The fifteenth annual Sola 5 Conference was hosted by Manzini Fellowship Church in the Kingdom of Eswatini from 4–6 September 2019. Some 130 delegates from Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe—plus one visitor from England—joined the brethren from Eswatini to hear about the importance of prayer for the people of God.
For a small group of South African delegates, the first illustration of the power of prayer was displayed at the Oshoek border. Knowledge Baroma, representing Hope Baptist Church in Zimbabwe, was travelling with Richard Peskett from South Africa and discovered that border control could not verify his South African study visa. Richard and Knowledge quickly gathered with Stuart Chase (Brackenhurst Baptist Church), Des Cramer (Coastal Bible Church), Jaco de Beer and Andrew Gersbach (Goodwood Baptist Church) for an impromptu prayer meeting, asking the Lord to be kind to Knowledge. Within minutes, border control verified the visa and granted Knowledge access into Eswatini.
While the Conference was hosted by Manzini Fellowship Church, the hosts had hired the facilities of a larger church in Manzini—Evangelical Bible Church—to host the Conference.
The format of the Conference was simple. In addition to the annual business meeting, there were six sessions, each including a Scripture reading and prayer, some singing, a church planting report, and a sermon. The theme of the Conference was “A Praying People: The Centrality of Prayer in the Life of the Church.” Scripture readings centred on examples of God’s church praying together, and sermons addressed various aspects relating to a healthy prayer life. Time was spent after each session in small group prayer, with delegates gathering to pray for and with one another.
Newton Chilingulo (Reformation Bible Church) opened the first session with Scripture reading (Luke 11:1–13) and prayer. Chris Woolley (Midrand Chapel) presented a fledgling cooperation between Midrand Chapel and Antioch Bible Church for a church plant in Sandton, South Africa. Karabo Msiza (Central Baptist Church, Rustenburg) spoke on “The Pattern of Prayer,” drawing lessons from the Lord’s Prayer (as recorded in Matthew 6) to help delegates understand what biblical prayer should look like. A time of small group prayer followed before dinner was served and delegates made their way back to their accommodation for a good night’s rest.
Breakfast was provided by the hosts early on Thursday morning, and the second session commenced with a Scripture reading (Acts 1:1–14) and prayer by Jaco de Beer (Goodwood Baptist Church). Moletsane Baptist Church shared about an opportunity that had come across their path to strengthen One Hope Baptist Church in South Hills, Johannesburg. Chipita Sibale (Kabwata Baptist Church) preached on “The Purpose of Prayer” from 1 Timothy 2:1–6, highlighting primarily the purpose of prayer as petition that pleases God, whose nature it is to save sinners.
Chipita concluded his message by noting several other purposes of prayer:
- Prayer enhances fellowship and intimacy with God (Jeremiah 33:1–3; Psalm 116:1–2).
- Prayer follows the example of Jesus (Mark 1:35).
- Prayer invites special help from God (Hebrews 4:16).
- Answered prayer increases our peace and joy (Philippians 4:6–7).
- Prayer helps us to understand and accomplish God’s plans for us (Colossians 1:9–11).
- Prayer changes our attitudes and desires (Romans 8:28).
Time was spent once again in prayer before tea was served, after which delegates gathered for the annual business meeting.
The business meeting was chaired by Donovan Drew and Stuart Chase in the absence of Joachim Rieck, chair of the steering committee, who was unable to attend due to inability of Namibian authorities to supply a renewed passport.
Forty-seven of the existing 54 churches had renewed membership in Sola 5, and 28 of those were represented at the Conference. Antipas Church in Pretoria (South Africa), Evangel Baptist Church in Lusaka (Zambia), Grace Baptist Church in Kimberley (South Africa), Kafue Reformed Baptist Church in Kafue (Zambia), Redeemer Fellowship in Port Elizabeth (South Africa), Summerton Baptist Church in Masvingo Province (Zimbabwe), and Whunga Baptist Church in Beitbridge Region (Zimbabwe) had opted not to renew membership. Four new churches—Central Baptist Church in Gaborone (Botswana), Calvary Baptist Church in Richard’s Bay (South Africa), Makhaza Reformed Baptist Church in Khayelitsha (South Africa), and and C.A.R.E. Church in Port Elizabeth (South Africa)—had applied for membership, and all four churches were unanimously accepted into membership.
Doug Van Meter (Brackenhurst Baptist Church) and Milandu Dubeka (Lusaka Baptist Church) had retired from the steering committee, and two brothers—Nickson Pasipanodya (Reformed Baptist Church, Harare, Zimbabwe) and Chris Mnguni (Grace Baptist Church, Daveyton, South Africa)—had been nominated to the steering committee and both brothers were elected by the required majority.
Stuart Chase offered a summary of the financial year, while Donovan Drew read Joachim Rieck’s report from the steering committee. Churches were then given opportunity to share church planting and strengthening burdens and needs. Pastoral vacancies at Sydenham Baptist Church (South Africa) and Hillcrest Baptist Church (South Africa) were made known. Donovan concluded the meeting by addressing plans for future conferences: 2020 in South Africa; 2021 in Namibia; 2022 in South Africa; and 2023 in Zambia. Every alternate year would take place in South Africa to facilitate maximum attendance from delegates.
Lunch followed the business meeting, after which delegates were free for the afternoon. Dinner was served back at the venue at 5:30 PM before commencement of the third session at 6:30 PM.
Tshepo Laka (Glorious Gospel Christian Fellowship) opened the third session with Scripture reading (Acts 2:37–47) and prayer. Chipita Sibale (Kabwata Baptist Church) presented a new church plant opportunity in Harare and shared briefly about the ongoing work in Nigeria.
Charlie Rampfumedzi (Christ Baptist Church, Polokwane) shared from the word about “The Priorities of Prayer.” Drawing on selected texts, Pastor Rampfumedzi presented four major priorities of prayer.
- Prayer should be offered in the context of a healthy relationship with God, the Father of Jesus Christ (Luke 11:5–9).
- Prayer should be offered to God in faith (Mark 11:23–24).
- Prayer should be offered with commitment to a sincere, healthy relationship with others (Mark 11:25; Matthew 5:23–25).
- Prayer should be offered to God with clean hands and a pure heart (James 4:8; 1 Timothy 2:8; Isaiah 1:15–17).
The session was followed by a time of small-group prayer before Conrad Mbewe (Kabwata Baptist Church) concluded the day with a doxology and delegates headed home for another night’s rest.
After breakfast on Friday morning, delegates gathered together for the fourth session of the 2019 Conference. Wayne Jardine (Tzaneen Baptist Church) opened the session with Scripture reading (Acts 4:23–31) and prayer, before Stuart Chase shared about Brackenhurst Baptist Church’s church planting opportunity in the Modderfontein area of Johannesburg.
Richard Peskett (Nelspruit Bible Church) took delegates on a journey through the prayers of Acts as he addressed “The People of Prayer,” highlighting the necessity of corporate prayer in the life of the church. Richard exhorted delegates to devote themselves to corporate prayer and the depend on divine power in corporate prayer. A time of small group prayer followed before Jeff Gage (Brackenhurst Baptist Church) closed the session with prayer.
Session 5 opened with a Scripture reading (Acts 6:1–7) and prayer by Mark Penrith (Crystal Park Baptist Church) after which Des Venter (Grace Baptist Church Amanzimtoti) shared about several church planting opportunities in Kwazulu-Natal in which his church is involved. These included church plants in Kingsburgh, Ekukhanyeni (close to New Germany), Entambeni (Umkomaas) and a new church plant in the Westville area.
Des Cramer (Coastal Bible Church) then addressed delegates on “A Passion for Prayer” from Matthew 26:36–46, in which he highlighted the need for churches to pray according to the will of the Lord. Biblical prayer, he showed, expresses dependence more than desire.
Small group prayer followed before lunch was served and delegates enjoyed another free afternoon resting or sightseeing the city.
Dinner was served prior to the final session, which opened with Scripture reading (Acts 12:1–18) and prayer by Nickson Pasipanodya (Reformed Baptist Church Harare). Milandu Dubeka shared about Lusaka Baptist Church’s church planting endeavours in Tanzania before Des Venter was invited forward for the closing message of the Conference.
Des shared about “Peace through Prayer” from Psalm 25, noting that trust encourages peace, obedience breeds peace, grace ensures peace, hope awaits peace, and faith petitions peace.
Manzini Fellowship Church deserves our thanks for hosting a successful Conference. The people were warm, the food was good, and the venue was ideal for the Conference. While attendance was lower than in preceding years, when the Conference was hosted in South Africa, delegates who were able to attend were agreed that it was time well spent.
To maintain maximum momentum and draw maximum input, it was decided that the Conference would return every alternate year to South Africa, with other venues being given opportunity to host on the other years. Next year’s conference will take place in Gauteng once again, with the precise venue yet to be decided.