One of the most curious but common manifestations that often freaks people out within the "Fire Churches" is the falling of people during services. You've probably seen it first hand or on tv. You probably know someone who's fallen, or you've fallen down yourself at some point. You might even know a perennial "faller." Yes, we have those. They're always falling! Some people are scared of this falling thing.
Others are skeptical. Others are disgusted. Yet some are amused by it all. What really is going on here? What is knocking these people down? For what reason? Are they being pushed or there's some mysterious power knocking them down? We need to understand this "falling under the power," a very common phenomenon in the Church today.
Kathryn Kuhlman called it "being slain in the Spirit." We will first consider that falling under the power of God is a side effect of the power of God operating. And, yes, I'm fully aware that there are other powers that knock people out amongst Satanists and Hinduism, for instance. But since I'm neither a Satanist nor a Hindu, I won't preoccupy myself with the power that makes them fall. I'll speak of what I know.
Since there are different degrees of operating the anointing of the Holy Spirit, there are also different degrees of falling under the power. Let me give the natural first before we go to the spiritual. You see, in electricity there are different degrees of electricity and voltages. If you touch on the power line like the high-tension wires, that will be the last time you ever did so. You may find the next moment you are in heaven.
That’s very high voltage. But sometimes even when a lower voltage is released into your body, you may be thrown several feet away. Then some others have a different phenomenon where they touch that high-tension wire and find they cannot let go. Then their bodies slowly collapse. In the natural there are a lot of phenomena. Or sometimes people touch it they just jerk. So if such different phenomena can happen in the natural, how much more in the spiritual realm? It’s an interesting realm.
Don’t think that falling under the power must happen in a certain way or style. You wouldn’t expect that of electricity in the natural. You may be flung in a funny position in the natural. You can’t control it and say that this is the way to fall and that some other way is the wrong way to fall in the natural. â€¨â€¨In the spiritual realm, there are different degrees of anointing. And because of the different degrees of anointing sometimes people jerk. And sometimes, people fall in funny positions, some fall forward, some backwards, some sideways and some shake.
You cannot standardize the falling into an official pattern. There is no such thing as a common pattern. You cannot make something that is a phenomenon into something dignified. Some side effects remain a side effect. And for that reason sometimes the power of the Spirit is so strong that it could just drop on the whole congregation and hundreds will fall at one time and it is too late to mobilize any catcher into action. I've seen congregations fall wholesale like a tidal wave has hit the place. You could knock on anything under that power.
You could knock on a nail and you get up and are alright. So to a certain extent, when there is a high degree of anointing, the power will push a person down. Sometimes they could fall several times. Sometimes people get knocked down after being carried several meters backwards! But if the power is of a high degree, whichever way you fall, there will be a supernatural cushion. However, there is a degree where the power is strong enough to knock you down but not strong enough to cushion you.
If you fall, you will feel the full gravitational impact. You could wake up with a sore head or a back pain. You may be wondering, if this is the power of God, how can this pain happen? Your theology says that if it’s the power of God, when you fall, you should be alright and there is no need for "catchers" to cushion your fall. If people fall under the power, let them fall even if there are broken glass all over the place, you reason. That's a foolish theology. â€¨â€¨That was my theology before the Lord taught me on the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But when the Lord began to show me that there are different degrees of the manifestation of power, I began to understand the need for catchers.
Because you never know to what degree the power will flow. And some of you may have met some people who fall differently. Some fall and they didn’t feel anything even though the whole church heard a loud thud sound. I have seen some people who have fallen and they knocked on certain objects and there is a wound on their side. How do you conclude? What does theology say? Do we conclude that therefore it’s not the power of God? You can’t say that because there is power. There are people being healed.
The answer is in understanding that there are different degrees of power that flow. Sometimes the power is strong enough to cushion you, and sometimes it’s not. We are talking about anointing upon where there are different degrees flowing. â€¨â€¨There are three reasons why we should encourage the use of catchers. One of them is that when a person falls, it could be that the power is not enough to cushion them. And so it’s good to catch them. The second reason is that there are unbelievers there or a person who is new in the things of the Lord and they keep hearing all kind of sounds.
The unbelievers are watching all this falling over. Maybe God wants them to be prayed for. But because they see all this week falling over, they refrain from joining the healing lines. But if they see people being cushioned by catchers when they fall, they may be less fearful to come forward and they won’t miss the blessing. So that is the second reason. Third reason is the usher plays a role as an intercessor. There are different laws that operate on corporate anointing. I have not touched on corporate anointing yet. But let me briefly touch on it.
The corporate anointing has different laws to operate in it. Corporate anointing is affected sometimes by the presence of certain people around. Kathryn Kuhlman, for instance, understood that. In her meetings, nobody could sit on the first two rows of front seats except those she had chosen. â€¨â€¨â€¨In II King 3 when Elisha came, he said if it were not for the presence of king Jehoshaphat, he would have nothing to do with the king of Israel. It seems that the presence of certain people affects the anointing.
All you have to do to affect a person’s anointing from operating is put in the first two rows in a service a group of skeptics, and anti-Christ kind of people and they will affect the anointing. Is there a solution? Yes. Put an intercessor on either side of the skeptic. If you understand this, you would know how to counter the negative faith atmosphere generated by these skeptics. You give me one thousand intercessors and you have a room full of skeptics and I will place the intercessors strategically around the skeptics.
I would put the prayer warriors in the hardest places where the anointing is hard to flow. The anointing can flow but there could be pockets of unbelief amidst pockets of faith. If there are intercessors in one area, they will pull the anointing to their direction. And when the anointing comes over a particular area, it runs into resistance created by the unbelievers there.
That is the third reason why we have catchers. They create a buffer zone. The catchers should be persons of faith who can flow with the Spirit of God and they are there creating the buffer zone. The spirit of unbelief is not affecting the meeting because there is the buffer zone of intercessors and catchers. â€¨â€¨In places like America, you have a fourth reason for having catchers. When a person falls and the catcher is there to cushion the fall, they won’t break their necks and sue you. There are so many people now suing preachers there because they fall under the power in America that praying for people over there has become an occupational hazard! A catcher’s role is not just to catch.
There are certain ways to catch. You have got to stand at a proper distance from the person. So if a person is six feet tall, you don’t stand seven feet away. Catchers have to be trained. You cannot stand too close or too far. If too far when they fall you catch the wrong part of their bodies. Imagine if we can train counselors, we can train ushers but why don’t we train catchers? We don’t learn by instinct; we learn by being trained. Sometimes when you are under the power you are conscious but cannot move.
And I am going to show some scriptures what the effect is like on people. Some people are conscious and if they are disturbed they will wake up. Some people are conscious and cannot move. We see different side effects and people need to be trained in all these things. The falling under the power is just a phenomenon but if you know how to flow with it and co-operate with it, it brings great blessings.
This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.
The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.
The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.
Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.
We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.
More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.
The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the market.
Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.
We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?
Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?
Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?
They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?
What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?
They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?
We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?
To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?
Batswana must be made aware that the end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.
For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with the arduous imperative of analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.
Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.
Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute in Botswana is overdue.
If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.
Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.
Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.
Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication
Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.
Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.
Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.
The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.
So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.
The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.
We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.
They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.
As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.
Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme. WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org
The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.
As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.
I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.
I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?
Counting the cost of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.
It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.
Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.
The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.
Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.
By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.
Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org