Growing up, this young man has always been at the gates of the temple serving one way or the other because the parents had been senior ministers of the gospel in the church.
It did not occur to me that one day I would feel hungry to pursue a much closer encounter with the creator because I had thought what I had through my parents was enough.
The journey to seek spiritual transition began with a visit to Motlollo, South Africa a farm formerly known as Vogelstruisdraai farm that plays headquarters to St John’s Apostolic Church of Prophecy. Every year more than 100 000 people visit the place from all corners of South Africa on pilgrimage and other spiritual needs.
While many people were making plans for the New Year’s celebrations happening later in the evening, my 31st December 2017 begins at 4am with packing up all the necessities vital for survival in the next 10 days of fasting and prayer. My intention is to catch a 7am bus at the Sikwane Boarder Post travelling to Rustenburg. The anxiety of going to hitch-hike at the Taung hiking spot in Gaborone starts to kick in because of its unending stories of crime.
I immediately get a ride upon my arrival at the hiking place that goes directly to Sikwane. The youthful driver to the boarder becomes an irritant for his now and then howling and hooting at young ladies on bus stops and asking for an opinion from me on the desired ladies but we eventually arrive safely and part.
At the boarder, I realise I have missed the bus and I am forced to hike again on the almost deserted boarder post for its underdeveloped gravel road. My hopes of making it on time for the Sunday service are reduced as more and more hours pass without any cars coming through. Eventually at about 1000am, four hours after my arrival at the boarder I am offered to go on the Obakeng police van that passes at my desired destination. The journey in the canopy-covered bakkie is not as uncomfortable as I had anticipated because my eyes are entertained by the wild animals from the Madikwe Game Reserve as we drive on the gravel road.
Motlollo church bell rings signalling time for the 11am church service as I finally arrive at the holy place. The two police officers require no payment for their service and they speed off into the dusty road the moment I have offloaded all my belongings.
Motlollo is the second headquarters for the church. It came into being after the Dr Masango’s faction took over the Evaton church building and the founding member Prophetess Christinah Nku was forced to look for a different place of worship following a court ruling that favoured Masango in 1967.
The place is renowned for hosting big names like South African President Jacob Zuma, Deborah (Gospel artist) and even the youth’s favourite artiste, Cassper Nyovest. The Motlollo Mountains create a pleasant background for the 5 000 capacity church hall which was built by Dr Johannes Nku in 1976 and opened in 1977.
The main aim of my journey can now begin in earnest. For the next seven days I am expected to attend church services at 4am, 9am, 3pm and 7pm everyday without fail. The most uncomfortable of all services is the 4am service where members walk to the temple in the early hours of day to meditate in prayer while chanting “pass me not” in between but I push myself everyday to attend it because of the transformation I am seeking .
The sermon that changed my life altogether in one of the Sunday services was delivered by the Lady Archbishop Mrs Pearl Ramokoka who is also Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. The Kanye born Ramokoka taught about New Year’s resolutions. She said that God has already given resolutions for all people under his belt. All we had to do was commit to his laws in the New Year as given to Moses in Exodus 20 then the world would comply with what we desired.
The rest of the services are just a walk in the park because of their lack of discomfort. Every service has a particular procedure in which it is held and the hymns sang range from English, Sotho, Tswana and Xhosa to accommodate people from all walks of life. Most of the services are conducted with brass band music and the headquarter choir giving opening choral melodies. One of the bands hails from Botswana under the Gaborone Branch. I felt a sense of belonging every time they serenaded the congregants.
Besides attending church services I find a quiet spot and usually I would pick the kids’ swings close to the cemetery to do personal development. My personal development sessions lasts for about two hours everyday during which I listen to Jim Rohn’s audio books or make affirmations as prepared by life coach, Danny Lena.
Sometimes I help clean the church yard or help find wood for the kitchen ladies and they give their blessings every time I help them complete a task. My favourite task is helping them cook so I can have a much bigger plate of food, especially meat. My sleeping place is a small camping tent that accommodates two people, most of the space is taken up by my large luggage bags leaving very little room for sleep but I keep referring to the spiritual growth I seek by coming over every moment I feel I am torturing myself.During the next 10 days my meals range from all kinds of tin stuff, bread, soup porridge prepared by the church kitchen every morning while one of the most discomforting things about the trip is the bath place! There is no place prepared particularly for bathing and we are all forced to go to the woods for a self-clean moment. The woods scare me because of their possession of many kinds of snakes around but I force myself to go anyway.
I am tasked to compose a song by the church leadership for the kids for their annual New Year’s party and I deliver the expectation with precocity because I want a beautiful rendition. The kids perform to expectation leaving me in excitement as I see the fruits of growth I had come all the way from Botswana for.On the 7th day in Motlollo I decide to must join the headquarters choir and am amused by the level of love and welcoming atmosphere created for me by the members whose ages range between 35 and 80. The choir is made up of church members residing in Motlollo who are usually different servers in all spheres of the church.
There are different elders everywhere in the Motlollo grounds who are always willing to guide worshippers on the different church rules they are expected to observe in the place. One rule that struck me was that during Wednesdays and Fridays no one is supposed to take meat but food with vegetables or gravy only. This is to signify the days as holy and to use them for fervent praying.The journey back home is a pleasant one and much more comfortable than getting to Motlollo. We start off by going on water in the swimming pool built for baptism and I am baptised before we can journey back home. I get a ride back home from one of the church members from Botswana and I am feeling contented because all that I had come for have been realised.
I am a new spiritual being altogether.