By Nico Bougas, Special to ASSIST News Service
BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA (ANS – April 24, 2017) — Saturday, April 22, 2017, saw the biggest prayer gathering in South African history as close to two million people gathered from all parts of South Africa to pray. The event was held on a farm just north of Bloemfontein which is centrally located in South Africa.
Some 1.7 million people registered on-line to attend this historic occasion and thousands more arrived on the day. The multi-racial crowd spread over more than a kilometer relayed onto multiple large screens and many kilometers of cabling for the sound system.
Popular South African farmer/evangelist, and subject of the book and film, “Faith Like Potatoes”, Angus Buchan called for a nation-wide prayer meeting in the light of the current spiritual and socio-political decline evident in the nation. The event was called, “It’s Time”
Buchan said, “We are tired of people taking the law into their own hands. We are going to call upon The Lord to bring justice, peace and hope to our beloved South Africa. He says ‘If my people who are called by My name’ — that is you and I, so I want to ask you to pray for us.”
As people kept on streaming to Wilde Als farm near Bloemfontein for the It’s Time prayer meeting, organizers were forced to delay the start of proceedings by more than an hour due to people still coming to the venue in large numbers.
Prayer Time Replicated Throughout the Nation
The prayer time was duplicated in hundreds of town and suburbs around the nation. Prayer meetings, for those who couldn’t get to Bloemfontein were held in churches, rented halls and homes around South Africa. No television broadcasts were allowed, but Christians around the country followed the event from the social media posts of their friends. Busses and airplanes were chartered for the event.
Despite the magnitude of the event there was no television advertising and little news coverage beforehand. Farmers in the area opened their farms to hundreds of thousands of campers at no cost. Gridlock was reported for up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) away and the event was delayed for an hour and a half to allow more to arrive.
Some Bloemfontein residents started making their way to the farm just after midnight, to make sure they don’t get stuck in traffic and find a good seat at the event. Marita Victor, 36, from Bloemfontein said she and her friends arrived at the farm shortly after 04:00 am. At the time, 300 people had already arrived with their chairs. Victor and her friends used flashlights to find a place to sit.
Heavy traffic congestion occurred on Saturday morning when people from all over South Africa headed for the farm. Locals living nearby walked, cycled or came by motorcycle to avoid the traffic.
Hundreds of planes also landed at several nearby locations. People from all over Southern Africa came by air to attend the service. Helicopters landed every ten minutes.
Frans Cronjé, the brother of the former South African cricket captain, the late Hansie Cronjé, said on Twitter that he and a group of cyclists pedalled for six days from Cape Point to attend the service. The group arrived in Bloemfontein on Friday.
The Heart of the Message
Evangelist Angus Buchan began by teaching on prayer, reading the passage about Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane before going to the cross. He reminded the crowd of Moses words before the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.
Angus Buchan led the crowd in prayer, stopping at various points while they shouted “Amen” or repeated parts of the prayer: “I am praying that South Africa will become a country that takes the Word of God literally as it is written. We say no to immorality. We say no to sex before marriage. We say no to pornography and drug addiction in Jesus name. We say no to racialism in this country. We say no to senseless murder and rape in this country. We ask you Lord to give our armed forces the power to bring stability back to this nation.
“We ask Lord for restoration. Restoration in the family. Between mom and dad. Between children and their parents in Jesus name. We pray for respect for old people. For poor people. For rich people. For all people. We say there is no other God save Jesus Christ and him alone. We will not serve any other God save the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Please forgive us for compromising our nation, our family and our future. From today onwards, we promise to stand up for truth and righteousness at all costs.”
Buchan added, “I want to speak against bankruptcy. No more bankruptcy. I want to speak against HIV and AIDS. We are not interested in condoms. We are interested in obedience to the Word of God. Young people – you will sleep with no one until the night of your wedding. We are calling sin by its name. I am not interested in your opinion. You shouldn’t be interested in my opinion. The only thing you should be interested in is God’s opinion. God said it. We believe it. That settles it.
“People from across the world are also praying for us today. The world is looking at us.”
He said he hoped the power of this gathering would “wash over” to neighboring countries.
“People from Zimbabwe, Botswana and even in Zambia will feel the power of what happens here today, because Jesus is a miracle worker,” said Buchan.
Reactions from local church leaders
The Reverend Helgard Janse van Rensburg, moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Free State, said there was a big need for a prayer gathering.
“I am positive about it, because the country is not well. But everything isn’t necessarily going to be set right, as if by magic,” he said.
“My position is that people must first humble themselves in front of God. With this, I mean they must examine their own lives and try to determine what God wants to tell them. Does God not want to tell people something with South Africa’s drought, economy and politics? And should I, as a person, not also perhaps change?”
The Reverend Cassie Aucamp, from the Reformed Churches in South Africa, said the answering of prayers has nothing to do with the size of the prayer gathering, but rather with the sincerity of the prayers.
“Nothing is excluded in terms of what we can and cannot pray for,” he said. “Our country is experiencing a crisis. We must pray for the authorities to respond correctly, according to the will of God,” he stated.
Pastor At Boshoff, from the Christian Revival Church (CRC), said reconciliation, tolerance and peace in the country — as well as economic prosperity, especially among the less privileged — were some of the changes he’d like to see after the prayer day.
“We believe prayer brings change and it is heartening to see how people from all terrains stand together in unity,” he said.
Several prominent politicians attended the gathering, but Buchan made it clear that the motivation for the event was clearly spiritual, “This is not a political change. This is a Jesus change, because we need a Christian government. Today we pray to him, because he will heal South Africa,” he said.
“I look forward to the day when Parliament begins every morning with the reading of scripture and prayer, because that is what South Africa needs.”
Message from Buchan
After his short message, Buchan allowed people to pray on their own.
The crowds prayed – some in whispers, and others loudly.
Some were on their knees and others held their hands in the air as they cried to their God.
“Here I stand looking at a miracle. The face I am seeing… It is just a miracle,” Buchan said.
“Today we are making history, because people said it was impossible to organize such a gathering in six weeks. But here we stand today. What a Jesus miracle!”
Photo captions: 1) Evangelist, Angus Buchan. 2) Information poster for the event. 3) Angus Buchan preaching at “It’s Time”. 4) Faith Like Potatoes Movie. 4) Nico Bougas with his wife, Bee, to whom he had been married for 44 years. They have “four wonderful children” — George, Benjie, Jonty and Tami.
About the writer: Nico Bougas is the International Development Director for Hellenic Ministries. He has a master’s degree in communication from Wheaton Graduate School and M. Div and D. Min degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary. He is the author of five books. He previously worked for Youth for Christ in South Africa and was Editor of In Magazine and Christian Living TODAY and currently serves as Consulting Editor for JOY Magazine and a Trustee for Radio CCFM and was one of the founders of Sports Outreach Africa. He previously served on the national executive of the SA Association of Evangelists and as a Trustee for the Bible Institute of South Africa and on the advisory board for the South African Theological Seminary and on the executive of The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (SA). For further information, please contact: email@example.com.
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