Vassula's visit to South Africa
January 29 - February 6, 2001
When the plane landed in Johannesburg from Lilongwe in Malawi on 29 January, Vassula commented on how this had been the second arrival to South Africa in a week, as the first had only been an overnight one on arrival from Rome prior to flying out to Malawi.
Although we expected a Maronite priest to meet Vassula at the arrival hall, a dear friend and very committed priest to the TLIG messages, Fr Shaun von Lillenfeld from the church of the Good Shepherd in Soweto was there with an equally committed and loyal group of TLIG/S.A. family. These people had come together to ensure that Vassula was accommodated safely and comfortably during her stay in Johannesburg, even though the Maronite church had originally invited her to visit.
The heat and the buzz of S. Africa was such a comparison to Malawi. Fr Shaun escorted Vassula to the Cedar parks Hotel in Woodmead and later after settling in, Fr Nadim, Parish priest from the local Maronite church, Our Lady of the Cedars, arrived with a basket of fruit overflowing with fresh fruit and of 12 different varieties, a true oriental gesture and a very welcome one at that.
Arrangements were made for the following morning's programme and then Vassula was able to rest for the night, as it had been a busy day of travelling.
The following morning, Vassula had a live radio interview on the national radio 702 channel. This was broadcast through much of South Africa and despite the host of the radio show seeming extremely skeptical at first, there were very early signs from the way that he talked and the questions that he asked that he was convinced as to the authenticity of the messages. This had a strong impact, as it was later reported, on the listeners with many people calling in to find out more details about Vassula and the messages of TLIG. No sooner had Vassula finished this interview than Fr Nadim came to collect her to take her to the very nearby Maronite church where a meeting for church clergy had been scheduled. There were about 30 people gathered for this, the majority of clergy from the Catholic Church, but a few Presbyterian clergy also.
Vassula began by saying that there are many things in Scripture which we do not understand, the messages, she continued are a respelling of His Word. She went on to explain that we are living in a time of great mercy and that this is why Jesus is manifesting Himself so much. When giving a background as to the beginning of the charism, she explained how it was a priest who suggested that she keep notebooks of the messages. Vassula added, "When God speaks, the words pierce the soul". These messages have been sent to a de-Christianised society and the first time that she realised the mission she had been given, that to unite the Church, she could feel the pain inside Jesus and the insult, spittle and the recrucifying that we cause Him because of our division. She emphasised the great need for us to repent. "The Lord asks us to repent. He is asking us also to pray for the unification of the dates of Easter".
Vassula was able to share the experience of the Holy Land last year when more than 65 members of clergy from 12 different church denominations came together to pray with people from TLIG all around the world. She emphasised the need for us to pray much more for unity and that we need to be many and that humility and love are the keys to unity and not eloquence of speech. She spoke briefly on the most recent messages that she has received which are as yet not published. Jesus talks to us, through His Messenger, about the Treasures of His Sacred Heart... the treasures reserved for this time. The treasure of intimacy... to be intimate and friendly with God is to have met Him; the treasure of joy and consolation which is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and the discovery of God in some; the treasure of the Holy Spirit, the discovery of God's kingdom, the experience of a second Pentecost which she explained in previous talks in Malawi and Swaziland, where we are invited to be an apostle of these end times.
Through True Life in God, God gives us hope through speaking with clarity. He lifts the soul and never crushes. The evil one on the other hand wants to abolish the Divinity of Christ and Vassula illustrated how we are living in the times alluded to in second book of Thessalonians chapter 2, reinforcing this with referring to Daniel 11, Mat 24 and Ezekiel 28. Referring much to Scripture in this talk to the clergy Vassula explained that we need to invoke the Holy Spirit more.
"So many souls are like a desert. With the power of the Holy Spirit, with renewal in the Spirit, we can be transfigured into the New Heavens and the new earth and He will shine like a 1000 constellations and rebuild the city of God... that is the transfiguration of our souls and then we will be doing God's Will as the Holy Spirit will possess us, everything we do will be Divine"
The talk concluded and everyone was invited to ask questions and then invited to have a light lunch together. The clergy were very impressed and there was deep interest expressed by many who intended also to come to one of the three main meetings that she was to give in the subsequent days of her visit to Jo'burg
That evening Vassula met with the Coptic Orthodox Bishop, Antonius Markos at the Coptic Church in parkview in Johannesburg. Bishop Markos expressed a deep desire for church unity, discussed several issues related to church matters with Vassula and explained a little of his homeland Egypt and how Egypt is also seen as a Holy Land in Biblical terms.
The following day, Wednesday 31 January, Vassula had been invited to speak at the Good Shepherd church in Soweto. Fr Shaun welcomed Vassula, Winnie Gracinda, Evelyn Lebono who had travelled all the way from Lesotho, and myself accompanying Vassula. At the annexe church to the Good Shepherd, many of the organising committee came together to give thanks and praise to God. We also witnessed the strong devotion to blessed Isidore, the young African boy from former Zaire, who was martyred because of his faith. Fr Shaun had also arranged that we were taken around the shack area to witness for ourselves the deprivation and poverty many of these people have to live with on a daily basis.
In huts with galvanised roofs, no proper sanitation and very little space in which to accommodate the extended family, so common in African society and culture, it was hard to imagine how these people are able to express the joy and the love that they do. That evening, when Vassula spoke to a crowd of over 1000 people who gave her a real "rainbow welcome" (as Fr Shaun described it) it was so evident that God's Holy Spirit was breathing in them. Everyone present sang "Ke tsh were Rosari" in a way so full of love and fervour for Our Lady and the Rosary, waving their individual rosaries in the air, a thousand at one time and dancing with joy at the words that they had heard spoken to them. People had come from seven different parishes in Soweto. There were also people present from Swaziland and Lesotho. Witnessing this from the platform on which Vassula delivered her talk to them, I personally found it one of the most moving experiences in my life. As Vassula suggested we get up and dance with them, the words of Our Heavenly Father seemed to ring so true at that moment, "You belong to me and you descend from me". There was such a sense of family and unity and love in that Church. This could only be the work of God's Holy Spirit!
Vassula talked about most of the issues that she had in Malawi and Swaziland. She spoke briefly about the crime of abortion that our society is committing, and that how this is very wrong in God's eyes. This was reinforced by a story that she was able to share about a woman in Zambia who was going to abort her child due to an obstetric condition which is called Pre-eclampsia and can threaten the mother's life. After this woman had watched a video on TLIG and in which the issue of abortion had been addressed, she felt that she could not go through with this procedure and that she had, through grace, understood that she had to trust in God more to get her through this difficult pregnancy. Entrusting herself entirely to His Will, she delivered safely and she was well. The child's name is Vassula, and she is 4 years old now. Everyone was amazed at this and applauded and praised God in thanks and with delight. She then told everyone how these messages were the most Noble of Themes as Jesus has said this to us. This parish already had a True Life in God prayer group every Tuesday and all the evidence was there to suggest that Fr Shaun knows the messages and tries with his community, to live them.
At ten o'clock, Malcolm and Lesley Fox who had looked after Vassula and Fr Shaun so well prior to the meeting, were able to quickly direct her to the awaiting car and take Vassula back the 45 minute journey to the Cedar park Hotel in Johannesburg to end what had been a truly amazing day and one full of grace.
Fr Nadim from the Maronite community had arranged that the following day would begin with a visit to a lion park and a cultural heritage village which was an interesting break prior to the big meeting arranged for taking place in the Maronite hall, that same evening of February 1st.
We all had a laugh that Vassula was going "to the lions" before the actual scheduled meeting. A small cub of 6 weeks old snuggled up to her on her lap, as she was photographed for this report. The cub's name was Susa Susa Meda, which means the one who comes forward.
In no time at all, Vassula was making her way through the 1000 strong crowd of people in the Maronite church hall. After speaking about the messages and God's love for all of us, again saying much of the same that she had delivered to the thousands before this meeting, Vassula concluded this meeting with a requested healing service. After invoking the Holy Spirit and with the Catholic Priests present and anointing people with holy oil, Vassula began to pray over many people who came forward for prayers of healing. Jesus was so powerfully present that night. Many people rested in the Spirit and one of the first people to do so, was a lady who had a collar round her neck, who was on the floor for the entirety of the healing service which lasted about two hours, as Vassula prayed individually over about 400 people.
On 2 February Vassula left for Swaziland and returned on 4, the day prior to the final meeting scheduled to take place for the Anglican community at Waldorf St Michael school in Bryanston. The morning began with a very successful meeting with Anglican Bishop David Beetge, followed by a lunch and a delightful sharing with Rev Don Thomson, and Anglican Priest based in Johannesburg. Bishop Beetge in a private meeting with Vassula shared with her that unity would come from grassroot level. He sees the Spirit moving in the church, the laity, who desire to be united in so many ways are beginning to demonstrate their empowerment given through God's Holy Spirit.
At 6.30 PM on 5 February, Vassula delivered the messages of True Life in God to a predominantly Anglican audience the majority of whom had never heard of her charism or anything else about the messages. Rev Don Thomson introduced Vassula to a crowd of about 250 people before singing; "To God be the Glory". The front rows of the hall were filled with many young people in their late teens and early twenties. They were inattentive at the beginning, however, within about ten minutes, were transfixed as they listened to the words and promises of the love of God Our Heavenly Father. Visible from the platform was a lady whose face was familiar. She was the same lady who had rested in the Spirit at the Maronite church on 2 February. She had come again to listen to Our Lord's Echo as she was able to tell one of the organising committee, that since she had been prayed over by Vassula, she had been totally pain free, the first time in years. To God be the glory indeed!
In a talk which lasted one hour and twenty minutes, Vassula reminded all present there again on the essence of the messages: reconciliation, peace, love and unity. She again reiterated the story regarding abortion, only she was able to add yet another light touch to its seriousness by saying that now in Africa, there was not only a little girl with the name Vassula, but also a cheetah. She had just learned that day that Ian Mellas, the manager of the lion park had been so touched by his brief encounter with her, (for she had let him see one of the original notebooks and he was so reverent when reading and looking at the content), that he had named a new cheetah after her as well.
Vassula departed South Africa for Rome the following evening after having received wonderful hospitality from members of the organising committee of last year. There are so many other anecdotes and incidents which happened during this wonderful trip to South Africa that cannot be written down in the interest of brevity. The Committee of TLIG Johannesburg worked with so much love and fervour, that God truly rewarded them with such a successful visit. May we as one large TLIG family throughout the world pray that fruits keep multiplying in this land and throughout this beautiful continent full of people who descend from Royal blood and are Sovereign.