It was to be a night of faith-healing miracles – but the death of one person and pandemonium outside the Johannesburg Stadium marred Pastor Chris Oyakhilome‘s “night of bliss” on Friday.
The man who died was said to have been sick and was brought by relatives to be healed. A woman said he was her uncle and had died in her arms. She was too traumatised to speak about his death.
Police described the crowd at the stadium – where entry was free – as “overwhelming” and traffic in the Doornfontein precinct was gridlocked through the afternoon.
Entrance gates swung back and forth as thousands of believers pushed and scuffled with marshals and police in an attempt to force their way into a stadium that was already full to the rafters.
Outside, the physically disabled were lined up in their wheelchairs and the elderly and children looked helpless.
Some chose to sleep on the ground with blankets outside the gate as spontaneous shouts of praise were heard reverberating inside in anticipation of the faith healing.
Outside the stadium, some believers lost patience with the marshals who barred their way. Some chose to scale the fence to make their way into the venue which had a massive stage erected in the centre of the pitch.
Among those who couldn’t make their way inside was Elizabeth Seshabelo, 80, of Naledi in Soweto. She had hoped that Pastor Chris would heal the pain in her left hand that has plagued her for 32 years.
“I still have faith that, God-willing, my hand will function properly before midnight,” she said.
She had not heard of Pastor Chris until two weeks ago when her daughter told her of his miracle healing.
“I can feel it inside that he is sent to us by God,” she said.
Amanda Kyzer, 55, didn’t need any prompting to come to the stadium.
“Three years ago my grandchild was born weighing only 680 grams. She was set for a brain operation, but I took her to The Dome where Pastor Chris was praying for people like her and she miraculously became calm and cool,” explained Kyzer.
“She is now four and a normal child even though her speech is not yet perfect.”
Pastor Chris is a founding member of the Christ Embassy church.
According to media reports, his ministry has grown from a fellowship of a few hundred to an international ministry.
He is both controversial and mysterious and refuses press interviews. Photographers are barred from taking pictures at his healings.
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