40,000 Christians Gather to Pray for Africa's Healing

About 40 000 Christians prayed at Newlands Stadium yesterday with five million others across the continent for God to "heal" Africa.

They repeated the identical prayer at the same time in 130 stadiums in 60 African cities as part of an annual day of prayer.

Listing HIV/Aids, crime, corruption, poverty and unemployment among the evils, one speaker said these were "gradually destroying our continent".

The Cape Town gathering at "The Day of Prayer for Africa" confessed to being part of the problem.

"In every city and every country on the continent we have been called to be light, but we have not departed from darkness," said Nigerian pastor, William Kumuyi.

"We have openly manifested hatred and prejudice against people of different races, creeds and classes."

In response to a biblical promise of divine healing, everybody taking part in the day of prayer vowed to humble themselves, to seek God's face and to "turn from their wicked ways".

Pastor John Thomas, chairman of the Continental Programme Committee, said yesterday that the previous two days of prayer had had an "enormous effect on our city".

Crime had dropped in some areas by up to 40% and the rand had strengthened.

"A day after the last day of prayer on March 21, 2002, the turnabout began for our currency, which has been strengthening ever since."

An 11-year-old boy, Lyndwill Wareley, prayed for God to "maintain the privilege of having the bible taught in schools".

Petitions were signed by groups asking that the governing bodies of each school be given the right to determine what religious education would be taught in their school.

Teenagers present committed themselves to abstain from promiscuity.