I am still processing what I experienced today, and one blog post simply cannot do justice to today’s pilgrimage into South Africa’s Apartheid past and still-troubled present. I was part of a group of new friends from all over the world, who visited District Six of Cape Town and the Guguletu Township. A few reflections will have to do.
Our guides today were Methodist Bishop Peter Smalley (picture below with Dr. Joy Moore of Duke Divinity School, and me) and Dr. Moss Ntlha (also below) who have lived this story and are role models of whole gospel living. Peter worked with Bishop Desmond Tutu in the fight to end Apartheid and was chaplain to Nelson Mandela and other imprisoned members of the ANC. It was a privilege to be with and hear from these two godly believers.
Apartheid forced non-white South Africans out of their homes and communities (that’s what happened in District Six) and into townships, breaking up whole communities and families, and deepening poverty and despair. The result? There are “no unwounded South Africans.” The
victims of Apartheid, the perpetrators, and also those who failed to act. The efforts at reconciliation are heartening, but in many ways, South Africa’s divisions remain deep although they are no longer mandated by law.
The Christian church is involved at all three levels–those who acted to end Apartheid were compelled by the gospel, Apartheid’s perpetrators used Scripture & theology to justify their actions, and believers who remained silent were operating under an incomplete view of the gospel. Repentance has followed in many cases, but what has happened here (that has been and is being repeated elsewhere in the world) compel our sober reflection.
I am pondering some of of the deep questions that confront us all where injustice exists and human rights are violated. These are significant opportunities for us to explore the meaning of the gospel, what it means to be God’s image bearers, and what it means to follow Jesus.