Debbie Hemmens shares about a new PE school prayer initiative inspired by attacks on pupils and encourages other SA parents to do likewise.
My daughter has been attending Alexander Road High School, Port Elizabeth, for just over a year and I have been amazed at how many times she has come home with a story of a pupil being mugged on the way to school, to nearby sports facilities or on the way home. I recently started praying for the safety of Alex students as I was driving the streets around the school.
I soon became aware that the safety problem affects many school pupils in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro who walk to and from school or who catch buses. In a February incident which was reported in the media a teenage girl was left for dead after she was mugged and beaten on her way to a suburban school. There have also been several reported attacks on pupils and students in the beachfront area where several schools are located. After the mugging of the student who was left for dead, there was talk of changing bus routes so that students are dropped and collected outside their respective schools. I am not sure what has happened in this regard but I would strongly support that idea. On the back of these recent incidents, our church prayer group started praying for the safety of school students in our metro.
Then I heard about a friend in Johannesburg who was meeting with a friend once a week to pray outside their children’s school. I thought I would also like to do this. It’s not a new concept and is taking place at several other schools in the city.
A recent news report about some children caught smoking cocaine at Alex pushed me towards action. I placed a comment on the news bulletin that my husband and I would meet the following week at the school to pray and anyone who wished to join us was welcome. My church also put our idea out to our prayer group to support us in this endeavor. We had nine people on Tuesday and joined hands outside the main school entrance and prayed for half an hour. Dr Peter Manser, the school principal, came outside to greet us and thank us for our support of the school. He has offered us an inside space to pray if we wish. The group decided to make the payer time a weekly event for whoever is available. Anybody who would like to join us from 8.15am to 8,45pm on Tuesdays in welcome. We have formed a WhatsApp group and will put out specific prayer requests and keep the group informed about what we are praying about every week.
We strongly believe that praying in specific geographical places will bring about a change in the spiritual atmosphere.
On Tuesday we opened the prayer meeting with Psalm 44:5 — Through you we push back our enemies, through your name we trample our foes, and 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 — The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Psalm 91 was also mentioned by someone when we were praying for the protection of the students, where verse 11 says: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. We are praying for angels to protect the students of Alex High.
We prayed for the darkness to be pushed back and for light to enter every classroom, for strength, wisdom and integrity for the teachers and parents, for the atmosphere to shift, for the many elements of immense peer pressure on our children, for their academics and for the children who are choosing drugs as a way to mask other issues they are facing. For wisdom to prevail.
We felt a strong sense of unity and were encouraged as parents at this prayer meeting. It would be wonderful if every school in Port Elizabeth — in fact across the whole of South Africa — could have parent prayer meetings on the school premises once a week. I know of a school in Johannesburg which had a local church step into this space and once a week they would prayer walk around the school, so even if access is denied, there is still the pavement. Let’s stand strongly together and lift the name of Jesus high. We will see the victory and the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.