By Surihe Gaomas RUNDU The role of the church is often seen as leading people into the spiritual world so that they can live by the written Word, be disciplined and respect fellow human beings. The Apostolic Faith Church in Rundu, under the watchful eye of Pastor Moses Matjayi, is doing that and much more. Thousands of people from all walks of life are flocking to the church for ‘healing prayers’. Some come from as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe and from neighbouring Angola. Among those who came out recently are people who are sick and those who are mentally ill. On Tuesday in Sauyemwa suburb, more than 30 makeshift huts in the backyard of the church had between 3 to 4 people each who are recovering from various illnesses. Some of them came here as far back as 1985 and are still hoping to get healed before leaving. The huts that are constructed from plastic materials could barely keep the dust and sun out of the patients’ eyes. Flies were all over and sanitation terrible. There are neither toilets nor bathing facilities. Cooking is done in the open. Life is not easy, especially for those who are bed-ridden and too weak to fulfill any task. Lying in the shade of her squalid plastic shack, frail-looking 41-year-old Regina Mutubo who came to the church last November , says she hopes that through prayer her aching body and chest pains will disappear. “I was found to have high blood pressure at first, now it pains all over whenever I try to move my body,” said Mutubo, a sheet of plastic separating her from the soft sand. Life is a bitter struggle for Mutobo. Her family only comes occasionally to give her a few food items and other basic necessities like firewood, sugar, maize meal and soap. Sitting next to her is an elderly woman, Sofia Chimbandi, who decries life at the church where she has contributed towards water and other items. “Sometimes I give 50 cents, sometimes one dollar,” said Chimbandi who has opted to stay at the church premises, some 20 kilometres from her village in order to cut down on daily travel. Holding her forehead and then raising her head briefly that revealed her dark, sunken eyes, Chimbandi is hopeful that prayer will make her stronger and that she will eventually recover fully, like the many patients who have come and gone from the Apostolic Faith Church. A few metres from Mutubo’s hut one can hear a deep, hoarse cough bellowing from a metre-and-a-half high tent. Inside is a man sitting under a green mosquito net, while his wife, Magdalena Kaimbo, cleans the sores on his legs. Johannes Palata, 44 years of age, who was brought to the church two years ago, is crippled, and is grateful for the prayers. “I am happy for the pastor and the church who pray for me. I believe in the power of healing and hope to get well and do my daily work,” he mumbled before crawling back under the mosquito net as night was setting in quickly. At a nearby house with his Bible and spectacles on the one side of the table, sits Pastor Matjayi. His house is a stone’s throw from the church. Years ago, he gave up his profession as a woodcarver and businessman. He now concentrates on praying for the sick. “Our medicine is coming from God, that’s why we pray and lay hands on the sick,” he says, referring to a verse in Mark 16 verses 2-19 and James Chapter 6 verses 14-16. “When we get a sick person, we pray for that person from six in the morning until six at night without eating anything. We don’t detain people here. If they think they don’t get healed they are free to go to the hospital and even come back when they like,” said Pastor Matjayi, closing his eyes occasionally as if in prayer. Despite his healing powers, his church is experiencing serious financial difficulties with dcbts of N$1ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 900. “There’s nothing I can do – nothing to eat, no proper accommodation or toilet facilities, and the water bill is high. These are the problems we are having,” explained the Pastor, closing his Bible again. Before saying goodbye, Pastor Matjayi invited us to a prayer session as a send-off.
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