are always nice – and this week we manage a couple.
on Wednesday, celebrated a decade of democracy and the end of apartheid.
It was a big party with a national holiday and 40,000 official
guests gathered in the capital,
a celebration too, because despite the expectations of the pessimists,
has not slidden down into chaos, but has dealt with many of the problems
of the post-apartheid era.
little incident brought the joy of the modern
home to me. I was standing
looking out the window of our AWR office in
watching a couple of kids playing in the street below.
“Watching” is not perhaps the correct word.
I was just aware of their presence, but nothing more.
“Isn’t that a beautiful site,” the man next to me
commented. “That is
something that could not have happened ten years ago.”
And then it struck me. The
two kids were from two different races, black and white.
For me, brought up in multi-ethnic
something quite normal. For
my South African friends, something special.
Something to be cherished. Something
I would love to see more of in this increasingly divided world.
a thought emphasized even more by an email from a listener to this
programme. He may just have
been having a bad day, but he wrote:
Having lived, worked & travelled in 50-60 countries, I made a
decision to settle in
It had everything, climate, infrastructure, setting, hospitality,
low-crime etc. . . . Of late, the city is changing for the worse and
adopting the habits that make many overseas cities unbearable. After
returning from abroad recently, I was confronted with Somalis with
weapons chasing down unfortunate aborigines in the nightlife district on
a Saturday night. It's a pity Australians do not realise how fortunate
they are (were).
poor guy wrote this letter to the wrong person.
I am British married to a Portuguese.
I have close family in
My son has a girlfriend from
I have friends from many countries.
More then that I believe what the apostle Paul writes to the
church in Colossi:
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe
yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have
against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
are good and bad in every race and culture, including my own.
Sometimes the worst comes out in "nightlife districts"
but we have to balance that with the best that can come out in other
kinds of issues are provoking large debate here in
we celebrate another major event. May
1 sees the EU expanding – adding another 10 countries to the current
15 member states – almost doubling it in size.
These new countries are, in the main, from the former “Eastern
and so on.
poorer countries there are fears of mass immigration west.
Fears of the richer, western European nations having to stretch
their pot of resources wider. Fears
on issues of crime.
issues that have to be dealt with, and that, I’m sure we’ll come to
much the same as within the church.
Over the years I’ve watched the Adventist church here in
change in its ethnic mix – and along with it, in its styles of
worship. In the 60’s and
70’s that change came about mainly by immigration from the
Now it is coming by an influx of members from
Again, it means people have to adapt and learn to appreciate
differences. That can be a
challenge – and sometimes it’s difficult.
On the other hand, the greatest prejudices seem to come from
those who have the least interaction with those from other races and
Jesus stories it was those who kept themselves segregated who ended up
outside of God’s kingdom – particularly the Pharisees who felt they
were above everyone. Jesus
worked to win those Pharisees over, but, he spent considerable parts of
his ministry working outside the "Jewish" stereotype.
The story of the good Samaritan (a
despised race of people in Jesus time), the healing of the centurions
servant (why heal the servant of a Roman oppressor) and many more
stories indicated that Jesus loves and reaches out to all.
So it seems to me that this week, amidst all the bad news of divided
nations and peoples, Jesus would celebrate with us in the good news of
peoples drawing together in South Africa and in Europe – and maybe for
Christians, that is a reason for prayer, and, like Jesus, for looking
beyond race and colour, to the individuals of many nations, that Jesus