Living Social Justice

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

Archive for the tag “The Warehouse”

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.

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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?

Response to Cape Town Flooding

Wondering how to help those affected? Read on.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

Photo credit: AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

If you live anywhere in the greater Cape Town area, you would’ve by now  witnessed at least some of the havoc that the weather has wrecked over the city in the last couple of days. The torrential rain has flooded roads, delayed transport, and damaged many homes. We’ve been shocked by some of the news reports coming in. One reported that over 9000 shacks have been flooded and another has stated that more than 30 000 people may have been affected in some way by the weather. These scary figures have caused  many of us to sit up and ask the question: So what can we do to help?

If this is the question you’ve been asking yourself, we want to help you respond in a way that will best meet the needs of those affected. We have been in contact with The Warehouse, one of our partner organisations that work alongside the city in responding to disaster relief situations, and they have told us that things are currently under control.

It appears that while the flooding has been severe, the city municipality and disaster relief agencies were able to alert people in advance and set up temporary shelters to accommodate those affected. The biggest need for those who have been affected has been for shelter and a dry place to get warm and store their belongings.

So if you know of anyone who has been displaced by the flooding, why not offer them a warm and dry place to stay or store their belongings? If you’re blessed with a tumble dryer, why not offer to help dry their clothing and bedding? These may seem like small things but at the moment they could be the best way you could bless someone in immediate need. The long-term need is a far more complex one which calls for adequate housing to be built on land that is not prone to flooding. (We will be posting about ways you can help advocate for this over the next few weeks.)

You might also be wondering, how does this fit in with Warm Up Winter? We really encourage you to take part in this campaign by giving your good quality clothing to one of the partner organisations we have recommended. Some of these clothes will be used to respond to disaster relief situations, like we’ve mentioned above, but there are also numerous  organisations who will use these  clothes as a way of empowering people by providing employment opportunities. Our hope is that by dropping off clothing at these partner organisations you will not only help meet a need, but also build connections and relationships with the people behind “the need” and our partners.

If you have any questions, or for more info, email us, info@commongood.org.za, or visit www.commongood.org.za.

What Does God’s Mission Mean to Me?

We asked three people at different stages in their journey to share their thoughts with us.

Kevin with his wife, Claire, and their daughter, Sierra.

Kevin with his wife, Claire, and their daughter Sierra

Displaying His Infinite Glory

By Kevin Murphy

“It means, chiefly, to prioritize what Christ prioritizes, which is the maximal display of his infinite worth (his glory). We don’t always get it right, but we’re trying to have that as the motivating factor for everything we do. That shapes the way that we interact with our community, as we want them to see the infinite worth of Christ and thereby come to know him. But it also shapes the way we live out our everyday lives, for God is glorified when we steward his creation, and when our hard work and diligence in the market-place is fruitful. But God is especially glorified when we live out his heart for those who are hurting , the broken or on the outskirts of society’s priority list, and make ourselves available to be used by God to heal that which is hurting.

“So we’re trying to treat each person we meet with equal dignity, we’re aiming to teach our children (and ourselves!) the value of human life. That it is not the rich or poor, educated or simple who are to be esteemed but that each person has been made in the likeness of God; and therefore while each and everyone of us is in need of Christ’s gracious disposition towards us, every individual also carries the dignity of being image-bearers of God. Just as the gospel compels us to go-and-tell, so it compels us to go-and-love.”

– Kevin is a pastor at Common Ground Church and leads the leadership team of the InnerCity congregation.

IMG_1234Out of an Overflow of His Goodness

By Nathalie Koenig

“For me, living in the fullness of God’s mission means nothing less than being in the centre of God’s will – and exactly where He allows me to thrive. I remember the day that I started volunteering with Arise, an NGO in Heideveld, and was filled with the joy of knowing that I would get to do a lot of the things that I most loved doing. Being with people, being challenged, telling stories, and helping children get excited about themselves, the world, and all that’s in it. That the hope of Christ would be shared and some of creation’s brokenness restored in the process were simply natural overflows of God’s goodness to me in providing that opportunity. I didn’t go out to evangelise, or do justice, I was just put somewhere by my Father because He loves me, and loves the world. God’s mission is such a beautiful thing, because it’s what every single person on the planet needs to live as He created them to live. We are all participants in and beneficiaries of His mission.”

– Nathalie is a programme coordinator at Common Good and a member of Common Ground Church‘s Wynberg congregation

169134_10150359827155543_5654958_oTo Make Him Known

By Craig Stewart

“As a follower of Jesus, I love, but often struggle to make real in my life, the idea that God wants to make himself known to others through me.  Love and justice are core parts of who God is, and as I seek to make him known I find myself wrestling with how I am representing his character.  How I treat others, the way in which I cooperate with or subvert the systems of this world, the wages I pay, how and how much I consume, the products I sell, and how I love my neighbour in this global world – all either proclaim (with the rest of creation) the reality of a loving and just God who wants to be known, or they don’t!”

“God’s desire to be known as just and loving is sometimes best declared through words, projects or events that I participate in or give my money and time too.  But if I’m not always seeking to have my life reflect the full character of God then I lack integrity and my efforts are simply a clanging gong. I particularly identify with and like this quote by Chris Wright in The Mission of God:”That God’s will to be known precedes and undergirds all of the efforts of God’s people in their mission of making Him known.”

Craig is the director of The Warehouse, a non-profit organisation that exists to serve the church in its response to poverty and injustice

Toxic Charity: Lessons from The Field

What happens when our good intentions do more harm than good? We asked three Christian development practitioners to share what they’ve learnt about how we can help people without hurting them or ourselves.

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Lindsay

Lindsay Henley, Director of Beth Uriel, a home for previously disadvantaged young men

“Be constantly aware of what you are bringing into the relationship/acts of service in terms of your own expectations, needs and attitude. Giving can be ‘toxic’ on both ends.  Over helping to the point of ‘other reliance’ is toxic for the recipient.  It creates issues of dependency and perpetuates cycles of poverty.  While giving out of your own un-met needs and with unrealistic expectations of transformation is toxic to the giver and unfair to put on the recipient.  If the result of your service is not life-giving to yourself as well as the recipient, then hit the pause button and take some more time to think it through.”

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Colleen

Colleen Saunders, core member of The Warehouse‘s Church Mobilisation team

“It’s easy for the well-resourced church to give of what they have to help ‘the poor’. But unless the recipients themselves recognise the possibility of change and acknowledge the need to change, that help will always be paternalistic and led by the giver – no matter how pure the heart behind the giving. Transformational development is a long, slow walk alongside another, helping them to recognise their own resources, worth and potential, and together with them seeking to restore what was lost.I value this scripture in realising how much this is on God’s heart … ‘The Son of man came to seek and save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10).”

Dave (centre back) and Liz (right) with their son Robin (left) and their grand daughter, Paige (centre front)

Dave (centre) with family

Dave Barnes, manager of Westlake United Church Trust

“Hand outs create dependency and usually don’t help people to move above their circumstances. The toxic spin off for the giver is that one can create a patronizing/paternalistic relationship with recipients where you see the person as someone always wanting something from you, not as a someone who is struggling but who could have some of their own idea(s) of how to try to improve their situation. Our help or charity can rob a person of their own initiative or enable them to maintain bad habits and remain in negative situations.

Read more…

Response to Khayelitsha Fires

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On New Year’s Day, four thousand people lost their homes when a fire broke out in the informal settlements of Khayelitsha and Thembeni.  These communities had little in terms of infrastructure to protect them from the blaze and within a couple of hours, hundreds of families were left without shelter, clothing, food, or any basic supplies to survive. While the duration of the fire was relatively brief, the devastation it caused deeply affected those whose homes and possessions were destroyed.

When something of this magnitude happens right on our doorstep, it’s often hard to know how to respond to the overwhelming need. As Christ-followers, we are compelled by Christ’s love to care for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of our neighbours. We sent  out an appeal for donations from our church community and we were overwhelmed by the response.

Over R17 200 was donated to help in restoring the fire-affected communities and more than two truck loads of clothes were given. The clothes have been distributed to those affected through HDI Support and the money raised has gone to The Warehouse to be used through their fire disaster response. Thank you to everyone who contributed so generously.

For the people who lost their homes the process of rebuilding their community is going to be a long one. We ask that you continue to pray for all those involved, that they will feel Christ’s presence and that they will be sustained by his hope. We also ask that you pray for wisdom and guidance as decision-makers begin to decide how to restore these areas. We pray for protection over all those who have been made vulnerable by this fire and for a continued flow of resources to meet their daily needs.

Please contact The Warehouse if you would like more information on how you can get involved.

(Photograph courtesy of IOL News)

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