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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in Church (47)

Wednesday
Feb292012

Global Corruption - a meeting in the Houses of Parliament

Today was such an amazing day!  

As I write this I am sitting in the Houses of Parliament in London listening to a presentation on International Corruption by Richard Alderman of the Serious Fraud Office.

The image on the left was taken at the entry hall into the House of Lords. It is such an amazing space! I decided to take it in black and white (the light was not great, and a building of this size and space is best captured in black and white!) 

Back to the presentation; what was clear from the presentation is that corruption, on an international scale, is an extremely serious matter. The costs and repercussions of corruption in the international arena have grave consequences for the poor.  Yet, the reach is also into the middle class and even the wealtheir members of society.  Corruption quite simply erodes the fabric of society making it unstable and leaving us all vulnerable.  If corruption is left unchecked it tends to increase, drawing in more and more persons and leaving more and more victims in its wake.

The presentation gave some insights into the manner in which corruption is hidden from the general public. In short, it is because we all have a sense of moral 'rightness' within us, we know that abuse of power, wealth, and position for personal benefit is unjust. Corruption is not only a matter for governments, it is also very prevalent in businesses, and even in NGO's and the religious sector.  In some instances companies are far more corrupt (and powerfully so!), and the consequences of their corrupt practises are far more severe, than those of governments.

What strikes me as I have listened to this presentation is that many countries in which corruption is rife have an overwhelmingly Christian population.  Why isn’t the Church forming its members to act responsibly in their role in government and business - in society in general?  In many of these instances it is persons who sit in our pews on Sunday, who are robing the poor, stealing form the nation, and breaking the law on a Monday.

Christians, what should we be doing about corruption in our midst?  What do you do if you are aware of corrupt practises in your work environment, or you have been involved in corrupt practises yourself?

What would God want you to do?  What would God want your Church to do?

Our meetings for EXPOSED continue today.  I would appreciate your prayers! Follow EXPOSED on twitter here and please 'like' us on Facebook.

Monday
Feb062012

Wishes of youth and the winds of war - I was a soldier once

For the last week or so I have been reading Ranulph Fiennes amazing book 'My Heroes' (see the link below).

It tells the stories of various brave and courageous women and men who did extraordinary things in face of great danger and hardship.

The story that most moved me was that of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina - the man who saved just over a thousand Rwandans from the genocide that ripped that nation in 1994.  I was moved to tears by the tales of women and children who were violently and brutally hacked to death by family and friends in a killing frenzy that spread through the land that year.  

Germiston Methodist Church - Stained Glass WindowThis weekend I was privileged to spend the weekend with my friend Andrew Evans, a wonderful minister of a Methodist Church in the inner city of Germiston.  He is doing such great work in his Church, Gospel work, building bridges between diverse communities, offering new life and hope to refugees and inner city citizens, and an ongoing place of identify and safety to the longstanding members of his congregation.  In the Sunday service where I preached yesterday we sang and prayed in Shona, Xhosa, Sotho, Afrikaans and English. It felt a little like heaven.

As I travelled home last night I had Fiennes book and the Church service on my mind.  Of course most of the Shona speaking members of Andrew's congregation come from Zimbabwe - they have fled physical and economic hardship in search of a better life in South Africa.  They come here, even though South Africa has experienced xenophobic violence in the last few years as desperate citizens of this nation fear that foreigners are taking their jobs and land.  Still, the prospects here are better.

Andrew is a good minister - he is doing the work of reconciliation and bringing about unity and peace in his community.  It is the work of Christ the reconciler.

In Fiennes' book he  notes, among other things, that the conditions that are necessary for genocide to occur include:

 

  • An impoverished population
  • A large gap between those who 'have' and those who 'do not have'
  • A clearly identifiable minority grouping that has access to wealth and power
  • The development of a racial or ethnic ideology that places groups of persons in opposition to one another
  • Corrupt, power hungry and irresponsible politicians

 

I wondered how many of these elements could be ticked off a list of criteria in South African society?  We have much work to do in order to bring equality, overcome animosity, and combat false and harmful racial and ethnic ideologies.

For some years I was an involuntary soldier - as many of South Africa's white males were before the end of Apartheid.  I was conscripted to military service.  I was supposed to go straight from school.  However, since I first went to study my conscription was delayed some years.  My life changed during that time.  As I think back on it now that was the period during which I went from being a boy to becoming a man.  I can clearly see how my innocence was eroded by the might of the military machine.

The memories and emotions, expresssed above, have been washing through my mind, finding place in my prayers, and space for contemplation and understanding before God.

I pray that young women and men may grow to adulthood without having to face the brutality of war.  I pray that in my own land we should find another as sisters and brothers and work together for transformation and justice for all. I pray 'Still let me live as Love and Life are one: Still let me turn on earth a child-like gaze..."

Wishes of Youth

Gaily and greenly let my seasons run:

And should the war-winds of the world uproot

The sanctities of life, and its sweet fruit

Cast forth as fuel for the fiery sun;

The dews be turned to ice—fair days begun

In peace wear out in pain, and sounds that suit

Despair and discord keep Hope’s harp-string mute;

Still let me live as Love and Life were one:

Still let me turn on earth a child-like gaze,

And trust the whispered charities that bring

Tidings of human truth; with inward praise

Watch the weak motion of each common thing

And find it glorious—still let me raise

On wintry wrecks an altar to the Spring. - Samuel Blanchard

 

Monday
Dec052011

Life, communion and community

This is a very powerful quote on community and communion:

We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.
Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Sometimes I do find it difficult to be a part of an honest, loving Church community. But, I realize that it is often my ego that causes me to feel this way. When I am honest, I have to admit that I cannot live without the gracious acceptance and love of God's people. I discover God, others, myself and what it means to truly live.


Friday
Oct142011

Occupy Grahamstown! The poor, the state and the Church?

Last week I posted a video and reflection on the growing discontent with global poverty and the manner in which the enfranchised and powerful persons and organs of society are dealing with the poor. Remember what I said about the gini coefficient? The gap between the rich and the poor is not only an affront to God, it is serious challenge to national stability and safety.  Where some people have too much and others have too little a revolution is inevitable.  It is even more volatile in a nation like South Africa where the majority of the people are poor.  Since the Church is called by God to be an agent of healing, transformation and service to society I wonder what role the Church should be playing in reforming the global (and local) economy?  I am sure of one thing, there will be members of various Churches in the crowds that participate in riots, protests and marches.  Others are the sons, daughters, family and friends of Christians.  Of course it is also true that those who occupy positions of power and influence (politicians, economists, business persons, lawyers, police officers etc.) are also members of our Churches!  Surely we have a role to play!

Today I received the following email about an 'people's uprising' that is planned for the City of Grahamstown.  I would encourage you to read the statement - regardless of your political views or your perspective on poverty.  This statement gives a vivid insight into the growing discontent among ordinary South Africans.

What is the role of the Church in such a situation?  What should we be doing, saying and praying?

13 October 2011

Unemployed People's Movement Press Statement

Occupy Grahamstown!

Recapitalise the Poor!

As a movement of the poor we have taken great inspiration from the rebellion that has spread from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Syntagma Square in Athens, the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and now Liberty Plaza in New York. Our comrades in Students for Social Justice have been just as inspired by the growing spirit of rebellion that is jumping, like a fire, from country to country.

 On Saturday we will occupy Grahamstown. The students will march into town from the Botanical Gardens. We will march into town from the township and the squatter camps. We will meet on the square at the Cathedral. We will turn that square into a people's university, a people's kitchen and a space of people's power. Our aim is to bring the rebellion of the poor, the rebellion that has put thousands and thousands on the streets of South Africa in recent years, into dialogue with this global rebellion. The alliance between organised students and the organised unemployed is strong in Grahamstown. Together we can build strong foundations for the struggles to come.

 We have been inspired by this global rebellion because the comrades in Tahrir Square showed the world the strength of a united and determined people. We have been inspired by this rebellion because it has clearly told the bankers that their time of ruling the world is over. We have been inspired by this rebellion because it has clearly told the politicians that from Cairo to New York people are determined to rule themselves and to build their own power from the ground up.

 We will occupy Grahamstown in the name of freedom. We insist that all people have the right to organise themselves according to their own free choices. We denounce the ANC for the murder of Andries Tatane and all the others. We denounce the ANC for the repression of the Abahlali baseMjondolo, the Landless People's Movement, the Anti-Eviction Campaign and all the others. We denounce the ANC for their attempts to censor the media. We denounce the ANC for continuing to claim that the movements of the poor are a Third Force. The ANC insult us by making us live like pigs and excluding us from all decision making and then, when we rebel, they insult us again by saying that it must be a white academic that is making us rebel. The ANC is incapable of understanding that poor black people can, like all other people, think for ourselves. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they do not and have never had a monopoly on struggle. The ANC is incapable of understanding that they are the real counter-revolutionaries.

 We will occupy Grahamstown in the name of real democracy. We join the people of the world in showing our anger at the way that the capitalists have bought the politicians and the whole system. We will join the people of the world in insisting that democracy will have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Democracy is something that you do. It is not something that you watch on TV. Democracy is something that everyone can do. It is not something that experts like politicians or NGOs must do for the people.

 We will occupy Grahamstown in the name of justice. We join the people of the world in insisting that we will not pay for the crisis caused by the bankers. Their wealth must be expropriated and returned to the people. South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. The predatory elite are publicly gorging themselves while the poor are starving, desperate and frightened. Last week Transnet advertised for 30 jobs - 30 boring and badly paid jobs. Ten thousand people came to apply. Forty people were injured when the gates were opened. The contempt with which the poor are treated in this country is incredible.

 It is not just the ANC that treats the poor with such gross contempt. Business is just as bad. We have not forgotten how the big companies colluded, in the midst of mass unemployment, to fix the price of bread. When we are strong enough we will fix the price of bread from below. We will take the struggle for bread that was started in Durban forward. Imagine one day when people around the country enter the supermarkets and begin eating the bread without paying. That will be the last day on which the capitalists fix the price of bread.

 We are not asking for higher taxes to increase funding for the state. Our municipality is a notorious kleptocracy. The ANC is corrupt from top to bottom. We do not want to struggle to buy Blade Nzimande a new car or more houses, cars, watches and sushi parties for Julius Malema and his friends. We do not want to struggle to finance Kebbelism. What is the point of the ANC getting more money to build houses when the houses that they build are unfit for human habitation, fall down in the first wind and are only given to ANC members?

 We are not anti-state. But our state is rotten to the core. Until we can build enough people's power to be able to discipline the state from below we will have to treat it as what it is, a vehicle from the predatory elite to feed off society.

 The capitalists in Europe are saying that the people must pay for the banks to be recapitalised. We say that it is time to stop all public subsidies for the rich. We say that it is time for the banks to recapitalise the people. Abahlali baseMjondolo has correctly insisted that the poor were made poor by the same economic system that made the rich rich. Therefore it is only logical that the billions and billions held in the banks on Wall Street must be used to recapitalise the poor. We are calling for a universal guaranteed income. It must be at least R2000 per month and it must be paid to all people without going through local councillors or party structures.

 Some of the comrades that were amongst the ten thousand in Bloemfontein are coming to Grahamstowm to learn from our struggle. Ayanda Kota was recently in Durban to be at the Abahlali baseMjondolo AGM. We are, day by day, building a national movement of the poor, by the poor and for the poor from the ground up. Every day our struggles and our movements are drawing closer.

Sekwanele!

Genoeg!

Enough!

Liziwe Gqotolo 073 440 5536

Siyanda Centwa 078 571 5507

Ayanda Kota 078 625 6462

I'd love to hear your feedback! If you're in Grahamstown (a city in which I lived for 4 years!) and plan to participate in this gathering please let me know.  God bless, Dion

Saturday
Oct082011

The Church...

The Church is at home everywhere, and everyone should be able to feel himself at home in the Church. Thus the risen Christ, when he shows himself to his friends, takes on the countenance of all races and each hears him in his own tongue.
Henri de Lubac, Catholicism (via invisibleforeigner)

I love the Church. This evening I listened to one of the most powerful and wealthy men in Malaysia, Tan Sri Dato Francis Yeoh, speak about his experience of the Church. He is a deeply committed Christian who is clearly very deeply committed to the Church - as every Christian should be. Yet, he does not hold a romanticized picture of the Church.

His description of this blessed community was as follows: It is a little like the story of a group of porcupines who were caught in the coldest of winters. It was so cold that many other animals were dying. So they decided to huddle together for survival and warmth. However, whenever they came close they would wound each other (most often inadvertently and without malice or intent). Of course there were times when one of the animals would choose a position in contrast to the good of the rest - that would cause much more pain and hardship. Some of the porcupines found this unbearable and so they broke off from the rest. Sadly, without the warm and closeness of the others they were soon overtaken by the cold and lost.

As a result they soon learned that a few small wounds were a small price to pay for the collective blessing of life.

I have experienced the Church in this manner at times. Yet, it is the Body of Christ, a place of blessing and life. And so, even though I am sometimes misunderstood, sometimes hurt, I still draw near, for it is one of God's means of grace - a chosen instrument to help me find life and share life with others.

What is your experience of the Church? I'd love to hear!
Tuesday
Jun282011

No salvation outside of the Church?

This is quite a challenging thought! Of course I do believe that the Church is a central part of God's plan for the renewal and transformation of the world. However, I realise that I am not good at being Church.
The ancient Catholic dictum extra ecclesiam, nulla salus (“outside the church there is not salvation”) contains a significant sociological truth. Certainly it is not impossible for individual Christians to maintain biblical beliefs even if a hostile majority disagrees. But if the church is to consist of communities of loving defiance in a sinful world, it must pay more attention to the quality of its fellowship and find new models of Christian community.

Ronald Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (via invisibleforeigner)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the role of the Church in the transformation of society, and also how we could be 'better' at being what the Church is truly called to be.

Saturday
Jun182011

The calling of the Church

Have you ever considered that the Church is called by God?  I'm sure most of us would agree that our priest, pastor or minister is called to ministry.  However, the same applies to the collective community of the Church - we are called.

I have encountered very few Churches that have taken this aspect of their identity seriously.  The Church is called to ministry.  It is a little like the priestly ministry of the scriptures.  The priest is called to represent the people to God in worship and to represent God to the world in service.

Many of our Churches are simply 'Gospel clubs', places where people gather loosely for their own edification and upliftment.  We treat Church as something that we 'do' rather than an identity that we are to 'become'.  Perhaps it is for this reason that we hunger after experiences of worship that are more like a combination of a rock concert and a stand up comedy routine?

Please would you consider the following quote with me? Pray about the calling of the Church of which you are a part.

The work of God is the calling of a people, whether in the Old Covenant or the New. The church is then not simply the bearer of the message of reconciliation, in the way a newspaper or a telephone company can bear any message with which it is entrusted. Nor is the church simply the result of a message, as an alumni association is the product of a school or the crowds in a theater are the product of the reputation of the film. That men and women are called together to a new social wholeness is itself the work of God, which gives meaning to history.

- John Howard Yoder (via @fycr)

 

Wednesday
May252011

Short term mission trips. Are they worth The investment?m

Steve Hayes sent out the wonderful article below on our missiology list. I have participated in, and even organized, short term mission trips with my congregation. They are costly, yet the effect that they have had on the participants directly, and on our whole congregation upon the return of the missioners has been so fruitful. Indeed, each time we have had such a trip our Church has become more involved and invested in local and foreign concerns, sending funding, resources and people to address practical needs in our local community and other places where we have established relationships. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Here is the link from which this study comes at Baylor University.
If Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” were viewed as a business, it would be booming — at least in terms of short-term mission trips. The number of United States Christians taking part in trips lasting a year or less has grown from 540 in 1965 to an estimated more than 1.5 million annually, with an estimated $2 billion per year spent on the effort, according to Missiology journal. But is the spiritual profit worth the investment? Researcher Dr. Dennis Horton — an associate professor of religion at Baylor University and principal investigator of a study on the effects that short- term mission trips have on mission team members — gives a qualified “Yes.” Some have suggested the money might be better spent giving directly to a country’s Christian partners for spreading the gospel and offering medical aid, construction assistance or other help. Some long-term missionaries even have complained that culturally insensitive short-term mission participants do more harm than good by damaging relationships that had taken years to build. But the study showed that students who participate in short-term mission trips tend to have lower levels of materialism, greater appreciation for other cultures and a better understanding of missions as a lifestyle. Two-thirds of short-term trips last two weeks or less, with a host of purposes ranging from evangelism to digging wells or teaching English as a second language. The trips would seem to benefit sending agencies, the teams and the host countries. “But I think a lot of churches and groups need more follow-up to help mission team members incorporate what they’ve learned on their trips into their daily lives,” Horton said. “Long-term involvement is where you see transformation taking place.” About 600 students, most from Texas universities, and 48 short-term mission trip leaders participated in the study conducted by Horton, former pastor of a church in Hong Kong, and four Baylor University undergraduate research assistants. For long-term effects on those who go on short-term mission trips, some studies show little difference between those who have participated short-term trips and Christians who have not when it comes to giving, materialism and believing one’s culture is superior to others. What makes a difference is pre- trip training, on-site mentoring and follow-up after the trip, Horton said. “We appreciate the zeal (of students),” he said. “They say, ‘We need to get out there and share the gospel!’ But missionaries are saying ‘Wait a minute.’ In many countries, the best way to reach others is through friendships over time, not quick presentations of the gospel that can endanger long-term missionaries and local Christians.” Short-term mission trips should be “more than spiritual tourism in which participants travel to an exotic place, take a myriad of photos and return to their relatively isolated home environments and pre-trip behavior.” Churches, campus ministries and Christian colleges can play a huge follow-up role. Many people commit at Christian youth camps to become missionaries, Horton said, but “some find out a little bit more and say, ‘Oh, that isn’t for me. I can do this for a few weeks, but I like my technology, my comforts.’ It wasn’t that they didn’t still have an interest or wanted to work with local missions.” In some countries, there are immediate responses, with hundreds of converts, Horton said. In others, “you could work for years and have only one or two converts. Students hoping to see instant results on a two-week trip may become discouraged." Dr. Rosalie Beck, an associate professor of religion at Baylor, served in Vietnam in the 1970s, providing support services to missionaries. “Even if the missionaries love having the short-term team members there, it can be disruptive as far as time and on finances that already may be troubled," she said. But short-term mission team members “will encounter the world in a way they never have before and may never again. It will deepen their commitment in the faith and open their eyes to the reality of life elsewhere in the world.” Matt Lewis, a Baylor sophomore communications major from Jacksonville, Texas, worked with youth on volunteer mission trips to the Czech Republic in 2007 and 2008. Between trips, he said, “I spent a lot of time in prayer and tried to meditate and listen to what God was saying to me. I got to reconnect with some youth there from the previous summer. It was great to see that the decisions they made were still apparent in their lives. Seeing this reinforces my belief that God is calling me into the ministry.” Of the 32 students interviewed after their trips, 29 said the trips had changed the way they see other cultures, with 17 mentioning increased respect and concern. Most said they had greater appreciation for what they have — or even disgust for American greed — but only a few mentioned concrete steps they had taken to lessen their materialism. Horton plans a future study on the effect short-term mission trips have on churches and agencies who sponsor them.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and insights.
Thursday
Mar312011

The body of Christ

I'm reading Hauerwas, Yoder and Cavanaugh...

The task of the church in the temporal is to embody what Christ has already accomplished in history by remembering his broken and victorious body. Christ’s victory is already won, and the Kingdom is to have transformative effects on Christian practice in history. The task of the church is to live as if this is the case, until Christ comes again and fully consummates his reign.
— William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist(via @invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog.

And it is good...

I would suggest that you follow invisibleforeigner's tumblr blog. It has been such a great blessing to me to read the quotes, thoughts and ideas on it, many of which you will see on my blog. Thanks!

Thursday
Jun032010

To Hell with the Church!

"The target of the church should be the world and not the pew." – Ed Silvoso
Chapter 5 of 'Transform your work life', entitled 'To Hell with the Church' is causing a bit of a stir!  That's good news!  Here's an excerpt from that chapter:
Where is the best place to ‘shine your light’ and be ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matt 5:13–15)? You need to shine your light where it is dark of course! For many years I made the mistake of thinking that a church’s success is measured by its seating capacity (how many people are in worship on a Sunday). The truth is that a church’s salt, its real worth, is measured by its sending capacity. God does not care how big the ‘salt shaker’ is, rather what God is concerned about is how much salt is shaken from the salt shaker, and how much light the church shines in the darkest places of society.
Let me ask you another question, if your church were to close its doors this week, who would notice that you are not in ministry any longer? Of course the members who worship in your congregation would care, but would the homeless in your area notice? Would the hungry and the abused of your society realise that you are not operating anymore? Would your closure have an impact on the sick and the elderly people in your community? How about the schools and businesses in your community; would they notice that you are no longer ministering in the community?
When Jesus said that He would build his church and the gates of hell would not overpower it (Matt 16:18), there was a clear assumption that He builds his church at the gates of hell! One of the most loving things we can do with the church is to send it to hell. We need to find the places of suffering, brokenness and need, and be the church in those places so that Jesus can build his church there. In my experience those places are not very far from where you work!
What do you think?  Where should the Church's ministry be focussed? Either leave a comment below, or post a message on the discussion forum here.
I'd love to hear your feedback!
Wednesday
Apr142010

The mission shaped Church and the Alpha course.

Over the last two days I had the joy of attending the Alpha South Africa seminar at Camps Bay United Church

Today I spoke on the topic 'Forming a Mission shaped Church' at the conference.  A number of the people asked me for the powerpoint slides and the video that I used.

The basic line or reasoning that I took was the following.

1.  Christianity is shifting from traditional Western Churches (and even in some senses from traditional Western theology) to the South and the East.

2. This shift is both geographical (because of population growth and basic needs such as poverty, health, justice and need), and also theological (from propositions of faith to experiences of faith).  Please see the maps and reasoning in my slides.  For an explanation of this shift, some projections going forward, and some reasons for this shift, please read Philip Jenkins' great book 'The next Christendom' (you'll see an image of the cover in my slides).

3.  The Alpha course is quite well suited to changes in engaging persons with the message of the Gospel since it allows for interaction around the truths (as people engage with the topics, without having to be confronted constantly by 'clear and closed' truths).  It also facilitates community and relationships.  It is a truly wonderful instrument for the Gospel and the Kingdom of God.  I explain how the Church can become more 'missional' by referring to 5 mindset and worldview changes that we shall need to go through in order to engage the world where it is, rather than inviting the world to come to where the Church is.

So, here are my slides (Powerpoint 7MB)

Here's the video that I used (it highlights how the world is changing, and how we need to find new means with which to communicate and create engagement around the message and person of the Gospel). If you're interested in previous posts that I've made on new media and ministry please see my post here, or please see this post and the video on new media here.

Finally, I would encourage you to consider this great promotional video for the Alpha course (done by Bear Grylls - the ultimate 'survival' expert!)

Have you ever run Alpha in your Church, business, or been part of Alpha in a prison setting? I'd love to hear your feedback!  Thanks to all those who prepared the Alpha Conference.  You can find out about the Alpha Course here.

And, you can find out about Alpha in South Africa here.

Friday
Apr092010

The role of the Church in reconciliation in South Africa

I was asked to write a brief article on the role of the Church in working towards reconciliation in South Africa during and after apartheid for the Lausanne World Pulse.  I had forgotten about that article until the daughter of a friend phoned me from Geneva this morning to say that she had read the article in preparation for some meetings. (for those who know Sidwell Mokghotu, it was Sid's daughter Fofo who phoned - she is doing an internship with the World Council of Churches in Geneva).  

I asked her for the URL - and there it was!

If you're interested in reading the article please follow this link.

Today is a very important day to remember our history of reconciliation and peace.  South Africa has come a long way since the end of Apartheid.  However, we still have a long way left to go!  Today is the funeral of the white supremacist leader of the AWB, Mr Eugene Terreblanche.  He was murdered on his farm over the Easter weekend.  His murder has raised racial tensions that have been fueled by the inflamatory and insensitive (even racist) statements of the leader of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema.

Please could I encourage you to distribute the call to prayer (below), which was written by my friend Etienne Piek, as widely as possible?

In a time of trouble it is extremely important that the Church takes a stand for the Kingdom of God first and foremost. The Kingdom of God operates on the basis of the Word of God as the absolute truth. Therefore the principles of the Bible determine our behavior and attitude towards any issue we are facing. The Word of God is very clear concerning conflict situations:

1. Love your enemies, bless those who curse you and pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:27,28). Speak the blessing of salvation in Christ to those who perpetrate evil.

2. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21; Rom 12:17). Think about what is proper, noble, aiming to be above reproach in the sight of everyone.

3. Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Rom 12:19; Matt 5:39; Rom 2:1). Pray that the minds of people will not be filled with vengeance or hatred but to petition God for His righteousness and justice to be established.

4. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath, anger and clamour (loud quarrelling) and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph 4:30-32; Matt 6:12-15; Matt 18:21-35; Luk 23:34). As Jesus demonstrated forgiveness on the cross, so we as believers must also follow His example in forgiving those who wrong us. Let us forgive and so end the cycle of violence and retribution.

5. Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder … (Matt 15:19; Luk 6:45). Actively fill your heart with God’s word and meditate on His instructions for us at this time. Resist evil thoughts and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart and mind, the mind of Christ.

6. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12). Pray and resist the evil forces behind racism, bloodshed, violence, rebellion, revenge and the spirit of witchcraft.

This is a unique opportunity for us as believers to unite to change the history of South Africa. God has not lost control, nor is He unaware of what is happening in our nation at this time. It is a time for each believer to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, to let go of selfish interests and to beseech the Lord Jesus Christ to come to our aid. This is not the time to judge or to accuse, but to plead for God’s plans and purposes to be established in our nation. Let each of us empty ourselves, repent and willfully turn from all hatred, bitterness, judgment, racism or fear, and allow the Holy Spirit to use us as instruments of reconciliation and healing in this torn nation. Pray for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding to guard the hearts and minds of all South Africans (Phil 4:7), and pray for the God of peace to crush the evil one under our feet (Rom 16:20).

Join us in prayer for revival in the church. The church is still God’s answer (Eph 3:10) – but a church that lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, stands on the authority of the Word, putting Jesus Christ in the centre, praying for a lost and broken world, taking care of the poor and needy.

If you want more information on how to participate in a 40 days prayer initiative for revival in the church visit info@global24-7.org or info@jwipn.com.

Mobilise prayer groups in all possible places – your home, place of work, schools, factories, business, etc.

Respond to God’s call to the nations and join in a day of repentance and prayer on Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2010. For details please contact info@globaldayofprayer.com or visit the website www.globaldayofprayer.com

 

Endorsed by: Jericho Walls International Prayer Network, Global Day of Prayer, NIRSA, Shalom Trust/MMC2010, Turn2God, Unashamedly Ethical, HeartCry and New Heart