By Andrew McChesney
A Covid-19 lockdown left Sandile Khumalo on his knees in South Africa’s biggest city, Johannesburg. The national lockdown, among the most stringent in the world, shuttered the three churches where Sandile serves as pastor in the city of 5.5 million people. Tough regulations closed parks and banned jogging, dog-walking, and even the sale of cigarettes and alcohol.
Like many pastors, Sandile moved his ministry online and live-streamed sermons to members of his three churches: Johannesburg Central, Johannesburg CBD, and Johannesburg Innercity. Sometimes he received encouraging messages from people inspired by his preaching. But he longed to do more. He earnestly prayed to God to send an unbeliever who needed to meet Jesus during the pandemic. What happened next surprised him.
One day, Sandile received a WhatsApp text message from an unfamiliar number. The caller introduced himself as Hilton and sent a photo of a Bible that he had found in a minivan taxi while traveling to work. Minivan taxis, which carry multiple passengers, are a common sight in Johannesburg.
“I picked up your Bible in the taxi,” Hilton wrote.
He explained that he had opened the Bible and, finding Sandile’s name and contact information inside the cover, decided to write.
Sandile looked at the photo with interest. He owned several Bibles but did not recognize the one in the photo. The Bible looked new, and its burgundy-red leather cover indicated that it was not cheap. Furthermore, Sandile had not ridden in a minivan taxi in years. He checked with his wife and other family members, and they confirmed that he had never owned such a Bible.
Hilton was not bothered that Sandile did not recognize the Bible. He was more interested in finding out what the Bible said. He had never read a Bible, and he was eager to start. He asked Sandile whether he would be willing to help him read it. He wanted Bible studies.
Sandile knew at that moment that God had heard his prayers for an unbeliever who needed to meet Jesus during the pandemic. God had answered his prayers in a miraculous way. “I praise God for this unique opportunity for ministry of which I still cannot make sense,” Sandile said. “I hope our interactions will lead to Hilton accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.”
This story illustrates a key component of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s “I Will Go” strategic plan: “Demonstrable increase in total members and congregations in all urban areas of one million people or more” (KPI 2.3). Learn more about the strategic plan at IWillGo2020.org.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
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