The Witbank 4 Jesus Festival, held on Saturday (August 2) opened at 14h00, but was buzzing with preparation long before the crowd thronged onto the sports field of Curro Bankenveld Private School, which overlooks Witbank Dam. By the end of the day a thousand people had gone through the gates.
Assorted stalls set up in the shade, were bustling to prepare food – twister dogs and waffle lollies – while younger festival participants tried out the huge jumping castle.
The cool drink stand was run by Grade 8 parents from Hertzog School.Their goal was to raise enough money to provide a signboard, displaying the ‘6 Values’ upheld at Hertzog High. These Parents were building into their children’s future in more ways than one.
The parking lot evidenced the arrival of the bikers, some of whom took good vantage of seating between the food stalls and the best view. As the crowd formed in front of the stage the air of expectation was tangible.
Christian Bands and singers at the festival were 4 Kruis, Floating Axe, Fourteen40 and Retief Burger.
The Festival programme previewed the bands through the afternoon with feature spots for Burger to minister into the evening.
Retief Burger, needing little or no introduction to followers of South African Christian music, happily shared a few thoughts. He does not do a lot of travelling, being focused on his home church, yet spent Friday evening in Middelburg with a gathering of +/- 1 400 people at the Middelburg Banquet Hall in a time of worship. This humble, but imposing man, helping locals win Witbank 4 Jesus, believes his place in the big scheme of things is: “to work in a local church, making disciples and saving lost people.” “Keep it local,” he emphasised.
Burger is inspired to worship as a lifestyle; his mission is to love God. “The stage is a dangerous place,” Burger warns, “it is place not to be misused. Performers need to be very aware of ‘who’ is to be worshiped.”
Pastor Burger encapsulates the great commission at work; he demonstrates that it is possible to play a role as visible as King David, while realizing it’s not about me.” He defines the concept, “Worship and character need to be balanced, to count.”
He hates injustice, prejudice and especially cultural bigotry. This man sings a different language to a land of many.
Enjoying the fervour of anticipation and possibly thanking God for the weather this year being very much warmer, Herman Cronje (above), Director of Witbank 4 Jesus, surrounds himself with organisers and members of Floating Axe Band. These men set the tone and live the Word. Matthew 4:19 ‘And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”’
Paul Hampshire, song writer and guitarist of Floating Axe, and Colleen, his wife and the band’s photographer, are from Secunda. They explained that the group’s name relates to the miracle of the floating axe head, as told of in 2 Kings: 6. Elisha went with the sons he had released to move on, and as they cut down trees to make a dwelling place, one man’s axe head flew off, and fell into the water; he cried as it was a borrowed axe. Asked for help, the man of God showed him where the axe head had landed. Kings 2, 6:6 says the prophet ‘cut off a stick and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.’ This enabled the man to pick it up himself. Hence the Floating Axe idea of how God’s influence moves lives.
One of Paul’s song lyrics: ‘get together and boycott hell, join the Holy Picket Line’ is reason for the slogan on the Bands’ uniform. They choose to dress the same to demonstrate their unity. This Devotional Rock Band, together since 2010, has a job to do.
Whether it’s on the stage, praising God in song, like 4Kruis, or in front of the stage dancing, performers sincerely reached out, within their medium of choice, to expand good and acceptable praise to the Living God. Dancer Marieta Pretorius and Theresa Steyn in blue, and Erika Kruger in red, dance together. Erika says her reason to dance, is to worship the Lord.
Last word is from Paul, extreme left in the shot (below) of Floating Axe: “There is yet balm in Giliad.”
You better believe that word was inspired, and if you are from Witbank and were not at the Witbank 4 Jesus Festival this year, you sorely missed out. Wise up and watch out for next year’s united community gathering, be part of the Festival. Let’s take Witbank 4 Jesus!