welcome to the warehouse!
The Warehouse was established in 2003 through the parish of St John's, and exists to serve the South African church network in its response to poverty, injustice and division. We work with local churches in all communities, helping them to implement sound, effective and practical acts and renewed attitudes, to see transformation in our communities.
Why the Living Wage matters
Many years ago Dan Ndzuzo and I managed a small employment/job readiness project through our church (Khanyisa Community Church) in Gugulethu. We had the privilege of walking alongside people who were seeking work and connecting these job-seekers with opportunities. One of the painful aspects of the work that changed my life was listening to men and women sharing stories of exploitation and racism, sometimes covert and other times overt, stories that opened my eyes to the ongoing suffering and immoral treatment of domestic staff in South Africa. Some of the stories were from homes that were clearly Christian in their beliefs. We reflected on homes that had ‘missions jars’ for children to give some of their pocket money to foreign missionaries, while domestic staff were being paid just enough to pay for transport, food and the most basic of shelter, and were clearly struggling to make ends meet.
I started to ask questions like, “If we truly believe all people are equal, surely how we treat staff should reflect that?” and “How can Jesus followers who are called and motivated by the call to love our neighbours, be a part of a system that is clearly exploiting others?” and “If the Bible is so clear on its command not to exploit others, why is it so rife amongst Christians in South Africa today?” and “What is lacking in our theology that allows for seeing people struggle and suffer under the burden of poverty and inequality within our immediate sphere of influence?” and “If I truly saw my staff as equal as a human being, would I be able to watch them leave work in the pouring rain knowing they would arrive home drenched a few hours later?”
My questions remain, because the status quo remains largely the same 15 years later.
And as we face a growing hopelessness, anger and discontent amongst young people, I think about how many young South Africans have seen their parents come home after a long tiring day, and hours in public transport without much to show for it. Young people who have seen the ‘junk’ passed on by their parent’s employers. Who have not had their parents at home because they work long hours and then make the long journey home. Who have heard story after story, as Dan and I did with Jobnet, of racism, be it of the ‘polite’ kind or of the more obvious kind, from their parents. Or who have seen the effects of the status quo and system that does not honour their parents. I think of James 4 which says, “The wages you failed to pay the men who mowed your fields, is crying out against you.”
In our unequal society with our history, I believe it is very important to continue to employ people, although some would argue it perpetuates the current system. Many people have few employment choices due to our past. But as we seek to bring about structural change and ensure that fellow citizens have greater options as they consider life vocational choices, there are things we can do immediately to limit the daily damage. I believe it is imperative that Christians act immediately on the call of God to not exploit, to serve those who have been treated as ‘lower than’ in ways that show they are truly equal, and this requires going above and beyond what is comfortable as the scales have been tipped immorally for so long. It is imperative that workers (whether permanent or ad hoc) are paid a living wage, which is more than double the minimum wage, and are paid for leave to rest well, or paid if the weather is bad (many men who work in the garden on an ad hoc basis are not paid if it is raining and they are unable to work).
Treating domestic staff with the dignity every human being deserves as it relates to their economic freedom and sustainability, for many privileged South Africans, is the very first circle of practising justice and righting the wrongs of the past.
Five basic first steps:
1. Have a conversation with your staff member/s around how you address each other. Ask if the name you are calling them is their mother-tongue/preferred name. If not, find out what their preferred name is, learn it, and call people by their first-choice name, regardless of the language (or whether you find it easy to say). We have a history where South Africans were given English names that were easier to say, regardless of mother tongue, and reversing this is one of the first steps in restoring dignity.
2. Increase your staff’s wages with immediate effect. Cut out other things in one’s lifestyle that would open up money for a more just wage. Decide which sacrifice you and your family will make together, if that is what it will take. If you are truly unable to pay a living wage after adjusting your budget and making necessary sacrifices, then cut down the staff members’ hours so that they can be at home or working elsewhere, for the same wage you were paying before. For example, if you cannot pay a living wage for 5 days, then hire someone for 2 days, at the same rate, and adjust the work load accordingly.
3. When adjusting the wages, don’t use the ‘going rate’ as a yardstick as the going rate is way too low and based on people’s desperation and our history of exploitation, and not a just and fair system. Use the baseline of around R6000 minumum per month as a yardstick for the first steps towards a living wage, anything below that is a diluted form of slavery, which we, as privileged South Africans, have grown accustomed to, but which is alien in more just and equal societies. We need to spread the burden that people are carrying, and it is often the vulnerable who pay the price.
4. If you don’t have one already, write up an agreement of leave (annual, sick and family) and draft a pay slip so that the person can use it in processes that require proof of earning and also create the sense of security of employment. Ensure that you are registered with UIF and have the right basic labour practices in place. Click here for basic information.
5. Speak with your employee about what their vocational dreams and aspirations are, and then work on a plan together to help ensure they reach their dream - with your assistance of resource, support, information and flexibility. I know many people who have walked alongside their domestic staff until they find and are equipped to move on to the work they would love to do.
When in doubt about the nitty-gritty, spend time with God and ask what ‘Loving your Neighbour’ looks like when it comes to your domestic staff. Can you share their load or burden in more meaningful ways? If this was a loved one, what would my desires for them be? What role can I play in their life in reversing the impact of our history on their lives and family and future generations?
The joy of doing the righteous thing and following the Jesus way in this, will be rewarding for you and your family, and your domestic staff and their family. Let us start a Living Wage revolution today. The impact will literally be felt for generations to come.
We are very excited to be at the planning stages of running the Leadership In Urban Transformation (LUT) certificate course through the University of Pretoria in 2017. This will be second year of running a Cape Town cohort for this course. Thank you for the interest you have shown.
Here are some of the answers to frequently asked questions about this course, and a summary of all information including the contact weeks planned for next year. It is important that each delegate is able to attend the contact weeks.
The course has been developed and will be run by Dr Stephan De Beer who is the head of the Centre for Contextual Ministry that is housed within the theology faculty of the University of Pretoria. Next year, it will be co-hosted by The Warehouse and the Centre for Applied Christian Studies at Cornerstone Institute, but the accreditation will come directly from U.P. www.ccm.up.ac.za
It is a theology certificate with a strong emphasis on Urban studies, drawing on input from experts in a variety of multi-disciplinary fields. Readings draw from both theological and secular disciplines.
The ideal participants are people involved in practical transformational ministry in the city who want to reflect theologically and have their work be more deeply informed by theological models. This year, the Cape Town cohort included church leaders, people working with churches and church mobilisation, an architect involved in informal settlement development, leaders in education renewal and civil society engagement, youth leaders, someone involved in theological education, and more.
About half the class had previous theological training (bachelor and honours degrees in Theology) and some of us had absolutely none! For those of you with no prior theological training, The Warehouse and Cornerstone are happy to hold a one day workshop prior to the start of the course to fill you in on various concepts and regularly used terminology from the theology academic world that we think will help.
- For those of you with Bachelor of Theology degrees, the LUT counts towards the bulk of an honours - you would need to complete two further classes (research methodology and practical theology) the year after completing the LUT. You would only need to register for your honours at the start of 2018.
- For those of you with Honours in Theology, the LUT is the coursework of a masters, the final essay serving as a Master’s thesis proposal. You would only need to register for your honours at the start of 2018.
- For those of you with any other higher academic qualifications that are not in theology, we will have to let you know how the process unfolds for those of us without theology who have done the LUT this year. It will count toward RPL (recognition of prior learning) for any ongoing field of study of course, but at present we are unsure what this will mean for ongoing theological studies. What we can vouch for, however, is that it has been of the utmost value to the work that we do and will have been worth it even if we are not awarded with anything other than a certificate. But watch this space
Attached to this e mail is the course outline for last year, but please note that the reading lists have already been expanded.
LEADERSHIP IN URBAN TRANSFORMATION
Purpose of the Course:
This course is designed to equip urban practitioners connected with urban challenges with values, knowledge and skills, that will enable them to serve as incarnational and transformational urban leaders, able to read, re-imagine and reconstruct their communities, with many other people. The course will draw from stories of hope around the world.
Who may attend:
People working in faith-based organisations, community organisations, or urban Churches (community, non-profit and church leaders), or generally committed to urban transformation that is socially inclusive; and who have matriculated and have a two or three year diploma or degree.
Students who qualify to register for a Master’s degree at the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, can offer this course as part of a structured course work Master’s degree in Practical Theology.
Structure and duration of course:
This is a one year course with five weeks of contact tuition. Written assignments are done after every week of contact sessions. Each module will consist of theory, practical exercises, and in-depth reflection and integration of information.
Dates of Contact Weeks:
· Week 1: 03-07 Apr 2017
· Week 2: 22-26 May 2017
· Week 3: 17-21 Jul 2017
· Week 4: 04-08 Sept 2017
· Week 5: 20-23 Nov 2017
Cape Town - specifics to be confirmed. A variety of venues are used during the course, but there will be one “home base” for the bulk of the lectures during contact weeks
To be determined (this year it was R6000 but it will go up next year)
On a trip through the USA I was asked whether The Warehouse is able to receive donations that qualify for tax deductions within the USA. In partnership with the National Christian Foundation we are able to do so and we’d like to make sure that you know this is possible as you consider your year-end giving.
Twenty years prior to the end of apartheid we could scarcely conceive of a different South Africa, but in 1994 we experienced the miracle of apartheid falling away and the birth of the rainbow nation. The role of the church and God’s intervention in this is well documented, however, twenty years later we are living both with the disappointment of the failed potential of our nation and the apparent lack of capacity within the church to truly impact society over this time. The law of apartheid died in 1994 yet its spirit is still well and truly alive.
It doesn’t have to be this way! The Warehouse believes that the next twenty years could see a new, more sustainable miracle happen as the church lives up to its calling from Jesus to transform society as part of declaring the good news of His Kingdom.
Please would you consider investing in this for your year end giving. Your gift goes a long way in South Africa as the exchange rate is very favourable at the moment. Over 70% of our funding is locally sourced which ensures that we can use gifts from the USA for catalyse new programs and initiatives. Just to give you an idea of what it costs to do some of our work:
- $30 a month helps us accompany a church leader who is leading their church in being a transformative presence.
- $300 covers the cost of a customized workshop or training event for a church leadership team helping them discern and plan how to be a transforming presence in their community
- $3000 funds a 3 day retreat and capacity building conference for 20 church leaders
If you are from the United States and would like to donate as part of your Year-end Giving, please do so through our NCF partnership here:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 NRSV)
Cape Town has a sanitation problem, we cannot hide from this fact, one home has 10 toilets, yet in some informal settlements, 10 people have access to one toilet. We need to begin to ask ourselves, serious questions, around our theology, ethics and our ecology. Steve De Gruchy said at a conference in 2009: “that sewage is the place where economics and ecology collide … Outside of our ability to deal with our s**t, there can be no real talk of sustainability.” We have to start asking, what is preventing the roll out of more toilets? What can we do as the church to facilitate this situation? It starts with awareness and education.
The South African Human Rights Commission released a report on water and sanitation in 2014 which included the following findings:
• Approximately 11% (1.4 million) of households (formal and informal) still have to be provided with sanitation services (these households have never had a government supported sanitation intervention);
• At least 26% (3.8 million) of households within formal areas have sanitation services which do not meet the required standards due to the deterioration of infrastructure caused by lack of technical capacity to ensure effective operation, timeous maintenance, refurbishment and/or upgrading, pit emptying services and/or insufficient water resources.
• Although the un-served population is 11% of the national total, their predominance is in the widely dispersed rural settlements of KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape. The areas with high levels of infrastructure maintenance needs are located within Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.
• Based on an assessment of the provision of water services, 23 municipalities (9% of the total) were in a crisis state, with an acute risk of disease outbreak.
• A further 38% were at high risk, with the potential to deteriorate into a state of crisis.
• See link below for the full report.
We need to begin to answer the question of who is my neighbour, and how and why this matters in how we live our lives daily. This is why we do our sanitation campaigns, we believe in the power of the Gospel, to transform communities, to be the agents of change, and in the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We invite you to walk with us, to ask questions with us, to challenge the idea of what a just Cape Town looks like. Leading up to World Toilet Day we will be running a number of events, to raise awareness of the issues facing a great many of our brothers and sisters, sign up, together we can learn, teach others and make a lasting difference across the City and beyond.
Do you know…
• That the Children’s Act applies to churches too?
• What the law says about bullying?
• Who at your church needs to be checked against the Child Protection Register, how to do this, and who is responsible?
• What to do if a child is injured or dies while in the care of the church?
• What to do if you suspect a child of being abused or neglected?
• What rights must be protected when displaying photographs of children?
• That your church has the potential to significantly impact the protection and well-being of the children in your community and in the nation?
The Warehouse has just launched the book Children, Church and the Law – a Practical Guide for Churches on the Children’s Act and Other Laws related to Children. Written by Erica Greathead, a member of Christ Church Kenilworth and former Warehouse staff member, the book describes the principles and provisions of the Children’s Act and its relevance to churches in their work with children.
The Church has always been involved in caring for, protecting and advocating for children. It’s what the Bible teaches, and what we have been doing throughout the ages. The church cares for children on its premises through Sunday School and other activities, as well as outside at camps, in the community and in child-and-youth-care centres. Yet many of us have little understanding of what the legal requirements are for caring for children, in this way compromising both the protection of children and of the church itself. The aim of this book, therefore, is to equip leaders in the church and all who work with children to better understand and adhere to the Children’s Act and related laws.
It’s a very practical book, written in simple English in a question-and-answer format. It includes a glossary of terms used, real life examples of application of the different principles, and snippets that illustrate what is being described. Colour coding is used so that the different sections are easily identifiable. The book describes the background to the Children’s Act and its aim and purpose; it outlines principles such as the best interest of the child, child-participation and cultural practices. It looks at who is suitable to work with children, what are the rights and responsibilitites of parents and of children, different types of care and support for children, issues such as child labour and trafficking, and much much more.
It is hoped that this book will enable churches to deal much more confidently with all issues surrounding children and their care, and that it will prove invaluable to churches and to all who work with children.
Where to get a copy
Our goal, beginning in January, is to host a sanitation event every Third Thursday of the month hence our Turd Thursday campaign. This is to assist, encourage and inspire churches and community based leaders to tackle the issue of sanitation. We will be holding workshops, hard discussions, sanitation pilgrimages and budget awareness programmes over the course of the next year.
We also seek to draw the conversation beyond the issue of sanitation as a human rights issue, to draw it into a stewardship issue. The need to talk sanitation beyond the political rhetoric of flush toilets is vital. Currently we are in the midst of stage 3 water restrictions, this could have serious long term implications, we must find ways to talk sanitation beyond this point.
The Warehouse will be seeking to do this over the course of our Turd Thursday program. Who and what is the church in the midst of a sanitation and ecological crisis? What does our theology look like outside of the sanctuary and into the streets, are we able to keep preaching messages of eternal streets of gold, while effluent flows in the streets.
Together we will unpack this, pilgrimage together beyond the crisis and into the space of hope.
Watch this for more:
If you would like notifications about this Sanitation Campaign, please sign up here.
In October 2015, more than 1200 people from a range of civil society organisations demanded that unauthorised, unlawful, fraudulent and immoral deductions from beneficiaries’ SASSA bank accounts be stopped. It is October 2016 and we are here again!
New regulations, published in May 2016, were meant to stop the flood of unauthorised, unlawful and fraudulent debit deductions from the SASSA bank accounts. Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and Grindrod Bank were instructed to remove the debit order facility from the SASSA bank account.
But in June 2016 Net1 (which owns CPS), some of its subsidiaries, including Moneyline and Manje Mobile Services, as well as a few other companies took government to court in four cases challenging primarily SASSA and the Department of Social Development’s interpretation of the new regulations and secondarily the new regulations itself. The applicants are asking the High Court to interpret the functionality of the SASSA bank account to include debit orders. They question the authority of the Minister of Social Development to regulate electronic debits within the banking domain. They also asked that the new regulations be declared unconstitutional, if indeed the Department of Social Development (DSD) and SASSA’s interpretation of the regulations is correct.
The Black Sash and six co-applicants asked the court to order that the Minister publish regulations to protect social grants from exploitation if: (a) DSD and SASSA’s interpretation is correct; and (b) that the interpretation renders the new regulations unconstitutional. Government should be given the opportunity to fix the new regulations, if defective, to protect vulnerable beneficiaries from predatory and unscrupulous financial and other third party service providers.
For months we have gathered evidence and testimonies from affected persons about money deducted from the bank accounts into which their social grants are paid, without their approval or informed consent. Media reports also show that cases of suspicious deductions continue and are on the increase. The system that SASSA has put in place to solve deduction disputes is not working well, leaving many beneficiaries unable to resolve queries and/or claim back their money. THIS MUST STOP! This Campaign asserts the Constitutional right to social security.
Finally, we note the Constitutional Court order in April 2012 that SASSA must lodge a report within fourteen days of not awarding a new tender, “on whether and when it will be ready to assume the duty to pay the grants itself” (in-source). In November 2015, SASSA submitted a plan to ConCourt with clear deliverables and timeframes for taking over payment of grants by the end of the CPS/SASSA contract in March 2017. We are closely monitoring SASSA’s progress in this regard.
The Black Sash led Hands Off Our Grants (HOOG) Campaign calls for:
- SASSA to take over the payment of social grants (in-source) by 1 April 2017
- The creation of a special and protected SASSA bank account
- Improved implementation of SASSA’s recourse system
- Refund disputed deductions with bank charges and interest backdated to 2012
- The protection of personal and private information of all in the social grant system.
Black Sash, the Association for Community Advice Offices of South Africa (ACAOSA), supporting civil society organisations along with SASSA beneficiaries are asking for your support as follows:
1. Register your disputed debit deductions with your local SASSA office immediately or call SASSA’s Toll Free Number on 0800 60 10 11. If necessary, escalate your dispute to SASSA regional, provincial and national offices.
3. Mass action to be held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on 17 – 18 October 2016.
4. Sign up for the Amandla.mobi ‘Hands Off Our Grants’ petition. Visit http://www.awethu.amandla.mobi/p/grants If yo.u don’t have access to the internet, you can sign up for the petition by sending the word ‘grants’ in a SMS, Please Call me or Whatsapp to 074 357 6937. We refuse to remain silent about the hardship and struggles of poor and vulnerable people affected by these unauthorised and often fraudulent deductions.
As a result beneficiaries experience food shortages and are unable to take their medicines. Many, particularly in rural communities, struggle to find recourse, spending extra money on transport and airtime, often with little success.
I arrived in Cape Town in July 2015 from London to take up the role of Assistant Minister at Christ Church Kenilworth. In my interview in January 2015, I remember a deep conversation unfolding about a sense of ‘Kairos’ in South Africa at this time. Kairos used in the sense of time set by God for a particular occurrence. One biblical example often cited is Mark 1: 14 – 15.
After I arrived, between 17 - 20 August 2015, an international group of about 200 people gathered at the University of Johannesburg to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Kairos document. The Kairos document was actually sub-titled “a challenge to the churches”. It challenged the Church to ask itself whether it is a faithful, prophetic witness to the person of Jesus and his manifest rule and reign of in our lives, communities and nation. God’s reign of love is not invisible it looks like something. It authors and nurtures the sanctity of every human-being and values each one as perfectly worthy of love - God’s and each other’s. It authors and promotes justice as the foundation for every aspect of creation, human relationships and social structures. It contends with injustice - the social systems and structures which oppress and dehumanise that which God calls sacred that without justice for all there can be no peace for all and that ‘He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it.’.
‘For Kairos theologians, Jesus is Lord, not Caesar. And if Caesar is particularly oppressive and not a servant of God (as the apartheid system proved to be in the 1980s), then it cannot be obeyed by Christians. This is why the Kairos document called on the churches to engage in non-violent civil disobedience against apartheid.’
When we forsake God and choose to serve Caesar, we willingly or passively comply with the values, social order and authority of Caesar’s political, economic, social and environmental manifesto.
The bible calls this prime allegiance to another god: idolatry and it is the main catalyst for God’s anger towards his people and reason for his discipline in scripture.
In Jeremiah: 2: 13, God denounces Israel’s idolatry saying:
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
Forsaking God and giving allegiance to Caesar results in a social order which is broken and which denies life to all who are subject to Caesar’s rule. One of the ways that Caesar maintains allegiance and power is through dividing and conquering people within a nation. Some are favoured over others - given the dominant position in society so that in day to day life, this privilege influences every human interaction between those Caesar’s social order favours and those it denies it to. This is one of the blindspots of the broken cisterns. The privileged become so well-adjusted to the broken cisterns because of the benefits they receive, that they will turn on those who challenge their inequality and seek to overturn them either by seeking to silence the protest by whatever means seems ‘proportional’ to restore law and order. Frighteningly, the beneficiaries of Caesar’s broken cisterns become his agents of oppressive force and power.
In 1994, when Apartheid was overturned, the rule of Caesar came to an end, but the people of South Africa inherited the broken cisterns that were created during its rule and many if not most of them continue to operate today leaving Caesar still in power.
When the student and service delivery protests erupted shortly after I arrived, I realised that this was a kairos moment for the church. How we responded would reveal to ourselves and to the world, who our ‘god’ really is. When Jesus is truly Lord of the Church, the Church works confidently, joyfully and tirelessly to dismantle and replace the political, economic, social and environmental cisterns of Caesar to provide life-giving cisterns for EVERYONE. These cisterns will include: housing, water and sanitation, health, education, land reform, employment to name just the essential ones.
Theologian and author Thomas Oden explains the damage that ensues when we forsake God and choose another to our relationships with each other and to our society:
‘Every self exists in relation to values perceived as making life worth living. A value is anything good in the created order - any idea, relation, object or person in which one has an interest, from which one derives significance… These values compete… In time one is prime to choose a centre of value by which other values are judged. When a finite value has been elevated to centrality and imagined as a final source of meaning, then one has chosen a god. One has a god when a finite value is viewed as that without which one cannot receive life joyfully.’
The protests are and continue to be deeply complex. As I write, the student protests have resumed and in my conversations with faculty staff, students, parents and church leaders, we are deeply divided in our responses.
What I am hearing is that students particularly are desperate to be heard. To be really listened to. Many are traumatised by the way SAPS and private security companies have treated them. In several cases already this week, police have fired rubber bullets at non-violent protesters.
South Africa has a history of protest and violence. It has yet to develop a nation-wide approach to conflict resolution which does not include violence. One of the key ways we can develop this is to invite and encourage trained mediators to come and facilitate open, honest dialogue so that all parties can be heard by one another. This process of facilitated deeper listening is absolutely crucial if those who have been disadvantaged by the broken cisterns of Apartheid, and they are the majority, will be heard by those who continue to be privileged by them. Surely this is something the Church should be encouraging, supporting and facilitating?
Few defend the governments lack of leadership and the ongoing corruption that prevents the delivery of a bold strategy to restitute the injustice of the past in tertiary education. But by remaining passive or silent and not holding government to account, the privileged ignore the cries of our younger learners and we continue to deny them the opportunity to become architects and builders of the new cisterns across this country.
So how can the church engage?
According to Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:18-20), God has made an appeal for reconciliation with the world through his Son, Jesus, and he wants those who’ve experienced this reconciliation to spread the word to others so that all might experience this reconciliation too.
So the church is called to follow Jesus’ example by making the first move to facilitate reconciliation.
Conversations with Christians and church leaders, have led to the realisation that the church is currently not equipped to handle the larger issues around these protests at present. There has been a corporate de-skilling since the 1980 and 1990’s when the church last played a crucial role in peace building in South Africa.
These are the uncomfortable spaces where we need to be placing ourselves, at the frontline of the change taking place in the nation, waging peace.
A growing team of passionate peace-builders, mediators and justice activists from across denominations and networks (SACLI, The Warehouse, St John’s Parish CPT, Mennonite Community, and SADRA) are proposing to build a peacemaking network that is able to meet peacemaking needs on various levels, serve protestors and the police as well as handle the mediation process acting both as presence and peacemaker in a Christlike manner. This work can act as a point of focus to open up discussions and work around the deeper work of both grassroots community development as well as the national space of nation building.
Our intention is to create highly trained teams, that are available to church leaders and civil society both pre, during and post conflict situations. Our prayer being that we are able to bring the light of Christ to prevent potentially violent protests taking place, and in some instances preventing the need for protest altogether.
Three particular ways that the Church can engage in peace-building are:
A team of fully trained peacemakers to attend conflict signs in and around the City, to act as both a calming presence for both protestors and law enforcement.
Mediation / Negotiation:
A team with basic training in mediation and then a core team trained to handle various scenarios from student negotiations to government and unions, also availing ourselves to churches and other faith based organisations to assist in mediation. Over the last two weeks, we have been able to connect trained mediators with faculties and students wanting to create spaces for facilitated dialogue. This is showing signs of hope and that there is a desire for dialogue.
Community based Christian activists will be mobilised in order to bring numbers and support to protests around key issues, whilst at the same time acting as a peace building presence in and amongst protestors. They will also be able to add a Christian dynamic to the narrative by walking and praying, singing, carrying the Shalom of Christ with them into potentially dangerous places.
In his book Subversive Jesus, Craig Greenfield writes:
‘Jesus did not come to get politicians elected into power… Instead he wants us to imagine a different kind of revolution - a gentle subversive revolution of love, courage, justice and kindness to the people least likely to be offered that kindness.’
Apartheid sought to quench all hope of that revolution, but if failed. It’s left a trail of brokenness which together with God’s love, strength and inspiration we can transform. A new kairos has dawned.
Rev Annie Kirke
Christ Church Kenilworth
- a devotional challenge to lament and repent as part of bringing shalom
In the last newsletter we looked at how we are to be bringers of Shalom as God’s people. In this edition, let’s focus on the lament and repentance that we have to go through as God’s people in order to be bringers of true shalom. Before we proceed, take time to read Leviticus 26 and 28 as a reminder of what God expected of God’s people. These scriptures relate a lot to the year of the Lord’s favour or Jubilee as found in Leviticus 25 and Isaiah 61, the passage we are going to engage with in part two of Seeking Shalom in the City.
1. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2. to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3. to grant to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. 4. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Isaiah 61:1-4
The above passage is mostly used to justify our service to the poor. Perhaps we run too quickly to serve the poor without having taken time to reflect on what this passage was saying to the original people of God. Verse 4 makes it clear that it is about Jubilee (year of the Lord’s favor) Lev 25. It is a message of comfort to those who are imprisoned, who are captive and who are broken hearted. Who needs to be freed here? Is it the people of God? May I suggest that the ones who need to be freed first are the people of God?
Why am I saying that?
· They had have rebelled against God - Isaiah 1:2
· They had forsaken the LORD - Isaiah 1:4
This was the message God has been saying to God’s people over and over again through the message proclaimed by the prophets. What response was expected of those who heard it?
Let’s look at Isaiah 1:16-17. Verse 16 says, “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil.” Repentance was what God was seeking. Verse 17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Be all who God created and intended you to be.
God’s people in the age of the prophets consistently failed to be what God intended them to be. The good news therefore was to the afflicted people of God who were mourning their deplorable state. Notice that the comfort, favour and freedom is given only to those who mourn (v 2). What is mourning? What does it have to do with repentance? The Old Testament speaks a lot about ashes and sack cloth when people are aware and want to be repentant about their sin. It also speaks of oil after a person has repented. Remember the Story of David and Bathsheba when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan?
Notice the reference that is made to ashes and oil (v 3). In the Old Testament mourning is about repentance. When David was aware of his sin, he mourned by putting on sack cloth. God’s favour/Jubilee was for those who were going to turn away from their wickedness and embrace the identity and the character that God had always intended for them. Notice also that it is only then that the oil of gladness will come (v 3). It is only then that they will become oaks of righteousness/justice, the planting of the Lord. (v 3) What God wanted was for God’s people to recognise where they had failed Him. They needed to mourn, lament their failures before He could bring the oil of gladness. What was the fruit of repentance? To cease to do evil, to learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. It took them being taken to Babylon before the message could sank in. Look Daniel’s reflection in chapter 9 recognising the reason they were in exile in Babylon.
May I conclude by saying that unless we, as the people of God, are willing to squarely look at ourselves and recognise where we have failed God in our ways of doing and being the Church, we will continue to be largely ignored by the world. Unless we are willing to face up with what we have failed to be, we will not play the role God has called us to play in the healing of our communities.
This is what we at The Warehouse call our focus on working with young people. We seek, in close partnership with like-minded organisations, to inspire, equip, connect and nurture young Christian leaders, whether they are taking up recognised leadership positions at churches or organisations or whether they are emerging thought leaders and community mobilisers.
Changemakers was innovated under the Micah Challenge (now known as Micah Global) banner at the start of 2014 with the aim to equip and inspire young Christian leaders to advocate and campaign effectively around the issues that their respective communities face.
Through our partnerships, networks and experience we come alongside young leaders to:
* help to shape their perspectives, build their capacity for effective advocacy, campaigning and development responses
* help them reflect theologically on the link between social justice, local and global sites of struggle and oppression and the biblical text
* help them understand the role of repentance and forgiveness in the work towards justice, reflecting on their own place in the historical and present story of injustice
* help them reflect on world views, historical context and the interpretive lenses they use when reading the bible
* equip them with the skills and theories they need to lead interventions and dialogues that will ultimately transform the country
* grow in their ability to discern the time in which the country finds itself, and to craft an appropriate, strategic response
* further develop their critical thinking skills
* create the space with them where they can test and shape their ideas and spark generative dialogues
* grow in their capacity to facilitate discussions, events and training workshops
* grow in their understanding of power, and how to influence those in power as well as use their own power
Some exciting activities so far this year have been:
- Changemakers workshops commenced in May with the youth leaders of St John’s parish churches and other youth leaders from Anglican churches that they are in relationship with (next session: 6 August- all welcome!)
- Plenary talk and Changemakers workshops run by The Warehouse at the Christian Community Development Conference in partnership with Micah Global, Germany in June (http://www.micahnetwork.org/christian-community-development-conference)
- Development of the Changemakers resource: this manual reflects the past decades worth of workshops, methodologies, tools, dialogues and one on one interactions we have had with young Christian leaders who are champions of justice in their churches, communities, campuses and other spheres of influence. This is in it’s pilot stage - you are welcome to contact us for a copy of the resource in the current form with the request that you provide us with feedback that we can integrate into our final edit. We will let you know when this is available to purchase for your own church or to purchase for a church that cannot afford a copy. We also hope to be translating it into Xhosa and Afrikaans - please let us know if you would like to sponsor this next step!
WHY SOUTH AFRICA
Forty years ago, the youth of South Africa rose up in protest against apartheid in a movement that changed the course of South African history and forged a generation of activists that ultimately caused the law of apartheid to crumble. Followers of Jesus were a key catalyst of this movement, giving it energy, ideas and hope.
Over the past 18 months, we have seen the emergence of a new generation of young South African activists rising up with a determination to finish what their elders started, to see the spirit of apartheid fall. Young Christian leaders have participated and engaged enthusiastically, and inspirationally, in this movement, speaking out boldly into the economic, educational, social and political realms. They have garnered national attention, have walked boldly in the public space, and have spoken truth to power at every turn.
These young leaders will frame the struggle for justice in South Africa over the next two decades. Over and again, we have heard South African’s young and old alike, struggle to find coherence between their faith and their pursuit of a just world. This disconnect between the theology we hear preached in church and the theology we’re walking into on the streets, has left some disillusioned and discouraged. Many students have struggled to find the language of justice they hear spoken by their peers echoed back to them by their churches, by their pastoral leadership, or in their scripture. We, like them, are thirsty for a faith that has something significant to say – in thought, in word, and in deed – to the fight for justice we’re finding ourselves engaged in day to day.
We stand at a critical juncture in our history: teetering between hope and desperation, restoration and destruction, faith and fear. It’s time for us to put Jesus and Justice back together – first in our theology and then in our lives.
Connecting with a global movement like the Justice Conference, with a vigorous commitment to local expression and context, has the potential to make a strong contribution to this journey. The work of following Jesus in the pursuit of justice is not simply a local one, it is global. Our hope is that the Justice Conference will:
* Help young leaders root their struggle for a just world in their faith and following of Jesus
* Build connections globally to people who share the same passion and struggle
* Build strong theological and practical foundations for the ongoing work of justice in South Africa
The Justice Conference South Africa seeks to:
Spark a conversation about the ways our faith influences our being just and our doing of justice
Fan the work of justice personally, locally, nationally and globally
Feed a robust theological and social justice dialogue in South Africa
The Justice Conference South Africa Team
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.”
As God’s people we are called to bring shalom to the cities/places we find ourselves living in. We have to face the fact that there is little peace and prosperity in our cities (and the world) today. We are going to take a journey looking at how to bring this peace to our cities over the next couple of newsletters by wrestling with some bible passages.
Let’s start with the one we love to use - Jeremiah 29:4-8. The context of this scripture is that God’s people have been taken into exile in Babylon. The reason for the exile is that they failed to listen to what God expected them to be as his people living under his rules in the land of milk and honey (signifying prosperity). God had made it clear to them what he expected of them (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28).
For a number of years God warned them through the prophets time and again, yet they would not listen to their messages! They wanted prophets who were going to say “peace, peace - when there is no peace.”
As God’s people we are called to be bringers of God’s peace/shalom, but we have to face the fact that there’s so little of God’s peace in some of the spaces in which we find ourselves, especially in the places that claims adherence to the Lordship of Jesus. We have to take a hard look at the history of God’s people and see how we have also not listened to what God is saying to us and expecting of us.
We need to look at the logs in our own eyes before we blame society for its lack of order and maybe see that we are actually partly responsible for the lack of God’s peace and shalom in our cities. Let’s keep our ears open to what God is saying to us through the prophets in South Africa today.