Winds of change are once more blowing across Africa. And as South Africa’s Tshego Motaung has well illustrated, it is her own country that is again resisting the phenomenon.
When British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan made his famous ‘Winds of Change’ speech to the Cape Town Parliament in 1960, he was talking of the reality of national liberation sweeping the continent.
South Africa’s political elite, however, were in denial of it, resisting the inevitable for 30 years until God intervened in answer to much prayer – specifically in Nelson Mandela and F W de Klerk being reconciled through their common faith in Jesus Christ.
Now there is a new movement of change, Tshego points out – a growing recognition of God’s purposes for Israel among African nations. And the irony is that the black majority government of South Africa is actually moving in the opposite direction, downgrading their ties with the Jewish state while being taken in by Palestinian propaganda.
Nevertheless, Tshego is clearly excited by the fulfillment of ancient prophecies as African nations forge closer ties with Israel. As MC for the recent Africa Israel Chamber of Commerce pre-launch event in Johannesburg, Tshego was reminded of the Isaiah 19 prophecy of a time when a highway of reconciliation would link Egypt, Israel and Assyria. (Isa 19.23-25)
And she believes that what was described at the time (700 BC) as Egypt refers to most of what we know as Africa today.
“Initiatives like the AICC are some of the tools for bringing fulfillment to these prophecies,” she wrote in a recent online article for Gateway News (South Africa). “However, it is fascinating to notice how the current South African political leaders are acting in the same way their predecessors did in 1960, when they resisted the winds of change.”
A further irony, in my opinion, is that a huge swathe of churches in South Africa are pro-Israel – and are in fact in revival because of that (as I believe the two are directly connected). The wind of the Holy Spirit is clearly blowing across the nation - what other explanation is there for nearly two million people turning up to a prayer meeting on a farmer’s field on June 22nd this year? But the political leaders are trying to avoid the spiritual climate by sinking their heads in the South African sand (of which there is plenty). Like true believers down the ages, the country’s Christians are being counter-cultural and we should pray that their courage will not fail them at this desperate hour.
It is worth remembering that the Church also led the way for change in the apartheid era. Through much prayer and witness and a determination not to back down, they eventually won the battle. If the pattern is repeated, the political leaders will succumb.
Perhaps it’s just a matter of when – not whether – the South African government repents; not only of its corruption, but of its anti-Israel stance.
Winds of change have also blown through Britain since the 1960s – and on the whole they have wreaked havoc (rather as Hurricane Harvey has done in America) as family life has been seriously undermined and the Church has remained largely silent.
As the social structure of the UK continues to collapse, my prayer is that we will cease to resist the wind of the Spirit that is willing and wanting to rebuild our shattered society. The wind that blew on the Day of Pentecost changed the world (see Acts 2.2). Jesus spoke of a blowing of the wind, and of our response to it, when referring to the need for people to be “born again” in order to enter the kingdom of God. (John 3.8) This wind also came in the form of Jesus breathing on his disciples (John 20.22).
But the blowing of wind can also be negative, as I’ve intimated with my reference to havoc-wreaking hurricanes. St Paul writes about those who are easily led being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4.14) and when Jesus summed up his amazing Sermon on the Mount, he talked of destructive winds that would topple houses of thought and ideology built on the sand of lies and propaganda. (Matthew 7.24-27)
There is a growing movement dedicated to a coming together of the Word and Spirit in our churches which I believe holds out a very precious hope of future restoration. Too many of our churches (in the UK at least) favour one over the other, concentrating on preaching the Bible on the one hand and emphasising the gifts of the Spirit on the other. But many are now recognising that the time has come to weave both streams together.
The result, certainly according to legendary early 20th century evangelist Smith Wigglesworth in an extraordinary prophecy made shortly before his death in 1947, will be spiritually explosive.
He said at the time: “When the Word and the Spirit come together, there will be the biggest move of the Holy Spirit that the nation, and indeed the world, has ever seen. It will mark the beginning of a revival that will eclipse anything that has been witnessed within these shores – even the Wesleyan and Welsh revivals of former years. The outpouring of God’s Spirit will flow over from the United Kingdom to mainland Europe and, from there, will begin a missionary move to the ends of the earth.”
I was born in Cape Town just eleven years before Prime Minister Macmillan’s historic speech, and I experienced my own ‘winds of change’ not many years later in 1972 shortly after moving to the UK. As a 22-year-old, I recognised that I needed purpose and direction and, when a friend told me that Jesus had come to give us “life in all its fullness” (John 10.10), I sought this very thing and was forever changed after the Lord of glory breathed his Spirit into my soul.
I pray for a similar conversion both for the leaders of the land of my forefathers in Africa as well as for my adopted country in the northern hemisphere.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com