Freedom Day in South Africa is often marked by festivities that government hosts to commemorate the first democratic elections that took place on April 27 1994.
Many expected that those elections would be violent, however they ushered in a peaceful transition of power that marked a turning point, not only in South Africa but across the continent. This indeed sparked hope and South Africa was often referred to as miracle nation as no one (except for praying believers) could explain just how the predicted violence was avoided.
However, as years passed by April 27 no longer brought joy or hope but instead it became a reminder of how expectations of many people have not been met; and we know that hope deferred makes the heart sick.
But hope was injected in the nation on Freedom Day on Monday, at a historic online gathering of Christian leaders who were invited to the meeting by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng after he agreed to lead the Healing of the Nation campaign at an online Resurrection Sunday service on April 12.
Mogoeng’s invitation brought together approximately 300 leaders from every province in a Zoom meeting. The event was also watched by more than 2 700 people on Facebook Live.
The meeting was opened in a word of prayer by Uncle Angus Buchan, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in March but remains strong and still showis no sign of illness. Apostle Linda Gobodo, founder of Vuka Africa Foundation, who has carried the message of hope, healing and restoration of Africa gave a brief background and context of how the healing campaign came about (Listen to Metro FM interview with Apostle Linda Gobodo) and how Mogoeng had become part of it.
Gobodo said that she understood that her role has been that of John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way and believed the Mogoeng is the person chosen by the Lord to advance this work forward in order to see the nation filled with hope.
Mogoeng opened his address by unpacking the preamble of the Constitution together with the national anthem, both of which include a call on God to heal and bless the nation. He challenged Christian leaders to lead the nation in bringing unity and not to shy away from prayer because “the very supreme law of the land’ and the national anthem were a challenge to the church to pray for the nation to be healed and blessed”.
In his call for unity he said South Africa did not belong to one race but to all its people. However, he highlighted that it is when the nation heeds the commandment to love God, and your neighbour as yourself that peaceful and prosperous coexistence can be realised. The love for one’s neighbours will not permit anyone to remain comfortable in the face of suffering of others, while the love of God and the love of the nation will help people to overlook offences in pursuing the greater goal of building the nation.
Mogoeng explained that the healing campaign was not about coronavirus, but that the nation had unresolved challenges that preceded the pandemic — challenges such as homelessness, unemployment and overall lack in many homes. These sentiments were echoed throughout the different conversations about ‘freedom day’, as many South Africans on radio and social media lamented the continued pain and suffering in the nation.
He also reminded the audience not to forget the power of the Word of God and corporate prayers; how through coming together in prayer for the nation, Esther and Mordecai saw the deliverance of their nation. Daniel also called his brothers Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego to stand together on a national matter, and God answered their prayer.
Mogoeng admitted that he in many ways had been like Jonah, running away from a calling to embark on a project to unite the church and bring healing to the nation. He said he had feared the attitudes of other believers and how he would be viewed and criticised, but he remembered the words of Mordecai to Queen Esther who too faced a similar predicament — “for if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your fathers house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” — Esther 4:14.
Concluding his message, he called on leaders to be like the king of Nineveh, who, upon receiving the word of the Lord, removed his royal robe and humbled himself. Church leaders at this time needed to remove their titles and all sense of importance and be consumed by Kingdom business, said Mogoeng.
He also challenged pastors not to refuse to work together because of fear that their members will be stolen by others, saying: “They are not your members, but members of the body of Christ. He encouraged them to put their trust in God and assured them that no one can take what God had committed in their hands. He then charged pastors to disciple their congregants to be followers of Jesus and not themselves, saying this would result in a sudden change because in unity the Lord commands a blessing.
Thereafter participating leaders made inputs and asked questions. Many thanked Mogoeng for accepting the leadership of the healing campaign and affirmed that indeed he was called for such a time.
Amongs those who contributed was Pastor Phillip Molefe, 93, the only surviving member of a committee that worked together with Rev. Nicholus Bengu and others who God used mightily in the revivals of the 1940s and 1950s, known by many as the Africa-Back-to-God Revival.
Molefe witnessed a mighty revival that took place in Sharpeville on the March 21 1954, when thousands repented and were saved. Those who stole returned stolen items and crimes ceased in the community. Sadly, the story of Sharpeville’s revival of March 21 was swallowed by the massacre that took place six years after.
Molefe expressed joy that he has lived to see this day. “This [the online meeting of Christian leaders] is the revival we have been praying for,” he said. In a previous interview at his 90th birthday celebrations, he shared that the Lord has promised him that He would bring revival again. Freedom Day was, to him, a fulfillment of that promise.
Dr Theo Wolmarans, founder and visionary of Christian Family Church made closing remarks after Mogoeng responded to leaders’ inputs. Speaking from the United States, he commended Mogoeng for taking up the responsibility to lead the campaign that will unite the church for the healing of the nation. But he urged Mogoeng to remain in his position as the head of the judiciary.
The meeting was closed by Bishop John Mutula, who led the gathering in some biblical declarations, urging the leaders to speak because the Word of God in their mouths was like Fire. On Freedom Day in 2017 Mutula led a sacred assembly hosted by Vuka Africa to seek the face of the Lord about the situation in SA. Mogoeng, who had just been appointed president of the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa, arrived unannounced at that meeting just as everybody was on the floor praying and asking God for a father.
At the end of this week’s online Freedom Day meeting, participants’ mics were unmuted, and everybody erupted into praise and jubilation. The meeting host eventually had to bring the meeting to a close as thanks and praises to God continues way after the scheduled end time.