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Saturday 28 October 2017

Thandi Gamedze

What We Have Dreamed and Seen

At the Warehouse, we prioritize times of corporate listening and discernment. We believe that we are created to be communal beings, and that we most accurately hear what God is saying when we do it corporately, making space for clarification, confirmation, and deeper interrogation.

These times often provide vision for the season to come, and are helpful in allowing us to take stock of where we are going, as well as acting as a metaphorical lighthouse in seasons where the path is less clear.

In the midst of being encouraged to prophetically imagine a just society, we have also felt God nudging us to look back at the things that we dreamed into for the season gone by, and in doing so have been beautifully confronted by the evidence of God’s faithfulness.

Over times of corporate discernment, we collectively asked God what we should be paying attention to in the next season. These are some of the things we heard for the last season, as well as what we have concurrently seen.

- We were asked to pay attention to the next generation of leaders
In our attempts to do this, we have had the honour of journeying with many young leaders who are pioneering new ways of pushing for justice. We have seen many young people step up in incredible ways, but oftentimes becoming disillusioned with the church and its failure in many cases to take up the cause against injustice. In the hopes of creating spaces where these points of contention can be unpacked and discussed, we have hosted a training programme in Volmoed, as well as various gatherings on Robben Island, and have had the privilege of being involved in various happenings alongside the organisation Youth With A Mission. 

- We were asked to pay attention to how God responds to stories of pain, suffering and struggle
In so doing, we realised some of the magnitude of the trauma faced by our communities on an ongoing basis. In our work of gathering church leaders together to hear about some of the realities in their communities, we saw that although churches were attempting to offer care to individuals dealing with trauma, they were often not equipped on how best to provide support. Faced with this gap, we developed some training resources that can assist churches to best walk with people who have undergone or are undergoing various forms of trauma. Siyaphila (we are well) is an eight week programme facilitated by a qualified professional, that takes individuals on a journey to come to terms with trauma that they have faced. Sinoxolo is a shorter version of this, that can be facilitated by anybody. Children, Church and the Law is another of our resources that unpacks the Children’s Act, and provides a foundation for how it should be applied within churches.

- We felt a pull engage more fully with the subject of restitution
We have become more and more convinced that in order to move forward as a country, we need to really engage with the concept of restitution, and find ways of creating practical steps to carry this out. This conviction has led us to partnering with the Restitution Foundation in various ways, in an attempt to develop resources that facilitate individuals to go on journeys of practically embracing principles of restitution. We continue to be encouraged by stories of churches that we are in relationship with, engaging with questions around restitution, and are increasingly seeing people taking practical steps towards a more just distribution of resources.

- We were asked to be present in places of chaos
Something that we see again and again in scripture, is that Jesus continually situates himself in the centre of pain and chaos. In our time of corporate discernment, we felt that Jesus was asking us to do the same. In our society today, chaos is never in short supply, and this mandate took us on a number of journeys. We have had the opportunity of being involved with the creation of the group More Than Peace, who have trained and deployed multiple ‘peace and justice witnesses’ to difficult spaces of protest, as well as assisted in facilitating dialogue between opposing groups in these spaces. We have also had the privilege of assisting with the initiation of the RESPOND network, a group of churches that mobilise practical assistance for those affected by disasters, such as the fire in Imizama Yethu or the storm in Cape Town earlier this year. We have been really encouraged seeing the church step up to respond to these spaces of chaos.

- We were asked to step into a place of thought leadership within spaces to which we were being invited
As we have felt called to not only be faithful in doing the ‘thought-work’ around issues of injustice in our country, but also to be faithful with sharing this, we have had the privilege of receiving a number of invitations to do so. Many of our staff spoke or facilitated workshops at March’s Justice Conference. We have facilitated various trainings on an ongoing basis, and have been honoured to open up our space for the Leadership in Urban Transformation course, which is generating important thought and action regarding the transformation of our churches, cities and societies at large. Luthando Tofu, one of our members of staff, has been given a slot on Tygerberg radio station on Thursday evenings. Many of our staff have been invited to speak at conferences and events locally, nationally and abroad. We have also facilitated a number of contextual bible studies that we term ‘decolonising the gospels’, where we read scripture together, acknowledging our own contexts as well as those of the biblical characters, in order to get a deeper and more accurate understanding of the scriptures. We believe that the Holy Spirit is realigning the church with God’s heart for justice, and we are so grateful for the part we get to play in that.

We have listened, dreamed, and attempted to align our praxis to this, and in the process, we have seen the faithfulness of God manifested in a myriad of ways. Our journey has not been perfect. At times it has included bumps in the road, wrong turns, and disappointments, but we have been, and continue to be, transformed through it. No doubt there remains much work to be done, and because of this, we continue to dream.

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