• 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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Our strength is our diversity - Heartlines #WhatsYourStory - Beyond the River

This evening I arrived home from the UK and we watched the #Heartlines movie 'Beyond the river' as a family

It is such a powerful and moving reminder of the possibility and hope that exists in South Africa.

We face some very significant challenges. Yet, we can work for a better future for all South Africans. Our diversity is our strength. Thank you Garth Japhet and team for the amazing work you are doing. I am so grateful to be home, and grateful for this powerful initiative #WhatsYourStory

Watch the trailer for 'Beyond the river' here.

You can find out more about the 'What's your story?' campaign from 'Heartlines' here:


Looking towards home! Malaysia to Cape Town

This week in Malaysia with the good people of Malaysian Care has been another one of those blessed 'God encounters' for me.

Malaysia holds a very special place in my heart. I have visited this country more than any other. Each time that I come here I discover a new level of blessing, and of course some added layers of complexity in the Malaysian social, political and religious context. This week was no different.

Because of some scrutiny by the security police on a previous visit I have been somewhat cautious about sharing the names of people and places that I visited this week. I can say, however, that I met with old friends, made a myriad of news friends, and heard some absolutely amazing stories of hope and courage.

I was privileged to share this trip with my colleague, Amanda Jackson, from Micah Challenge International. Amanda is an experienced campaigner, activist, and a wise and trusted friend. Her gifts of discernment and gentle grace were a God send in the meetings we had with senior Church leaders, sometimes jaded activists and campaigners for justice and freedom, and particularly as we met with some very senior political figures. I have learned a lot from her!

One of our speaking events took place at DUMC (Dream Centre, a Methodist Church). This was the Church that was raided by the security police last year, and a number of the staff and workers were arrested on charges of sedition [Update 18 July 2012 - I was contacted by DUMC to indicate that in fact none of their staff had been arrested during the DUMC event, and it was not the sedition act that was enforced.  To find out more information about this event please see the official statements on the DUMC website at ]. I'm pleased to say that the sedition act, which was the act under which we and our hosts faced police 'interest' in 2011, has been repealed. These are some concerns that the act which has replaced it is not much better. Still, I am comforted by the courage of these sisters and brothers who are willing to be imprisoned simply for feeding the hungry, educating and clothing the poor, and advocating for the rights of the disenfranchised.

I was asked, by a friend last night (who was arrested last year for advocating for the rights of fellow citizens) what my impression is of Malaysia. I have considered that question a great deal. I am encouraged that the Church is so active, understanding that our relationship with Jesus supersedes national laws. I am encouraged by the fact that members of Churches and their leaders understand that serving Jesus requires taking responsibility for the freedom and rights of all of the nations citizens. I am encouraged that the Church is not so narrow-minded that it ignores sisters and brothers from different denominations and faith traditions. Churches and religious groupings are standing together to see God's justice established.

I am particularly encouraged that the Christians that I met with this week love Jesus passionately, and from that love flows a myriad of responses to the question what does the Gospel look like in society? and what should the good news of Jesus' love feel like for the poor, the stranger, the weak, the oppressed?

We made significant headway for the 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption campaign'! There will be a good witness, a strong light, showing just how much God loves Malaysia.

So, I will be praying for all of my unnamed friends. I am encouraged to act, with passion and commitment, once again for the land in which I live - South Africa. We have some significant challenges when it comes to corruption. A lack of transparency, the abuse of political power, racism, and moral decay. It is time for me to once again become an advocate and an activist in my own land!

Thank you for reminding me of that calling my Malaysian friends!


Crime and security

Today I heard about a car hi-jacking in our town - there are many of these in South Africa each day. When Megan and I lived in Pretoria we were much more vigilant about safety (mainly because we had been victims of crime a few times over a short period). However, where we live now, in Somerset West (just outside of Cape Town), crime is a much less prominent concern.

Last night's hi-jacking was in our area. An elderly couple were approached by some young men who placed a gun to a lady's head and stabbed her husband (even though he did not resist). They took the car and left.

Incidents like this cause me to worry! I love the fact that my daughter can ride her bicycle to school (two blocks from our home). However, I am so anxious about her doing this going forward. I've heard of many people who have been stabbed for a cell phone (in fact my friend Prof Neville Richardson was beaten up a few years ago for his cell phone).

The complexity in South Africa is that crime is frequently related to poverty and desperation. The gap between the rich (like me) and the poor is the highest in the world! This is certain to cause crime. So, we work to reduce this gap. We create employment, and we give preference to previously dissadvantaged persons. However, this process is leading to a breakdown of the necessary structures in society due to a lack of capacity and skill to deliver the necessary services of government agencies and large companies.

So, what do we do? What do I do? I'd love to hear you input and feedback!

I will say in conclusion that I love South Africa, I love our cultural diversity, and I am committed to a new future. But, I worry that we're sitting on a time bomb!


Home where I belong, and feeling postliminal (if there is such a thing)...

It is incredible to be back home!

If I was not so jet lagged I would have mustered all of my creative juices to write something as poetic and profound as my friend Pete did about his return home. All I can say (like many of my first year students do), is that I agree with him, and with what he said, and I wish I could say it the same way. Megie, Courts and Liam - I love you, and coming home to you is the best possible feeling in the world!

I arrived home just before 8pm last night after being on the road for 28 hours... The coach, the tube, an express train, two aeroplanes, a few airport buses, and the car home. Whilst I didn't ride a single Vespa to get back, I did wear my favourite Vespa T-Shirt! The trip was great, and even with missing my family, and having to travel so far, I would do it all over again. I have been challenged and stretched to grow.

I slept well last night. I didn't mind getting out of bed just before 6am to make breakfast and coffee for the family. I had daydreamed about that simple act of service, one of my daily routines, quite a few times while I was away. After taking Courtney to school - and having a good chat about her party, her friends, and her recent conquests in Shrek (on her gameboy) I rejoiced to worship in the College chapel. The idiom of worship was truly African, we sang, danced, played the bell and the beat, and used many of our 11 official languages to do so.... and I knew that I was home!

I have often felt that liminal feeling, common to many white Africans, of being too white to be truly African, but too African to be European. However, this morning I knew that I belonged. These are my people - I am, because they are. Here it is not because of my race that I belong. Rather, it is because we are a community that I feel truly human, located, understood, appreciated, and loved.

Here's one of the last photos that I took before leaving Christ Church in Oxford. From left to right are myself, Dr Mercy Amba Odoyuye, Dr Richardson, and Dr Colin Smith. Auntie Mercy is one of our mother's in the faith. She has done so much to highlight the concerns and struggles of African Christians, and in particular the concerns of African Christian women. She is one of the most prophetic and Christ-like people I have ever met - gentle, yet just. Colin is a circuit Superintendent from the UK and was one of the co-chairs of the Oxford institute. I learned so much about the kind of calm leadership that is required to manage important processes, and people who sometimes imagine themselves to be more important than they are. He handled the institute with such dignity, respect, and care. It is with much thanks to him that we got such good work done over the 10 days in Oxford.

Now, of course, I need to get my head around what I shall be sharing in Malaysia at STM. The presentation and preparation for the Church conference is all but done. Most of the preparatory work for the seminary is also done, and so now it is just a matter of putting the final touches to it.

This is more or less what I am going to cover at STM:

Methodist Church in Southern Africa's response to oppression, violence and abuse before, during, and after apartheid. I will speak about:

- The effects of the missionaries, and English colonization, on Southern African church and society.
- The heresy of 'apartheid' and the effects of that ideology on Southern African society. I will chart the Church's response to this evil using the work from my paper for the Oxford institute together with papers written by Henk Pieterse, Ted Jennings, Joerg Rieger, and Ivan Abrahams, as well as some information supplied by Demetris Palos (this will probably be the Lion's share of the discussion).
- The challenges of reconstruction and development in post-apartheid Southern Africa (here I shall focus HIV / AIDS, economic development, crime and violence, racial reconciliation. In particular, I will address how the Church has sought to deal with these issues through its mission strategy, and through the training of laity and clergy).

Here's another memorable moment for me -

In this photograph are Aileen and Randy Maddox. Aileen was also one of the Institute organizers. Randy calls her his better two thirds! If that is the case she must be truly remarkable! I look forward to getting to know them much better in the future. Randy should be well known to most Methodists - he is a prominent Wesleyan scholar who now teaches at Duke Divinity school. My students will know him since his book "Rethinking Wesley's theology" is one of their prescribed books. By the way, for those who haven't yet read it, Peter Grassow (referred to above) has an oustanding chapter entitled "Wesley and revolution: A South African perspective" (Chapter 12). It is well worth reading.