After months of deep prayer, discernment, engagement and collaboration with multiple partners and friends across the province and country, South Africa’s second Justice Conference took place on the 12th and 13th of this month, bringing together almost a thousand people seeking to journey towards an understanding of a gospel that truly is good news to the poor. This year the conference took place at Spine Road High School in Mitchell’s Plain, a significant location in South Africa’s history of student activism against the system of apartheid.
The conference began with an invitation to locate ourselves within that space- a space of historical marginalisation and as such, one of pain and lament, but also a space out of which have emerged voices of liberation crying out to tear down the structures of oppression, and thus a space of critical hope.
From this context, over the next two days we explored the words of God spoken through the prophet Amos to the Israelites many years ago- words which were spoken into a context which feels eerily similar to the context in which we find ourselves in as a city, a country, and indeed a world today.
Emerging from this theme, we were invited onto six connected journeys in the ensuing plenary sessions:
The call to remember invited us to reflect on our histories with God, and the ‘Egypts’ that we have been liberated from.
The call to places of pain invited us to locate ourselves (as did Jesus) on the margins.
The call to righteousness invited us to enter into Jesus’ mission which seeks to bring shalom to all the earth, necessitating a stand against injustice of all kinds.
The call from the wilderness invited us to take up the mantle of restoring God’s family through the work of redress and reconciliation.
The call to lament invited us to see and be seen in the pain experienced in our country on a daily basis and allow our hearts to broken for those things that break God’s heart and the hearts of our fellow siblings.
And lastly, the call to worship invited us to uncover the narratives that continue to uphold systems of oppression and exchange them for narratives of liberation that allow each person to worship God in their fullness.
Many left the gathering deeply challenged and unsettled, but also filled with great encouragement and hope, having- alongside hundreds of others- powerfully encountered the God who stands on the side of the marginalised, and invites us all, ‘Seek me and live’.
By Thandi Gamedze