It is a wonderful initiative to call one million people together to pray for the country. It is a serious error to exclude the majority of christians in the country to join.
So, my message to you, Uncle Angus is this, “you have left the majority of christians outside this call to prayer”. As long as we do not accommodate each other and as long as we do not talk about forgiveness and restitution, God will not heal our land.
There are many prominent christian leaders in South Africa who are black. Some of them need to be involved in a call to all christians in South Africa to stand together and in fact to not only get together for a meeting, but to stand together. A meeting as such has a little value, the real value comes when christians will put a line in the sand and say – “no more” when they are back in the communities after attending a spiritual gathering. We cannot make a call like this without involving the black christian leaders. We need to think carefully why this was not done in the first place. We may doubt their “christian” faith or their practices, we may doubt their love of the Lord, we may not respect them enough to involve them, we may still be totally racist at heart, believing that as whites we are the chosen ones in South Africa.
One could argue that they are invited to this meeting, that they are not excluded. The mere practicality of having the meeting far away from a major city like Johannesburg does make it not easily accessible. Let’s assume that our black brothers could travel there by bus or taxi. This brings an extra expense to them with many of them not able to afford the amount to come. Many white people will not think twice to say I am going to go. They have the financial means to go. They are fortunate that they are able to go.
The further major stumbling block in this process is our “un-converted” capitalistic outlook. “They did not work so hard, therefore they don’t have money”. To put it differently, “our wallets still have to go for confession and conversion”. My wallet does not belong to me, it belongs to Jesus. This is what we still need to learn in South Africa.
It would be a different thing if each white person planning to come to the meeting would say, “I am going to get four black christians and sponsor them to come. I am not only going to sponsor them to come, but I am going to do my best in the next three to five years to see that they get the best possible chance to grow as a believer, a leader and to grow economically.” Now this will put a totally different slant on the meeting and the proceedings. It will show some of the love in action that we so easily talk about.
The challenge is that many white christians do not know their black brothers and sisters. They do not know any and they think that the majority of black people are not christian. So what does this say about separation? We will pay thousands of rands to go on a missions trip far away from South Africa, but we will not drive 40 minutes to a place where a church is suffering to exist. We have R60 000 to put a fence around one of our church buildings, but we do not have R60 000 to assist people to get land for their church building in a community not too far from us. The roos of separation or apartheid has been deeply embedded in our psyche and we need to get rid of that.
It is quite possible that our belief is expressed by Senior Pastor Andre Olivier of Rivers Church (Sandton in June of 2016) who said from the pulpit – “We [white people] took nothing from no one. Maybe the law favoured us, but we worked … And when you tell me I need to share my wealth, what are you suggesting? Are you suggesting I give away some of it? Are you giving any of yours away?”
The pastor later apologised for his words, but let us be quiet for a minute or two and reflect about this. Is this not what many white people believe? Is his words not a reflection of the thoughts of the average white christian? You could see that this pastor knows virtually nothing of the struggle of the pastor in the so-called townships. I want to see him building a big church in Soweto amidst the challenges there – poverty, unemployment, drugs, crime, lawlessness.
We cannot make one of a series of excuses, like … “it was my church leaders, it was the political party, it was the politics of the day”, or a good one I have heard recently, “our church only started quite a few years after 1994, so we are innocent”. You may have been less guilty than some other parties, but you are nonetheless guilty if you do not make a concerted effort to assist other pastors in building their churches. I am not talking here of monetary assistance in the first instance although I will not exclude that. We have to be careful how we approach the money and the gifting aspect, though. So we have sinned as whites and we keep on sinning as whites. The church should be at the forefront of getting to forgiveness and reconciliation, but it is possible that the church is not church anymore. It is possible that the church never was church in the first instance. We do not demonstrate the love of Jesus for our enemies, not to say anything about our brothers in the faith. We think along cultural lines only and not according to Kingdom principles.
So Uncle Angus, we have excluded our friends. It is not too late to start talking to them and to hear collectively what God is saying to us, but we cannot go the road alone. That, Sir, is your responsibility. You could lead the rest of the white christians to change their thinking, to change our thinking. All our thoughts must be taken captive by the Father who we claim to serve. I know that you belief that. I trust that you will continue to share that widely and practically.
I wish you well in your great efforts while I pray for huge results in the New South Africa (that is not here yet).
27 February 2017