I try to stay positive about those in leadership in my birth country. I have been known to get very irritated at people (usually of the vanilla variety, like myself,) who moan about how our leadership is just going down-hill. Most of the time, the things they’re moaning about are for nothing. I’ll take pot-holes in the roads, and power-outages, and longer lines at government offices (and 100% of our population having the vote!) any day. I’d love to see more people complaining about the things that really matter–like protecting and educating our children.
Lately, I’ve been frustrated. I’ve seen situations where people in leadership positions are not living as servant leaders, but just using their privilege to make their own lives easier. People who should be administering justice and just…well…aren’t. People who should be working to educate and empower their students and just…well…aren’t.
I can work around pot-holes and power-outages. But the fieldworkers can’t work around cases of abuse and rape without the help of people who are qualified to work within our existing governmental structures to bring justice to these kids. It is very painful to know that there are children being hurt, and no one who has the power cares enough to work until justice is done and those kids are safe.
Or take for example the thousands of Matric (grade 12) students who can’t write their exams because these papers are being held back in negotiations between trade unions and the government. Or the fact that we have one of the largest education budgets in Africa, and one of the lowest literacy rates. Or that we have the biggest gap between the rich and the poor. Or that now according to the newest HSRC stats, Sweetwaters/Mpumuza has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world (50% of the population).
In our Bible study we’ve been going through Titus, which is all about the knowledge of the truth leading to godliness. People actually understanding how much God’s grace has done for them, and living their entire lives as acts of gracious service. Someone said, “If the church in South Africa would just do what it was meant to be doing, instead of sitting back wasting time arguing about useless things, everything would be different.”
Um. Yes and Amen.
I just finished “Walking with the Poor” by B. Myers (suggested to me by Baba Francis, from APU South Africa semester), and there were so many great things about this book. The book is about holistic community development. On the one side, there are many churches who are suspicious of community development, since it smells like “social gospel” to them, but on the other side, there are many community development groups suspicious of churches who are preying on poor people, giving them food to “recruit” more converts. This book speaks to both sides, emphasizing the structural, social, institutional side of sin, not just the individual, personal side of sin. Yes, we need to bring down sinful structures (like apartheid, like corruption), but we also need internal liberation from the sin of self-centeredness that causes us to exploit people in the first place. We need the whole story. If sin affects everything, we need the restoration of everything, personal and social.
I’m glad I get to work for an organization that is trying to do both! Pray with us that we will see real servant leaders rise up who are passionate about caring for the poor, abused, sick, and uneducated in our country!
Please also pray for Rachel and David who arrive this week to do media work for iThemba. We’re so thankful for the community of people who are sponsoring them to come out and help us expand the number of people iThemba can impact.