Pascale Collier, who teaches French at Woodridge College, near Port Elizabeth, believes that prayer and oil anointing played a role in protecting classrooms that were spared when a devastating fire destroyed half the school buildings in early June.
She recalls visiting the school after the weekend fire and telling a fellow teacher that she believed her classroom was not struck by the fire because she regularly anointed her students’ desks with oil and prayed over her classroom.
The other teacher, who, at the time, was photographing buildings that were still standing after the fire, said she too had prayed regularly over her classroom and it had not been burnt.
Collier said she subsequently learned that several other teachers who regularly prayed over their classrooms also said that their buildings escaped the flames.
This is a testimony from which we must learn. We must take it [prayer and anointing with oil] seriously,” she said.
I wonder how many Christians anoint their homes. Not enough. We must take anointing seriously as God answers it,” she said.
Days before the fire struck she was invigilating exams at the school, she said. At the time there were reports of massive fire damage to homes and businesses in the Garden Route and fires were raging in the bush near Woodridge, but at first nobody expected the fire to reach the school.
At the time she had been fasting on and off for four weeks and was spiritually alert. While invigilating she had a vision of a dark presence in the hall. Twice she felt prompted to ask colleagues to open blinds and on both occasions electricity failures followed and the light streaming through the uncovered windows enabled the students to complete their exam writing without interruption.
During the day those in the hall became aware of unusual winds swirling outside the building.
“I went outside after collecting the [exam] papers and was faced with a horrifying scene. The fire had enlarged and crept up, and was on our borders and a huge tail of smoke was blocking the sun and going all the way to PE.
“We smelt fire all around. I thought that I would not see my classroom or the school the next day.” said Collier.
But on returning to Woodridge on the Friday she found that the school had weathered the fire threat.
However, the next day, Saturday June 10, while at home in Port Elizabeth, a friend phoned her with the shocking news that the school was on fire and everyone had been evacuated.
“Much damage took place but many miracles also took place.” said Collier.
She said it was a miracle that the borders and staff were evacuated unharmed early on Saturday morning, despite the swift advance of the fire, fanned by gale-force winds.
She said buses were available immediately, as the boys were going to play sport at Despatch. Many of the boys left with their tog bags with a change of clothes, but most of the girls had to leave with nothing.
Collier said she has written a book based on her faith journey called Living On The Edge and was currently working on a second book.
I have two possible titles [for the second book] Living Off The Edge and Out Of The Ashesand I think Woodrigde could use that one,” she said.
“In my second book I want to give ideas on how to be victorious and be off the edge. I have had lots of trials and tribulations and there were hard times but I have learnt to trust God and to put him first and to know that He actually does answer prayers.”