It isn’t roaring, it is weeping .. November

It isn’t roaring, it is weeping

The song “Weeping” was popular in the mid-1980s during a time of societal turmoil in South Africa. It describes how the government at the time sought to build “walls of steel and flame and men with guns” to keep the peace but that even with these the “fear and the fire and guns” remained. 

The biblical concept of peace, or shalom, would not describe a “peace” held together by walls and men with guns - it is not simply the absence of aggravation or aggression.  Shalom describes a community identified by righteousness, wholeness, justice and wholeness within all its relationships. 

The verb for shalom is shalam which is translated into English as restitution.  In the Old Testament law provision was made for restitution when someone committed a wrong (Exodus 22 and Leviticus 6) against someone else.  In his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5) Jesus exhorts his followers to go beyond the righteousness of the Pharisees in their obedience to the law using examples of murder and adultery to illustrate his point.

In conversations about restitution we can often get caught up in matters of the law and our personal wrongdoing.  Jesus, the Prince of Shalom, called his followers to proclaim shalom so in this matter surely our righteousness needs to go beyond that of the law.  To do shalam or restitution is an invitation to right wrongs that have been committed.  Restitution is an opportunity for creative shalom making rather than simply trying to ensure our isolated lives remain peaceful behind high walls.

Once again, South Africa is at a critical juncture in its history and the temptation for those who have wealth and power is to withdraw behind our walls of “steel and flame and men with guns” to ensure peace.  But this never creates shalom. The invitation is to step out beyond those walls and hear the invitation of Jesus to participate in Shalam - peace making restitution. 

We are passionate about helping the broader Church to engage with restitution and be genuine ‘peace makers’ in our world today. We believe the Church can lead the way in small and large acts of restitution ... all around the globe. The intent of this update is to stimulate thought and discussion on this sometimes thorny and often misunderstood issue. Peace ...

Craig Stewart

Restitution for Dummies .. .

While facilitating a workshop on restitution at a leaders conference years ago, I noted how many times the word ‘restitution’ was incorrectly labelled ‘retribution’ by participants. Funny and yet quite telling, I thought. It was nearly ten years ago, so perhaps we have moved further forward by now? Judging by how many South Africans responded to Tutu’s recent suggestion of a ‘white tax’, I think not. Judging by the numbers of young people following Malema on his long walk to Pretoria, I think not. Love him or not, Julius Malema is communicating something. Perhaps he is asking the questions that many don’t want to hear?

Restitution has a bad rap in some circles. No doubt about it. Talking about it makes white people twitch, generally. “I earned my lifestyle” and “It was not me that endorsed apartheid” are common responses. However, many privileged South Africans want to give of themselves to righting the wrongs of the past, but don’t know where to start. “I don’t have much to give away,” one man said to me with teary eyes, “I am not a wealthy person but I have benefitted from apartheid, there is no doubt.” I replied that whilst restitution is about economics, it is about much more than money.

I like the analogy of a soccer field that is at a significant angle, sloping in the favour of the wealthy and privileged. For one hundred years it has been slanted in that direction and goals have been scored fast and furiously. Come ‘freedom’ and the so-called ‘playing fields are now level’, but the score is already 3000 – nil. The playing fields are not level. Period.

So what to do? Guilt tax won’t do it. Burying heads in the sand won’t do it either. Charity won’t do it. St Augustine reminds us that “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” My experience tells me that whilst there are many questions as to how best to engage with restitution, there is a strong theme of relationship that runs through some of the answers. I watched a friend of mine from a suburb church drive to Gugulethu every Sunday afternoon to take another friend from a township church for driving lessons. They may not have been friends to start with, but by the time the learner got his driver’s license, they were. When the resourced friend replaced his car, it was obvious to factor in the giving of his previous car, which was still in very good condition, to his friend.

It was the other way around with another friend. Seven of us from very different backgrounds and separated by apartheid, met together for a year, listening more intentionally to each other’s stories as part of a Church discpleship group. One Xhosa friend told of how her grandfather had been a wealthy farmer in the Eastern Cape before the Group Areas Act had robbed him of their inheritance. Knowing her father, and her life and how they struggled in a shack in an informal settlement today, it was obvious to a privileged friend that she share the inheritance she gained by virtue of being white, by giving her a car.

These two cases may seem centred around cars, but the real theme is relationship. It looks different each time a small or large act of restitution takes place, from sharing skills to sharing inheritances, to sharing meals and homes, to sharing business and contacts. There is no formula, but one—it starts in the heart and is motivated by the conviction that genuine restitution is necessary for us as the Church in a nation ready to move into its next phase of growth, development and maturity.

“Do to others as you would want them to do to you” – perhaps it is that simple?
Linda Martindale

Sharing our Clothes - giving our best away

A while ago, my husband gave his jersey to a man on the side of the road. That’s not terribly remarkable…we’re all moved to give at certain points in our life, after all. What did change our lives (again) was the 6 second conversation he had with God just before he did. His first reaction on feeling God prompting him to give the man his jersey was, “But Lord, it’s my favourite one,” wishing he was wearing an old one which he could give away. God’s extremely kind and gentle response was, “So, because you are wearing your favourite one, this man must go cold?” And so, a man got a jersey on a cold night, my husband suffered the climate-controlled cool of Cavendish Square and our lifestyle has come under heavy scrutiny from that day on.  We have become increasingly aware of our “favourite” things we are holding onto which are stopping us from helping our brothers and sisters and being the church: a nice house, our children’s education at expensive schools, our “need” for 2 cars, our “need” for more stuff, comfort, status…whatever keeps us trapped and focused on ourselves.

In the early church, when a group of people didn’t have enough to eat, the whole church would fast until there was enough for everyone to break bread together. We are increasingly excited about what this looks like in Cape Town, today.
Wendy Lewin

Sharing our Transport -Leading SA with my car

It all started a few months ago when I drove past an elderly, limping woman walking down the street of our suburb. I am a busy mum of four young children and she, it turned out, is the domestic worker in a home nearby. I guessed she was probably on her way to the station, about 4 kilometres away. I couldn’t bear to see an elderly woman struggling like that and I stopped to offer her a lift. She was so grateful and it took me only 10 minutes out of my way. Now, every time I drive that road after dropping my son at his sports practice, I look out for my elderly friend and take her to the station. We’re getting to know each other and I feel that I make a positive difference in her life. She, however, has done the same for me. She has a beautiful spirit and has taught me so much about living with gratitude in my heart.

I have come to appreciate how privileged I am to own a means of transport and I now use it every day to help others I see walking to their destination. It has been so easy to make a difference to other people, in my daily comings and goings. It’s been fun to meet people I never would have otherwise, and I now drive around with my eyes open, aware of the endless opportunities in my daily life, to share with others the privilege of my car. This is one of the ways I can make a difference in our country in my daily life and the relational rewards have been amazing.
Sally Tucker

Sharing our education - The EduCap Challenge

What did you learn at school or university that you value? What did someone special teach you that makes you think of that person with fond memories? What did you learn through your own experiences that you could not have learnt from someone else? Think about all these things and other things that you have learnt in these various ways as your educational capital. In which category is your educational capital most valuable to you? Do you feel privileged to have acquired so much education over others less fortunate than you?

Educational capital behaves very differently to any other capital you may have. If you give your money away, it’s gone, until you replenish it with the next pay cheque. If you give your unwanted goods away, they’re gone, and you may have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes. With education, however, no matter how much you give away, it never decreases to less than you had before. In fact, the reverse is often true - as you teach you often find that your educational capital has increased as you gain a better understanding of the content.

So, here is the challenge: come and explore ways in which we can invest our educational capital in others, to enrich them and help them out of the cycle of poverty. I would love to hear from you as we develop novel approaches to the education crisis in our country. Drop me a line on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.
Heidi Segal

Just Christmas

It’s that time of the year again and Santa’s Workshop is busy preparing for Christmas. Come and join us! Bring joy to an orphaned or vulnerable child this year by either purchasing a gift or assisting with the wrapping of gifts on 22 or 24 November. Should you wish to purchase a gift, contact the office so that we can give you some ideas.

Alternatively, you can buy Christmas gifts for your colleagues, friends and family through The Warehouse and give a gift that will make a difference. For R100 you will receive a boxed gift filled with dried fruit and nuts OR for R75 you will receive a Hair and Body Wash. These are token gifts you can give to family and friends. These gifts fund the purchase of a Christmas present, educational starter pack, food parcel or food voucher for an orphaned and vulnerable child. If you are interested, contact Pat on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or phone 021 761 1168 for more information.

WORTH IT ...

Worth Noting

Open House - The Warehouse has been engaging in a review, evaluation and planning process over much of the past year as part of our ongoing life as an organisation.  If you’re interested in hearing more about this and about our vision for the involvement of the church in the transformation of our city then please join us for one of our open house sessions at The Warehouse, hosted by Craig Stewart. Thursday 17 November - 7.30pm and Saturday 19 November - 9.30am.

Worth reading


When the Elephant in the room is a bicycle.

Worth Clicking on

www.restitution.org.za

Worth Watching


We are all Players!

Reconciliation Forum

Can one evening focused on reconciliation in our city make a difference? It can when seeds of hope, joy, voice, forgiveness, and love are planted and watered among God’s people together. That was our hope as The Warehouse recently hosted an evening’s conversation with over one hundred people asking what the Church leading the way in reconciliation might look like. Also featured on the night was Nigel Measures, pastor at Khanyisa Church and author of God’s Stump, a book raising questions around these same issues.

The evening was filled with food, conversation, worship, inspiring thoughts, good questions, sharing stories, and prayer—all with the intention of creating a space for relationship to be birthed and nurtured. Why? Because we believe that relationship is key to overcoming the barriers created by our differences. If one desires to address the divides in our city, we must create opportunities for new friendship. We must have times and places to connect that seldom exist otherwise. We must model reconciliation and give people the opportunity to share from the deep places of their hearts. We call these transformational encounters— moments for Kingdom change.

Hosting forums like this are but one of the ways we want to help churches address issues of poverty, injustice and division in our city. We know that churches and believers being inspired, connected, equipped, and supported allows them to be a transformational presence in our communities. We need to know that we are not seeking God’s ways of reconciliation alone. And we need to take steps forward together. It’s the only way forward in this particular journey.

There was wonderful feedback on the night and after. Many have expressed appreciation for having space to meet someone new. Others felt that this was a significant night for relationships of the churches in the city. Critical conversations were begun or continued. Many purchased copies of God’s Stump to read or pass on to others. Several expressed interest in creating reading discussion groups. And perhaps most significantly, nearly all said they are committed to participating in carrying this agenda further. This is indeed God’s desire for our city and we must continue seeking His heart and intentionally living this out together. We would love your ideas for making this happen and invite you to future opportunities like this one. This was only a beginning ...
Arthur Stewart

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