Church and ministry leaders, school principals, senior police officers and representatives of government departments attending a national prayer conference for the healing of wounded souls last Saturday heard an impassioned appeal from a teenage girl for parents to face the reality of their children’s struggle with mental health issues.
Parents could save the lives of their children, simply by laying down pride and stigmas about mental health and paying attention to their children’s mental wellbeing and seeking professional help for them when they showed signs of mental stuggles, said Enikayo Mkhambi, the granddaughter of the prayer conference visionary and host, Dr Fay Nqoloba.
The conference, which was held under Dr Fay’s Prayer Connect platform, was attended by people who gathered at an event at Salem Full Gospel Church in Bothasig, Cape Town and others who attended via Zoom. The focus was on praying for those wounded by social ills such as the loss of lives, poverty, job losses, disruption in the education system, gender-based violence and femicide.
Speaking from personal experience, Eniyako, who joined the event virtually from George, appealed to parents to understand that the youth of today are struggling and to give them the time and space to work through their struggles. She warned parents to be aware that even if it appeared that their teen was functioning well, it did not necessarily mean they were not struggling. In her case, she was achieving well academically, socially and on the sports field, but internally she was depressed and struggling and even attempted suicide.
She encouraged parents to seek therapy as a family. “Raising another ‘’healthy’ human being who will impact the world is complicated, important and a big responsibility…get help!,” she said.
Enikayo said that to successfully “discipline” a teenager, parents should build trust with their teen with open and honest communication, before resorting to punishment.
She also urged parents to acknowledge their children’s struggles. When parents responded that they were also experiencing struggles it undermined what the teenagers were going through and they felt that they could not add to their parents’ burdens, or that their burdens could not be as bad as those of their parents. This closed communication at the very time the teenager needed their parents to be parents, she said.
The South African Police Services played a prominent role at the prayer conference with the SAPS Band, Western Cape leading worship at the start and close of the event, and inputs from deputy provincial commissioner Major General MM Manci and Captain (Rev) NN Mudau, acting section sommander: spiritual, Western Cape.
He said that members of SAPS faced the same challenges as everyone else and were equally vulnerable to gender-based violence, pain as result of Covid-19, financial loss, broken relationships and many other forms of suffering. The only difference was that SAPS employees accepted the responsibility to serve and protect the nation and put the interest of others ahead of their own life challenges — often at a high cost to their families.
As first responders, SAPS members have to respond to all calls which brings them into contact with people who have tested positive for Covid, this increasing the risk to their own families, he said.
He said SAPS members were also victims of violent crime with members killed in the line of duty and off duty, leaving families without financial support, children losing parents and spouses losing partners.
Often when a police officer was attacked and killed, communities suppressed information and hindered investigation. Sometimes police were attacked or stoned while they were arresting criminals. The police need religious and faith-based communities to encourage communities to cooperate with police and to come forward with information needed in order to catch the criminals.
Keynote speaker, Pastor Khaya Mayedwa said the pandemic has resulted in a surge in gender-based violence and femicide; churches emulating the world, spiritual abuse, some politicians focusing on self-interest, greed, and self-aggrandisement.
“We have seen an increase in mental health issues including drugs and suicide and dysfunction in families; the protectors have now become the perpetrators. In this time of turmoil, God is the only solution,” he said.
Encouraging attendees with a message from Esther 4:12-16, he said the book teaches us to have courage and to guard our hearts from fear.
The gathering, which lasted for five hours, also heard messages and heartfelt topical prayers from an array of people including church and ministry leaders, representatives of government departments and educationists.
Event host, Dr Fay, who is CEO of Warrior Women of the Kingdom and Talitha Cumi Foundation said afterwards: “God was so awesome on Saturday. 90% of the people who attended said they have never seen anything like that.”