In the not so olden days, there was always that man or woman in the bus who religiously carried their Bible and spent the short commute to work preaching the word of God.
Or there was that preacher who went from town to town, putting up tents and bringing the gospel closer to those he wanted to reach. Whether it was in the middle of shacks, or the rural areas, all they wanted to do was to spread the word.
Now, with the growth of Christian influencers on social media, people who want to spread the gospel have a much wider reach, all from the comfort of their home.
This is how East London Christian influencer Onela Sigobelwana does it. While church is still important to a lot of believers, some like the idea of worshipping at all times.
She uses the internet and social media to get the message of Jesus Christ to all nations and even has followers from other African countries she has never stepped foot in.
“Back in the day, people used to preach in trains, erect tents and spread the gospel. I am doing the same thing only in a modern way. It is evangelism right at people’s fingertips.
“God is so good. It is amazing the amount of people I am able to reach from the comfort of my home. Without any pretense or anything like that, I just connect with the people of God. We pray together, we share the Word and we fast together."
Onela says as a pastor’s child, church is all she has ever known.
“I grew up in the church. Even in matric I used to pray for my classmates ahead of exams and plead the blood of Jesus on all of us.
“Yes, I have skills and gifts, but my main thing is to preach the word of God. I have always wanted to be known and I did not know what for. And the only thing that made my soul feel at peace was to preach the word of God.
“I want to be known as that young woman who faced every challenge head on with prayer and preached the gospel all over the world.”
She is inspired by women like Sarah Jakes Roberts, who is a preacher and author, she is also the daughter of the acclaimed Bishop TD Jakes.
Onela (28) jokingly says while some women get chocolates and flowers when they feel sad, her husband encourages her to go on a live prayer session with strangers instead.
“He knows it just brings me so much peace to be able to share what God has laid on my heart and to pray with people and lighten whatever loads they may be carrying and lead them to Christ. I may be the one talking, preaching or praying, but I also get my healing there,” she says.
Every Monday, she posts a motivational scripture for the week across all her platforms. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays she has prayer sessions with people from different provinces on WhatsApp.
She prefers the online sessions instead of face-to-face gatherings.
“There I am just an ordinary girl at her house. I do not have makeup on, prettily done hair or a nice-looking outfit. There are no distractions. It's just me, the people and Christ. I like that it is interactive, because people get to comment and send DMs to share their stories and prayer requests.
“Unlike when you’re invited to speak at a church, you do not get to interact with everyone. Others, instead of listening, are impressed by the young woman standing in front of them boldly talking about the things of God. Some people will even be too shy to come up to you, but they can send a text online. Each day, I receive hundreds of DMs from people.”
These DMs are not always once-off conversations, she says.
“Sometimes you have to go on a journey with people. There is a woman from Lesotho who named her child after me about three months ago because she had a tough pregnancy and very often, we would pray together, trusting God for a miracle.”
She wants to use her platforms to lead young people to God.
“I believe once you find your purpose in Christ, everything else will fall into place. I am not for titles and restrictions. I am not a prophet, a pastor or a pastor’s wife. I am just a young woman called to God’s purpose to bring other people to the Kingdom.
“People gaining salvation is the aim.”