Seven Days Fasting and Prayer
July 8 – July 15, 1986
Durban is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has warm tropical weather and is sheltered by high mountain ranges warmed by the Indian Ocean with miles of beautiful beaches along what is popularly known as the South Coast. The City Hall is a beautiful historic building with a one-block park of coconut palm trees in front. Beautiful offices surround two sides.The historic Post Office is there with its bell chiming each quarter hour. The home for Joshua and me was the Town Gardens in front of City Hall. We leaned the crosses against a tall palm tree with clusters of coconuts high above our heads. Pigeons and throngs of people were our companions for another seven days. When I had walked through Durban last November, the response had been powerful. Now we had returned, the word spread like wildfire and within minutes of our arriving under the tree, a large crowd had gathered as we prayed. At the end of the prayer, I simply asked if there were those who needed to receive Jesus. A dozen were saved. We prayed again for South Africa. After that prayer, I asked if there was anyone else who wanted to receive Christ. Approximately forty more were converted and I was there less than half-an-hour. This continued without end, increasing in numbers for the next seven days.
The response in Durban was to become one of the mightiest periods of time in my entire life. I don’t know how to fully give the story except to say that there was a constant flow of people all day and all night, and I mean, all night. I had no sleep. People praying for South Africa, needing prayer for jobs, for lost friends, for healing, and for personal problems. I don’t know how it could be greater. The love and glory of God blankets this place. The Indian population is very strong here. There are more Indians in South Africa than any place in the world except India and most live in the greater Durban area in the province of Natal. This is also the home of the Zulu nation and is predominantly an English speaking area, whereas Johannesburg was English and Afrikaans mixed.
Today was unspeakable. You’d have to be here to believe it. No sleep all night last night. At 5:30 a.m. there were over fifty people praying. Then there was a constant flow of people till 12:30 a.m. I was almost dead. This afternoon from 5:30 to 6:30, with hundreds of people all around me, I lay my head in a lady’s lap and went to sleep. There has not been one moment of silence, for me to even sit alone and pray quietly. About every hour, I try to get everyone to pause and I have prayer for the peace of God and the blessings of God upon South Africa for God to wash out from our hearts anything that doesn’t look like Jesus and make us one by the blood of Jesus as we gather around the cross. Then the demand of people for personal prayer takes over. We have a great team of Christians that are witnessing, praying with people and counseling. But as the word has spread, people are coming by the hundreds in a constant flow to be prayed for. It has become almost impossible to function.
A woman came to me yesterday and asked if she could be born again. I explained to her how she could receive Jesus into her life personally and we prayed together and she was saved. Then she brought her husband and he received Christ, and then they brought his mother and she too was converted. They are all from the Island of Mauritius. The mother had had a stroke three years ago and was paralyzed in her right arm. I prayed for her and she was gloriously healed, completely, raising her arm above her head, she could hold things with her hand. She was in total shock. They came every day to the cross while I was there and are great witnesses for Jesus.
The word spread and the crowds continued to flow. It was like one constant salvation meeting. Such glory! It seemed as if each time we finished praying or even before we would pray, that approximately half the crowd would be converted. I have never seen anything like this. In Johannesburg, and even here, I haven’t preached one sermon but the conviction is so strong, all I have to do is ask who wants to receive Christ and they rush up. Or we finish praying and I ask people to receive Christ and they rush up. I give a brief explanation, lead them in prayer, then send them to the side where others counsel them and give them gospel material. Many times we have several groups as many do not speak English, but we have someone from each language group that can counsel them.
The manager of a bank across the street came this afternoon. He was well dressed in a suit and tie. He said, “Three of our African workers were prayed for yesterday afternoon and were healed. I know them. I doubted that this was real but today they are still fine. Two more of our workers came over this morning during the office break and they were healed. I am a skeptic. I’m not a believer but I do believe these people are healed. I make more money than all five of these African workers put together but they are now healthy and I am still sick. Would you please pray for my legs.” I said, “Sir, the most important thing is to know Jesus.” He said, “No, no, I don’t want to talk about that. Just see if you can help my legs.” I didn’t know what to do but pray. I prayed for his legs and he was healed.
I wrote this on the fifth day because I had absolutely no time to write. It was solid crowds from before dawn until 3:00 a.m. when I finally got to sleep. It was absolutely unreal. Only God knows how many hundreds were saved. Over and over again, at least half the crowd was saved each time we prayed.
Last November when I first came into Durban, I was carrying the cross out of the city toward Zululand. There was a Hindu of Indian descent with his wife sitting beside the highway selling mangoes. They had a small four-year-old boy with a broken arm. As I approached them, Mark Barnett who was my driver at that time and had been baptized that very morning in the ocean, was talking to them. They were so excited to see the cross. The Indian people had welcomed me tremendously in India. The same response was true in Africa. They wanted me to come to their house, which was nearby. They were absolutely in poverty. He had been out of work for over two years. He could not find a job. They had no food but she went to someone nearby and came back with a small bit of rice and a small piece of meat and they fed us eating nothing themselves. I didn’t want to take the food but had to, as it was so important for them. Both husband and wife came to believe that Jesus Christ was the Savior and Son of the living God who had died on the cross and rose again. They received Him as Lord and Savior and were so happy. I prayed for the boy because the doctors had said that his arm at the elbow would remain crooked and impossible to move. As I left, I tried to give them some money but the man refused. I was weeping and said, “Your son is my Son. Your wife and family are like my wife and family. We are brothers. You cannot refuse me to help your family in need.” At my absolute insistence, he finally allowed me to give him a U.S. $20 bill. I gave them some gospel material and left with hugs and tears. It was now almost eight months later. I heard a car horn blowing fiercely in the street beside where I was sitting with the cross. I looked and saw this Mercedes car pulling into a parking spot with horn blaring. As I looked, I saw this man whom I had met selling mangoes racing toward me with open arms. His well dressed wife was rushing along following him. He cried, “Remember me? Remember me? You came to my house. I know Jesus. I saw in the newspaper today that you were in the park. I now have my own company. I have thirty employees. My wife has a business. We drive a Mercedes car and we have a new house. My son’s arm is perfect and my boy calls you ‘Jesus man’.” We were all hugging and crying. I said, “I wrote to you but I never heard from you.” He said, “That’s because we moved.” His wife reached into her purse and pulled out the same $20 bill that I had given him eight months earlier. She said, “Since the day you came to our house and brought Jesus to us, we have been blessed. We have never needed to spend this $20. I have even taken a trip to India to visit my family. We are completely blessed. You must come and dedicate our businesses to Jesus. There are crowds waiting at the factory to see you.” The only time during the fast in Durban that I left downtown was to go with them to dedicate their businesses.
When I arrived at the large building, I was greeted by people wanting to touch me saying, “This is the man that brought blessings to the Raj Naidoo family.” He then silenced the crowd, telling the story of our meeting but saying something that I had never known before. He said, “We were selling mangoes so we would have enough money to buy gas to put into our old car. My wife and I had planned late that afternoon to put some gas in the car and drive with our son into the Indian Ocean and commit suicide. I felt that no one loved me and my family. We had no work. We had no food. I am an honorable man and we felt totally abandoned in this world. The only thing we could do was to die with honor. This man came down the road with his cross and we found a new life. Now you all know the businesses that we have. We only hire people who have been unemployed because I was unemployed. We don’t take people from other jobs.” I inspected his factory where they do steel work. People were working so joyfully and there were Jesus stickers everywhere. He said, “I have a meeting in two hours for a contract on the new hospital. Would you pray that I get that contract,” We prayed. The next day, he came back smiling. “I am hiring now more than one hundred new workers” and he took some of the men with him, who were in the park and had no jobs, to put them to work.
South African television filmed his story and he, among others, is a living testimony of the power of Christ to bring new life.
When we pray out here, you can pray any way you feel like praying. By that I mean you can pray looking up, with your eyes closed or open, you can pray with your head bowed, or with your hands folded; it’s not the position of prayer that counts, it’s the condition of your heart. That’s what God’s looking at. Normally when we’re in church they say, “Would you bow your head and I close your eyes.” I think preachers came up with that for immature people and most of us should have outgrown that long ago, we should just be able to say. “Let’s pray.” Because closing your eyes and bowing your head is something somebody came up with in order to try to make you forget the world and close in on your own world.
In the Bible people prayed looking up, they prayed flat on the ground, they prayed standing up, they prayed kneeling down and one of the least common known ways we know that anybody prayed, was with their heads bowed and eyes closed. Over and over they prayed looking up. I don’t know how we got to having our heads bowed so much, but it doesn’t matter because we’re living out here in such beautiful surroundings that as we pray if you want to look around, praise God, look around and pray, that is okay. If you want to bow your head and pray whatever position you feel like praying in, you pray in it. Out here, you’ll see a lot of people looking around. Many times as I’m praying I look around because God will show me a need in somebody’s life, or I see somebody that I recognize. We will become a family after we’ve prayed for a while, and then you’ll find that without anybody saying Amen, they’ll just break up into conversations and you’ll be chatting or somebody will be chatting. It doesn’t matter, we don’t mind you talking, just try not to get too loud, especially if others are praying. While we’re in the spirit of prayer and as you meet one another in the name of Jesus, the family of God is becoming a fellowship and is being filled with love and you’re falling in love with somebody else and that’s the way it ought to be around the cross. We’re gathered around the cross, we’re praying, which is really symbolic for the whole nation to be gathered around the cross in peace and in reconciliation.
This is the fourteenth day we’ve been outdoors with the cross, in Johannesburg and here and it’s only been peace and love and it’s so sad that the world news isn’t interested in the good news of all the beautiful people gathered together in love. If we were all out here fighting we’d be on the front pages everywhere, but God hears, and He is listening and that’s whom we’re talking to. As we pray you’re welcome to pray out loud, but when we pray let’s pray to God and don’t preach a sermon. Sometimes, some people are tempted to take a prayer and use it for a means of preaching a half hour sermon to US. Well we don’t need to hear your sermon, talk to God. If we preach a sermon, let’s preach a sermon, if we talk to God, let’s talk to God. So pray and we’ll join in together with you.
You don’t have to feel inadequate when you pray; God knows your heart beyond your words to express! He understands what you feel, perhaps the best prayer you will ever pray is beyond words, ‘but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ‘ (Romans 8:26)
“Dear heavenly Father, we just thank You that we have the opportunity of prayer, we have that opportunity because of Calgary because of the righteous life of Jesus, because of the divinity of Christ, because of Your sinless life and Your death upon the cross and Your resurrection and Your ascension. You’ve paid for our sins, You’re the intercessor that is our advocate before the Father and we can come boldly before the throne of God because of Jesus. We thank You for Your promises that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. We thank You Lord that You said that if any two shall agree on earth as touching anything for Your glory, it shall be done. We thank You Lord for Your promise to open up the windows of heaven and pour out Your healing upon a nation if we will repent and humble ourselves and pray, then You will hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. So we pray Father right now for the outpouring of Your Spirit across this I nation and all over the world, because we know that the earth is the Lordly and the fullness thereof. We just refuse to allow the devil to take over the territory of God. We know Your promises where You said that You would I spare Sodom and Gomorrah even if there were twenty people and then if there were ten, then if there were five, and Lord, we know if You’d be that merciful to I Sodom and Gomorrah and those wicked cities, that You would heal this land because the people are standing in faith. Hundreds of thousands of people are praying and many are fasting and we’re putting our lives into Your hands to ask Lord Jesus that You restrain the forces of I Satan and loose the Holy Spirit and pour out Your Glory over the land. We’ve seen all the races, coming together around the cross and we pray dear God that would be a reality. We can see in our mind all the leaders meeting together in the name of Jesus, in reconciliation and love to work out the needs of the land.
We pray dear Father, that those whose lives are filled with hatred and with hurt, and even tonight those who may be plotting death and contemplating killing people, we pray that their hearts would be changed, that You would bind the work of Satan because we know that Jesus said that Satan has come to steal, to kill and to destroy but You have come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. So Lord, we just pray for that abundant life to be poured out upon every person and in every life. We pray, dear Lord, in the name of Jesus for You to bless churches as they meet and worship You. Bless the pastors, dear Father, that they would preach in power. Bless the beautiful people that are gathering together in prayer groups to uphold Thy name. Bless the people as they go to work. We just thank You for the beautiful privilege that we have to pray here, openly and freely. We thank You Lord, that the people are excited for us to gather to pray for the nation and we know that in the name of Jesus we pronounce blessings and goodness upon this land. And we pray, dear Father, that it would be a lighthouse to the world of the glory and the blessings of God. We thank You for all the good news that comes to my ear every day as people are telling me what’s happening in their towns, and in their homes, and in their office buildings. So Father, with this confidence we declare that this is Your land and these are Your people and You will save our land and release the blessings of Your glory. We pray God for the economics. We stand Lord against the forces that would destroy the peoples jobs because, Lord, we know that people need work and are coming here everyday asking, “pray for me a job, pray for me a job.” We rejoice because we’ve seen so many getting jobs. But Lord we pray for more: we pray for prosperity, we pray that tomorrow factory managers would say, “Let’s expand, let’s start a new building, let’s go forward and put more people to work so people can have homes, dignity, food, health, education and the best of life,” because we know God that You want every family to have a good home, You want every stomach fed, You want every person to be happy. We come before You with the assurance that You hear our prayers, and You answer them.
Father glorify Yourself. We just thank You for these beautiful people. Bless them as they gather with us. We pray, God, for anybody that may not know You, that they’ll be converted this evening in Jesus’ name. Lord, we pray for these precious children, right at the front. In the name of Jesus we pray, God, that they’ll have a beautiful land to grow up in, with peace, and without fear, with blessings and not terror. That every child will have nourishment and health and education, and most of all, the blessings of the knowledge of God within their lives that they may have equality, justice and opportunity. We thank You, Lord, that we can pray out here in Your beautiful church, with the stars, moon, trees, birds, wind, grass and the cool breeze.
Lord I thank You for the night, I thank You that You made the day and the night. There’s something so special about the night. We know that You love the night. Many nights You went away to pray all night, and You spent forty days and forty nights praying and fasting and the night before the crucifixion You went out to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane and You prayed there so often, when Judas brought the soldiers, he knew where to come. You loved to pray at night, looking out over the city of Jerusalem and also the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, You love the night, and we love this night. It’s a beautiful place here, the sound of the traffic, the bells that ring from the building, the sound of people talking, the sound of drunks sometimes screaming, the sound of laughter, the sounds of the city. We thank You Lord, that You came to save the cities, You came to save the countries, that You love the people in the cities, the lonely people, the hurting people, the sad people. Holy Spirit, if somebody is suicidal or depressed, we pray that You’ll wake them up or just bring them out of their apartment and bring them here, that they might meet Jesus Christ. We thank You that You’ve called us to be prepared, You said Your coming is like a thief in the night.
Just as I was trying to get to sleep, about 1:00am, over twenty young people arrived. They had driven more than a hundred kilometers. They wanted to see me and pray with me. I was so exhausted, but looking into their eyes, I knew I had to stay awake and be with them. We finally finished at 3:00 a.m., and I crawled into my sleeping bag to sleep. I slept about three hours, up at 6:30 a.m. Felt like I’d been run over by a train. Ha! Witnessed all day, one after another saved. People were crowding around.
One lovely lady, her name is Erni Moller, who came to the park very often and shared the love of Christ with many, brought a friends daughter. The girl was thirteen years old. (She had been crippled by polio in her right arm and hand, which was immobile.) We went to the side, sat down and began to pray together. The power of God moved upon her arm and hand, she was healed. Yet her arm was somewhat weak since it had not been moved for over seven years. I instructed her in exercise. She could raise her hand above her head, open and close her hand, and move her arm out. The girl was almost in a complete state of shock. I’ll never forget one thing. I said, “Do you feel fine?” She said, “Yes, except my thumb. It won’t move.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Her arm was fine, her hand, she could move her fingers and yet her thumb was frozen hard like her arm and hand had been. I took her hand in my hand. A small crowd had gathered around. I prayed for her thumb and suddenly, she could move it perfectly. She kept wiggling her thumb, and seemed more excited about that thumb working than anything.
I felt stronger tonight than I did today, but the days seem to run into the nights and the nights seem to run into the days with no let up. As I was sitting down to write in my diary, I noticed a man and woman. She wore a beautiful wedding dress and he was dressed for marriage. I walked over to them. They had been married that afternoon at three o’clock, had the reception and then came to the cross for prayer. This was so powerful and was quite a celebration of joy for us as I remembered how Jesus turned the water into wine at a wedding banquet.
Tonight as we were praying, a lady burst through the crowd and grabbed me. She was weeping, shaking, and she said, ‘I’ve come by five times this week but I never had the courage to speak to you. Now I must. I want to be reborn.” And she wept her way into the kingdoms of God. The stories are endless. I have so many friends here in South Africa that it has become like home. All the people, black, white, Indian, colored, they’re all the same to me, such love, oh so lovely. The glory of God covers this place and it’s such a wonderful feeling it’s impossible to describe. There is such peace sad love here. I feel so overcome with glory. God help me.
Sunday, July 13, 1986
God protect me from promotion, organization and an ego. Just keep me in the streets. It’s so beautiful here, and the needs are so great.
Here, where the cross is, crowds gather more than we can handle, eager, full of questions, full of needs, absolutely overcoming us with the desire to pray, wanting us to pray for them, wanting to find Christ. As I see what is happening here, I look at the world and think, why aren’t the ministers in the streets and the parks, exposed to the real people of need and desperation without a shield? For many in the ministry, it’s a one-hour worship service. Then they greet everyone after and go to dinner. Much of the time, when I preach in a church, as I stay to counsel the people, (one hour, two hours, three hours) I notice the pastor is already gone. If it’s a night meeting, the janitor is flashing the light to drive the people out of the building. Time is up. It’s over.
Being out here in South Africa, exposes the weakness of the church, of evangelism, and so on. You only have to go and sit in a park in the city and pray and the people come by the hundreds and then by the thousands. You pray for them. They tell others, “Go there, someone will pray for you.” They come and it grows.
I fasted and prayed once in Hollywood, California for twenty-eight days. Again I fasted and prayed in Washington, D.C. for forty days and nights; for three days in Belfast, Northern Ireland; and then here in South Africa. Oh, you can see how hungry the people are. In each of those places, just fasting and praying, we were overcome by the crowds of people. You don’t need a building or an organization just to be somewhere and the people come if there’s anything worth coming for. But where are the ministers? We have a lot of new converts doing the work that confounds theology professors. They’re shaking the city. How is it that ministers must have a plush office to counsel in? The world is lost, the people are starving and the laborers are few.
Almost every church meeting that I go to, someone says, “Oh, I’m waiting on God to tell me what to do.” They say, “Do you have a word from God for me,” Oh, Oh, Oh God! God’s children are so blind, blind to the needy and the hurting and the lost around them. We don’t want to be inconvenienced by the needy. We want to have a “ministry.” Then you can start at a certain time and end at a certain time. We don’t need “ministry”, we need Disciples of Christ. We need twenty-four hour a day followers of Jesus.
Yesterday, I was talking to a very needy lady. She had waited a long time to talk to me as I had ministered to others, then finally I got to her. As we began to speak, she was weeping. Then this superstar dressed up, hair in perfect form, with the best jeweled watch and ring on, burst into our prayer and conversation. “I’m pastor __________ of the big __________ church in _____________. I want you to come and preach.” He had no concern for this hurting lady or for my time spent counseling, and caring and sharing. For him Arthur Blessitt was the superstar, the big name, the man of God who could fill his church, who he could tell his friends had preached in his church. It was all ego and insincerity. I said, “Sir, can’t you see I’m talking to a needy lady who is weeping?” He huffed and cut off my words. “Oh, but I’m _________ and we want you.” I cut him off. “Sir, you are a man of God, can’t you see this lady needs help? I can’t interrupt this conversation to discuss something else. Wait a minute and I’ll give you the same time that I’m giving to her.” He rose up with a grunt, almost fire in his eyes, swirled around and walked off through the crowd of hurting people. He was lost and blind to the hurting of individuals around him and inconsiderate of the feelings of others.
Oh God, where are the people who are available to the crowds? I sit and think. There are few people that expose themselves to true public ministry. Here in this park, every day from twelve noon to two in the afternoon, if several ministers would divide their time and be here to talk and pray individually with people, they would be flooded. But who wants people!
I’ve been in the biggest TV, and crusade meetings, in stadiums and auditoriums from time to time, at conferences, on programs with leading teachers, preachers, evangelists and ministers. I know what I’m saying. Not once, but year after year after year, this is how it goes. The ministers are staying in the best hotels. In the afternoon, most of their ministry people go shopping at the best stores for little things. Then there’s perhaps an early snack and then the chauffeur driven car picks up the teams and we go to the hall, the stadium or the studio by way of the back door, often with body guards or attendants. Then there are snacks and hord’oeuvres and the personalities stand there chatting about everything under the sun, many times watching a ball game or some program on TV until somebody says, “Program begins in five minutes.” Everyone gets their last minute make-up and hair ready and the program starts. Often there has not even been one prayer meeting and everyone suddenly becomes super spiritual.
They have every gift there is. Words of knowledge, gifts of healing, mighty prophecies, great sermons, (but where was all this during the day?) Along the streets there were crippled people, they never stopped to pray with them. All day in the shops, hotels, taxis, and airports, there were no words of knowledge, but now on stage, “Thus saith the Lord, God loves you. God is interested in your every need. I am His messenger.” Wow, Come forward.” (Many times, half are counselors to help the movement toward the front). “We want to help you.” Perhaps it’s a short prayer. Perhaps it’s a wave of a hand, or a touch on the forehead in a long line of waiting people, or perhaps it’s off to the counseling room, but the great man or woman of God vanishes from the scene. Aides hurriedly empty the building as the prophet sips coffee and snacks behind stage. All the program people gather and discuss where they are going to have their late night meal and fellowship.
The crowd has had a thrill and sometimes, especially when the group is a music group, the crowd can even see the “personality” up close and can get an autograph around the record table. “But please, no real ministry here, we’re only signing autographs. Why don’t you see a counselor at the front, or come back tomorrow.”
Many of the greatest Christian leaders live in total isolation from the people environment. Our God has become crowds, television ratings, and success. But who has time for people, real people? My heart cries out. In almost every place, the people beg me to stay, “Don’t go.” I look at Jesus in the crowds of religious hangers-on and in Jericho He saw Zacchaeus, a sinner man in a tree. Not phony, not seeking an autograph of Jesus, but just wanting to see Jesus. And Jesus left the crowds of self-righteous and went to this man’s home and ate with the sinner man. People condemned Jesus, saying that He was a drunkard and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. A sinner woman fell at His feet when Jesus was eating. With tears, she washed His feet and with her hair she dried His feet and continued to kiss His feet. This was Jesus. He let her stay there. She needed His touch and she needed to touch Him. And He said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee for you have loved much.” Jesus was never on a high stage or speaking in the great Roman arenas that were present in His day. He was lost in the crowds of children with runny noses, dogs barking, donkeys and horses braying, goats and lambs, dirt blowing up and sand, wind tossing his hair about, hands that had just blown their nose, that had been riding a sweaty camel or donkey, or had wiped their sweaty faces, or had been to the toilet where there was no toilet, or a leper full of sores; these were the people touching Jesus. This was Jesus. Crowds found Him. He was in the streets, available.
Where are His ministers today? In ivory covered halls of theology, in plush offices lined with $50.000 worth of books, with church hours that match the world nine to five, with gospel operations churning out computer “personal” letters where your name is used in the letter four or five times to make you feel that “he knows you.” Oh, where are You, Jesus of Nazareth? Where are Your followers? You said, when the people criticized John the Baptist, “What went you out into the wilderness to see, A reed shaken by the wind? A man clothed in soft garment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled and live delicately are in the kingly court. But what went you out to see? A prophet? Theologians debate theologians. Why aren’t they out here in the streets to discuss it in the parks, on the beach, in the ghetto, and in the war zones? No, they play theological games with other intellectually while the world goes to hell!
I don’t talk any theology that I don’t live. Call me simple, but this is my desire, I want to live what I believe. That’s what I want to hear from the faith teachers. Mr. Faith says, “This is a faith ministry. If we don’t hear from you immediately, we won’t be on the air next week. Put your faith to work dear friend and give God (me) a check right now. Make that faith check out to “Doctor Shame, PO. Box 1. Rip Off, USA” (God uses this address also.) Where is your faith, Mr. Faith?
Those of you who have a word of knowledge, I have a place for you to minister. Why don’t you go to Beirut, Belfast, South Africa, or Europe and tell where the next car bomb will explode?
Where are you faith healer? I have just the place for you. Not in a stadium (as you stay in a five star hotel), but get a four-wheel drive and go where there are no doctors across Africa, then through South America. Somehow, the healing power only comes from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the auditorium and where the crowd has a generous love offering. Why don’t you take your crusade to a park in Watts or downtown Los Angeles, on the beach in Florida, or to the slums of Calcutta? You could save millions of dollars in promotion and draw even larger crowds, especially the poor. But oh, it would be difficult to keep one’s hair in style and difficult to take up the love offering. And also, the drunks, drug addicts, the illegal immigrants might also come. What nice person wants to sit next to a bum? (Only Jesus I guess). Oh, I weep today as I see the crowd gathered around. Right now, as I write, I am weak, hungry, sleepy, tired and need to go to the bathroom. But how can I write this if I’m not willing to live it! I’ll say good-bye world, you get off easy, I have more to say, but no time now.
Sunday afternoon, it was unreal, people coming to the cross. I left Joshua in the park with both crosses and I went a few blocks away to the Christian center, to a downtown fellowship that meets in an old movie theater. The pastor, Fred Roberts, is a dear man of God and he had opened their place for an interdenominational gathering. This afternoon, we had a great communion and footwashing service. It was absolutely glorious and indescribable. There were people of all races from South: Africa; whites, blacks, Indians. It was an awesome crowd.
Thousands of people overflowed the entire premises. We sang choruses and worshipped the Lord as people tried to get into the building. Finally, the entire stage was flooded with people and Pastor Roberts turned the meeting over to me I stood there at the front looking at the scene. Tears were pouring from my eyes. And then I spoke slowly, “This is the new South Africa. This is the real South Africa. If only the world could see.” I read from Matthew 26:26-29: And as they were eating. Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take it, this is My body.” And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink you all of it, for this is My blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” To me, the communion time with the bread and wine is one of the most beautiful opportunities for worship, praise, and thanksgiving that the believer has. Here we were gathered together to remember Jesus.
Jesus had said in Luke chapter 22:19: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” And we were gathered in remembrance of Jesus Christ. As we distributed the bread, I began to speak of Jesus reminding the people of His body; His hands that reached out and touched the sick and the sinful. His lap where the children sat and He said, “Let the little children come unto Me for such is the kingdom of heaven.” His arms, where someone like John lay his head. His eyes, that saw the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd scattered abroad; that saw the city of Jerusalem refusing to hear the message of life and He wept. His lips, no man ever spoke like Jesus. His words were the words of life. His head, where the crown of thorns had been pressed into His brow and the blood flowed down His face. His back beaten and scourged with the Roman whip but with His stripes, we are healed. His feet, remembering once He said, “I must walk today, tomorrow, and the day following.” His feet bringing good news. The body of Jesus. His hands pierced with the nails, His feet nailed to the cross. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
As I remembered and spoke of His body, we were weeping. He gave Himself for us. We took the bread, blessed it and ate it. Then we took the cup remembering that Jesus took the wine and said, “This is My blood that is shed for the remission of sins.” And I reminded the people that only through the blood of Jesus Christ can our sins be taken away. Jesus Christ gave His life for us. Without the shedding of blood, the Bible says, there is no remission of sins. And there at the cross, through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus, peace was made between man and God that we might have His peace within our heart and life. We remembered His death, which brought our life and His resurrection. He’s not a dead Christ, but our resurrected Lord. Hallelujah!
After we had received the bread and the wine, we did what Jesus asked us to do as recorded in John 13:2. “And the supper being ended, the devil having put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, and Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He ariseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. And after that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter; and Peter said unto Him, “Do You wash my feet?” Jesus said unto him, “What I do you knoweth not, but you shall know hereafter.” And Peter said unto Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” And Jesus said, “If I wash you not, you have no part with Me.” And Simon Peter said unto Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” And Jesus said, “He that is washed need only to wash his feet, but is clean. You are clean, but not all.” For He knew who should betray Him, therefore He said. ‘you are not all clean.’ So after He’d washed their feet and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Master and Lord; and you say well; for so I am. If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you. The sergeant is not greater than his lord, neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”
Most of the time in our present world we only have communion and never the footwashing. I’ve never understood that. When I was just beginning preaching, I was pastoring a church in the state of Nevada in America. I had had my tonsils removed and was in the hospital and I was reading the book of John. When I read those words, I realized that I hadn’t done something very important that Christ commanded. He said you ought to wash another’s feet; I’ve given you an example that you should do as I’ve done to you, and happy are you if you do it, these three things. I had tried to justify not doing it as I’d heard my professors at the university and seminary say that those words didn’t apply, that they were symbolic. And I remember always wondering if that was symbolic, why wasn’t the bread and wine symbolic? But suddenly in that hospital, I realized that the water of footwashing was as real as the bread and the wine of communion and I had never obeyed His command. And I realized that as soon as I got out, I was going to wash someone’s feet.
I was at a Pastors conference the next week. That night in a hotel room that, I said, “I’m going to do what Christ commanded me to do and I’m going to wash your feet, I don’t know how to do it but if you’re still in this room when I come back from the bathroom with the trash can full of water and some towels, then I’m going to wash your feet.” When I came back, every pastor had their shoes off and we had the most glorious footwashing that you’ve ever seen. Communion is our relationship with God. Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” We remember His body, we remember His blood. It doesn’t really relate to those that are around us. Communion is your relationship with God and your remembrance of Christ. But footwashing is our relationship one with another and it followed one after another that night. Jesus served the bread and the wine then He put on the robe of the servant and washed their feet.
Somehow it’s easier for us to try to deal with God whom we don’t see with our eyes, than it is someone sitting beside us whom we can see. God is a spirit, but we are physical and our pride gets in the way of this scriptural blessing. With the massive crowd that had gathered, we wanted to obey the commands of Jesus Christ and wash one another’s feet, because we are one family, we’re one body, we’re the body of Christ. It’s not divided by race or language. The only way we knew to do the footwashing with such a large crowd packed in close together was to give out wet towels that you can buy in a can. So the ministers that were there passed out wet towels to everyone and I asked for the people to wash the feet of the person on either side. Everybody would be washing at least two people’s feet. Then I said, “If the women have on stockings, we’ll just wash their feet through the stockings.” We had prayer and then began to fulfill the command of Christ. It is a scene that will live with me forever. Here in South Africa, with a crowd that was a very representative mixture of all the racial groupings, (at least half the crowd black as well as a large group of Indians, colored and whites), people began to wash one another’s feet and pray for the person whose feet they were washing. Footwashing is one of the few commands in the Bible with a promise attached. Jesus said, “Happy are you if you do this.” And I’ve found that to be true. With footwashing, there’s an overwhelming joy that seems to flood the place. People were laughing, crying and smiling, hugging one another, praying for one another. It was glorious.
I might add this, that in my own family, the bread, the wine, the footwashing is perhaps the most important and unifying force in our relationship. Most of the time before I leave on a trip or if we’re all going, before we all leave, we have communion and footwashing. When I come back from a trip or when we return we have communion and footwashing. Everything that’s not right vanishes away as we pray and remember the body and blood of Jesus and then express that love to one another.
This really is the needed message of our church today, to remember Christ, to love Him, and to realize what He’s done for us in providing us with salvation and the new life, and then to express that relationship we have with God with one another. The work of Christ is to be the servant of one another. If only we could exalt other people, we could make every person feel better than when we met them. If we smiled, if we said ‘thank you’, if we treated every person honorably and the love of our life was real, what a new world it would be.
This is exactly the solution all over the world for every problem. Many times, we have great declarations, words, we have tremendous statements of justice and equality, but do we touch, do we wash the people’s feet with our love and with our life in a personal and real way? As people were washing one another’s feet, it was a holy moment. A representative section of South Africa by the thousands was together in the beauty of love. If we had had a riot, if we were killing one another, or hating one another, the news media would have been there from all over the world because the world press is in Durban. But because we were loving one another there was no interest because there was beauty instead of death and this is not a rare occasion.
One of the greatest things happening in the world is happening in South Africa. There is a mighty, powerful, glorious spiritual awakening! Multiracial. All the races, a unity, cooperation, but this is never reported, never spoken of. The government wasn’t against us all meeting together. That Christian center is multiracial all the time as are many other churches in South Africa. This is never emphasized by the press that the people of all races love one another by the grace of God, we’re brothers and sisters. Then the Africans began to sing a song called, “Amen”. I’ve never heard anything like that song. Everyone was hugging and clapping and praising God. Most of the blacks were Zulus and they were singing in Zulu, it was an unbelievable experience. At the conclusion of the meeting, everyone was bathed in love, unity and the power of the Holy Spirit and I invited those who needed to receive Jesus to come and pray. A number came forward to receive Christ, to be prayed with and counseled with.
I went back to the City Hall where the cross was and sat with Joshua. He had remained there.
A large crowd was in the park. They couldn’t get in the building, or they didn’t know about the meeting and Joshua was there ministering and praying with the people. Tears flowed from my eyes. I guess I have more confidence in Joshua as a man of God than any other man that I know. I don’t think anyone could deceive him or take advantage of him. We’ve been together through many things. He’s lived his life on the roads of the world and at fifteen has the wisdom and the spiritual character of an old man. The same is true with my other children. They’re just the greatest. God has given me the greatest family. Gina, Joel, Joy, Joshua, Joseph and Jerusalem. And now my daughter, Gina is married to Banjo Garcia and I have a grand-daughter named Jerusha. What a blessing, that for today, the people around me are my family.
Crowds continuing. It was absolutely wild. Almost impossible to function. One man about thirty-five years old came to me through the crowd and said that he wanted to find Christ as his Savior and asked me to pray for his healing. The man was horribly crippled in one arm. I explained to him how he could know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and he was gloriously converted. Seven years earlier, he had been in a construction accident and the bones were broken through most of his body. His right arm had horrible scars all along it and he explained how they had taken bone and skin from his legs and put into his arm. His right arm was basically frozen in the joints with just a fraction of movement in his elbow and wrist. When I saw this man’s condition, it seemed impossible that there would be a real healing in his arm, but I put my hands on his arm and I began to pray quietly and I promise that what I’m going to say is absolutely true. There was a “pop ” in his elbow and then “pop, crunch” as I touched his wrist. He could now straighten out his arm and move his wrist. He reached up with his arm and touched his ear, and scratched the back of his head. He was excited beyond words. “I can scratch my head with my right hand,” he said. “Oh God, what is happening,” Both he, I and the crowd were in total shock. The SABC TV camera crew filmed this astounding miracle and also the next miracle as the film crew happened to be there at the same time.
After this man was healed, an old lady with a sore on her ankle that had been there for seven years. No doctors had been able help heal the sore. She had spent all of her money on doctor bills and also she was crippled in that she only walked on the toe of her foot and could not extend her heel to the ground. I knelt down and began to pray for her. The pain in her sore went away, the sore was healed and then her leg began to extend until her heel was even with the ground and she could walk perfectly. She began to walk and dance and leap and was shouting, “Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus. I’ve spent all my money on doctors and now I’m whole.” Well, you can imagine what the response was as the word spread around the city that these miracles were continuing to happen. Crowds, crowds, crowds were swarming the park as the glory of God was manifest and hundreds were being saved through the day.
In the midst of all this glory, people being healed and converted by the hundreds, one of the strangest but most beautiful things happened. I heard a noise behind me though the park was noisy anyway, but it was a different noise and I looked around. And there coming to me through the crowd was Joshua and he was carrying a huge parrot cage and inside was a parrot. The television filmed as they presented me with the parrot. A lovely lady named Wendy McDonald had sent the parrot. She and her husband, Neville are from Capetown. Her father is the Reverend Fred Roberts of the Christian Center. Since I refuse to take love offerings, they wanted to find some way of expressing to me how they appreciated what we were doing in South Africa.
When I was in Central America in 1979, I had a gorgeous parrot. His name was El Salvador del Mundo. He spoke Spanish and was my traveling companion in Central America and it was a very sad story when he died in Nicaragua during the civil war. We had sprayed for mosquitoes and El Salvador overdosed on the mosquito spray and died and I wept, and wept, and wept. I told the story of El Salvador in my book, Arthur, A Pilgrim and shared how I trained him to preach and how sad I was at the death of my lovely parrot. These wonderful friends from Capetown and Durban had decided that they wanted to get me a parrot and Wendy had searched and searched all over South Africa until, amazingly, they found, perhaps the only Spanish speaking parrot in all of South Africa.
I was totally surprised as they presented me with a beautiful, large, green and multicolored parrot. “Como esta usted,” I cried. I put my hand against the cage and she got close. “Loreta, Loreta,” she cried. That is her name. We fell in love at first sight. I spoke Spanish to her and she responded in love. She knew immediately that she was my sweetheart and we have had a glorious relationship ever since. The only problem is she doesn’t want me to leave her and she doesn’t want anyone but me! You can tell I’m madly in love with Loreta. One would never dream of receiving a parrot at such a time, but so is the mystery, surprise and excitement of life.
Last Morning of Fast
All morning, there was a constant flow of hundreds of people. They knew that I would be leaving today and many wanted to say good-bye. Others were desperate to be prayed for, pushing and shoving to get to the front. Others were waiting to receive Christ like a beautiful young model who spoke to me as she burst into tears, “I want to be born again.” As noon approached, a huge crowd had gathered and I said, “Well praise the Lord, in all my time in South Africa there has not been one nasty thing said around the cross or against us. It has absolutely been beautiful. I don’t know of anywhere in the world that I’ve ever seen or felt more loved. You have loved me, I love you, I feel like South Africa is my home. If God would let me, I think I’d just take up residence here. I don’t know of anywhere I’d rather live than in the park, in the middle of Durban. You’ve been my family and I’ve been your family. The call of God causes me to move on. God has made the world my home and I wish I could stay, but I am leaving today at noon and I go to Capetown and there will be fasting and praying in Capetown. The glory of God is in this place. The love of God. As all races are gathered around the cross, as all the people have come together in prayer and fellowship and nothing but beauty, it’s just a shame that the whole world can’t see how lovely it really is here. There are problems, but I tell you there are problems everywhere. Look at the way you all love one another and we’re not going to let a few destroy the good of the many. The grace and the power and love of God is abundant. Now what I want us to do at twelve o’clock is to gather around the cross and bless this nation in the name of Jesus. The bible says what so ever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven and we’re going to pray that the power of Satan will be bound from this nation. We know where hate comes from, it comes from the devil. We know where violence comes from, it comes from the devil, we know where injustice comes from, it comes from the devil. We want to pray for every family in South Africa to have a home, a job, justice, equality, a good education, good health and the blessings of God upon their lives. We want to thank God for the beautiful privilege we’ve had of gathering here day after day in liberty. I want us to bow down, we’re going to pray and lay one hand on the ground, and one hand on somebody. We’re going to claim the earth for the Lord and we’re going to claim the people for the Lord and the blessings of God.”
Dear heavenly Father, I pray Lord for Your blessings upon South Africa, we lay our hands upon this earth, the earth is the Lord’s, South Africa is the Lord’s, South Africa is not the devils. The devil can’t have South Africa. Death can’t have South Africa. Violence can’t have South Africa. Jesus has come to save, bless and to pour out His Spirit upon this land. Dear God, as black and white and brown hands touch one another, we are one family, we are one nation, we have one Father God and we acknowledge You and ask You to bless us and prosper our land. Bless our families; give us jobs, health and happiness. In the name of Jesus may we have peace, love, justice, equality, purity in Jesus name, hallelujah, hallelujah, Praise You Lord, thank You Jesus. Let’s say together the Lordly prayer right now. “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.” Amen. I just want to say this, thank you for loving me, thank you for loving the cross. Joshua and I are happy to have been with those of you who have been so kind. You will live in my heart forever. I leave my heart with you and I take your heart with me. Those of you that need to receive Jesus I want you to pray this prayer with me out loud. “Dear God, save my soul, forgive my sins in Jesus name, I repent, I welcome Jesus into my heart as Lord. I love You Lord and You are my Savior forever. I welcome You Jesus in my life and I welcome the Holy Spirit. Fill me with Your love, to love You God with all my heart, to love everyone, to love Your bible, and love Your church. Thanks for writing my name in heaven. I’m not ashamed of Jesus. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.”
Now this is our final gathering and I think we ought to say a great thanks to the government officials who have been so happy to have us gather even during the state of emergency. I want us to do one thing symbolic before we finish. I want us to make one circle, put our arms around each other and have a circle around the cross. Would you do that, would you stand up? Isn’t this beautiful, just look around, just look around you. This is South Africa. Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Look at the person standing beside you, whatever color they are, whatever language; this is the way God wants it to be. And this is the way it’s going to be. “Our heavenly Father, we pray that You would make us one by Your grace. One family, one people, one nation under God in the name of Jesus Christ we ask You to bless these people and to bless this nation in the power of Your Holy Spirit this scene will live in our minds forever, in Jesus name we pray.” Joshua and I love you. God bless you. Love each other. And I’ll meet you in heaven. Glory to God.
This was a tremendous scene never to be forgotten. I had just received a copy of a letter written by the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., Dr. Richard C. Halverson. In the letter he quotes George MacLeod of Scotland:
“I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town’s garbage heap; at a crossword, so cosmopolitan, they had to write His title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek’¦ at the kind of a place where lyrics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where church men ought to be and what church men ought to be about.”
I lay down in the dirt with my face to the ground and prayed in silence. Then I stood, walked to the cross, knelt down beside it, made the sign of the cross over my chest, stood picking up my cross, Joshua grabbed his cross and we started to walk away. The crowds of people rushed to the cross and began crying, trying to touch us, wanting me to pray with them. It took perhaps fifteen minutes to make it out of the park. I felt joy and sadness. Durban was now behind us and Capetown was before me.