for prophetic word for South Africa: Isaiah 58:9-12.