Heal Our Land, New Life from the Flames of the Riots

Ellenore Meyer, CEO of Tebelo, worked with Graham Power to aid relief efforts in the wake of the Riots that took place in KwaZulu-Natal in early July 2021. Below is the article written for JOY! Magazine and published on their website detailing the trip Ellenore and her husband Jaco made to KZN to contribute to the relief work.

Introduction to Heal our Land
The Heal our Land initiative is a nationwide Kingdom initiative based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 which seeks to mobilize the Body of Christ in the areas of united prayer and compassionate action.  The initiative was birthed out of a number of organizations and individuals focused on developing sustainable solutions for social and spiritual challenges in the case of the recent violence and looting that erupted in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng in South Africa.

When stories of the violence and vandalism of shopping malls and businesses hit the news, Graham Power collaborated with a number of Christian leaders and immediately mobilized a nationwide prayer initiative, calling Christians to prayer every day from 12 – 1pm via Facebook Live.  Tens of thousands of believers joined in prayer for the nation daily as prayer networks across SA joined hands. These included Jericho Walls International, Global Voice of Prayer, Intercessors for South Africa, African Enterprise, Global Forum of Women Entrepreneurs, Shalom Ministries, Ariella Ministries and many others.

48 hours after the prayer initiative was birthed, Graham connect with Ellenore Meyer and other leaders and initiated the Heal our Land disaster relief fund to address the desperate practical needs that quickly became apparent in KZN, with food shortages looming.

​As the unrest unfolded and the devastation became apparent, churches, faith-based organisations and NPO’s took hands to step up and support the province. The Domino Foundation, a faith-based organisation part of Anthem Church and the KZN Response team in eThekwini, in collaboration with Heal Our Land, conducted a needs assessment to understand and map the outcomes of the unrest. Together with support from The Durban Chamber of Commerce, a heat map was put together by cross-referencing 3 data points mainly:

  • tracking the looted areas where destruction occurred
  • working with the major retailers to obtain data about which stores and communities were damaged, which would take time to get back online and which would be offline for 6months or longer, and
  • a household vulnerability survey was conducted across the province to gain insight into the challenges faced by households in our communities.

This allowed for identifying the most critical communities that had totally been cut off from access to food.

The Heal our Land initiative has sought to coordinate suppliers (wholesalers, farmers, manufacturers, charities and more) and logistics (supply chain) to the most needed areas sustainably and effectively.

Richards Bay distribution
Richards Bay Distribution

To date some of the results of this initiative included:

  • 400,000 USD Raised (with a target of $1M to meet the most urgent needs on the ground)
  • 10 000 families assisted in the weeks following the looting
  • Accurate needs mapping conducted with ongoing research into the burning issues
  • De–escalation of violence through relationships and mitigation in tense areas

The next phase will be to get urgent medical supplies to those that need it the most. A robust spiritual care strategy is also underway to assist with trauma counselling, peace building, the need for Christian literature and widespread evangelism initiatives.

There is a special group of ambassadors representing Heal our Land, including Mbulelo Bikwani, Gerry Couchman, Michael Mol, Moss Ntlha, Jannie Durand, Pieter Faure, Robert Ntuli, Boshoff Grobler, Braam Hanekom, Danie van der Heever, Hein Koegelenberg, Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, Wendy Luhabe, Pierre Malan, Johan du Preez and Peter Tarantal.

Graham Power had the following to say about the initiative:

“I’m so amazed to see how, when there is a crisis in our country, people across all backgrounds and groupings stand together. The number of key leaders who have been willing to be ambassadors for Heal our land has been encouraging.  The question is, is this initiative just for a short term emergency, or is it there for the longer run – in case of droughts, homes burning down in the communities, and largescale crises such as the recent developments in KZN?  We as Christians should be ready to assist our brothers and sisters in need. I’m reminded of 2 Chron 7:14 and believe that these crises situations are going to bring us closer to that revival that so many of us have been praying for.”

Ellenore Meyer, one of the founders of Heal our Land, shares her journey so far:
After a friend, Anneri Harmse, offered to fly in food to support affected families, I thought we could perhaps support relief coordination. A phone conversation followed with Graham Power after which he had an idea to start a relief fund. Within hours he started the Heal Our Land Campaign. He put together a team to coordinate donations, created a platform for financial contributions, and found a team of ambassadors to represent the movement that includes a long-term strategy to not only support relief, but enable social cohesion and development of our people of South Africa. Graham asked me to join the team coordinating medical and spiritual relief. I felt a strong desire to be on the ground in KZN. An urging I could not shake. My husband, Jaco, and I planned to fly to Durban a week later. There were so many obstacles that caused delays on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to the airport, that we arrived five minutes late and were denied boarding. We felt defeated but took a few moments to gather our thoughts…sat and cried after all the build-up… and prayed for direction. We felt God urging us to continue the journey to Durban. This meant driving the eleven and a half hours it would take to get there.

As we drove through the Eastern Cape, we witnessed entire towns that had been without water for over a week due to the drought, villages cut off from the outside world, shops that were completely empty and people in desperate need of a touch from God as well as practical interventions that can bring sustainable solutions to these communities. We knew that the call and the journey to KZN were for a specific reason.

Eastern Cape, the birthplace of Nelson Mandela

An Untapped Godly Network Arising Out of the Ashes of Destruction
Our first stop was in Pietermaritzburg, where we met with Theuns Pauw and his African Enterprise team. We were blown away by the generosity of the volunteers who had taken time off work to coordinate care and relief, distributing thousands of Bibles and food parcels that were donated, thereby linking physical food relief with spiritual care.

We visited Pastor Nhlakanipho Hadebe at a church in a nearby informal settlement who shared his story with both humor and grave seriousness. He spoke of a prophesy that was given to his church where people would come in thousands, and he jokingly remarked that the people did come in thousands to loot and steal from the church. Along with a few members of the congregation, he tried to protect the church, but to no avail. However, that evening the Holy Spirit convicted members of the congregation who looted, and they returned to the church to confess what they did and repent. He believed through this grave event people’s hearts would turn towards each other and towards God.

Truck with food
Pietermaritzburg, thousands of Bibles for distribution with food parcels
Gregory Modungwa part of the Heal our Land Film crew and Pastor Nhlakanipho Hadebe sharing his testimony

Bridging Cultural Gaps
It was made clear to us during our trip that so many people have been working to bridge the gaps amongst communities and different cultural groups for many years. Amongst these is Pastor Speedy Kiston, who goes into areas like Phoenix to offer community members food and emotional support. One of the stories he shared was of a prophetic word he received for a drug dealer that he would have a son and stop dealing drugs. A year later the drug dealer came to him to get saved because he had a son and wanted to get free of the life he was in. Pastor Speedy dreamed to start a business for this man, so we prayed with him and were encouraged that amidst the recent riots, obvious trauma and tensions, there were so many people who had hope for this region, our people, and our country. Domino Foundation, led by Shaun Tait, was excellent in their response on mapping medical, spiritual, and nutritional needs on the ground, linking different organisations and supporting food distribution across many non-profits. The KZN Heal Our Land initiative and all its partners, birthed the vision to support similar activities across other provinces.

Pastor Speedy Kiston spoiling us with breakfast and prayer before Sunday service and his outreach efforts as part of his NPO Meet The Needs Foundation’s relief work

Churches as Lighthouses
We saw lighthouses repeatedly throughout our trip, even staying near one and seeing it from our hotel room window in the evening. This symbol struck as the perfect metaphor of the national response in and for the riots and destruction in KZN. The church and community, acting as lighthouses, responding to people in desperate need who felt shipwrecked. Another such an example is that of Grace Community Church, who started on-line counselling. I was able to participate in the very first session. We saw churches and volunteers support people they have never met. Going into dangerous areas bringing relief, prayer, and spiritual care. We were encouraged to witness what was happening in KZN, with people like Tito Hag working through the Zoë Foundation with vulnerable and displaced people supporting not only social cohesion but birthing entrepreneurship and ideas that moved people forward, giving them hope and a destiny. Heal our Land was no longer a concept, but a movement owned by each person who makes the choice each and every day to improve the lives of those around them.

Pastor Tito Theo Hag (right), Jaco van den Heever (my husband) and Pastors Raphael and José working with vulnerable groups and people in displacement
Hosting the first online debriefing session with locals affected by the riots with lead of counselling, Debbie Mun G at Grace Church, KZN

All in all, it has been amazing to watch all denominations of the church, unite together and support those in need. When Church doors were closed due to COVID, God used their empty halls as packing stations as another form of Worship to serve and love on His beautiful people of KZN and truly heal our land.

How can you get involved?
Sustainable access to food products, logistical support, warehouses, security and accurate estimation of need on the ground has been established. The biggest need right now is funding and prayer.

To support the Heal our Land relief initiative, please visit www.healourland.co.za  

For information on the Heal our Land Prayer initiative, visit www.globalvoiceofprayer.com