DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Hope Amid Hopelessness

Written by: on May 25, 2017

 Introduction

The doctrine of Original Sin is straightforward.  The ramifications and fallout are more challenging to understand their impact and profundity.  I would propose that one of the most heinous of our fallen/sin nature is a breakdown, and even hatred, for people who are different than us.

This breakdown/hatred is profoundly the opposite of the character and composite of what Jesus IS and what He STANDS for.  Pardon me as I take my academic hat off for a moment and allow my “call” to speak in this post.  A Biblical reflection is imperative at this point for a reference point.

  • And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1:23 (NLT)
  • This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:25–27 (NLT)

Immaterial are some externals of other human beings, but there are a few that seem to push the button to anarchy and even murder.  Is it the size of the nose, jawline, beard, gender, height, or skin color?  Is it a certain nationality, level of literacy, acceptance of a prescribed creed, or socio-economics?  It manifests in Jew/Gentile, Black/White/Asian, Hetero/Homo, Native American/White Man, and the list proliferates ad nauseam, depending on what day, year, political party in power, or phase of the moon.

Summary

Dr. David Welsh, in his exceptional work, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, delivers a poignant overview of the people of South Africa:  White, Black, Africans, and Asians, and their struggle to coexist over something that was out of their control, skin color and ownership.  Recently we read Thomas Oden’s, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind:  Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity, where he offered an informing and scathing edict to the Western church on how we overlook Africa’s impact into the Christian thought process.

Welsh brings us one step closer to our base nature when he quotes, “A rueful Xhosa saying has it: ‘At first we had the land and the white man had the Bible.  Now we have the Bible and the white man has the land.’”[1]  The hope of mission’s work into Africa was for the saving of a continent.  The hope of the Pilgrims and early forefathers was religious freedom.  How we forget our mission and resort to anarchy, destruction, greed, and murder.

Welsh traces the history of South Africa from its disputed original inhabitants to the Europeans who moved in and took control.  Control, on their terms and on their financial increase at the people’s expense. One of the three largest Dutch Reformed Churches stated,

Strict racial apartheid in the agrarian lifestyle stands opposed to the danger of race-mixing in the towns.  The ingrained Boer tradition of blood-purity and a hatred of any social intercourse with non-whites was their means of self-preservation in the century that passed.  But urban poverty is a powerful means of eliminating the dividing line between white and black.  In the slums all races live next to one another, sometimes in the same large building.  And they work alongside one another in the same factory.  Urban employers are people who are far less concerned with the maintenance of the dividing line of colour than the Afrikaner; they want the cheapest labour, regardless of colour or race; it is of little concern to them that the colour feeling of the Afrikaner is blunted in this way.

In light of the Manchester terrorist attack on May 22, 2017, the vile and hatred was leveled at children and teens.  South Africa had their moment too.  It was in a town called Soweto in June 1976.   “In answer to the question, ‘What is the single most important moment in South African history?’, we believe it was the instant the first shot was fired on 16 June 1976, because it effectively killed the dream of grand apartheid.  The traumatic death throes would last for many more years, but the beast was mortally wounded.”[2]

What is the tie between Manchester and Soweto?  Soweto was:

  • Biggest African township in the country, adjacent to the biggest city, Soweto was the hub of African politics.
  • The population was young, probably over 50 per cent being under the age of 21.
  • Much of Soweto was a giant slum.
  • Overcrowding, with an average of up to 14 occupants in each house.
  • Only one in three houses had electricity.
  • Poverty was also deepening[3]

 Soweto was a changing point, that costs the lives of young people.  But from that moment a catalyst was birthed that ultimately changed the social landscape of South Africa.  “Morale and hope are important components of any political struggle, and they were widely diffused in the aftermath of the uprising.  Young blacks were now hopeful that liberation would happen in their lifetimes.”[4]

 

Analysis

I was watching portions of The Long Ranger (2013 edition with Johnny Depp) recently.  The movie depicted this ongoing hatred and struggle with settlers, Native Americans, Chinese, and the wealthy railroad tycoons.  It is not a new phenomenon of the 21st Century.  It has been and seems to be alive today.  The question is what do we do?  Where do we turn?

The answer is……Christ is the hope!  Doing and “being” the expression of Christ brings hope!  My heart is torn when the catalyst is the crown of God’s creation – Man and the most vulnerable – Children.  This book has ignited a passion in me for all people.

[1] David Welsh, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid, (Johannesburg, SA: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2009), 30.

[2] Ibid., 142.

[3] Ibid., 151.

[4] Ibid., 171.

About the Author

mm

Phil Goldsberry

5 responses to “Hope Amid Hopelessness”

  1. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Phil,

    I, too, was taken by Welsh’s statement, “A rueful Xhosa saying has it: ‘At first we had the land and the white man had the Bible. Now we have the Bible and the white man has the land.’”

    In our new calling as Global Leaders, how do we help the Church not repeat the mistakes of the Church in South Africa?

    That is a vague question, I realize. I am looking for how this statement should affect us as leaders – and how we lead. If you can just share a thought on that…

    • mm Phil Goldsberry says:

      Marc:
      Great “vague” question….but, it seems that our human nature gravitates to the lowest common denominator. This denominator is steeped in self-preservation and self-promotion.

      The key would seem to be in the heart of the leaders and their ability to fight the natural tendency to “self”. How? That’s the million dollar question. Is it accountability, denominational loyalty, etc.?

      Phil

      • mm Marc Andresen says:

        You are right about the leader. I suspect that it really gets to character development and refinement. I hope our D Min studies work that process for us.

        M

  2. Claire Appiah says:

    Phil,
    No apology needed for taking your “academic hat off . . . and allowing your calling to speak.” It is very much needed. The best way to get any semblance of understanding of the racial hate/discrimination phenomenon is through the lens of its theological implications that you spelled out. I like what the book stirred up within you from the core of your soul. You stated, “This book has ignited a passion in me for all people.” I have no questions for you. You have provided enough to ruminate on. Thanks!

    • mm Phil Goldsberry says:

      Claire:
      Thank you. This has been another “brick” in God building us into the “house” that He desires.

      Phil

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