[This blog post is one in a series of personal viewpoints of Warehouse Staff members on the Unite Against Corruption March]
The bible is filled with stories of God’s people engaging in the public square. This happens in multiple ways: through private engagements with Kings and rulers, public acts of repentance and symbolic acts of prophetically imaginative confrontation to name a few. At any time and place it is one of the tasks of those who follow Christ to be discerning what the time is and how would God have us act in response to that.
Is it a time when like Moses we are called to confront the empire’s Pharaoh publicly, or a time when like Samuel we meet privately with our friends in leadership confronting them with hard truths, a time where like Jesus we turn over the table in the temple, like Paul where we engage in public debate over a period of months or like Joseph and Daniel where we work courageously and without compromise within the systems of power to bring about change. Since we are a body God probably has multiple roles for his people to play at any one time.
As I have considered this and reflected on my participation in the unite against corruption campaign I have come to the conclusion that it is a time for a public act that says I am committed to a different story for my country. The corruption that has been in our land for centuries, the corruption has stolen and continues to steal land and livelihoods from all of us but mostly directly from the most vulnerable people, families and communities, this corruption needs to be confronted publicly.
I will join the march committed to acting on the fact that confronting and resolving the corruption of Nkandla is dramatically simpler than confronting the corruption of our apartheid past and all the mansions, homesteads and swimming pools that were built off stolen money and land prior to 1994. I will join the march as a public act of repentance and declaration. Of repentance for the knowledge that my heart is corrupt, that I have gained unfairly and that I want to be wrestling and acting out what it means for me to “pay back the money”. And of declaration which says to leaders in business, in government, in the church and civil society that I am not simply willing to allow us to be eaten away by the cancer of corruption and that we need to say enough.
Other blogposts in this series:
In this short and snappy post, Brian Koela reminds us about who we march as and what that looks like on the day.
This confessional statement by Caroline Powell should be read by all white, Christian South Africans contemplating what God is calling us to in this time in South Africa. She will not answer your question as to whether to march or not, but she will point you in the ways of the Kingdom and engaging with repentance, whether you march or choose not to.
Colleen Saunders believes that the march itself goes against what she and others have been hearing from God around His heart for our country at this time. In this rich piece, she shows us other ways for us to engage with government and other people and institutions of influence.
Nkosivumile Gola, our new intern at the Warehouse, weighs in the debate. He is strongly opposed to the march. In this piece, he calls the Church to be acting with integrity in the more important conversations he feels should be happening.
Why Personal Views?
On Wednesday, 30 September, marches will be taking place in at least Pretoria and Cape Town as part of the “Unite Against Corruption” Campaign. Since the public announcement of a march was made, the Warehouse staff have wrestled with God and each other around what opportunities and risks the march avails to the work of the Kingdom of God. We have friends of the Warehouse who are actively involved in mobilising churches for the march, and many people have asked us what the Warehouse’s stance on the march and messaging around it is.
Through some hard, and often painful, reflections and conversations, we have identified that we hold a variety of different views regarding how the church should be involved in addressing the insidious nature of corruption at all levels of society (from individual hearts, to family, church, civil, business and political structures). We have also recognised that we hold a variety of different, and sometimes opposite, views regarding whether churches should be involved in this particular moment of civil action or not. We have felt that the reasons for these views are of deep importance and value in helping us as individual Christians, churches and church structures to be reflective, repentant and active at this time. So, in answer to the question, “what is the Warehouse’s view on the march?”, we offer you a mosaic of different individual’s views as we make up the Warehouse, and hope this will be of help.
Where we are not necessarily in agreement around the march, we are certainly still in deep unity with each other – and particularly with regard to two important starting points on any discussion around corruption:
1. We believe it is critical that, when we as churches define corruption, we do so with a theological and practical understanding that corruption starts in every human heart – and therefore that the first act in fighting corruption is one of humility and repentance – as we ask God to search our hearts and shine a light on anything which is not aligned to His heart, and turn from those thoughts, attitudes and actions.
2. We believe that it is critical that, when we as churches frame discussions on corruption in our country, that we acknowledge that corruption has been overtly present in South African society, with devastating social consequences for the original people of the region since the advent of colonialism 350 years ago, and through the corrupt laws and action of the Apartheid state, and that much work still has to be done to tear down strongholds of power and privilege in our country, and to repair, restitute and restore all that has been lost.
To see more details on what the Church is being called to specifically by the march organisers, go to: www.churchesagainstcorruption.co.za