Special report by Dr Singeziwe Sibeko, a senior researcher at Stellenbosch University
Contextually “prayer connect” is an assembly of various calibres of prayer warriors and intercessors from different denominations and organisations, levels of society, ages and from across the borders. These prayer connect meetings are directly responsive to pressing, current societal ills, medical illnesses and deadly diseases that affect all members of society regardless of status, age, race, etc. and as we will learn, address very real and personal experiences. Hence, prayer connect meetings are gatherings of “survivors” of these ills as well.
The latest prayer connect — held on March 21 — was the 10th in a series that started in January 2021. It was focused on praying against the “Goliaths” (referring to both social ills and medical illnesses and diseases) of cancer, Covid-19 and mental illness. The visionary, Dr Fay Nqoloba (affectionately known as MaFay) has always “birthed” and steered each one of these prayer connect meetings. Those who are well acquainted with her appreciate that she is always Holy Spirit(HS)-led and driven to initiate and organise these events. She doesn’t just willy-nilly wake up with an idea and run with it. As a result she lets the HS guide her with regards to the vision first and foremost but also with orchestrating the event to the very last detail. She always emphasises that there is nothing she has earned and as such she always articulates that “she hates it with a passion when people live luxuriously on peoples’ vulnerabilities” or she would say “no calling is commercial”.
MaFay has herself survived a severe case of Covid-19 and is currently undergoing treatment for stage 4 higher grade neuroendocrine cancer. Hence, she has first-hand experience of the debilitation that these ills can cause. I am writing this part thinking of the Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel etc. who foretold God’s emotions about a particular issue by experiencing them first hand.
Consequently, no one meeting is the same as the other — the only common theme is to bring, from far and wide, prayer warriors and intercessors together to PRAY! The theme of this prayer connect was “Even if I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me!” This prayer connect meeting is not a stand alone; it falls under the programme “Healing the wounded souls”. MaFay runs different programmes under her banners that are very strong in the “reconstruction of the broken walls in people”.
The opening praise and worship session was performed by 35 voices composed of wounded parents e.g. a mother who has a son in jail, a mother and father who have their children whipped away by drugs, etc.. This choir set the scene for what was going to be, as it would turn out, a life-changing experience. It was led by a lady reverend who founded a gender-based-violence (GBV) organisation after having experienced sexual abuse and multiple rape incidents.
The meeting was inaugurated by an opening prayer and welcome remarks by Pastor Nolene Kellerman and Jurgens Tubb, respectively. I must say at the outset that, having been a part of the previous prayer connects, I was wondering what this one would bring to the table. As you will read below, it did not only meet the standard of past event, but exceeded them. In fact, it went from one level of glory to the next level of glory (borrowing and paraphrasing text from the Bible). As MaFay mentioned during the meeting — she doesn’t just select “anyone” to partake but only “the quality”.
The opening session was followed by one on personal experiences/testimonies in keeping with Revelation 12 which says we triumph over the enemy by the word of our testimony. The first to testify was a survivor of GBV, suicide attempts and Covid-19. The second speaker was a lady who had beaten breast cancer. The last to testify shared about her traumatic upbringing characterised by GBV (from relatives and husband) which led to mental illness. Evidently these women were not merely “survivors” but their lives flourished as they began to live in their God-given destinies. Standout Scriptures were Romans 8:28 and Psalm 46:10. A hymn that was sung included the words: “When the oceans rise and thunders roar….I will be still and know you are God”.
Important points to take home from the testimonies included: (i) there is an important role in the healing process and restoration that is dependent on the choir i.e. the support system in its entirety; (ii) on the practical side there is a role that screening for diseases plays (screening is a form of secondary prevention i.e. detecting the disease early while something can be done with it); (iii) The Lord is interested in our health and thus highlighting the importance of heeding the gentle nudging of the HS, yes, but also to be proactive in taking care of our own health by doing those medicals routinely, before we are ill. And as a speaker said: “Early detection saves lives”; and (iv) mental illness can be beaten. We have choices to want to retaliate or to move on and allow God to use us for His purposes.
This power-packed session was followed by a sacrifice of prayer item. Who better to render this item than the anointed Pastor Phaphama Zosiwe who has previously worked for Radio Tygerberg!!!! The focus of her prayer was on binding the strongman responsible for the above-named ills, smashing their altars, and slaying the giants that worship at these altars. She replaceD these altars with the altar for health as predetermined by God. She concluded by sealing these positions with the power of the blood of Jesus, declaring life and health in abundance and releasing freedom in the name of Jesus.
Then it was time for “words of wisdom” from Dr Linda Greef who has been in remission from breast cancer for 45 years. She stressed the hiatuses in the SA health system that are responsible for these ills not being addressed adequately. She emphasised the following: (i) reach out to the ill and/or people with a crisis; (ii) recognise that sickness has various facets i.e. mental, social and physical; (iii) be present and listen to the afflicted; (iv) focus on the needs of those in need; (v) be a solution; (vi) be the change you want to see; do not wait for the government; (vii) speak up on the stories of poor service delivery so government may address those issues – do not be quiet; (viii) stand together and hold leadership accountable; (ix) take action; (x) seek health – early detection saves; and (xi) honour God’s Word.
The next session was titled “the Hand above ALL hands i.e. the Hand of God”. There were once again three speakers in this session which focused on the life of Jesus Christ, from birth to crucifixion. Ciska Mouton spoke on the birth of Christ signalling the born again experience. Pastor Khaya Mayedwa talked on the lone, crushing experience as in Jesus’ case on the Mount of Olives in Gethsemane. The crucifixion experience, symbolising “Christ in you” was done by Jacques Malan.
Ciska underscored that we all start life exactly the same way i.e. by being born of our parents in different settings just as Jesus’ life began in a manger. We subsequently all have the opportunity to be born again through Jesus Christ.
Ps Mayedwa kicked off by reminding us that we each are a spirit being in a body and possess a soul. The body focuses outwards while the soul inwards and the spirit upwards. He referred to Jesus going to pray alone on the Mount of Olives. As He prayed He looked upwards while His soul was looking inwards, focusing on what He felt would be challenging to do. He said the oil released when olives are crushed are a picture of anointing. There is a relationship between the crushing and anointing just as there is no crown without the crushing, he said. There are things that we face alone just as Jesus was in solitude in the place of crushing and suffering. Likewise, we go through difficult situations alone in order for the anointing to come.
Jacques Malan aimed to take us away from the traditional understanding of Golgotha. He said it is a real place and it is a daily place. It is a secret place. We do not earn it. Neither do we work for it. “Christ in us” is a “place” of Golgotha for us today. We come to this place when we get born again. Hence, we are currently in this place i.e. Golgotha. He based his exposition on 2 Corinthians 5:17 and John 14:40. We are in Him and He is in us. Golgotha happened that we may come to this place.
Then there was a break, singing the hymn God Bless Africa with very befitting words for the occasion. Some of its lyrics are: “Many lives have passed away, And in many homes there are voices crying out to the living God, Tell the love of Jesus, By the hills and waters, God bless Africa”
Next to speak was, the hostess, Dr Fay Nqoloba. Those who know her will concur that she displays a humble and grateful heart. Accordingly, she first and foremost acknowledged and expressed her gratitude to Jesus Christ Himself. She then went on to recognise and thank the attendees, presenters and those who contributed to the success of the event. Further, she thanked all those who have travelled the journey with her starting from July 24 last year when her life was first turned upside down. She then gave her personal testimony. Focal points from MaFay that sustained her “big time” in her personal journey of sickness and illness include:
1) Jesus Christ is the only Healer
2) Family support is a priceless gem – she personally never experienced any emotional distress because of her 10 children who are everything to her
3) Comforting ministry of friends and colleagues is invaluable — thus far all her friends have done exceptionally well in every area to support her and her kids
4) Financial provision in the form of medical aid coming before funeral policy is crucial
5) MOST OF ALL FAITH, BELIEVING YOUR GOD, PRAYER PRAYER PRAYER is irreplaceable
I liked how she emphasised that we start our lives with some people but God PROVIDES people “of the season” along the way with whom we finish the journey. Just as biblical David was provided with mighty men in Ziklag when he needed to fight but was at his lowest point. She acknowledged nurses at length, emphasising that they are deployed by God! The Scriptures that she shared from were Psalm 23 and 2 Corinthians 4:1 – 7. The core of the sharing was to ignite Jesus anew in our hearts.
The keynote address was rendered by the one and only Western Cape MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo. She was hailed as a sincere and humble nation builder, always reaching out to the audiences of South Africa. She took to the podium with the song “Avumile AmaZulu ukuthi ngiphumelele” playing in the background by which point the mood in the room was quite jovial.
She made a few points underscoring the need for health reform. She stressed the roles that brethren can play on the one hand and roles that the communities can take up on the other. Some of the points she made were: (i) more than just the above-mentioned “Goliaths” of our time, she added interpersonal violence and injuries; (ii) people are hungry and poor in our communities which causes situational mental illness; (iii) people (and particularly relatives) are abusing children because of compromised community mental wellbeing; (iv) the health ministry can protect the body, repair the body however it cannot connect people to the powers above i.e. the spiritual aspect; (v) health care workers (HCW) depend on supplications and intercessory prayers in order to achieve what they need to accomplish (Daniel 9:18); (iv) there are triple Hs that are significant for HCW i.e. well trained (head), skilled (hands) and heart. HCW are adequate in the first two but are not trained in the matters of the heart; hence, they need somebody else to come in. She rounded off by stressing that health is not government’s responsibility only, but various stakeholders need to come to the table in order to achieve health for all.
All in all this was a day well spent!!!! WE LEARNED A LOT AND AS ALREADY MENTIONED, THIS WAS AN AWE INSPIRING, LIFE CHANGING EVENT!!!!!
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