Tens of thousands of men will converge just outside Middelburg in the Eastern Cape on Rusoord Farm for the Karoo Mighty Men Conference 2015 (KMMC) this weekend.
They will arrive in cars and busses, on bicycles, motorbikes and even on foot from all over South Africa in the hope of experiencing a life-changing encounter with their Creator, the Lord God Almighty.
A group of 11 men walked the 410km from East London with a two-and-a-half metre, hollow cross in which they collected thousands of prayer requests along the way.
Another group of six men cycled from Despatch and handed out Bibles at each of their stops on route.
Thys Fourie walked to KMMC from Orania. Although he has been to each and every KMMC, this is the first time he has walked to the conference.
“I wanted to walk a few years ago but the Lord told me that it was not time yet, I shouldn’t do it.
“Then last year I spoke with Theo (Vlooi) Terblanche who undertook a 500km “Celebration Journey” on foot from his home in Plettenberg Bay to KMMC 2014 to glorify the Lord’s name and praise God’s grace by which he experienced salvation the year before.
A spiritual battle
“He told me that it was not so much a physical struggle as a spiritual battle, because you get dog-tired along the way, sore, negative, and you want to pack it all in.
“However, you get a lot of time to spend with our Father and His word.
“Then someone prophesised over me that there was an open door for me, which I must use while it was still open; he also said that I should listen closely to Afrika Mhlophe, because there was a message in his address for me.
“During Afrika’s presentation he said we each have something specific to do for the Lord and we must do it, but in the Lord’s power and not our own.
“I realised this was the message I was waiting for to confirm walking to KMMC the following year.
“When I arrived home I prayed to God who gave me further confirmation and my wife was positive in her support for me.”
Fourie started walking and exercising, but he seemed to face challenges and obstacles at every turn including losing his job.
“Nevertheless, I persevered as I felt I needed the time alone with the Lord to enquire of His Will for me, which walking to KMMC would afford.”
The Lord laid it on Fourie’s heart to accept a lift if anyone stopped and offered one of their own accord.
“I had a number of fruitful conversations with people along the way as a result of accepting a ride when offered and a few of them were also planning to attend KMMC 2015.”
Fourie says at times he was very tired while walking, but he never felt alone and it was always a blessed experience.
“At times my muscles were sore and I was weary, but then I would talk to the Lord and tell Him how I felt and suddenly the tiredness would leave me and I could hear somebody walking with me.
“I could hear footsteps next to me, even though nobody was physically there.
“I knew the Lord was walking with me and that there were people praying for me, which was very important for me,” says Fourie.
Having arrived at KMMC six days before the conference was due to begin Fourie was nevertheless excited and helped other men erect tents.
Presence of the Lord
“Even though the first day I got here I was all alone, the moment I walked onto the KMMC terrain I could feel the presence of the Lord and all the tiredness in my body was gone.
“This soil has been prayed over and the site has been prepared in prayer. Every person that sets foot here will be anointed,” says Fourie.
He says the fellowship he experiences at KMMC is another important aspect of the conference that draws him back each year.
“Black, white, English and Afrikaans, everybody laughs together and shares, it is wonderful to experience.
“The jokes are also wonderful; for example, today at lunchtime the one guy that was making a pootjie for a big group of us asked a friend if he was going to eat.
“The friend said no, he was fasting.
“The guy cooking the pootjie said, ‘What! Fasting, since when are you fasting’?
“His friend said, ‘Since I saw who was cooking the pootjie’.
“The camaraderie and fellowship is wonderful.
“Being able to come here, get away from everything and switch off, switch off the cellphone, switch off the computer, not worry about work or being on time for appointments; just switch off for three days, drop all pretences and be yourself with the Lord.
“It is the companionship of brothers in Christ and the awesome experience of the presence of the Lord that makes the KMMC the special event that it is.
“Being at KMMC is a blessed time,” says Fourie.