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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Vermaak

Hearing the Call

Updated: Jun 5

The story of a girl who heard god speak. who didn't want to hear the call... The story of a loving gentle god who is patient and persistent and always working.

There I was, innocently visiting a prayer retreat to scope out the venue for our church, and out of the blue I received a call to a whole new ministry: to co-ordinate prayer for South Africa.

“But Lord, surely there is someone else doing this already,”; “But Lord, intercession is not my gifting,”; “But Lord that is too big a task for me”. “But Lord, surely not me.”

I drove away from the beautiful countryside and back into the city feeling inspired and in awe, but also somewhat overwhelmed and seriously questioning my ability to hear from God. Next, I felt prompted that this co-ordination for prayer would need to be supported on an App or an online platform for people to sign up to pray.

After ignoring God’s prompting for a few days, I plucked up the courage to contact a friend – to test this calling with him and to see if he knew of an existing online tool. He didn’t flinch at the calling and said he would investigate a tool we could use. The very next day I opened my email and he had already signed us up on a platform called 24-7 Prayer. “Click here and you will take ownership of this page”. I promptly closed the email and walked away.

A day later I met another friend for coffee and, still full of doubt, I shared what God had called me to while on the retreat. I did not mention 24-7 Prayer at all. “That’s so funny, Vanessa. The other day I came across this platform called 24-7 Prayer and felt I must tell someone to do this for South Africa.” The confirmations were too loud to ignore any longer; maybe I wasn’t completely off the mark. I’m not sure how, possibly I was living under a rock, but I had never heard of 24-7 Prayer before. However, upon further investigation I realised I had three of Pete Greig’s books in my Amazon shopping cart and I was already using Lectio 365 for some of my daily devotions. God had been leading me down this path for a while.

My husband, who responded with “But you already have a ministry!” asked me to seek prayer for wisdom and discernment from those we loved and respected while pursuing this new trajectory of minitsry. My next conversation was with a close friend and prayer deacon of our church. “Do you want to speak to Pete Greig?” she asked. “My pastor from our time in the UK is good friends with him.” Well no, I hesitated. How could I speak to Pete Greig, the leader of this international organisation? God gave me access to the founder of the organisation, in the same way He gives us immediate and full access to himself. I felt far too small and insignificant to command that sort of audience. (Does this story smack of Moses or is it just me?) His view of us and His understanding of our worth, value and abilities (not limited by ourselves because we have access to the Father) is far greater than we could ever grasp. In spite of this, I went right on, ignoring that option flung wide open for me.  

My very next conversation in asking for prayer and wisdom was with another friend and prayer partner. “Do you want to speak to the 24-7 Prayer South Africa team?” she asked. Well, yes I would, but how was this even possible? I could find nothing on the international website of anything happening in South Africa. Skip a few small steps and my first conversation with Nathi (Nkosinathi Mbuyazi – National Director of 24-7 Prayer South Africa) was really the cherry on the top. I shared some of my story and why I was looking to make contact - I would love to know what went through his mind. Only the month before he had been in the UK for a National Directors’ meeting with the 24-7 Prayer leadership team and Brian Heasley, his supervisor had said, “What you need, Nathi, is a Prayer Co-ordinator for South Africa.”

So here I am: a year since I received the call and in awe of what I get to do and how God has uniquely gifted and prepared me for this season. I am so excited to see what God has planned for 24-7 Prayer South Africa and our nation as a whole. I feel like I am riding a wave that God has placed me on, and I would be so excited for more of you to come and join me in what God is doing in South Africa and, who knows, maybe into Africa.


Vanessa Vermaak is married to Tim and spends much of her time running after her two kids, Emma (10) and Joshua (8). She is Jo’burg born-and-bred and after three years studying a BSc. in Canada, came back much more patriotic about the country of her birth. She finished studying with an MSc. and consulted as an Environmental Scientist for many years before realising God had other plans for her time and energy. A big turning point in her spiritual journey came in 2014 when, as a family of three, they went with Tim to work in Rwanda for three months. As Rwanda walked a journey of remembering 20 years since their genocide and South Africa celebrated 20 years as a ‘rainbow Nation’, many questions came up as Rwanda, which had been in the depths of hell, had turned themselves around and seemed much further along in their reconciliation journey. This started Vanessa on a journey of the power of prayer and a passion to see reconciliation in South Africa. She went full time into ministry in 2022, leading bible studies, retreats, and discipling and shepherding people God brought along her path and is now full-time (unsupported) as Prayer Co-ordinator for 24-7 Prayer South Africa.

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