I read this article written on the It’s Time event and felt I needed to respond. Have a read because it has some points and truths that we cannot ignore:
Post-Apartheid South Africa: The Missed Zacchaeus Moment by the Christian Beneficiaries of Apartheid
I find so much of what you wrote to be true. We as the church, the christians, the Christian beneficiaries are doing too little. Your suggestion of having an “it’s time” moment in 1994 is spot on, where financially we gave of ourselves to benefit the true victims of apartheid, the children of those who continue to suffer. Or perhaps the many other moments you spoke of when we should’ve stood up and said “it’s time”. We have lost credibility in many circles, we have missed opportunities to stand alongside victims because of their suffering, not simply because it’s spilling over into my yard now.
But, I am also saddened by the condescension, the way you labelled yesterdays event, as little more than a man inspired “sacred assembly”. It sounds as if it was written before we met, it also sounds as if you never took the journey.
I stood there yesterday, moved, inspired and encouraged as the million plus crowd kneeled, held hands and repented. The brown lady next to me was moved as well. We held hands and prayed together and I don’t know what shifted, but I am trusting in the one to whom I prayed that, even though we might be late, the time will still serve as a line drawn in the sand which declares, here and no further.
Perhaps it was too white, perhaps it was too Afrikaans, perhaps people didn’t have the right motives or should have had a better response earlier. Perhaps there should have been more Zulu, Xhosa etc, songs. Perhaps I could go on for ever about our shortcomings. BUT GOD!!
You see, the event started with a call to repentance, and it is God alone who will judge the validity of that repentance. The time consisted of worship to Jesus, whether I would have chose different songs is of no consequence so long as He was the subject of our praise. The afternoon had a million plus people singing the national anthem, this was so powerful. I can’t tell you the feeling of having those same million plus people shout Amen, to prayers asking for an end to racialism, murder, rape, poverty, unemployment, hatred, unforgiveness, corruption etc. It was a moment I will never forget and I trust that it sent shock waves through the unseen world that are trying to say that this Country does not belong to Jesus.
We can always be so negative when faced with news, statistics, reality and perhaps even a gathering of South Africans, who did possibly benefit from Apartheid, although I doubt this can be said for all present. We were encouraged to stop this criticism, to stop this negativity, to go to our churches and mobilise, to pray, to catch ourselves and others when we are being negative and declare as Paul did when he spoke of our lost state “BUT GOD!”
I would agree we can and must do more, we must look at ways to intentionally reconcile, to reach out, to risk, to become uncomfortable. But I urge you, don’t look at yesterday as just another “Event”. To quote Jonathan “Perhaps God will be with us” as we tackle the giants ahead of us. What’s more, the ripple effect of yesterday spilled over into my life, my family, my church this morning. Perhaps the same happened in the million plus other’s lives.
Your take on the apathy is not wrong, not at all! But my caution is this, I believe God was present, I have faith it will cause a ripple effect like never before, and I don’t want to be the one who stands and judges the Judge declaring that what He is doing is not good enough because it differs from what I would have done.
Whilst you would have them pointed to Zaccheus, I can assure you the correct person was pointed too, and that person is Jesus. Let’s work towards justice, but let’s not blanket those on their knees with judgement, because perhaps they were asking the King of Justice to show them the best way forward.
But, let us also make sure that we do move from our posture of prayer, let’s risk and do whatever God says to bring about the changes we prayed for.
9 thoughts on “In Defence of “It’s Time” – But We Must Act!”
Hi thank you for your comment on my post. I will reply, hopefully later tonight.
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Thank you for this piece.
I am looking forward to Lorenzo’s response.
As an African who continues to suffer the effects of apartheid, I want to remain angry at whites; I want them to get on the next ship to anywhere but here. But God.
As an African child of God, I am reluctantly humbled, and have to acknowledge that only God, not my anger, can change hearts and lives. And God works only through inconsistent, conflicted, confused, broken people. Not people who have crossed every t and dotted every I in their past. They don’t exist.
Being of a more conservative theological leaning, im not even in support of some of the words, prophecies etc that I hear came out of the event. But what matters to me is the people got together to pray to the One True “Christian” God. And that is humbling. And the God who answers by fire, he is the Lord, he hears are stuttering, imperfect prayers.
Quite uncharacteristic of me to even respond to blog posts. Oh well, here goes.
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Thank you Lalie for your comment. I was recently at the protests against our leadership and definitely felt that we lacked credibility due to the inaction/perceived inaction in the past. I felt as if some might ask the question, “why have you had enough now?”. It is a valid question and we need to follow up and not simply let our actions fizzle out.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for many to have suffered the way they did or to suffer as many still do. I often look at my family and wonder how my different coloured children will experience SA in the future. I pray something has shifted in peoples hearts and that this does not turn into just another gathering. What I experienced gives me hope, not in man, because that will be fleeting, but in my God who is able to do immeasurably more than I can imagine, and for that reasons alone, I hope we move forward and take steps to spiritually and practically change.
Thank you for taking the time to read
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Awesome post and well said Tom, you truly rock. My nephew, Douglas Kruger (check him on facebook) had an excellent message too – I did share his post on my page.
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Thank you Toni, as always so encouraging of us!
Hi so I finally had some time to reflect and process your blog in response to my own.
Thank for the caring and loving way in which you wrote your response to my blog post. These are difficult times in our country.
Like you, I am a Christian. I have served in ministry for many years – and regard it as some of my best on earth.
I have a deep love for the people of this country. Its cultural diversity is its strength. We need more people to show the world what a transformed country and church will look like. What it will look like when white and black live in true union together to serve the ideals of a values-based democracy – which flows out of our faith in God and His word. We need to demonstrate what a repentant society (church) looks like, behaves like, thinks like, writes like, worships like. We need to show how a repentant society does business, how a repentant society educates its children, what they pray like and what the content of their sermons are.
But this is why Bloemfontein is so confusing to me: I was there at the first Newlands event. And I was one of the speakers at the 2nd or 3rd Newlands event. I supported it by making some of our ministry staff available to work as staff at Transformations SA. I have walked this “long journey” that you reference I might not have walked. What are we – and especially white – South Africans repenting of – again? Both Newlands events had huge monuments of repentance. Also Ellis Park. It was moving. Deeply so. Today, I think we make a mockery of repentance and use it as substitute with regularity to cover up inaction and unwillingness. I see none of the fruits of those early repentance events. I really don’t. To that I say :”But God? -(with a huge question mark instead of an exclamation mark) were these people not serious the last time they repented?” Therefore I refuse to further believe and embrace repentance actions at these events. Its a mockery. How are they any different?
The ripple effect? Now some 3 weeks later, as I predicted, its all but gone. The repentance is not spilling over onto the streets to do good. My scepticism tells me its all really just conscience-soothing behaviour.
When economic and race discrimination is so prevalent in this country and the church, when the poverty and hardships of the majority is of little concern to the act of worship of the Almighty on a Sunday morning, when the Church participates in conscience- soothing, then we who love God more than our very own lives, must speak out, and harshly judge ourselves first. I always look for the log in my own eye first. When the things which break the heart of God no longer breaks our hearts, then we have lost than crucial sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s conscience-pricking actions. When we can go to Bloemfontein to pray as one, but fight like heck to live and worship apart, then Bloemfontein is a mockery. Here’s one of my post-Bloemfontein action thoughts: If only all those people made a decision to ensure the integration of all schools and the publication of a booklet as to why God says we are all the same and why God says racism is wrong and made it available to every child in every school – as an outcome of the Bloemfontein repentance so that children will learn that racism is wrong, it would have taken Bloemfontein into a meaningful space. I think in such rational terms.
For the sake of the Church, The Kingdom and the country, I hope that I am wrong. Very wrong. I hope to one day write about the outpourings of revival into every nook and cranny of this country as a consequence of a repentant church. I hope to one day have coffee with you as we celebrate the fact that the “Kingdoms of this world are now the Kingdoms of our God”.
But for now, I cannot watch this spectacle go on. I think we are a disobedient church. We have chosen the conformities of culture and the comforts of the faith and have avoided the challenges of the faith.
You say “But God!”. I say “But God?”
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So well written, ironically, I never went to the previous events do the concerns you raise above. How Could this country not have changed, very sad. A concern is that perhaps we don’t live God period? Never mind more than ourselves, we need a revivals of a love for God, a closeness with God perhaps only then will we be able to stand with absolute Faith and declare But God! Thank you for taking the time Lorenzo
Beautifully & eloquently written as always. Personally, I would be hesitant to criticize anyone trying to do anything peaceful & positive in our current political situation. Wouldn’t even consider it for a God centered event. I’ve been & I know the spirit moves… I believe we’re on the precipice of something wonderful… I can feel the change… let’s encourage & support each other’s efforts – the world is watching & we ARE making history!
Couldn’t agree more Taryn, thank you