Thursday, January 31, 2008

Legalise prostitution for 2010 Worldcup succes

ANC MP's have called for the legalization of prostitution before the FIFA 2010 Worldcup. According to the parliamentary reports for the Afrikaans news paper, Die Burger, they argued that this will make the World cup a huge success for fans and government (read: South Africa) alike. Apart from the tax revenue, this industry will also provide needed jobs in a context of poverty and unemployment.

Some would argue that we need to take the reporting of the Burger with a pinch of salt as it was called 'Die Buiger' (The Bender) back in the days. This story however ties in with reports that the previous World Cup in Germany caused a 'crises' in the supply of prostitutes, and some had to be imported (most of the time, illegally !) from the East Asian countries. In the light of this, law enforcement officials in Johannesburg, at planning meetings already alluded to the 'strategy' of 'red lighting' as a means of regulating the industry, accepting the fact that prostitution and all that goes along with it, will happen. Hence, it seems as if there is truth in the assertion that this could become government and SAFA's official line. The manner in which this has been linked to poverty alleviation, unemployment and tax revenue is however disturbing and should be a wake up call to churches and other faith based NGO's alike. What we are facing is the possibility of an escalation in human trafficking and sex slavery at a shocking scale, especially affecting residential areas like Riverlea, Langlaagte, Diepkloof (Soweto) that are in close vicinity to the key venues. The flippant remarks by our policymakers, doesn't bode well for pro-active strategies in dealing with these. What is needed for us as Christians seems to be to pro actively look at how church and woman and children's ministries has done in Germany, in order to put prevention plans in place, but also make services available for the desperate victims who will be left in the wake of World-cup 2010.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Praying for the stars


A time ago, we all laughed when one youngster in our church, who suggested that we must pray for Whitney Houston. It sounded like the aunty asking prayer for JR on Dallas.

This prayer request however came in the context of our reflection on the mission of the church, when popstars like Busta Rhymes could prowl the stage boasting about the good weed he found in Kzn, etc. Many older Christians responded with condemnation -we should ban Busta and Snoop from SA. Look at Whitney and R. Kelly, they would talk about God and then, they would be caught with their pants down. Its at this point where our youngster (who later indicated that he is contemplating a career in music) suggested that we should rather pray for Whitney-trusting God for her healing. On further reflection it made us think and realize underneath the cosmetics and the myth, that these are real people, with human needs.
Which brings us to people like Brittany Spears and the like.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Where is God at work

Within the missional church conversations, the question of Gods work or mission is fundamental. Discerning where God is at work took place tonight here in Riverlea. Many times we confuse the church activities with the work/ mission of God. Of course, God is also at work in the church and through the church. Some times the church also missed the point and were made vulnerable in the face of the world. This is not necessarily a crisis- it can be a place of renewal. Some other people were also sharing tonight that God is also at work in basement of the shop, in the school where we face 'corruption' or in the boardroom where choices need to be made. In reading Luke 10 from 1-24, another classic text in the Partnership for Missional churches in SA, it was pointed out that a) the harvest belongs to God- he knows when its the right season to harvest b) that we need to be en route and never endeavour to build our own kingdoms, c) that the mission is a choice for vulnerablity- we are not the wolves, we are the lambs, maybe God is with the vulnerable, those fleeing the wolves.

In context where it seems as of the church, especially the big ones and at some point powerfull ones- NG Kerk, Roman catholics, even charismatics, are being shaken, there is a need to again discern, where God is at work, because indeed God is at work. This is the fundamental source of our hope: God is (still) at work.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is there hope for the future of South Africa, Albert Nolan ?

Albert Nolan was asked by Daryl Balia, new International Director of the Edinburgh 2010 process, on the Kairos moment for our time. He asked: What is the future of South Africa, from the perspective of, most probably, the key writer of the Kairos document in the heyday of the 1980s.

Fr Nolan responded that the Kairos document came in a time where the state arrogated himself to know the will of God, i.e. State theology, and everyone else had to keep quiet. The Kairos movement, if you like, was a movement which allowed the people the space read the signs of the times, to hear the will of God (discernment)and speak it out prophetically, i.e. the prophetic theology. There is still a need for a prophetic theology today, because God is still at work and continues to be involved in South Africa.

On South Africa, he said that we can see only now, how the prophetic movement however, missed a key link. The focus was purely on social transformation. Which was proper for the time. What is needed however, is also a focus on personal transformation. What we see today in terms of the abuse of power, corruption, personal enrichment, etc. is simply because we have not developed a proper theology for personal transformation. People need to experience God, who is our source, and we (again) like the ancient theologies of the early fathers, need a sense of awe, a spirituality of radical freedom, indeed, the spirituality of Jesus.

In his latest book, ‘Jesus Today’, released in 2006, Fr Nolan remind us: ‘ The need for social liberation remains as urgent as ever and, although much progress have been made in this direction- especially in South-Africa-what we now see is how the gains we have made can be undermined by a lack of personal inner freedom….’

There could be simmers of a new prophetic movement, in what he writes and say and it would be no surprise, because, after all: God is still at work.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hope-giving spirituality according to Fr Albert Nolan

Fr Alber Nolan, author of Jesus before Christianity, spoke today in
Potchefstroom on hope-giving spirituality. He defines our mission today
as, more then ever, to give account of the hope that is within us (1 Pet
3:15). He recounts how we are experiencing a terrifying shift from an
age of hope to an age of hopelessness. Many things we've put our hope in
has failed us, whether is has been scienctific and technological
progress, or religious movements, like the Reformation or vatical
Council II, theology of liberation or even Madiba magic.

There is only one unshakable foundation and that is God and God alone.
What have people been hoping for, though ?
Heaven, Second coming, the coming of the Kingdom ? It sustained many,
yet it doesnt sustain many Christians today anymore. Hence we need to
revisit our eschatology.
A better life for all ? World peace, elimination of suffering? transcend
our selfishness.
Perhaps, changin the unhealthy discourses.
Some people have just one hope: the survival of the earth community.
The earth and human species are under threat. The hope is: at least we
will survive.
Sometimes it is narrow and selfish: me, my family, church and nation.
Gods will be done on earth

A hope-giving spirituality, then, would be a spirituality that deepens
our sense of the reality of God. Yet for many people God is dead:
despite their profession of belief, in practice God plays no role in
their lives at all. We cannot blame them for it: the images of God
(punishing judge, supreme male patriarch, the all powerfull manipulator,
etc) is hopelessly misleading. Hence for hope we must unlearn these
images of God. We should not worship images(idols) of God.

We need a re-enchantment of God. The removal of mystery lead to the
death of God. Our way to the mystery of God is not knowledge. Hence, my
relationship to God is wonder, being enthrawled, being marveled. The new
cosmology, away from Newton's mechanistic machine cosmology towards
Einstein, the mystery. Then the next step is worship and adore God- we
can only bow down and worship- we are in teh presecne of some so much
bigger then what we are. One we've done that, then trust and confidence
in God comes forth- we believe what jesus taught us... God becomes like
a personal lover... an expreience of love. This is prayer, not knowledge
or theology. It a relationship.

Gods work:
As we put our trust in God we teh start to see God at work everywhere,
at the most unexpected places and in the most unlikely ways. God is at
work everywhere. its very mysterious, yet we know God is in control.
Jesus invites us to participate in Gods work, This is our mission. we
dont know ewhat the future holds but we know- Gods work will continue
into the future- here lies our hope: Gods work will continue.And this is
what we give account to: of the God we trust. Evene if we dont
understand and see hiw work yet, we believe in his work.

False hope vs Real hope

Hope-giving is not allways clear. What might be hopeful to the one, might be disaster for the other. Yesterday, at the SAMS conference, we started to hear stories of various ministries, who seems to offer hope in various ways. Of course there was differences of opinion as to whether these were offering false or real hope.

Crystal Ministries International, founded by Pastor Carl Hendricks, also shared their story. Allan Morris, from this church told delegates how they started, through the vision and faith of a young man, who hails from Potchefstroom's NG Sendigkerk. Hendricks of course, is also known amongst members of the Riverlea community. Morris shared how this church having started in 1993, on the stoep with 8 youngsters, now boast of 4000 members, with Destiny as their motto. They are overtly charismatic, with a Pentecostal/NG background.

Another story came from Adrian Blom, from Ubuntu Ministries. This ministry aims at dealing with the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. He shared how the church's practice of 'discipline'(tug) actually promotes secrecy and unsafe sexual practices, which makes it difficult to be hopegiving for these young people, in poverty stricken, oppressive environments. Ubuntu Ministries therefore promotes that this practice of discipline should be abolished, that the church should deal with its own complicity in this scourge.

So, here we have two stories who purport to bring hope, seemingly at odds with each other. The key question seems to be: how do we define hope, but deeper still how do we analyse our context ( read the signs of the time) to be real hope-bearers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stories of Ancient communities of hope, Musa Dube

The morning started on fire, with Musa Dube from Botswana reflecting on
ancient communities of hope. She chose to take het cue from Gen 1,
focussing on the community, an exile community. She told her own story
of sitting around the fire, with her grandmother telling stories of
animals, who are talking, loving, caring. These stories were building a
bond of community, a unique identity of an earth community. Hence she,
as an African women, wants to read Scripture, and more specifically Gen
1 from a perspective of being part of the earth or an earth perspective,
if you like. She notes: all stories are written with a particular
intent, more often by the powerful, hence hiding, leaving out the
stories of the subjugated. Hope-giving stories, entail a re-reading of
the stories from the perspective of those seeking hope from this
subjugation.
In reading Gen 1 then, we can 'read', only verse 28 indicating that
humans were given the earth for subjucation, exploitation. Here we find
the justification for Western and missionary exploitation of 'the
other', but more specifically the earth, creation. Yet, Gen 1 also
brings 3 important insights, 1) that all of life is good, created by
God, 2) that all members of creation are sacred, but also 3) that in the
diversity of the earth community, we should embrace diversity.

These insights of course, has implications for our understanding of
mission. The colonial missions view which aimed at dominating,
conquering, subdueing cultures and the earth are to be replaced by the
centrality of pursuing (struggling for) justice. Interestingly, Nico
Botha earlier, defines hope as struggle for life, and the courage of
life. Mission in a postcolonial context, don't aim at subdueing, but at
building community, inclusive community. It is here that new stories
need to be constructed and told- stories where animals talk, where the
earth protest agains exploitation, like now with climate change, but
also stories, where justice replace exclusion of the other.

Dube disturbed a few pentecostals, amongst others members from the
Crystal Ministries International, by chiding them (especially the
African ones ) for still excluding and being intolerant of people from
different faiths. She feels that pentecostals in Africa still reify the
colonial missionary paradigm. This takes place by demonizing other
faiths. The pentecostals, responded by argueing that exorcism is part of
the biblical accounts and indeed Africans better respond to a
Christianity that take serious the spirit world, giving hope, within an
African cosmology. She however reiterated her point that hope comes
from reread of our own stories and traditions and a retelling of these
stories, creating new community, amidst exclusion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stories of hope-giving communities in Southern Africa

For the next few days, the Southern African Missiological community will gather in Potchefstroom, and reflect on hope. In particular, they will look at hope-giving communities. On the website of SAMS the name of this community it is asked from presenters to do the following: "Perhaps a child of six knows what hope is (to broaden what Martin Luther said about the church). But perhaps it is more complex than that. We do not wish to prescribe how you should understand hope, but we ask you to explain in your presentation – as an integral part of your story – what kind of hope it is that they are giving to their community. So please reflect on the nature of hope as part of your presentation; do not simply assume that everyone knows what hope is. Please ask (in your preparation) whether hope-giving is a one-way movement or whether the “hope-givers” also get hope from the communities in which they are living and working."
We will post summaries of these hope-giving stories here on a regular basis, for the next few days, contributing to our quest for a future.

What in the world is God doing ?

In a dizzying time of change and some more and more responses everywhere except the church, we are sometimes charged with being archaic, old-fashioned. Many times, rightly so. The new buzz word, missional, is not simply another American lable, but pointing to the fact that in fact, the church is actually
created, to exist for the world (Bonhoeffer). We need to question it in
terms of our very own context. In his latest book, 'The Ministry of the Missional church', Craig van Gelder, points to, what he calls 7
aptitudes for a Spirit-led missional congregation in context. This is
relevant for churches who want to remain in touch with what God's Spirit
is doing and how to connect with God's mission, and hopefully stay in
connected with what God is doing. In summary he notes the following:
1) these churches intentionally learn to read their world. One
can say, a prophetic church is the one who is able to read the signs
of the times. They are in touch with cultural trends and shifts that are
taking place.
2) they anticipate new insights into the gospel. This does not mean
a different gospel, but a fuller insight (maybe revelation ?) into the
Word of God. Sometimes this comes through a translation of the gospel in
laymen's world and language, at other times by asking new questions and
seeking real, authentic answers or at the least authentic debate and
conversation.
3) They anticipate reciprocity, meaning: they are open to also be
changed by this revelation or even those they minister with. An example
is Peter's second conversion in Acts 10., In our time newer younger
churches that challenges older mainstream churches towards change and
growth in faith.
4) They are particular to their context. As the context of churches
change, the church should also expect to change. van Gelder argues:
there can be no model congregations, that fits all others. In as sense
God has a pertinent word for congregations and they need to follow his
leading, not the neughbours next door.
5) Ministry in missional churches are practical, i.e. it relects the
patterns and shapes of each local, fluid and shifting culture.
6) The theology that flows out of this ministry is therefore allways
contextual and therefor socialy constructed. God is allways bigger then
our theologies, which can shift, and lastely,
7) The programs or forms of these churches are *never cast in stone or
eternal holy cows*. They remain provisional, serving the needs of the
communities, in which these churches are called.

These coordinates are not suggested as another recipe or blueprint, but
hopefully can frame even our very own thinking about seeking where God
is at work, but also what is God calling his church towards.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pastor Ray is back on the pulpit.

Pastor Ray is back on the pulpit. Even though there is rumors of a possible divorce or at least separation-yesterday he was back at the pulpit. This time he shared his side of the story to worshippers and amongst others, he said (quoted from the Beeld). “Ek wil hê julle moet almal weet dat ek nie aan egskeiding glo nie en dat ek nooit in egskeiding sál glo nie. Dit is goddeloos en dit is sonde.’’ ('I want you all to know that I don't believe in divorce and never will. It is evil and sin'). We are very sympathetic to the plight of Pastor Ray, but also others who are suffering because of divorce, especially the children and young people involved in stressed families.It has also surfaced that other South African celebrities like Afrikaans singer, Steve Hofmeyer, Big Brother winner Ferdinand Rabi, amongst others, also share this painful experience. This is not to mention other 'ordinary people' like you and me.

The question is however how the respected Rhema church should deal with this situation. Of course the reasons behind what happened should be looked into in terms of the internal processes within the church and in this respect, the family and interested members' privacy and dignity need to be respected. There is no point in speculating about the reasons and circumstances. Like anybody else, even public figures deserve their privacy and dignity. It is maybe fine to allow him to own up to what happens, by reading the statement in the worship service, but it would have been wise maybe, to allow him (or even give him) 'time-off' from his public ministry. The Rhema website still advertise him as speaker and host an upcoming conference in Feb. He now need time and space to work on the challenges he face.

There is however another side to the story and that is the position of the church on divorce. Should we continue with the untenable position as put forward in his statement, or should we as church also speaks of the pain involved and also develop responses in terms of healing and restoration, of divorcees. This is crucial as people (also the children and young people) do need time for closure and restoration maybe specialized counseling to come to terms with what has happened.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

See you at the Southpole

What striked me about extreme adventurers, Alex Harris and Sibusiso Vilane is the role of their faith in facing the extreme. These two just made history by walking unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole. These 2 christians also climbed Mount Everest twice, but achieved their latest feat, pulling their sleds alone, covering almost 1200 km in the most extreme weather conditions.

In their interviews, they would remind us that this achievement was at the core possible because they were drawing from their physical and spiritual strength. They've made South Africa proud and reminds us of the pool all of us can draws on to face and overcome insurmountable odds and seemingly impossible challenges. Thanks to these overcomers!

De Villiers' inspirationals

Sportspeople and their faith draw curious responses from their fans. Reading about the new Bok coach's booklist (John Maxwell, Solly Ozrovech and the Bible) and musictaste (gospel) in the You-magazine, it indicate that Peter de Villiers draws inspiration from his faith. A few month ago, after their Super 14 victory, the antics from Bulls erratic utilityback J v/d Westhuizen and Victor Mattfield, angered fans and foes, brandising t-shirts, with Jesus is King on it.Former Bafana coach, Lukas Radebe is another inspiration. It was however felt that its fine to be 'religious' as long as you keep it for yourself. Of course, the other question is: do you pray for victory or attribute your victory to Jesus Christ. Is it cool for ministries like SCAS or Athletes 4 Christ, to use the glory of succesful sportspeople as 'bait' for evangelism? Interestingly, de Villiers' opposition for this top job, Heyneke Meyer is also not shy of his faith in Jesus Christ and is known amongst players he coached, as an inspiration. This is also not only a SA thing, with 'born agains' amongst boxing evangelists (not Mike Tyson), mean Southsea rugbyteams and Brazilian soccerstars, the most recent being Kaka, FIFA's player of the year,

Maybe it would be wise to concure that sportspeople draw their inspiration from various wells (in the cases mentioned from their Christian faith), but that sport is also a means of celebrating Gods gifts and talents to us, our bodies, minds, health, etc, maybe even a medium of worship. But then our faith also sustains us in our failures, injuries and woes, like Pierre Spies or even Luke Watson, Shaun Bartlett and retiring Pollock. The key thing to our faith-ful stars,would be to carry your wins and looses with dignity and wisdom; to be conscious of the fact that their conduct on and off the field will either bear out their testimony or contradict it, win or loose.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Abortion now easier

Last week I listened in horror to a concerned parent at out local high school, in Riverlea, where he told the story of his 13 year old being confronted in the toilets with schoolgirls aborting babies. Yesterday the parliament of South Africa passed a Bill which, according to government's spokespeople on health, will make it easier for girls to just do that. The Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, which was passed with an overwhelming majority, in our parliament, according to an article on IOL One step closer for girls wanting abortion, will make it possible for girls as young as 12 to have an abortion, without the consent of her parents, but also, more centers doing the Termination will be accredited.
What are we to do with this ? A Christian organisation Doctors for Life have been fighting against this, whilst the ACDP, argues that the law will destroy morality in our country. Pro-life groups argue for more counseling in which all the risks are considered, and a small group of them even protested against this law, outside parliament.

The question remains: what are we to do against the spate of abortions taking place in our schools, in the fields or in backstreets. How do we rear our children on sexuality and the questions of life and morality How are we as Christians to respond, but also how are we to engage government on this, because seemingly the processes are running to make abortions easier.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More 'innocent' believers fleeced in pyramide sceme

Another story is surfacing, in Cape Town, of gullable believers being hoodwinked out of their hard earned cash. The Burger, an Afrikaans newspaper in the Western and Eastern Cape, reports in an article, 'Piramide man steeds gesoek', that members of the Fountain Christian Community and Ravensmead AFM are looking for a man called, Mr Stanton Hermanus. According to his mother, seemingly the one running the operations in Cape Town, he is somewhere in Hongkong, trying to get investor's money back. The question is: why do we find so often, this odd mixture of sincerity in faith, greed and crooks amongst us as church people. The scandal that broke last year in Johannesburg and Durban, around JCC and a character called, Wayne Jones, is still fresh in our memories, yet it seems as if this is hardly the tip of the iceberg-there is more sleaze to come.

At a deeper level, it seems as if a time of deeper searching and listening to the word of God is critical on the areas of finance, businessethics and faith, and what role does the prosperity gospel plays in this, if any. The church has to play a key role, if not central in economic development and raising the quality of life amongst believers and the nations. The Abrahamic covenant speaks of being a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:3) Indeed, the Bible does speak of prosperity and wealth, of being blessed as being much more than simply spiritual-it is real and it does relates to our tithes and offerings. But equally so, we need to revisit the kind of values that we incalcate amongst our children, the children of the church, so to speak. In the much published investigation of Debra Patta, of 3rd Degree, it was mentioned time and time again, that the kingpin of the scheme was a sincere 'son of God'. It begs the question: what kind of 'sons' (children) of God are we raising ? These are pertinent questions for us to delve into, over the long term.

In the meantime, however, we can only hope that the members of these churches at least, get their money back from these dubious schemes and shady characters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A need for reconciliation

The story of a young white teenager, going on the rampage in a black squattercamp, called Skielik, killing three people, including a 3 month old baby and a 10 year old boy is a chilling reminder of the need for true reconciliation and peace, in our country. Irrespective of the reports of the Beeld, who want (again) to 'derail' attention from the fact that this story indeed has a race connotation, and who now turns on the Mayor of this town, we know and experience that reconciliation and a peaceful co-existence between South Africans from all race and ethnic origins, is crucial. There's no point in hiding it, or writing it away, putting the blame on some-one else. We have to square up to it and pray and work for healing in our country. Our prayers as churches will have to be complemented with a prioritization of the reconciliation ministry, but also working towards establishing fully integrated and multi-coloured faith communities. As prof Botha indicated in his article, 'Die kerk se uur van waarheid', last week, that we ( as church) have to own up to the fact that we haven't yet transcended the racial divisions of the past. What role can a divided church play, where communities are up in arms with one another ? In the meantime, we have to applaud the farming community for handing over the boy and hope that this gesture will not go unnoticed. The 'Skielik' community as well as the farming community of Swartruggens in the Northwest are traumatized and need our prayers, but also cool heads in dealing with a explosive situation. May the leadership find wisdom, but also a pastoral process to address the immediate trauma.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

more missionaries or missional?

As we bid farewell to missionaries, who worked from our community in the Joburg Central prison, the question arises: what to do with missionaries in this day and age?

For us Martin, Anita and Naema were more than visiters on a crusade, they are reminders of the body of Christ, caring across boundaries. In this sense it connects with the argument of Bosch that in an emerging paradigm, we still need these vocations...as embodying the catholicity of the church, the notion that the church is one all over the world. It is at this point where the identity of the church as being sent, are evident, i.e. the fact that the church is missional.

Monday, January 14, 2008

On Ray McCauley

Again there is rumors and news articles, over the weekend that the second marriage of pastor Ray' (as he is affectionately known amongst his Rhema members), is supposedly on the rocks. His divorce from Lindi McCauley a few years ago, send shockwaves through, not only through his church and the broader charismatic community, but also the rest of the church. In many local charismatic churches, the Rhema Bible church, stands out as a benchmark on church-growth and also recently public leadership. When people want to know what the Christians think, they would call Rhema.
We as a Christian community however need to heed the call to continue praying for our spiritual leaders. They are also mere vulnerable human beings. The sad reality of divorce amongst Christian leaders need to be acknowledged. There's no point in affirming, from a 'holier than though' vantage point, that we reject divorce and condemn people who went through this traumatic experience. Its time to own up to the fact the we share the difficulty of sustaining solid relationships, but we will strive to pray for sisters and brothers going through it.

Our prayer goes out to the church in Randburg and may God grace sustains and heal the members, but also the pastor, his wife and the family members.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Second economy campaign

Complements of the new season. I hope and pray that 2008 be a year of progress and prosperity for us as individuals and as a church.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has reached an agreement with the SABC on behalf of the Economy, Investment and Employment Cluster to flight 16 episodes on the 12 Language stations dealing with government second economy interventions and opportunities available. The schedule of all the episodes and stations is attached. Everyone is encouraged to tune in and listen to the programmes.

Tune in to economic opportunities - From 7 January, you can tune in to your favourite radio station to find out how to improve your life through government’s programmes. A series of episodes on SABC’s 12 African language radio stations will tell you how you can access economic opportunites offered by government, as well as where to obtain government services and assistance. The programmes will be broadcast in the “Ispani” slots. The slots are be available on our Riverlea URC website

Monday, January 07, 2008

Listening to the strangers, passing by...for orientation

It seems as if 2008 will hold some very interesting, but more importantly, significant developments for us as a community. The usual ‘new years resolutions’ are making way for a humble, yet persistent search for understanding and discerning the will of God for us today. When Marlin Fisher speaks of being able to, in some way, ‘hear’ the revelation of God, this relates to Lorna Joseph’s reflection on the grace that Lot and his family experienced (Gen 19). Lot had to be able to hear God, experience the grace of God. This was possible because of his hospitality to the strangers in the city, to shield them and protect them from the evil.

The mayhem in Kenya will cause some more refugees and displaced people on our doorstep. In a context where xenophobia is commonplace, maybe God is speaking or revealing himself to us, through the stranger. Will we have the heart and open minds to open up to the strangers, to invite them into our homes and provide safe havens against the evil that prevails. Many times the foreigners in a culture, are in a better position to ‘see’ the evil that has become ‘normal’ or ‘just the way it is’.

Even the same Lot, who had the vision and open-mindedness to harbour the foreigners, was a prisoner to the evil practice himself as evident in his offer to the men banging on the door, of his daughters. His fear for them, his fear of this system that they represented, made him to loose himself and what is supposed to be precious to him. In the process of negotiating with evil he lost himself and had to be pulled out of this toxic relationship with culture and, with his people taken to safety, away from the collusion with an evil culture, to Zoar, symbolising a ‘small’ community, away from the great city. This is the grace of God- taking him out of this place where power corrupts, to the margins, where new beginnings are possible. This development came at a price: he lost his wife as well as the ‘lobola’ of his two daughters. He had to start all over again, but more importantly he found his life back.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Pray for the situation in Kenya

We've hear some disturbing and indeed shocking stories about whats happening in Kenya. Let us keep them in our prayers, for a speedy political resolution of the turmoil, but more specifically for those like Desmond Tutu, working on establishing peace and stability. At a deeper level it seems as if this situation is fueled by the ethnic tension spilling over, but this is also about the abuse of power and a need for deep reconciliation. The horror story of the burning of people, as young as three years old, seeking shelter in a house of worship, is a chilling reminder of the evil nature at the heart of this disaster. In the face of this, we need to pray for deliverance from these evil forces, for healing and true reconcilation.

There is also a website, Day 4, from a good friend in Australia Andrew Riggs, who gives more information as well as avenues for support.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008!

Another year, another set of new opportunities. What are we going to make of it? One of the first challenges is facing the National road back to normal. May we be faithfull to our calling...in the midst of life

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