History was made yesterday when Port Elizabeth’s iconic World Cup Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Stadium hosted a Christian Day of Prayer for the first time, as some 8 000 Christians gathered to pray for the metro.
The day was marked by an authentic show of unity as Christians of all ages, races and church affiliations earnestly prayed and worshiped together, in a day that veterans of past mass prayer meetings in the city said was the most deeply moving they had experienced.
In one of the many poignant moments during the four hours event, prayers stretched out their hands towards the stage where Executive Mayor Councillor Zanoxolo Wayile, Deputy Mayor Nancy Sihlwayi and Councillor Andile Mfunda were blessed and anointed with oil.
Mayor Wayile, who has been under intense pressure lately due to bitter political and municipal divisions in NMB, participated actively in the day’s proceedings. In a short speech he said: “This day will go down in the history of NMB as the day when we stood up in our campaign to change the material and spiritual conditions of our people for the better and to engage in a struggle to renew our moral standards to create a better society for our future generations based on sound morality and good governance.”
One of the church leaders who addressed the meeting, Pastor Jimmy Crompton, of Word Of Faith, held up a local newspaper headline of the previous day, which read “Port Elizabeth on the brink of collapse”. The article referred to how division and rebellion within the council threatened to incapacitate the municipality.
Crompton said the article confirmed that God’s timing for the prayer day was perfect. Both the date and the venue of the prayer day had been given by God to the event organisers who faced some faith-stretching moments as financial and logistical obstacles threatened to prevent them from carrying out the task they believed God had given to them. But thanks to financial support from churches, businesses and individuals, and the decision of the NMB Municipality to partner the event, the prayer day went ahead.
The crowd engaged in fervent prayers of repentance in response to a message that God’s redemptive purpose for NMB to be a “gateway of blessing to South Africa and the world” was being hindered by root sins of division and rebellion. Other prayer highlights included thanksgiving for mid-year rains that broke a crippling drought, and prayers for education and Grade 12 learners who faced their matric examinations.
The day ended with a positive declaration of breakthrough and prosperity over the city and the crowd responded warmly to the news that the prayer day would be repeated next year — and to a prophetic declaration that the many seats that were empty at this year’s event would be filled in 2012.