Mystery Bible answers Covid-19 prayer in South Africa

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A pastor asks God to send someone who needed to meet Jesus.

May 29, 2020
/ Johannesburg, South Africa
/ Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission


Mystery Bible answers Covid-19 prayer in South AfricaHilton holding the Bible with a burgundy-red leather cover that he found on the seat of a minivan taxi in Johannesburg, South Africa. He sent this photo to Seventh-day Adventist pastor Sandile Khumalo, thinking that the Bible belonged to him because his contact information was inside the cover. [Photo courtesy of Sandile Khumalo]

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 Seventh-day Adventist pastors elsewhere around the world, Sandile moved his ministry online and began to live-stream his sermons to members of his three churches: Johannesburg Central, Johannesburg CBD, and Johannesburg Innercity. Sometimes he received encouraging messages from people who had been inspired by his preaching. But he longed to do more to reach city residents. He earnestly prayed to God to send an unbeliever who needed to meet Jesus during the pandemic.

What happened next surprised him.

“Never did I think God would use an unfamiliar method,” Sandile said by e-mail.

After more than a month in lockdown, South Africa began to ease regulations on May 1 while continuing to enforce strict facemask and social-distancing rules. 

On May 11, Sandile received a WhatsApp text message on his cellphone from an unfamiliar number. The caller introduced himself as Hilton and sent a photo of a Bible that he had found on the seat of a minivan taxi while traveling to work. Minivan taxis, which carry multiple passengers, are a common sight in Johannesburg.

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