Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “18 July”

The Hard Work Of Freedom

In honour of Mandela Day today, Craig Stewart, director of The Warehouse, reflects on how we as a country can enter the promised land.


Every community enslaved by its context needs its Moses figures who confront the oppressive forces lined up against it and lead it out of slavery. As a nation, South Africa has been blessed with many of these kinds of men and women. None greater than Nelson Mandela who, as I write, is heading into the mountains at the end of his life. He was one of those who led us through the Red Sea of obstacles confronting our departure from Egypt, which could have so easily destroyed us twenty years ago.

But the desert on the other side of the Red Sea is never the promised land of freedom. In the Exodus-like journey of community transformation we often find ourselves stuck wandering in the desert between slavery and the fulfilled promise of our potential intended by God. For this, we need to cross the Jordan River into the promised land. The river is smaller than the sea, but the obstacles on the other side can seem bigger.

Sometimes we’re intimidated by that which needs to be done, or the opposition, as we take the promised land. There are giants in that land that need to be faced and in South Africa they continue to stand on the other side of transformation, seemingly mocking us. Our ongoing racial, cultural and economic separation and inequality, the legacy of the 1913 Land Act, and the inheritance of violence and trauma are just three of the giants that need to be faced. If we leave the desert, we will actually need to confront them. If we stay, we can pretend they don’t exist.

Similarly, in the desert we have daily provision of manna and quail.  But manna and quail are not the same as a land filled with milk and honey or bearing large harvests of fruit. The daily manna and quail, though provided by God, are not his ultimate plan for his people, and before entering the promised land they come to an end. Sometimes the predictability and dependency of this provision keeps us trapped in the desert between slavery and full transformation.

Every community undergoing transformation needs to reach a point where it decides to cross its Jordan River and enter the promised land. At the Red Sea, Moses – the leader – stretches out his staff and God makes the impassable passable. But at the Jordan it is the people, in particular the church, who enter the river first, and then God makes the impassable become passable.

If transformation is to happen, we need to be a new generation of bold and courageous leaders like Joshua willing to face the giants of the new land. If transformation is to happen, we need to be a church willing to be the first to step into the rivers blocking our way and the first to lead in taking on the Jericho strongholds blocking our progress. If transformation is to happen, we need to be communities of people willing to take responsibility for entering our own promised land and working to make it real.

Ultimately, Moses or Madiba or any other hero, can only get us to the edge of the promised land, the rest is up to us.

– Craig Stewart is the director of The Warehouse, a non-profit organisation which serves the church in it’s response to poverty and injustice.

This article was first published in The Warehouse Update for July 2013. Read the full newsletter here.

How do you think we, as the church and as individuals, can be part of transformation in South Africa? What role do you think we can play?

6 Ideas for Mandela Day

For those of you who haven’t checked your calendar recently, this Thursday, 18 July, is Mandela Day! Haven’t yet thought of how you’re going to spend your 67 minutes? Don’t panic…

What are you doing this Thursday?

What are you doing this Thursday?

On the 18th of July every year, thousands of people celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday by giving 67 minutes of their time to do something that will help make the world a better place in honour of the man who dedicated his life to fighting for human rights.

Ideas range from fixing potholes in your street, to helping someone with their CV so they can apply for a job, to spending time with the kids at a children’s home.There really is no end to the number of things you can do to be a part of this day. But if you’re stuck for ideas, we’d love to help you out!

Here’s a list we’ve put together of some ways you can get in on the action in Cape Town:

1. Lend a hand at Newkidz’s Siviwe House Revamp in Woodstock

2. Team with Living Hope and clear alien invasive plants!

From 10am to 3pm on 18 July, help clear alien invasive plants from a property so that it can be used for agriculture, training and empowerment in the future! This will be happening at Living Hope’s head office in Sun Valley. Contact Mario on 073 279 9190 for more info.

3. Join Stop Hunger Now’s food packing event at Canal Walk

4. Get gardening and help renovate a playground at Westlake United Church Trust

A group is needed of around 5-8 people to help reseal playground equipment and do some general garden maintenance at WUCT in Westlake. The sealer and brushes will be provided, but you’ll need to bring your own gardening equipment. Email us if you’re interested.

5. Help out at U-turn

U-turn has a number of volunteer opportunities available, from helping sort clothing for their second-hand store to, if you’re keen for some heavy lifting, moving filing cabinets! You could also drop off soup or stew in disposable containers, or get a team together to help chop vegetables for the soup kitchen. For more info, email U-turn.

6. Join the Mandela Day Human Chain!

On Thurs, 18th July, between 1-2pm, a group of people will be joining hands along Klipfontein Road to form a human chain to symbolize Nelson Mandela’s dream of a unified, non-racial South Africa.  The Human Chain will span between Rondebosch – Athlone – Gugulethu. For more info, visit their Facebook page.

And if you’re still needing help, read our list of 67 ideas for Mandela Day from last year!

So what are you planning on doing? We’d love to hear 🙂

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