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.

  • Children are a heritage from God

    A day does not pass without us reading about a child being abused, neglected, exploited, abandoned, raped and/or murdered. More than 33 children have gone missing and killed in the Western Cape since January 2017 and these are only some of the reported cases. It is said that more than 800 children have been harmed, maimed or murdered in South Africa in the last six months.

    My heart cries out for these innocent victims. The perpetual trauma, pain and physical and emotional damage these young ones have to endure at the hands of adults – the very ones they trust and look to for care, protection and love. Look around – where is their protection from violence, cruelty, danger, hunger, exploitation and disrespect? Psalm 127:3 clearly says: ”Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”

    Children across all spectrums are caught up in situations that affect their very being, and have long term consequences for living a full and fruitful life – a life that God intended for them to live. It is not only the atrocities of violence, rape and murder that have a devastating effect on children. They are exposed to situations that can negatively impact and influence their life on so many levels. Let us consider a few of these:

    • Socio-economic situations forces children to join gangs, indulge in substance abuse, promiscuous behaviour leading to teenage pregnancy and early school dropouts.

    • South Africa is listed as one of the top five countries with the highest divorce rates in the world. Children are caught up in the furore between mother and father, they feel they are to blame, and can often be used as a pawn to ease the conscience of the parent.

    • Children who grow up without their fathers may experience problems in their school performance and behaviour. Low morals, low self-esteem, low self-love can all lead to bigger emotional and psychosocial adjustments and behaviours. Stephan Baskerville from Howard University says: “Violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide – all correlate more strongly to “fatherlessness” than to any other single factor.”

    “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” [Mal. 4:6].

    • Unemployment further exacerbates the family finances and children are deprived of food, shelter, education and just the basic living commodities. Hunger and poverty can drive children to desperate measures by dabbling in things for extra cash that can lead to detrimental consequences. In some cases where parents do have jobs, it is the older siblings that have to take care of the younger ones. This means no schooling, and goes against the Children’s Act in terms of child labour.

    • Let us not forget that any disaster, like the recent floods and fires, which results in families losing their homes or where the death of family members happen can further increase the level of vulnerability that children experience.

    • Domestic violence and conflict in communities also deprives children from having any psychological, social, economic or spiritual support.

    In Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” In the preceding chapter the disciples question Jesus about who the greatest is in the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 18:1-6]. He uses a little child to illustrate His point, that unless we become like a vulnerable little child, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. We learn from these two passages that children are treasures and not commodities for exploitation in His kingdom. They must be welcomed, protected and blessed.

    So, what is the role of the church in ensuring that children are safe and protected? The church has always been involved in caring for, protecting and advocating for children. Sunday School, community camps, holiday clubs, homework clubs, child-and-youth-care centres, are some areas where children are vulnerable and in the care of the church premises. Both the children and the church are at risk. Those involved in working with children need to have an understanding of the Children’s Act and its related laws and how this is relevant for the church.

    The Warehouse has a resource available which describes the principles and provisions of the Children’s Act and its relevance to churches in their work with children. These are some of the topics that are covered:

     Background to the Children’s Act, its aim and purpose
     Biblical Principles
     General Principles for children
     Who can work with children
     What to do when you suspect a child being abused or neglected
     What to do if a child is injured or dies while in the care of the church

    In the midst of continuous atrocities against children in our communities, The Warehouse will be hosting three events on 9 August (Women’s Day) and Saturday 12 August, on the responsibility of the church towards children.

    9 August 9h00 - 15h30: Presentation on the Children’s Act and its application to churches

    12 August 09h30 - 12h30:  Gathering of church- and children’s ministry leaders to share experiences and thoughts around the responsibility of the church in addressing this scourge

    12 August 14h00 - 17h00 Repeat of the Children’s Act workshop, but in a shortened form.
    The book, Children, Church and the Law will be on sale at a cost of R300.

    There is no charge for the workshops themselves, but donations will be much appreciated, both towards the cost of refreshments, and towards the cost of the book so that we can subsidise churches who cannot afford it.

    Please make you booking for any of the events by phoning 021-7611168, emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or via Quicket: Book my ticket by 31 July.

  • Nehemiah and Social Change: Part Two

    Taking Ownership

    Nehemiah 1: 6-7

    ‘Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.’

    We, as human beings, are often very quick to pass the blame, and very slow to accept responsibility. This tendency is often multiplied in situations in which it is easy to see ourselves as the victim. Israel had been under attack and the walls of Jerusalem were broken down. From just about every angle, most would agree that the Israelites were the clear victims here. And yet, in this very moment, Nehemiah takes stock of his own life and the lives of his people, and takes responsibility for the areas in which they have not practised justice and righteousness.

    I believe that the practice of this kind of ownership is in fact the thing that qualifies us to be part of the solution. And by solution I do not simply mean something that looks like a fix from the outside, but something that brings healing all the way to the problem’s root. A radical restoration.

    Nehemiah’s legacy was not the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. That was merely part of it. His legacy was the rebuilding of the people, Israel. He recognised that if his work had ended as soon as the city walls had gone up, in all likelihood, those walls would have soon been in ruins once again. Instead, after Nehemiah’s individual acceptance of, and owning up to, his own culpability in the circumstances of Israel’s current state, he led his nation into a place of collective ownership of responsibility for where they were as a people (Nehemiah 9), and in so doing, brought them into a space of radical restoration.

    There is something about the vulnerability of admitting that we are imperfect, that restores to us our humanity, and opens us up to healing. And our healing becomes a springboard for the healing of others. Defensiveness, while it may assume the guise of a friend, promising to keep us safe and unexposed, in reality is the greatest threat to our humanity, building higher and higher walls around our hearts, until even we lose sight of who we are. The ability to take ownership, to accept responsibility, is a gift. It allows us the chance to be absolved, to be forgiven. The chance to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the solution. The chance to experience freedom.

    It is time that we refuse to take the route that looks easy- that performance of absolving ourselves of guilt by pointing the finger at the person that appears the most culpable- and instead do the hard work of examining our own hearts, taking responsibility for our actions or inactions that have contributed to the state of affairs that we find ourselves in.

    Instead of ending the conversation on corruption by placing the blame fully on the corrupt government, ask how you have contributed to its epidemic. Instead of blaming poverty on the state, ask how you have contributed to the economic inequality so rife in our country. Instead of finding someone else to blame for racism, ask how you have contributed to the upholding of the systemic racial injustice still so present in South Africa. All the while remembering that inaction is a contribution too.

    And if, after a thorough examination- which should ideally include difficult conversations with other people too-, you find yourself guilt-free, then perhaps look to the example of Jesus. The one who, despite his absolute blamelessness, chose to take ownership of, and responsibility for, all the terrible things that humankind had done and would do, all so that the image of God that we bear could be restored completely.

    I think that if we are seeking solutions that bring true healing and restoration, far deeper than the surface, we need to let go of our pride and defences, and humble ourselves by owning up to our responsibility. Then, and only then, we should take up the needle and thread to get to the work of mending what has been broken. That work for which our ownership has qualified us. 

    By Thandi Gamedze

  • Resources Available


    This manual offers guidelines to the church in its response to people coming to the door for help, and the many challenges that this presents.

    Part 1, for those at the front desk, discusses ways of exercising compassion, wisdom and discernment; how to say “yes” without being patronising or feeling manipulated, and how to say “no” without being dismissive or feeling guilty.
    Part 2 assists church leaders with developing policies that offer a unified response to those in need, and with supporting the front-of-house staff as they implement these decisions.
    Part 3 provides practical tools for record-keeping and setting up a data base of resource- and service providers. The book includes templates for developing these lists.

    50-page A4, spiral bound booklet
    Hard copy R100
    Mailed copy R150
    Pdf R50


    Generosity Revolution is a month-long campaign for a church community. Its aim is to encourage mindset change around ownership, giving and receiving in a context of inequality.

    Based on a study of the book of Ruth, this resource promotes a theology of generosity that gives birth to exciting and achievable ways of giving and receiving in a way that upholds dignity for all. The package includes the following:

    • Material for sermons and liturgy
    • Small-group Bible studies
    • Resources for children
    • Posters, bookmarks and ideas for “daily drip-feeds” to encourage interest and motivation that leads to action.

    80-page A4 spiral-bound booklet, with resources that can be copied
    Hard copy R150
    Mailed R200
    Pdf R50


    A Practical Guide for Churches on the Children’s Act and Other Laws Relating to Children

    This practical guide offers an overview of the Children’s Act and how it relates to churches and Children’s institutions and ministries.
    It enables leaders of churches and child-care institutions in South Africa to better understand and adhere to the Children’s Act and other relevant legislation. Its purpose is to promote the protection and wellbeing of children in all aspects of church and community life. The book outlines general principles of the Act, and examines issues around the safety and well-being of children, issues such as rights and responsibilitites of both children and carers, and how to confront issues such as child labour, child trafficking and other abuses.

    It’s a very practical book, written in simple English in a question-and-answer format. Its full colour format allows for easy reference to the different sections. The book includes a glossary of terms used, real life examples of application of the different principles, and snippets that illustrate the principle being described.

    200-page A4 full-colour book
    Hard copy R300
    Mailed R365
    Pdf R150


    A one-day process enabling the church to take concrete steps towards addressing the challenge of substance abuse.

    Many in our churches and communities are concerned about the poverty, violence and social challenges that confront us, but feel crippled by fear, hopelessness or lack of ideas of what to do. Using the book of Joel as a text, this booklet offers a format for a series of conversations that move people from a position of stuckness and despair to being hopeful, energised and ready for action.

    The focus of the book is substance abuse, but the methodology can be applied to any challenge facing your community.

    13-page A4 soft cover booklet
    Hard copy R50
    Mailed R80
    Pdf R50


    Exercises and techniques for managing stress

    Using a hands-on, popular education approach, this booklet describes simple exercises for relieving stress, managing emotions and living with bal¬ance in the midst of the challenges of life. It is especially effective in communi¬ties affected by violence, poverty and trauma.

    16-page soft cover A5 booklet
    16-page spiral-bound booklet
    Hard copy A4: R50, A5: R30
    Mailed R80
    Pdf R50

    Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information or to order.

  • Towards Sanitation Justice

    The Praxis Cycle as a tool for the building of a movement towards sanitation justice:

    We are looking to run all the stages of the Praxis cycle as a means to communicating an ongoing truth about the sanitation issue in South Africa and more specifically in Khayelitsha.

    We are looking to launch our four-month intensive on the 15th of June with an introduction and grounding for the next four months. This will take place at the Warehouse from 12:00-13:00.

    The praxis cycle as a tool is effective in its ability to communicate simple truths and allow for an ongoing revisit of the various stages, both cyclically and then interchangeably.

    Stage 1 Immersion: (July 20)

    As a first place of immersion, we will draw on the biblical tradition of liberation and freedom. We’ll begin to immerse ourselves in the context of sanitation in Cape Town, from a walk in an area with informal toilets to a walk in the mall to grasp the complexities of what it means to talk sanitation in the City; a pilgrimage that will seek to open eyes and hearts with a theological framework. We are also seeking to move people from charity to justice, the question cannot be about fixing the present toilets or what type of toilet we use but the human element of what it truly looks like to be present within this situation, the ongoing lifestyle trauma and the risk to women, children and the LGBT.

    Stage 2 Social analysis: (August 17)

    The opportunity for each person to undertake a social analysis of the area that they live in. This includes a brief understanding of the sanitation in your own community and understanding who the power players are. The overview will then look at how you are able to find out and make contact with these power players. Each community has the obvious players like ward counsellors etc. and the less obvious like block managers, neighbourhood watches, private business people who have government contracts, etc. Social analysis will also be used as a tool to recognise and understand who has power, and how this power is used, moving people to understand both their own power and the power of structures and institutions.

    Stage 3 Prophetic Imagination / Theological Reflection: (September 21)

    Each individual is given the opportunity to freely dream and imagine what a better future for the City would look like, a freedom to use the imagination in such a way as to look beyond what seems impossible into a God-dreamed future. We’ll be focussing on advocacy and creative protest, using various models from both within South Africa – Reclaim the City, SJC, the Poo Protests at UCT and the Airport – to examples of creative change in Medellin in Colombia. We will also take this time to walk through some spiritual formation practices to help keep people both focussed and strong during what can be a very trying and difficult time. Prayers and readings will be used that both form and reform us, how to use centering prayer, the prayer of examen and the use of community life as means of learning, unlearning and relearning together.
    The opening of one’s eyes to the spatial injustice can be jarring.

    Stage 4 Pastoral Action: (October 19)

    The process then moves us on to action. The action stage begins to ask how then now do we live and respond. A call to simplicity for the wealthier contexts is tempered by the realisation that simplicity and responsible use of water etc. is not going to build infrastructure.
    Cities are not built off the back of national governments, in main the data points us towards the reality that the City scape is sculpted and built by local government working hand in hand with other role players both private and public.

    The action stage allows us to sculpt a working pattern with an overarching narrative but deeply embedded in each person’s context.
    The action will include making available contextual bible studies and offering to host and facilitate these within specific churches / NGOs / concern group settings.

    If you are interested in journeying with us over the next few months please contact Wayne (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or Nkosi (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)). 


  • Prophetic Image-nation

    “God, the justice and mercy You speak to me about in your word, are so unfamiliar, I don’t see it anywhere around me. Yho! I’m so tired of trying to live my life as a voice for this thing that all these people don’t even acknowledge!”

    These words are from a journal entry I wrote while I was attending a predominantly white Christian Conference which led me to once again confront the ongoing internal conflict of being a black woman, passionate about godly justice, while existing in church spaces where the topic seemed close to taboo. As most of my journal entries go, I had written it as a way to help me process what I was experiencing- not at all mindful of the possibility that the God I was writing to could actually read it and do something about it!

    Well, He did just that. The very next day Valerie (a stranger up to this point) sent me a Facebook message inviting me to join the team behind the Conference. After meeting Val and the team of amazing people who spoke of godly justice as anything but taboo, I began to realise that this conference, these people were an answer to my unspoken prayer. I was stunned by their relentless quest to create a space for prophetic imagination around the event, disrupting the injustices we have come to accept as the ‘norm’.

    One of the decisions reflecting prophetic imagination that had a significant impact on my life was around the conference clean-up. I volunteered to oversee the cleaning team for the event. I must confess I chose that mostly because I felt immensely under-qualified to handle anything else, so I figured cleaning would be my safest bet. That’s until we had a conversation about seeing cleaning as a justice issue. In South Africa, cleaning at an event like this is often a woman’s job, and all too often a black woman’s job. We wanted to create a space where this was disrupted, which meant having white people, white males in particular, volunteering to do the ‘dirty work’.

    I could have never imagined how God would use this aspect of conference organising to lead me to confront an old grim race-gender-inferiority complex ghost. In the build up to the event, I was thoroughly freaked out by the prospect of having to instruct white men to clean up toilets and trash cans, and I found myself feeling under-qualified yet again. But after meeting the crew, my fears were eased by their incredible humility and gentleness. Words cannot fully explain how this seemingly simple act of cleaning up after hundreds of people left me with an unshakable feeling of acceptance, belonging and empowerment.

    This feeling would be further entrenched by the powerful expressions of diversity throughout the event. As a black woman, painfully aware of the battle against inferiority complexes, I was most encouraged by the expressions of black voices. One of my closest friends got emotional as she remarked on how listening to Adam Thomason’s talk was the first time she had seen a black man, in a position of leadership, speaking on a Christian stage in front of white people. The same friend went on to express that she was struck by the fact that there were no ‘reserved’ seats at the event. We shared this moment, realising that we had both been to enough Christian events to be able to recognise that this too, was an intentional prophetic imagination decision.

    One of my desires for the conference was for it to be a space where people who felt dejected and alone in their quest for justice in South Africa would meet like-minded people with whom they could share frustrations and encouragement. I wanted “justice orphans” who felt like I had when I wrote that journal entry to find a “tribe” of co-labourers, like I had found in Valerie and the team. I was encouraged by eavesdropping on people congregating around coffee stalls (as Capetonians do), sharing stories of what had brought them to the conference.

    Prophetic image-nation

    Imagine a day
    where a voiceless woman
    loses her muzzle
    learning a new language of expression
    empowered by others who were once muzzled
    liberated by the One who created vocal chords

    Imagine a nation
    plagued by poverty and greed
    nightmares of murder and rape
    shadows of depression and dispossession
    learning to imagine
    gazing at the stars to see a brighter future
    illuminated by the One who Created the stars.

    By Lindiwe Mpofu

  • Nehemiah and Social Change

    Delving into disequilibrium

    Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.” As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
    Nehemiah 1:1-5

    Thus begins the book of Nehemiah. He learns that his people, with their turbulent history of being enslaved, forced into exile, and oppressed, are once again in a very precarious position. The wall of Jerusalem is in ruins- clearly the result of an ill-intentioned attack - leaving an already vulnerable people group completely defenseless and prey to the whims of a very real enemy.

    This was gut-wrenching news for Nehemiah. These were his people. This attack on Jerusalem and its people was personal. And so, he sat down and wept and mourned for days.

    As human beings, I think that it is in our nature to want to fix things, and often that desire leads us into bringing band aid solutions that address the problem’s symptoms, and in so doing, address our own symptom; the discomfort of disequilibrium.

    This is a trap. It is the same trap that we fell into when the laws of apartheid were abolished in South Africa and we placed over the gaping wound that remained, a band aid called the Rainbow Nation.

    These symptom-alleviation techniques do not fix the problem. Instead, they cover it up, providing the perfect environment for it to fester and rot, eating through even the flesh that was once healthy.

    Nehemiah did not rush in with a band aid. He refused to buy in to a symptomatic cure to propel him out of his pain, but instead chose to remain in it. To be affected by it. To be inconvenienced by it.

    He wept and mourned for days, allowing the extent of Jerusalem’s reality to penetrate into every aspect of his being, while praying and fasting before the God of heaven. Nehemiah went on to lead a movement that resulted in the rebuilding of the city walls, and the re-establishment of an entire people.

    I believe that our ability to enact real change - change that is not merely symptomatic but that gets right to the root system- corresponds to the extent to which we are willing to be affected by that which we wish to change. Our authority is directly connected to our engagement. Before Jesus performed many of his miracles- of healing, of liberating, of supernaturally feeding thousands- the bible says that he was moved with compassion. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I believe that the healing that he brought was intractably intertwined with the choice that he made to allow himself to be affected by those who sought healing.

    Important also, is our ability, in the midst of our pain, to connect to this being that is higher than we. A being who is woven from love, goodness and justice. Who freely pours out comfort, solutions and hope to those who will sit at his feet and ask.

    Nehemiah prayed and fasted before the God of heaven.

    There are times when things just seem too big and too impossible for us to change. Not so for the God of heaven- who is also incidentally the God who is deeply invested into each life on earth, and the God who loves with reckless abandon, and the God for whom injustice pierces like the sharpest of knives.

    This God has gone to great lengths to make himself fully present and available in the times where we are just too aware of our own limitations. There is hope in the midst of chaos, for he resides there, speaking peace to the storms. Because of this, we do not have to shy away from opening ourselves up to be affected by pain and injustice, and from remaining in that uncomfortable disequilibrium for as long as necessary.

    This is the place from which real change is birthed.

    By Thandi Gamedze
    Part 1 of a series

  • Have you given money to The Warehouse this past year?

    If you donated to The Warehouse during the past year (tax year ending 2016/2017) or if you donated to the IY fire disaster, you should have received a Tax Certificate from us this past week. If you have not yet received this, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and he will rectify that.

    Thank you so much for your ongoing support of the work we do in South Africa at this time.

  • Finding God in the Suffering

    Where is God in the suffering? A blogpost by Nkosivumile Gola

    Life is a constant response to the plight of the suffering God and the suffering God is constantly responding to the plight of the suffering humanity. If this was the view we had concerning life then the view we have of the cross would be radically transformed, because then the cross does not just become a historical ‘salvific’ event, but the very present suffering and saving act of the God-forsaken God in the midst of the least of these which requires an urgent response.

    It has to be made clear that if God is not the victim of suffering in the world today then God is the cause of suffering in the world today and if God is the cause of suffering in the world today then God is unable to save and to end human suffering. If we see God as the victim of suffering in the world today, then God can and will save and rescue the suffering. This is in line with Bonhoeffer’s statement when he argues that, “only the suffering God can help us”. 

    There is no father who can be nonchalant in the face of pain and suffering of their offspring, the pain that affects the offspring of the father cuts deeper into the heart of the father – a true father is personally affected by the suffering of his children.

    Why then has God been given a spectator role in the face of the suffering of His own children? Why then has God been sidelined in the matters that affects His own? Why has God been made worse than broken and evil human beings in compassion with His own children? It has to be made known there is nothing of God that happens to God without God, and everything that happens to humanity is directly happening to God.

    If God created social beings then God has to be affected by and respond to social ills as all these are suffered by Him. That is the reason why Song (An Asian Amerikan Theologian) argues that “the history of God is the history of Jesus and the history of Jesus is the history of humanity”. Therefore the very pain as experienced by the image and the likeness of God in history is the very pain that has directly affected God in history. God is in the midst of the least of these suffering the worse forms of all oppression as suffered by the least of these.

    We need to see the picture of a creator subjected (as the face of the least of these) by his own creation to perpetual oppression. We must view our lives as a response to a plight of the suffering God. How we then respond to this plight whether we ignore it or we intentionally act to end it is dependent on whether or not we see Jesus in the face of the least of these. Love must be understood as all the radical, intentional actions as extended in responding to end human pain which in actuality is the end to God pain. We locate God pain in the world today by looking at the pain and suffering as experienced by the least of these. 

    Nkosivumile Gola
    Nkosivumile, theologian and activist, works for The Warehouse, is founder of the Food is Free campaign, and longs to see the Church responding to the suffering of God’s children in more tangible, liberating ways. 

  • What about Schools?

    From a pedagogy of the oppressed to a pedagogy of liberation

    “It is probably cultural inertia which still makes us see education in terms of the ideology of the school as a liberating force and as a means of increasing social mobility, even when the indications tend to be that it is in fact one of the most effective means of perpetuating the existing social pattern, as it both provides and apparent justification for the social inequalities and gives recognition to the cultural heritage, that is, to a social gift treated as a natural one” (Pierre Bourdieu, The School as a Conservative Force)

    If the kingdom of God is one of freedom, liberation and justice, then as the church we have a moral responsibility to participate in calling into question the powers, systems and institutions which reinforce the status quo of inequality by privileging some and oppressing others. Education is one such site, a site of struggle and a primary site where inequality is presently being reproduced.

    Inasmuch as South Africans can celebrate the changes of 1994, a closer look at schools in South Africa may leave one wondering about what actually changed? Despite the sloganism of a “rainbow nation” and the chanting of “Simunye, we are one”, very little seems to have shifted with regard to the transformation of schooling. While the opening up of schools formerly reserved for Whites has enabled a movement of middle-class Black (Black, Coloured, Indian) families into the old Model-C schooling environment, the majority of Black South Africans remain in schools that were grossly under-funded during Apartheid and remain under-resourced, overcrowded and ill-equipped even today. The patterns of academic achievement produced today still mirror past (and contemporary) inequalities. Life has not changed very much for the majority of the South African population. In the words of Lefebvre “a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realised its full potential”.

    If we want to encourage diversity and equal education then we must interrogate those aspects of educational policy which are preventing racial and economic integration, the remnants of apartheid-era thinking that have not yet been effectively dealt with in the South African Schools Act.
    Educational Inequality is a problem of access, integration and economics.


    In 2016, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi was engaged with FEDSAS in a landmark case surrounding the constitutional right of schools to determine feeder zones of a 5km radius surrounding a school. This results of this particular case may well be what is necessary to encourage schools to change their admissions policy but it remains shocking that in 2017 we still have schools with exclusionary admissions policies. Implementing a feeder zone policy within a country that is not yet spatially integrated and in many ways still resembles the design of apartheid urban spatial planning means that many learners in disadvantaged communities are excluded from the possibility of applying to previously (and presently) advantaged schools. In addition to the implementation of feeder zones, the ability of schools to implement their own fee structures has created public schools that effectively operate as private entities, using the fee control mechanism as a means to filter out learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. At present there is too much space left between the Constitution, the South African Schools Act and provincial level policy for schools to continue operating the way they do currently. Instead of facilitating access, we have a situation of strict access control which is little different from physically erecting a sign outside a school that reads “Whites Only”.

    A twin problem within an access controlled environment is the problem of integration. In some ways the game has shifted from race to economics where former model C schools and private schools are arguably more racially diverse than the average township school. This is not genuine integration though, it is simply the assimilation of a Black and Coloured middle class into middle class schools. The real win would be to see middle class White parents placing their children in township schools but this goal seem almost unattainable within the present structuring of South Africa’s education system.  The very existence of the private schooling industry undermines the goals of racial, cultural and economic diversity in our schools by providing a haven for middle class and elite families to shift their children (and of course their economic resources) to when the culture shock becomes too much to bear. At the risk of jumping too quickly to solutions, it may be worthwhile to consider alternative models such as mixed-income schooling, more pro-active affirmative action policies in the education sector and the winding down of private education in SA. Of course, as pro-active as these suggestions may be they mask the underlying issue, our communities remain segregated because they reflect the economic inequality and segregation that plagues South Africa, and in fact education cannot be viewed apart from the broader macroeconomic issues which plague our nation.

    Something more to watch on the education front in relation to integration is the new proposal for a three-stream education system (academic stream, technical-vocational stream and technical-occupational stream). Attempting to layer a three-stream education system similar to that in Germany, within a racially and economically stratified society would be almost a throwback to Apartheid era politics. Inevitably, the poor would end up filtered into technical streams where they may aspire to be no more than labourers for their wealthier and supposedly more academic counterparts… “a social gift, treated as a natural one” (Pierre Bourdieu, The School as a Conservative Force).


    Finally, whilst schooling has the potential to be a liberating force we cannot treat it as an institution that is divorced from the rest of society. There is far more evidence to demonstrate that out-of-school factors (Coleman, 1966), and that socio-economic factors can negatively influence a learners schooling achievement than there is to show that schools transform communities.

    “…Broader social inequalities ripple through schools in complex ways – inequalities of poverty, class, race, gender and region – and schooling tends to perpetuate both forms of injustice if they are features of the broader society. In fact, the most effective way for schooling to do this is to act as if these injustices did not exist by treating everyone the same.” (Pam Christie, Opening the Doors of Learning, p. 172)

    This does not mean we should resign ourselves from righting the wrongs in the education system and fighting for equal education and quality education that takes into account every learner. Rather, it means that in our fight for equal education we need to also be conversant about economic issues, land issues and health issues, as all of these weigh in very heavily upon the task of schooling. This calls for an alliance across the sectors, and the working together of activists who are fighting the battle on different fronts. It implies that that we need to educate ourselves about how economic policy and land issues intersect with issue of education and schooling and vice versa.

    In closing, I am hopeful that in the present moment we are experiencing an awakening of individuals and communities who recognise the political dimensions of kingdom work and who are motivated to genuinely make a difference. If we should give the revolution a name, let it be a revolution of love, for it is God’s love that draws all near and ushers us all into the place of shalom. If such a revolution must produce a new space, let it be a space where peace, love and justice prevails.

    A final quote:

    “We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable. We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought.” (Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, p. 39)

    Ashley Visagie
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  • More than the Minimum

    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 human beings, 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 and 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).

    For many privileged South Africans, treating domestic staff with the dignity every human being deserves, in a way that promotes economic freedom and sustainability, is the first stage in the cycle 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 your 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 minimum 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.

    Linda Martindale

    To go through a 7-day devotional process that speaks to this, see below:

    Common Ground has done some work around the Church and the Living Wage. To read more click here.

  • Make your year-end giving go a long way

    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:


    Craig Stewart

  • Cape Town’s Sanitation Problem

    “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.


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“"Generosity toward the poor goes hand in hand with contentment or inner freedom. One can give only to the extent to which one recognises that all things belong to God and can be possessed only when they are put in relation to the kingdom of God and his righteousness.””

Rene Padilla

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Sanitation, Health, Information and Theology Talks in Sweet Home Farm