The first Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast (JPB) in South Africa which took place in Bloemfontein this week concluded “with a sense of great celebration and triumph — and a feeling that something very significant had happened and we were witnesses and participants”, said Albert Veksler, director of the JPB in an interview today.
The JPB prayer movement which was started by a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), Robert Ilatov with a vision of mobilising Christians around the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem has been held in Israel for the past three years and has also spread to a number of other nations, including Ghana and Uganda in Africa.
At last year’s JPB in Jerusalem, Pastor Elisée Yao of Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein, who was a regular attendee at the event, told Veksler that he sensed it was God’s timing to bring the prayer breakfast to South Africa. This paved the way for SA’s inaugural JPB at the Divine Restoration Centre in Bloemfontein on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
Veksler said a unique aspect of the JPB is that the invitation to nations to pray for the peace of Jerusalem comes from the Knesset and therefore has to be answered by members of parliament or government in other nations. This was fulfilled in SA, where MPs Kenneth Meshoe and Steve Swart attended.
“And so, whenever this [governmental] bridge is built — and we sense that this bridge was built in SA — then a lot of things transpire on that foundation,” he said.
Describing the South African JPB as “a very, very, powerful encounter”, he said a key to the success of the JPB movement was bringing Christians and Jews together. Members of the SA Jewish community and Christians from around SA and beyond attended this week’s worship, breakfast and dinner events where guest speakers included farmer-evangelist Angus Buchan and ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, who have both participated in previous JPB events in Jerusalem.
“I have done some historical research and seen that whenever Christians and Jews work together we can see a change in their nations’ history. It’s hard to accomplish [partnering Christians and Jews] and is a powerful combination that throughout history has been accompanied by outstanding changes,” said Veksler.
Noting that the JPB in Bloemfontein took place at a time when the governments of Israel and other nations were imposing strict air travel restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus, he said that some of those who had intended to come to the event from Israel, including his singer daughter, Birgitta Veksler and JPB founder and chairman Robert Ilatov, did not make it.
“But the fact that we gathered in spite of the [virus] distraction is already a great victory,” he said.
Commenting on past JPB events in African countries, where the nations’ presidents attended — and on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visits to African nations and meeting with African heads of state, Veksler said there was undubtedly a positive shift underway regarding Africa’s relations with Israel.
It was also remarkable that many Christian leaders in Africa were coming into positions of political power in this season, he said.
On the South African government’s cool relations with Israel, he said: “What we are believing is that the relationship will be restored and improved. That’s a goal of our prayers.
“We want to see that all the blessings that Israel can bring to the world would come to SA — the technologies, the blessings; spiritually speaking that your country would blossom and prosper for standing with Israel according to God’s Word — according to His promise to Abraham that ‘who blesses you will be blessed’,” he said.
Pastor Elisée Yao said in an interview that while he was at last year’s prayer breakfast in Jerusalem he believes that God spoke to his heart, saying that the nation of SA needs to have the Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast.
It was not about imposing something on the government but about taking responsibility as Christians to be like watchmen on the wall, praying for the peace of Jerusalem, he said.
“We believe there is a promise of prosperity that is connected and when we see the situation in our country: we have done it all — we have done prayers of repentance, we have tried to align the economy but it feels like nothing is working.
“And we see also in history, that every nation that turned against Israel went down. We realised it’s time for us to stand in the gap. We won’t shift the blame on anyone. We say it is our responsibility as Christians to stand and take up this mantle, so that spiritually we can align with Israel.”
Yao said the first JPB in SA was a big success.
“We realised that something was born in the Spirit. And we believe that God has really heard our prayers. God is going to step in and we believe there was a shift that happened in the Spirit.”
He said his team’s vision is not only to continue to mobilise Christians in Africa through the prayer breakfast but also to take it all over Africa, beginning with contacts in African nations that have asked for help with starting up JPBs.