In my morning devotion today I read about the start of the genocide in Rwanda on 7 April 1994 (just 20 days before South Africa’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994).
Here is the summary of those events from “Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals”:
‘On April 7, 1994, a civil war broke out in Rwanda as Hutu extremists began brutally killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Over the next one hundred days, nearly a million people were killed in the worst occurrence of genocide since the Holocaust. An estimated 75 percent of the Tutsis living in Rwanda were murdered.’
The following story is told from after the genocide:
‘When Cardinal Roger Etchegary visited Rwanda on behalf of the pope in 1994, he asked the assembled church leaders, “Are you saying that the blood of tribalism is deeper than the waters of baptism?” One leader answered, “Yes, it is.”’
How sad! Two things were clear in Rwanda. First, this genocide was an ethnic crime - the violence was motivated by hatred and distrust among people of different ethnicities and cultures. Second, however, is that 98% of Rwandans (perpetrators and victims) were Christian. How could that be? That followers of the Prince of Peace could hate one another so much? How could it be that those who live by the way of truth could be so easily misled about their sisters and brothers?
We must choose a different way. We must choose a way of peace and reconciliation. We cannot choose against our fellow humans. By choosing for one another we choose for the common good.
Pray for us in South Africa. We too are a largely Christian nation in which people choose against each other. Here is another quote from “Common Prayer”:
'Charles Péguy said, “We must be saved together. We cannot go to God alone; else he would ask, ‘Where are the others?’ ”’
Entries in peace (8)
In my morning devotion today I read about the start of the genocide in Rwanda on 7 April 1994 (just 20 days before South Africa’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994).
I was fortunate to get a transcript of his sermon. It challenged and moved me deeply. I was reminded that at Christmas I celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, and that His birth and my faith in Him has radical consequences for my life.
The way of Jesus is a bold, loving and gracious way. It subverts the culture of power and dominance that occupies the popular mind of our time. It reminds me that Jesus came for peace, yet so much of the resources of this world, both financial and human, are spent on war. The best of our minds, the majority of our budgets, are not applied towards peaceable aims - they are applied in the interests of vengence and violence. This is an affront to the Prince of Peace who came to live among us, living our life and dying our death in order to overcome both sin and death by His love.
So, this Christmas I was challenged to remember that the Prince of Peace came as a man to die on a cross. The sacrifice of his life was for the salvation and transformation of the world. At Christmas I am challenged to remember that the Jesus of the manger is also the Jesus of the Cross.
So, this Christmas can I please encourage you to read Alan's powerful message? It may not be all that easy! But it will be deeply challenging.
I had to face myself and my own denial honestly as I read it. Some of what you read may not be easy to hear - it was not easy for me. But, I would rather face my lies, and the lies of our world with honesty and courage, than be party to deception and simply tell myself that all is well.
The text below comes from 'The War Crimes Times' newsletter (Winter 2013, pp. 5-7 and are republished with Alan's permission).
Here is the editor's introduction:
This is a transcription of the final presentation of a four-day peace conference held at Lake Junaluska, NC, November 8-11, 2012. It was delivered on a Sunday morning, at a United Methodist conference center, by an ordained minister, to an audience largely consisting of religious folks including a good number of clergy men and women (many retired – well “past half time”), and it began with a scripture reading. By all indications, it was a sermon, a lecture on a topic of morality.
But the lesson, the moral, of this sermon was intended for more than the flock of faithful, mostly Christians, gathered that morning. This lesson needs to reach people of all faiths, people of no faith, and people in the highest offices of governments around the world. It is a lesson of peace.
At its conclusion, this sermon received a standing ovation. But not everyone rose. The few who didn’t were, I suspect, clergy too stunned by the bold challenges of Alan Storey’s concluding remarks.
The speaker made references to other conference presenters. The Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a co-founder the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, who endured many beatings and arrests as a civil rights activist, had spoken of how the kindness and trust bestowed on him as a 14-year-old in a multi- cultural neighborhood helped form his character. Liberian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, had remarked on the importance of channeling anger into a proper container. (A documentary film on her work was also shown.) Michael Nagler , author, teacher, and founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, had shared his definition of “nonviolence.”
Alan Storey’s remarks were introduced with a reading from Genesis (excerpts of chapters 6 through 9) – the account of the Great Flood, when God punished the evil people and spared the righteous. But when the waters receded, God promised to never again resort to such destruction, setting God’ s rainbow in the clouds as the sign of his covenant.
Here is the transcript of Alan's message which was entitled 'Not even God can use violence successfully' by the newsletter.
I wonder what you have just heard during the reading of those Hebrew scriptures. I wonder what you heard. What did you hear?
Did you hear Sunday school children singing, singing about animals going in two by two? Or did you hear children screaming panic-stricken, terrified, gasping for breath; people fleeing to higher ground, pleading, praying to be let into that ark – and if not me, then take my child. Knocking, banging, banging on the ark, let me in! Yet the doors of the ark remained sadistically closed.
What did you feel when those words were read? Did you feel the desperation, the despair, the drowning, the death?
And then after the 40 days, what did you see? The sunshine? Green lush, beautiful blossoming? Birds and bees? Or decomposing bodies, swelling, smelling – disease, decay gathered in every single nook and cranny?
The cruel results, the inevitable cruel results of divid- ing up a world with the simplistic notion that there are some who are wicked and others who are righteous, that there are two types of people in the world: good and bad. And if we can just get rid of the bad people, then we will have peace. There is an axis of evil in the world and if we can just destroy the axis of evil, then all will be safe and secure.
The persons who act on this notion of dividing the world into wicked people and righteous people should be brought before the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity and all of creation – even if that person is God.
This deathly division between good people and bad people continues today especially in my faith tradition – especially in my faith tradition. The Christian faith, more than any other faith, has participated in this deathly division – dividing the world into good and bad, saved and unsaved, those who will be ushered into heaven and those who will be cast into hell. That thought process is nothing less than hate speech.
We go back to the text. These Hebrew narrators were incredibly courageous, risky in the extreme. You see, what these Hebrew narrators are trying to do is not endorse this primitive, partisan God or world view, but rather to cleverly, and with great risk, subvert it. They knew that the common world understanding of God was that God was some almighty superhero that would punish the wicked and bless the righteous. They knew that was the dominant religious world view and understanding of their time. So they risked casting God in that light in their narrative. They don’t believe it, they know that’s not so. But they cleverly start where the audience is.
There were righteous ones, just a few. God saved them and the wicked were punished and the audience applaud. Because that was their world view. Justice has been done, the wicked got what they deserved, and the righteous what was promised. And then the narrator moves to Act II. And we read that once the flood had subsided, wickedness remained.
Wickedness remained. In other words, God failed. God failed to eradicate evil through this weapon of mass destruction called the flood.
The narrator is bold to pen those words, “God failed.” God fails when God uses violence. Not even God can use violence successfully. Not even God. God’s war on terror became a war of terror. And God repents. Listen to these words: “I will never again destroy every living creature as I have done.”
And then God is converted and God takes God’s bow, not a rainbow, but a weapon, God’s bow, and hangs it up in the sky, just as a boxer hangs up his gloves – and says, “Never again will I fight.” It’s the great narrative of the disarmament of God.
God can do all things. God can do all things – except use violence successfully.
And you and I will not be converted to nonviolence until we first realize that God has long since been con- verted. It is impossible to be a peacemaker if we serve a violent God, an angry God, a God who needs blood to be satisfied. If the God we serve, if the God we worship, has blood on his hands (I use that male pronoun deliberately), then the likelihood will be that we will too.
Using violence, God fails. So how much more will we fail if we use it? And you and I witness the failure of violence all around us all the time.
Violence fails to deliver on what it promises – peace and security. Since 9/11, billions and billions and billions of your dollars have been invested in violence, military might. And this country is less safe than it ever was. It doesn’t matter how long you have to stand in line to wait to get onto an airplane – it is less safe, less secure. And if it is not more afraid, it is definitely more feared.
Ask the people of Pakistan who scan the skies for drones... where the people who fly them can have breakfast in the morning with their family, go to the office and sit in a comfortable chair and go to war in Afghani- stan; and then can come home and have lunch with their family, and then in the afternoon they can go to war in Pakistan.
There is no victory in vengeance. Satan cannot cast out Satan; violence cannot cast out violence. War is a poor chisel to carve out a peaceable future says Martin Luther King, and yet it remains our biggest investment.
If you know history, you will know that empires do not explode. Empires implode. And the reason why empires implode is because they spend more than they have on trying to defend (read attack) who they are.
And if you just question safety and security, you will be labeled unpatriotic. You can commit the most grave of sins in the name of safety and security.
Listening to the presidential debates, if you could call them that, president Obama was asked, “What is the greatest threat to America?” Notice, please, the very narrow nationalistic question that is. His answer: “Terror- ism, and China.”
I want to say to Barack Obama the greatest threat to America is not terrorism, it’s not China. The greatest threat to America is... America. You are your worst enemy. No one will explode you – you will implode. If God fails using violence, so will the USA.
God is a nonviolent God.
Now, a couple of years ago in my country, there was a murder that took place and it was discovered that it was a family murder. An 18-year-old girl killed her 13-year-old sister, stabbed her repeatedly. The mother, as you can imagine, grieved, like only a mother can grieve. And yet at the same time as she was grieving the loss of her daughter, she stood in solidarity with her other daughter, as only, you can imagine, a mother can do. She was reported to have said, “I want to hate her, but I can’t.”
She went to court every day when her daughter was on trial. She stood behind her and embraced her when she was convicted. She visited her daughter every available opportunity in prison and when her daughter was finally released, she welcomed her home.
Mrs. Du Toit, the mother, found herself in the painful, yet privileged position of God, being parent to both murdered and murderer. At one and the same time. “I want to hate her but I can’t. I’m her mother.”
God is not only a nonviolent God, but God is the heavenly parent of both murdered and murderer. And to take vengeance on the murderer is simply to multiply the grief of God. If someone had come up to that mother and said, “Let us kill this daughter,” she would say, “No – don’t double my grief.”
Not only is this a nonviolent God, not only does this God grieve on all sides of the border, but when we remember Saul traveling on the road to Damascus because he had written permission to extend his war on terror, he is stopped in his tracks with these words from the Divine: “Why, why, why are you persecuting me?”
Please notice what the Divine did not say. The Divine did not say, “Why are you persecuting them?” but, “Why are you persecuting me?” The Divine takes persecution personally.
It is not, “Why are you persecuting the Afghans, and the Iraqis, and the Pakistanis, and whoever else? it’s, “Why are you persecuting me?” We need to hear that question here today.
So not only is God a nonviolent God. Not only does God grieve on both sides. God takes persecution personally.
Our violence violates God. All violence – we see from that illustration – is family violence. Cain and Abel were
brothers. Did you know that death enters the Hebrew scriptures through murder? – reminding us that all violence is family violence? That there are seven billion chosen, chosen people in the world? That the apartheid between nations must come to an end?
There is something that distresses me more than anything else every time I listen to the president of this country speak. When he ends his speeches with the words, “God Bless America.”
Someone please remind him that there is a world larger than America. And not until he begins to have a vision for the world and not just a nation – (long pause)
The only flag I am prepared to salute, the only flag, the only flag that I am prepared to stand up for is the flag with a picture of the globe on it. Can you give your flag away? And claim a new flag? And certainly remove it from your sanctuaries.
Jesus said if you want to save your life, give it away. If you want to save your nation...give it away.
If you want to save your flag – give it away. If you want to save your religion – give it away.
We know that it is easier to identify with the victim than the perpetrator. It is easier to see the splinter in our neighbor’s eye than it is to see the log in our own eye. It is easier to watch a documentary called Pray the Devil Back to Hell than to face the devil in us and the hell that we create.
I watched that documentary for the first time here. I was deeply moved by it...the courage of woman.
I was inspired when one of them said, “With this tee shirt, I am powerful.” I was horrified at the children, the children carrying guns that were too big for them to carry. I wept at the senseless suffering.
But that was a distant devil to observe. Much more difficult to watch a documentary of the devil that we are, and the hell that we create. Some people here have asked me, “Gosh, listening to Bernard Lafayette the other night, – how is it possible to be able to draw that love from the wells that live within to be able to even love the person beating us?”
Now it is a fine question to ask, but I think there is an earlier question. You see, that question assumes that we are going to be the victim. That question assumes we are going to be the one who is going to be beaten and kicked. The balance of probability that any of us in this room are going to go through that is pretty slim.
You see, we identify with the victim. The question we should be asking is, “How do we stop beating and killing others who are praying for the love to be able to forgive us?” What our dollars do in this world –
You know the date. But do you know what happened during 9/11? 9/11. When country and the hopes of that country were shattered. The thousands of people dying, thousands of people dying, not just on 9/11, but the days after. 9/11. You know the day, you know what I am talking about. Yes, I am talking about 1973. 9/11. When Pinochet came into power in Chile with the help of our dollars, a reign of terror for 16 years until 1990 – we know the date.
The 20th of August 1998 – in Sudan, the Clinton administration bombs Al-Shifa pharmaceutical company that provided 50% of all medication in the Sudan. I went to the Sudan a number of years after that. I watched mothers carrying children, hopelessly dying of malaria,
not able to get medication. Do you know the date: 20th of August 1998?
We will not have peace in this world, we will not become peacemakers, until we know the dates of terror that we have inflicted on others as well as we know the dates of terror that others have inflicted on us.
By the way, the 20th of August 1998 was covered in the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, The Guardian, the New York Times.
Last night we listened to Leymah Gbowee. She spoke powerfully about an analogy of violence and anger: pouring it into a violent cup or a nonviolent cup. I wonder if our problem is that we are not angry enough.
What makes you angry? When the price of gas goes up? Or when more of our children go and learn how to kill and we tell them that they are heroes when all they are are victims to the lie, the lie that says you can be a killer with honor. The lie that says you can actually be alive while you kill another.
We are addicted to violence. This nation knows that more than any other. It is never going to be easy to kick an addiction. We are always going to think, “One more drink.” And the one more drink becomes the first of many more. The alcoholic needs to admit that she is, that he is, powerless. And then join together with other people who feel powerless too. And admit their addiction, confess it.
“Hi, my name is Alan and I belong to the most violent nation in the world – that spends more money on the military than all other nations put together.”
Can we say those words? And only when we are able to admit that in the presence of others and then rely on a power – however you understand that power – that is higher than us, to begin to transform us. To make a stringent list of the things that we have done wrong. To admit them, and then to make amends. To go through, as a nation, a 12-step program. As the most violent nation in the world. Sign up. And then, in our powerlessness, we will discover what Michael Nagler invited us to see: nonviolence as that power that is unleashed when all desire to harm is overcome; and only then will we be feeling powerful again.
People have been asking me, “Alan, what do we do, what do we do, where do I stand, what do I do?” Well, it is very difficult to transform a system that we are depen- dent on....for our livelihood. Very difficult. So what we need to do is in those little AA communities, confessing that we are a violent people, we need to somehow wean ourselves off the system that we are dependent on.
I mean, don’t you get it? Let me use Christian language for a moment. I am dependent – this is the contradiction Ilivewithinmylife –Iamdependentonmysinformy survival. Sin, meaning “wages of death, way of death.” I am dependent on a way of life that is in actual fact a way of death, for my survival. And when I turn against my sin, it feels like I am dying, even though I am coming alive.
We have to admit that we are dependent on our sin for our survival. But it, like all addiction, is killing us and those after us and those around us—not to mention God’s creation.
Now let me close.
If you had interviewed political analysts in the Middle Eastern region in December, 2010, and if you had asked them the question, “What is the likelihood of there being
a regime change in this part of the world – places like Tunisia and Egypt – places supported by these dollars, our dollars, superpower dollars?” the political analysts would have said that it would be impossible. That would be December, 2010. Interview those same analysts in Febru- ary, 2011, and they would say that it was inevitable. As intifada and the Arab Spring began to spread and take root – because a vegetable seller set himself alight which kindled the fire of freedom and justice in the hearts and minds of families in that region.
You see, political analysts are not to be counted upon in regard to what is possible in this world. Liberation, peace, will come like a thief in the night, and it is not for you and I to know dates or times.
The most amazing thing about the people who were involved in the struggle against Apartheid, for me, were that they joined the struggle with no expectation to see liberation themselves. And yet, they joined it, not for certain results, but because it was right.
We have to liberate ourselves from our addiction to certain results. Thomas Merton said that years ago, set yourself free from limiting results. Just do what you need to do. The results will come.
We heard that over these few days. Who knew that when a 14-year-old boy, when he is treated with dignity and respect and given a social security number and given a driver’s license, who knew that what that would do would refine a conscience that could lead a people that could set people free? Who knew?
It was an unmeasurable act of human relationship and we need to awaken ourselves to the unmeasurableness of our actions. That we cannot actually see the impact thereof – and so, do what you do not knowing what impact God will do with it through the world... Do you really think that Leymah Gbowee, last night, expected to be standing here, 15 years ago?
So what do we do? I want to ask you to do something specific. But the truth is that I am 44 years old. Right? If I have a good innings, I’m at half time. I’m at half time. And I am sorry to say that looking out at some of you, you are past half time. And looking at some of you more closely, it looks like some of you are in injury time. I’m serious. You don’t have too many years left. Okay? So why don’t you make them count? You have nothing to lose.
I want to speak specifically to the people of my faith – Christians, Methodists. When is the Methodist Church of this nation going to refuse to allow members of its church to enter the military? When? When will children’s church teachers teach the children that that’s the gravest sin, that there is nothing heroic in it, to kill family.
Why don’t you do it? Let us call the troops back home from Afghanistan. Tell them to hand in their guns and their uniforms. Do it! You have nothing to lose. The game is nearly over. It’s the right thing to do. There are people on that side praying, praying that you will do that.
Let’s lament, let’s lament. Let’s not build any more monuments.
I have stood here today for one person. His name is Bradley Manning. You asked me, “What gives me hope?” People have asked, “Alan, are you hopeful?”
I said, “I am hopeful because of one person, Bradley Manning.” Bradley Manning is 24 years old...24 years old. He’s spent the last 902 days in a military prison, most of which has been in solitary confinement in chains. Bradley Manning. All because he revealed documents that exposed the truth of the killing of Iraqis from an American helicopter. And he sits in one of your prisons. Bradley Manning.
You want to know what you can do? You can give your life for his freedom, because he has given his life for the freedom of this world. Pray for his sanity, pray for his healing. Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning.
If there is anything that I have said here that is true, may it set us free.
Please could I ask you to pray for Alan and his ministry? I can only imagine that it takes great courage and conviction to speak the truth so boldly.
Alan and I have just finished recording a series of about 24 episodes for 1Africa and CVC Media in which we did a survey of the whole of the Bible from the perspectives of poverty and justice. The series is called 'DnA' and should be released shortly. Please keep an eye on this website (http://www.dionforster.com) and Alan's website (http://www.aslowwalk.org) for details.
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.
This 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
Like so many others, I secretly believe that somehow I can gain happiness, prosperity, and good will without sacrifice and hard work. Indeed, living for others takes courage and discipline. Looking out for the needs of others and choosing to deny your own is a deliberate choice - it is costly.
We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the corner. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it become practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.- Emily Greene Balch
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
“If I am close to being right about the place of war for sustaining the American difference I find that as a Christian I wish America as a nation was more “secular” and the Christianity of America was less American. Put differently I wish America was more like Europe. For I fear the Christianity of America, a Christianity that from a European perspective seems vital, is not capable of being a political challenge to what is done in the name of the American difference. In short, the great difficulty is how to keep America, in the proper sense, secular.”
A powerful quote indeed. I met Stanley Hauerwas when I was doing some teaching at Duke in 2005. He is a remarkable man - I am currently reading his autobiography 'Hannah's child: a theologians memoir'. Wonderfully encouraging and very 'real'. I mean it is real in the sense that it tells the story of someone who came to be a theologian by living an authentic life with courage, and writing and thinking what he believed.
The quote above is deeply challenging to me. I have often wondered whether a life lived in Christ demands radical pacifism. Does living under the authority of Jesus, the 'Prince of Peace', demand that we should be peacemakers to the exclusion of participating in any form of violence? Does it mean that we should not defend ourselves, or come to the aid of others (particularly those who are defenseless)?
As a South African I underwent military training - it was compulsory for all males at the time. It was a deeply challenging time for me. I struggled with many aspects of the 'formation' required for military service.
When I read Hauerwas I am convinced that war is not the answer to difficult and complex problems. It is powerful to achieve one's aims quickly. However, it is most often the poorer persons in society who become the casualties in achieving the ideologies of the wealthy and the powerful.
Well, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the field to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace. - Norman Borlaug from his Nobel LecturePeace, justice and empowerment go hand in hand.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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