CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

July 6, 2008

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1


On April 24, 2005, I was privileged to attend the Myers Lecture at the Church of the Savior United Methodist Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio (I happened to be in the community for my grandson’s birthday). The guest speaker was the Rev. Peter Storey, a renowned peace advocate and former Methodist bishop of South Africa. The following is taken from his notes, which he so graciously gave me.
This is the first of a three-part article. The second part, 
KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2 , explains how peace after apartheid was accomplished. The third part, KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 3speaks about the 2008 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference.

In 1990, South Africa’s new president spoke words that shook the world. As leader of the white, racist regime, he stated that he had come to realize that apartheid must end—Nelson Mandela must be freed, the black people must be free, and there must be a new democratic future for South Africa. It was a time for transition.

This happened in a country where the church role was divided. Prominently supporting the racist regime: the Dutch Reformed Church. Prominently speaking against the racist regime: members of the South African Council of Churches, including the Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists.

The opponents of the racist regime were put on trial by the state as members of international communism. The terrible trials they endured culminated with the bombing of their headquarters by the secret police, an action that was sanctioned by the State.

It was an amazing event. People working at the headquarters arrived to find their offices blown apart—but in the midst of the devastation a mural from the lobby was hardly damaged. Visible for all to see was Jesus with open arms welcoming all who came to Him.

After the bombing, the South African Council of churches staff went into exile, taken in by the Central Methodist Church, which met with them for prayer, and they recited the 23rd Psalm.

It takes more than a bomb from a dictatorial ruler to silence Jesus’ church. It was the church that would help guide South Africa’s transition to a new realm.

The result of the bombing could have been civil war with its power grabs and violence, with soldiers sent from both sides to do violence and blame the other side. There could be no turning to the police or military for support, since they were part of the power structure responsible for much of the problem.

HOW DOES A PERSON KEEP PEACE IN A COUNTRY WHICH IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE?

The church and business community formed an alliance with a common mission—to save South Africa from war and unite it. They launched a peace initiative.

But first, for the church to work for peace, it had to unite itself. Having been divided, it had to heal the wounds in the body of Christ.

A conference was held in November, 1990, with leaders from both sides. The Dutch Reformed Church had betrayed Christ’s Gospel by being responsible for death, torture and other horrors. When its leader confessed to personal guilt and accepted responsibility for the wrongs, he also confessed in the name of the entire church and pleaded for forgiveness.

Other churches, eg. the Pentecostals, had been silent during the apartheid. They asked forgiveness for that silence.

Finally, there was the righteous ones, who realized they were not sinless, that their guilt arose from not supporting their leaders.

Everyone had to confess his/her sins in order to change.

Amidst many leaders of the South Africa Council of Churches who responded like Jonah (who refused to forgive the Ninevahites), not wanting their enemies to repent and be forgiven by God but wanting them to be punished, Desmond Tutu stood up and spoke.

“My faith tells me that when someone repents, I must forgive him.”

A National Peace Accord formed, standing up for South Africa. People came and signed a document committing political parties to certain codes of conduct. The National Peace Secretariat was a council of business and church leaders, an alternative peace service for the entire country.

The process took over a year. The council trained 26,000 youth to be peace monitors, going out into the countryside to mediate between warring groups in an attempt to lower the temperature of violence. To do this, they needed eighty cars—and convinced Honda that if they didn’t supply these cars, they wouldn’t have any customers, since the country was headed for anarchy. The bought the first cell phones in South Africa from the British, and when customs detained the batteries, the British Royal Air Force flew them in. Trained trauma counselors from Sweden spent two years in South Africa, counseling peace monitors who had seen too much violence. Scotland Yard trained additional people to keep the peace.

This was all accomplished without government or politics.

Thirty million people voted in the first free, fair and peaceful election. Although they used computers for checks and balances, in some parts of South Africa there was no electricity to run the computers, making the tallying of ballots too complicated and in need of simplification. Rev. Storey received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night, asking if he could gather nine hundred church persons “overnight” to help count votes. Although a thousand volunteers reported for duty, there was still arguing, so they were sent home. The second day twelve hundred volunteers were trained and went to the countryside to count votes, which saved the election.

The question still remained: HOW SHOULD THE COUNTRY DEAL WITH ITS PAST?

To continue reading How South Africa dealt with its past (part 2) click on:

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

 

 For additional reading:

VOICES OF WILDERNESS: PEACE MEETING

CHILD ABUSE AND SCRIPTURE

CHILDREN LEFT HOME ALONE (or in cars alone)

ANOTHER HORRIFYING HEADLINE

KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY

A FATHER-DAUGHTER REUNION

SEVENTY YEARS OF LOVE

CHILDISH IMMATURITY

LOGGING IN MAINE AND ON THE PERU-BRAZILLIAN BORDER

BLACK FLIES AND OTHER INSECTS: Then and Now

OF FIREFLIES AND LIGHTNING BUGS

THE ICE CREAM MAN

BEAR STORIES ACROSS THE NATION

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2 Comments »

  1. God’s will. Matthew 26:39, “Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

    I will never forget the time of learning how I had to surrender my will to God. It was a time during those seven years of affliction, which plagued my life. It was a truly horrific time for my family and I.

    I received many iron infusions, at Poole hospital, walking down those long corridors was near impossible for me to do because of my lack of breath. I really hated doing this, they would hook me up for a transfusion, the needle would cause severe bruising as it entered my veins. Many times leaning against the corridor walls, pale as a ghost, saying, “Lord, why do I have to do this, why don’t you give me more iron in my blood?”

    Then one time I prayed “Well Lord, if you want me to do this, if this is your will for me to have these infusions, then I surrender to you.” That was the very last time that I needed any more iron in my blood, and my breath returned to me, and I never needed to return again for any more infusions, the Lord completely healed me, after saying “I surrender to you Lord.”All to Jesus I surrender all to Jesus I freely give.

    Now Christ had to surrender His will to His Father completely, so that if we will surrender our lives to Him, and totally trust Him for all that He has accomplished on that cross, then healings and blessings will abound for us. For whatever comes our way we will have the victory, because Christ has the victory over all the powers of darkness.

    Dear Christians, today you may say, “Why have I got to go through this trial,” as you cry unto the Lord. Well, I can say from experience that Jesus will be with you, and bring you out of that fiery furnace, just like He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and brought them out. You may be in a place where you just do not want to be, just like I was, now this will be a time for you to surrender your will to Christ, and say, “ Lord if it’s your will for me to go through this fiery furnace, then your will be done.” You can be assured of this that Jesus will bring you out just like He did for countless others who have put their trust in Him.

    Sometimes through testing times I go, dark seems the way, and full of woe; but in the furnace though I be, my great Physician healeth me, Lord, I would spread this truth abroad, the mighty power of thy word; It’s just the same, the blind now see, and demons at thy presence flee, for sin and sickness doth depart, when thou doth reign within my heart; and I from all the curse am free, since Christ, my Saviour healeth me.
    LINK
    EVANGELIST BILLY BOLITHO
    http://www.evangelistbillybolitho.blogspot.com

    Comment by cornishevangelist — July 6, 2008 @ 8:39 am | Reply

  2. HOW CAN I HELP THE POOR WHITE PEOPLE MY OWN RACE IM IN SAN DIEGO CA

    Comment by ROBERT YOUNGBLOOD — November 10, 2008 @ 7:01 am | Reply


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