- William’s Early Years
William Duma was born into a Christian Zulu family in South Africa in the beginning of the twentieth century. In a place where the power of demons were part of every day life, our Savior had gotten hold of his parents. One day an elderly lady came to the Dumas’ home and William’s mother Nomvula realized that she had something unique. It did not take long for her to receive this same Savior. God was preparing godly parents for William. Nomvula would go to her prayer hide-out at dawn every morning, being trained in prayer for a boy who would be known as a man of prayer. Some time later his father also met Jesus which led to their family being expelled from the extended family.
Nomvula knew even before William’s birth that he would be a preacher. When she died, she said to her son: “My son, I want you to be an umfundisi, because that it what God sent you to earth for.” (p. 20). As a boy William was “consumed with the wonder of creation” (p. 11). At the age of fifteen, he committed his life to Christ. From the age of twelve to twenty, William had serious health problems which led to disappointment, why-questions and waning faith. However, God was preparing him for the ministry He had prepared for him.
- William’s Healing
William was a shepherd, attending school and working in the store when possible. One day, aware of his call to be a preacher, yet constantly ill, he decided to fast and pray for seven days. He left early in the morning to go to his secret place, returning at sunset. On the seventh day he knew he had met God, yet was not healed. But God changed his desire for healing with the greater longing of God being his only desire. At midnight that day, as he got up to pray,
“he felt a touch on his head and knew it was the finger of God. Heat like fire raced through his body, causing him to sweat profusely. He collapsed and, as he lay on the floor, he felt a surge of cold follow the heat and realized, almost incredulously, that the pain was no more.” (p. 21)
William made a covenant with God to meet with Him every day at midnight for the rest of his life.
- Anointed to Heal
His own healing was not yet his commissioning to a healing ministry. William went to Durban where he became a cook and started attending Bible classes. Soon after he became the evangelist of a small lively church where God used him for healing for the first time. He says, “I did not dwell on the healing, I thought it was just an isolated episode in my life, not to be in any way repeated.” (p. 23). However, the next healing followed soon after. In 1939 he took the pastorate of a church of 7 people. After a year of hard fruitless labor, he became so dissatisfied that he left for 21 days to fast and pray because “the Holy Spirit tells me God will meet me there” (p. 25). And He sure did. He says, “Each day, as I sought God, my spirit moved nearer to the Holy of Holies while God searched my heart unsparingly.” (p. 25). On the twenty-first day the following happened:
“[…] until, feeling suddenly very warm, I though the sun must have risen. Raising my head, I found I was in the center of dazzling light. A curtain of shining gold, suspended in space slightly above the ground, completely encircled my dark figure. I was confused with wonder as I discovered my body was glowing. […] Then with authoritative clarity came a Voice soft yet strong, remote yet near, commanding as a King, assuring as a Lover, […] “your dead church will become a witness to Me. You will see humanity transformed from darkness to light. […] My Son, I anoint you with the gift of healing. I charge you to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ – to perform in His name the ministry of healing body, soul and spirit.” (p. 26)
William set up a stone of memorial and would return every year for prayer, fasting and intercession. And every year “amazing manifestations of God’s power in healing followed Duma’s yearly retreat at Emolweni” (p. 38).
- Signs & Wonders
As he came down the hill, he was “totally framed in a silhouette of flame” (p. 27), reminding us of Moses who had seen the glory of God. During the 5-day campaign that followed, there was a strong sense of the power of God in the services – demons suddenly started manifesting screaming loudly, followed by the deliverance of those women, over one hundred people committed their lives to Christ.
William’s ministry started growing rapidly, seeing healings, deliverance and the dead raised. He would always pray in the name of Jesus and refuse to pray for those who rejected His name. As his church was growing under the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord commissioned his church to be “constantly kindled by prayer” (p. 32) which led to the establishment of a weekly intercessory prayer and healing service. He encouraged the attendees to fast that day from dawn to the close of the service at around 3 or 4 p.m., and many testimonies of healing can be recounted from those meetings.
In a nation gripped by the power of witchcraft, the gift of discernment was frequently given to William – whether it was the discernment of spirits, of sin in people’s life, or hidden things taking place.
4.1. Healing through Cloths
On one occasion a Canadian woman with cancer sent him a blouse to pray over, believing for her healing when sent back to her. William was not new to praying over handkerchiefs. During the weekly prayer meeting, he “laid hands on the short-sleeved pink blouse as though anointing her person. The power of God descended mightily and he felt it soak the garment.” (p. 38) Needless to say that she was healed.
4.2. Raising the Dead
It is also reported that the dead were raised in his ministry. On one occasion an evangelist’s daughter, Litta, was very ill and died. While he did not oppose medical help, the Holy Spirit urged him to trust God alone. The girl died and William was called to come to the burial. On the way there, having to walk the last 5 miles, his grief was suddenly overcome with inexplicable joy and he began to praise God. He suddenly found himself making the incredible request that Litta would be resurrected from the dead to the glory of God. He was caught up in communion with God, oblivious to what was going on around him. He entered the room were the girl was lying, being “strongly under the power of the Supernatural” (p. 51) The girl’s family saw “a man clothed with a new stature, invested with an unearthly authority, far removed from them in spirit.” (p. 51) William recounts, as he was lying on her body like Elisha, limb to limb:
“I prayed a few words in my own language, then I lost my “humanity”. I was no longer a person. I did not know what I was saying. I spoke, not in other tongues, but beyond tongues. I was unconscious of a mind, a brain, or a thought. I was away from the body, totally in the Spirit and yet I cannot tell how. I forgot everything – who I was – what I was – where I was – what was happening. I know only that I called in a voice louder than my own, a voice somehow reinforced, “Litta!” (p. 51)
The girl came back to life. However, William was unable to stand and wanted to
“run […] away from the power of the presence of God which was too “intense”. It overpowered me. But I could only crawl on my knees. I could not stand. I was sweating profusely. Someone picked me up, carried me to a bed […] For three days I could not lift my hands, nor walk. […] For three weeks I […] was totally powerless.” (p. 52)
Interestingly he says, “I never, never want, in the flesh, to pass again through the dark caverns of the glory of that day.” (p. 52)
4.3. Casting out Demons
At times God would call him to special prayer and fasting for severe cases of illness and demonization. On one occasion a young Christian lady had lost four children prematurely and was pregnant again. He fasted and prayed for seven days from sunrise to 2 p.m., as she also did. He says, “at first my prayers seemed to hit bouldesr of obstruction and return sterile to my spirit. I persisted in prayer and pressed on in the dark for some assurance from God that a healthy child might be born.” (p. 70). On the sixth day he had a vision of the baby’s skull being broken open, then God knitting the skull together. When the lady came to the prayer meeting, she suddenly realized something was wrong. The women formed a circle around her as the “full church immediately went to prayer of their own accord”. William started praying, realizing the baby was in a wrong position,
“Direction and power came to his hands, but their movements were against a strong opposing pull of satanic interference. ‘The strong force of Satan tried to dislodge my hands,’ Duma explained. […] The opposition grew stronger and I repeated my command […] until […] I felt the undisputed power of God guiding my hands and was assured that the foetus was now in normal position.” (p. 70f)
- Ministry Abroad
William did not only travel in South Africa and the neighboring countries, but he also ministered in Congo, Germany and Scotland. His travels abroad made him very much aware of his inadequacy, as it had been the case earlier when he had gone to white churches. On one occasion he was to speak to ministers of the Church of Scotland who intimidated him because of their many degrees, and his having “no polish in English” (p. 60). The Lord assured him He was with him and the power of God surged through him, releasing the power of God in the meeting. God confirmed His word with signs and wonders, healing in Scotland the same way He did in South Africa.
- The Enemy’s Counterattack
6.1. Visit to the Witchdoctor
A visiting minister, after having seen healings and conversions, wanted to go to a local witchdoctor “to obtain a photo and a story” (p. 108). When arriving there the witchdoctor said, “My kings [evil spirits] told me you were coming … Listen! Now that you have come they are singing. Don’t you hear the singing of my kings around the room?” (p. 108f). Following that visit, William continually felt dizzy and surrounded by darkness, dominated by satanic fear, longing to die, unable to pray. After two days it slowly started to lift. Having dealt with the demonic frequently, he says,
I have always claimed the protection of the Atoning Blood of Jesus Christ. […] the morning I had unexpectedly been asked to take Mr Mason to a witchdoctor, I had not prepared myself in prayer. I was vulnerable, I was off guard and walked into the situation unknowingly.” (p. 110f).
6.2. Busyness of Life
In the sixties, flooded with invitations, absorbed in the preparation of campaigns and all his other commitments, he recalls,
Through the years, at 4.00 a.m., by appointment with my Lord, I had been fed by the Hand of God. The busyness of preparation ate into my early morning appointment with God. Less and less time was spent in deep communion with God. I told myself I was praying earnestly for the campaigns. Vaguely at first, I realized […] [it] had tailed off. (p. 115)
The results were physical tiredness, a decrease of His healing power, pride coming in, the loss of discernment which led to hard untruthful attacks from opposed Christian brothers and sisters, nearly destroying his ministry. His “already debilitated spirit sank into a pit of antipathy nearing hate.” (p. 116). William suffered a stroke, the doctors believing he might never recover. In his hospital bed he was reading the story of Hezekiah,
“Reading of Hezekiah’s reprieve I was comforted. The tears I wept and wept into my pillos cleansed my attitude toward the young pastor. I mourned like a dove in Lebanon for the resentment I had allowed to make a travesty of my ministry. I grieved for the spiritual capital which had drained away because my first eager communion with God at daybreak had been shortened, if not replaced, by campaign planning. Those recollections broke my heart and I wept into the pillows.” (p. 118)
William was restored to the Lord, healed physically, and returned to his church, being not the same as before. He died at the end of 1976, knowing he would go to be with his Savior.
William Duma’s life is a remarkable example of the power of prayer. He would spend whole nights in prayer, making people wonder when he was sleeping. It was His sweet communion with the Lord in the early morning which energized him, gave him his marching orders and the power and authority to heal. His life is an inspiration for us to imitate his zeal, giving us hope that it is not the person that makes the difference, but the time spent with the Lord, the hunger and commitment, readiness to lay down our selves and everything we are and have. Most of all I am greatly encouraged to see the Lord raising up indigenous African people who grow up surrounded by witchcraft, with little light, yet knowing the power of spirits and how much greater our Lord God is.