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Pastoral Letter regarding the Xenophobic Violence in SA

To listen to the audio of this Service of Confession, Reconciliation and Healing, regarding the xenophobic violence in SA, click on this link

Dear family and friends – fellow travellers in Following Jesus!

It is with a heavy heart that I (we… I speak on behalf of the Oversight Team) write to you. We are experiencing attacks, with rumours of more attacks, on foreign African nationals in SA. Tens of thousands are living in fear, with their extended families in their home nations worried and perplexed as to what’s going on. It can explode into terrible ethnic violence in SA and retaliatory violence in our neighboring nations… God forbid! What a shameful day to be a South African! We humble ourselves, confess and turn from our sin, asking God for mercy to heal our land of all the blood that’s been shed – not only in this wave of violence, but in our long history of shameless murder and racist violence.

Because of the seriousness of the situation I decided to set aside my planned teaching and hold a service of confession, reconciliation and healing. We humbly ask ALL the foreign nationals, particularly Africans, in our church, to forgive us for what we South Africans are doing to them. God’s house – his Holy Temple, the Church of Jesus Christ – is a “House of Prayer for All Nations” (Isaiah 56:7, Mark 11:17). We are blessed by God to have a growing number of (inter)nationals worshipping with us. What a great opportunity to model here and now God’s future reconciled family worshipping at his heavenly throne: “I saw a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). May we truly become God’s House of Prayer for All Nations, God’s instrument of reconciliation and healing in society, the hope of Africa!

Read the statement from the Vineyard  (below) in response to the xenophobic violence. I won’t comment further – simply to call on us to actually do points 1 to 4.

Prayer is still our primary ‘weapon of warfare’ in the spiritual battle behind the racism of xenophobic violence. We had a powerful time of prayer on Friday night, pouring out our hearts before God in confession, repentance and intercession. Why not commit to come every third Friday night of every month to do ‘prayer-warfare’ with us?

In keeping with our current teaching theme of ‘Fishing the World’ for God, we’ve planned a Reconciliation and Transformation Conference at Following Jesus. It’s now so relevant with what’s happening in SA. Please book this in your diary and invite friends and family, for Friday 29 May, 19h30 – 21h15, Saturday 30 May, 09h00 – 15h30. ALL are welcome.

Another key event: With a good number of new people joining us in Following Jesus, we need to be on the same page in terms of leadership and ministry. How do we ‘do’ ministry and leadership, church structure and government, ‘elders and deacons’, ‘five-fold ministry’ etc? I will address these and related themes on Saturday 9 May, 09h00 – 15h30. I am asking ALL interested people, and especially leaders, to attend this training day.   

God bless, from Alexander and the OT.

Please remember my ministry trips in prayer, and come on one of them if you can!!
12-18 May, Tues-Mon: Belgium trip to do healing conference with Brussels Vineyard.
18-21 June, Thurs-Sun: Doing a “Kingdom Transformation – Personal and Social” Conference with the Glenridge Church in Durban.
16-19 July, Thurs-Sun: Church Unlimited & Vineyard in Nelspruit, Healing Conference.
11-16 Aug, Tues-Sun: Global School of Supernatural Ministry (morning lectures) and also Harvest Church (evenings and weekend meetings), in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban.
18-20 Sept, Fri-Sun: to do a conference at Durban North Vineyard.
19-23 Oct, Mon-Fri: Vineyard National Conference in CT – all are welcome!
23-25 Oct, Fri pm – Sun pm: doing the Equipping to Heal Conference at Knysna Vineyard.

AVC SA Statement: Current Xenophobic Violence in SA, 16 April 2015

The Association of Vineyard Churches South Africa today issues an urgent and emphatic appeal to our nation and its leaders, in the light of the worsening situation regarding violence against foreign nationals in our country.

Scripture, as well as the best traditions in Africa, teach us that nations and peoples are judged, and earn either honour or dishonour, by the way they treat their strangers. We believe this to be true and critical to our national survival and spiritual well-being, and that xenophobia is a denial of and insult to our humanity, our national dignity, our democracy and the struggle against Apartheid. It is a contradiction of the introduction to our national Constitution that says: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” In that sense, we believe, with the Apostle Paul, that there is no longer any divide between people into “insiders” and “outsiders”, that is not erased by the crucifixion of Christ. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.”

We therefore make a call to the people of South Africa, and in particular the leaders of our nation, whether local, regional or national, whether of churches, political parties or local communities:

  1. To repent of and apologise for the mistreatment of people on the basis of their nationality, culture or ethnicity, and in general, of the spirit of violence that holds many in its grip. “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. For through him we both (“insiders” and “outsiders”) have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
  2. To demonstrate solidarity with the victims of this xenophobic abuse and violence, by visiting, sheltering, counseling and seeking their healing. “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
  3. To publicly and unequivocally distance ourselves, as well as our public, religious and political institutions, from xenophobia and all those who promote and practice it. We regard silence by leaders as consent to these detestable practices.
  4. To engage with all concerned, whether citizens or expatriates, in talks and plans for peace and the protection of all who live in our cities, and the improvement of their circumstances. “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

(The quoted scripture texts are from Ephesians 2:12-22 NIV)

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