welcome to the warehouse!
The Warehouse was established in 2003 through the parish of St John's, and exists to serve the South African church network in its response to poverty, injustice and division. We work with local churches in all communities, helping them to implement sound, effective and practical acts and renewed attitudes, to see transformation in our communities.
Join us from 14 - 16 October 2014 to explore how you can lead your church to transforming your community.
“A church full of life and love, working for the good of the community in which God has placed it, is the proper end of mission. Transformational development that does not work towards such a church is neither sustainable nor Christian… It is impossible to
imagine a without a transforming church in its midst.”
- BRYANT MEYERS
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town convened a group called the Electoral Code of Conduct Commission (ECOCC) during the recent South African elections held on May 7 2014. I was privileged to join ECOCC on the day, joining a diverse group of religious leaders from around the Western Cape to observe the election as independent observers.
It was a unique opportunity to see the election from a perspective beyond that of a participant. As part of a team of 5 I visited 9 polling stations on the day beginning as the day started at the IEC headquarters and finishing up that evening many hundreds of kilometres later.
In reflecting on the day I found myself reflecting on a few things:
* The salt and light presence that we can play in ensuring fairness and integrity in the democratic process. We take these freedoms for granted very easily and yet the nature of sin in this world is that they will be eroded unless we actively sustain them.
* The exuberance, enthusiasm and committed participation on the ground by South Africans. In every polling station I visited I was struck by the good humour and collective desire to participate of those who were there.
* The stark contrast between democratic participation and economic participation by so many in our society and the recognition that the differences in these two marks of a society do not represent God’s shalom justice and isn’t the society we yearn for.
As believers we should be seeking ways of growing the participation of all people both economically and democratically.
By Craig Stewart
Saturday 5th July
Every tribe and nation! A time of story-telling, worship, intercessory prayer. There are also opportunities to serve in the Urban Gleaning ministry.
9am to 12pm
Tuesday 8th July
Transformational Development workshop
A one-day introduction to Transformational Development
9am to 2pm
Beautiful Gate, Nyanga
Thursday 24th July
Labour and Exploitation
A mini forum of discussion around the issues of labour and a Christian mandate to address exploitation
2pm to 4pm
The primary focus of our work is engaging churches in longer term transformation strategies addressing poverty, injustice and division. In this context inappropriate crisis based relief can actually do more harm than good. However, there are times of crisis when relief is required due to a disaster incident and in these times appropriate relief should be effectively delivered within an appropriate time period.
Over the past two years we have been working with the Consultation of Christian Churches in Cape Town to increase the effectiveness of the collaborative response of churches in the City of Cape Town and surrounds to larger scale disaster incidents. The core working group now has committed participants from 15 different church networks and denominations along with key NGO support partners. The scope of this network is as follows:
1. Provide an effective centrally coordinated church response to disaster incidents affecting more than 500 people within the City of Cape Town (CoCT) and Stellenbosch areas that interacts effectively with government and civil society partners.
2. Improve collaborative church based responses to smaller incidents within this area through increased capacity and communication networks.
3. Increase the disaster mitigation and preparedness capacity of churches within its impact area.
Over the past month sadly we’ve had to activate the network for two separate incidents each impacting just under 1000 people. A fire in the community of Masiphumelele destroyed 250 homes and very shortly thereafter approximately 235 households were evicted and their homes destroyed in the community of Nomzamo. In both these incidents those impacted had to face severe Cape winter storms in the days after the event. It was tremendously gratifying to see the church network responding rapidly and appropriately providing incident coordination support, large amounts of clothing and blankets and food support.
If you’d like to support our work in developing this network you can find out more here:
Or you can click here
Jayakumar Christian, in his book God of the Empty Handed, grapples with the question: How can the kingdom of God transform the powerlessness of the poor?
Christian worked among the poor in India for over thirty years, exploring the relationship of poverty to powerlessness. Within this exploration he integrated a vast range of subjects into his studies including anthropology, sociology, politics, and theology. He avoids the easy solution and offers a new paradigm within his book, which can shape our responses to the poor and provide a workable framework for grassroots organizations.
In this book, Christian begins with a narrative approach: stories that capture the human dimensions of poverty. He then examines and analyzes secular development theories, including Liberation, Dalit, and evangelical theologies as well as several historical responses to poverty. He questions the meaning of powerlessness and describes challenges facing the modern church. Finally, he explores the fundamental understanding of power according to the theology of the Kingdom of God. He concludes by stating: “only when we realise that we are all empty-handed before God can brokenness in relationships be fully restored.”
For those who work with impoverished communities, this book will challenge, inspire, and hopefully impact your worldview and understanding of relationships in regards to poverty and power.
By Rachel Self
Rachel Self is a new intern with The Warehouse. She is currently studying studio art with a concentration in graphic design at Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois. She is excited to be a part of a team of individuals who also desire to see transformation, justice, and shalom become a consistent reality for the vulnerable in their city.
June 7 2014 saw another significant Justice Saturday. People attending included newcomers and old friends alike, including one young woman who was “told by a friend to come”.
Kids for Justice engaged 15 children around the issue of safety for children. They made cards and wrote out letters for the families of the Nigerian girls who were abducted. The children then went on a noisy march around the inside of The Warehouse declaring safety for children.
During that time fifteen adults were led in a contextual Bible study of Matthew 2:16-20, the passage in which Herod kills the children, and Joseph is warned to flee to Egypt. The group was particularly struck by the verse about Rachel weeping for her children, a scripture that was beautifully contextualised as the group moved to Manenberg to meet and pray with two women who spoke their hearts, their joys and their pain.
One of the women, who had lost a son, said she had never shared with anyone what she shared with us that morning.
All who attended returned uplifted, declaring that it was a really valuable experience.
The Lwandle evictions, Masi fire and ongoing freezing cold weather - there are many people in need of some neighbourly love at the moment.
Here are some ideas for helpful giving ...
1. Clothing donations
Clothing must be sorted and bagged according to gender, age (child - teenager - adult) and type (pants - skirts - shirts - jackets - shoes etc) and should be clean and in decent condition. Please can we arrange for this to happen either by the people donating or at our individual churches and then we can collect them centrally. There is a very particular need for children’s and infant clothing.
2. Baby care kits - these are helpful and needed.
2 Wash cloth
1 Baby Towel
1 Small Tub Vaseline
1 Small Baby Powder
Bottles / Nipples
4. Plastic sheeting, gumboots, umbrellas
If you’d like to contribute financially to the relief effort please donate into The Warehouse account and reference the donation as Disaster Relief
Account name : The Warehouse Trust
Account number : 071 883 053
Account type : Current
Bank : Standard Bank, 4 Dreyer Street, Claremont, 7700 South Africa
Branch : Claremont
Branch Code: 025109
Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ
Or you can click here
Thanks so much for your care!
Why I joined in on the Walk of Witness
At our weekly staff meeting a colleague asked why I was committed to joining in the Walk of Witness over the Easter weekend, a walk initiated by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and other religious leaders to express concern over various issues facing our nation.
I believe that for many South Africans that which we thought was going to be bring our ‘salvation’ has not been, and in different ways we have to mourn that. People like Ronnie Kasrils and his peers are mourning it; and they are not quite ready to let it go yet, to vote for someone else. I was struck when reading an article where Kasrils was saying that there are powerful people in government who are afraid to speak up. I thought NO, if one can’t speak up now, one would not have spoken up against apartheid. The cost of speaking up now is nothing compared to the cost of speaking up against the previous regime, it was a dramatically higher cost back then. I was struck again by the thought that we are living in the ‘Friday’ of our nation’s history, we are living the death of a dream, but we, as believers, have to be willing to call out ‘Sunday” – declaring the good news that society can and does change.
What does that declaration look like? Sitting around a dinner tables moaning and groaning? Liking a post on Facebook? No. There are many ways to proclaim the good news of hope and transformation. One of them is in the work we do at The Warehouse. Another way is to proclaim. The Archbishop called us to proclaim over the Easter weekend – to join in a walk to parliament from District Six, a symbolic icon of our past – that it may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.
There does come a time when the bulk of society needs to start tipping towards justice and change, towards standing up and saying no, this is not what we want anymore. Its not the only way, it’s not the primary way, but it is one way. By proclaiming we are saying that we give witness to the fact that we want something different for our people; that we are not willing to stand by and let our country slip away or be taken away from its people. The arrogance of the government, the kind of grabbing of power that we are seeing, the complete disregard of the citizens whom our leaders are there to serve – where that takes us in ten years time is not where we want to be.
By joining in the walk with my family, we make a statement that we are willing to move. We are making a stand. We are strengthening society’s arm. Whilst we may not be at the center of power as citizens, we need to keep pushing into those spaces. It takes courage to stand. I walked as a follower of Jesus who wants to see change in our nation and believes that citizens have the power to bring it about in non-violent, participatory ways.
Some thoughts to pray about and reflect on as we approach the elections, by Colleen Saunders
1. Acknowledge what God has done
Luke 10:13-15; Matt 11:21-23
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Sodom is well known for its sexual sin (Gen 19 & Jude v7); less so for its social sin of being “overfed and unconcerned” and not helping the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49). Jesus compares disregarding his miracles to sins such as these.
- What are the miracles that are happening in South Africa that we are not acknowledging?
- List the things that are GOOD about our systems and institutions, our governance, our resources.
- Repent of not acknowledging them, and then spend time thanking God for what he has done.
2. Acknowledge the influence, authority and call of the Church
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength. For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.
- What is the war that the church is waging, and what does victory look like?
- What is the knowledge that we, the Church have that should be shared?
- In which ways have we not been using our power and strength to influence society?
- To whom should the church be giving guidance and kingdom advice?
- Pray for the church and our role as we prepare for the elections.
3. Ask God for open hearts and ‘eyes’ to see
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?
It may sometimes seem that our country is “staggering towards the slaughter” ...
- What are we not seeing? What we are claiming to know nothing about? What does God want us to see in the spiritual realm?
- Repent and pray as God leads.
4. Repent of slumber
I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
South Africa is threatened by thorns, weeds and broken walls – poverty, corruption, scarcity, division, loss of hope – while much of the church is thriving. Why and how have we allowed these things to creep in? Have we been so fast asleep?
- Pray for God to awaken the church
- Pray for God to awaken you
- Repent of slumber and ask him to give you direction for your prayers and actions.
5. Pray for hope
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
- List the things that are destroying hope in our nation
- List the things that are threatening hope in our churches
- Pray into those issues, and pray that hope may be restored.
In the life and activities of every group of people there comes a moment of realisation that something significant is happening – a moment worth stopping, noting and marking. The Bible is full of stories of how the people of God point us to the ancient art of remembering, of marking moments. Sometimes with an alter built in memory of God’s intervention, or a meal that helped them ‘stop and notice’ what God was doing in their lives. Recently, we experienced such a moment in one of our staff development workshops, and we stopped to notice what God was doing.
We had been exploring the ongoing and sometime heavily divisive debate regarding the definition of the gospel, mission, evangelism and social justice. As we looked at some opposing views and tried to understand them in the light of the work we do with churches, a picture was drawn, depicting two different camps on opposite sides of the paper: those who are pro-evangelism on one side and those who are pro-justice on the other. The picture shocked us! While it depicted an extreme but very present reality in the global church, the realisation dawned on us – just how entirely anti-gospel in spirit it was!
As we debated and listened to varying perspectives, we began to realise that over the years we, The Warehouse, have positioned ourselves - not always, but definitely sometimes - in the “social justice” camp, as a reaction to those who have positioned themselves in the “evangelism camp”. This could have made it sound as if we don’t believe that salvation or preaching the good news to all people is necessary. And while we may know that that’s not the full theological picture, our assumptions that others understand it as such may have alienated some of the very leaders that we have hoped to work alongside over the years. As humans we haven’t always been the best listeners and when debates get heated we tend to revert back to our ‘camps’ and argue from that polarised place of conviction.
Jesus didn’t do that. He answered challenges with questions and stories that often started with “The Kingdom of God is like…”. Instead of choosing a position on the opposite end of the spectrum to make his point, he lived, embodied and told stories about the only reality he could faithfully speak of - the Kingdom of God. He ate, slept, walked and breathed Shalom - the whole good news for the whole world – even when he acknowledged that this would not bring the kind of peace for which the world was searching.
In this ongoing debate (that should never have been a debate in the first place) the invitation is to be the kinds of disciples that do not “meet fire with fire” and choose the polar opposite view to the stated argument to try to make the point for social justice. No, we are all called to be ones who respond with the way of shalom, with the kinds of answers and stories that begin: “The Kingdom of God is like…”. We want to be disciples who invite the whole church to understand the whole gospel that impacts the whole world: Shalom for souls, families, communities, cities, political systems and eco-systems.
We regret the words we have chosen that may have put us in a camp on the far side of Jesus’ Kingdom way, and are sorry if that has made anyone we interact with feel that we do not represent the whole saving work of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As a community of staff, we have committed to holding each other to language and actions that point to this full shalom and to challenge one another when we recognise the temptation to encamp ourselves in polar arguments.
To mark this moment, we set light to the piece of paper that depicted the two opposing camps of thought - the either/or mentality that has fuelled this debate over centuries, the ‘pendulum’ swing of the church in history. It was a significant moment. We invite you, our friends and partners in this co-labouring work with the King, to join us in this commitment, to challenge us when you see us erring and to explore together what the whole gospel for the whole world looks like in 2014.
By Caroline Powell
Our February news update—an excellent vision for the church in SA (or anywhere), some news, compelling blogs, food for thought ... enjoy!
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- The formal economy shed 800 000 jobs in 2009
- 39% of our population live below the national poverty line
- 23.5% of South Africa's labour force is unemployed