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I’ve just been chatting to Colin who is in Cape Town and it has been so encouraging to hear of the response of the church to what has been going on in the past few days there. Colin says everyone you speak to is looking after someone, in their house, in the back garden. The CESA training College has also opened its doors to give shelter to a number of displaced people. And we’re not just talking a handful. Churches are putting up hundreds. God really is great. Let’s keep praying that all of this will lead to Jesus’ name being praised as people see changed lives (1 Peter 2:12).

It really is a challenge to us here in the UK. Not simply in responding to crisis, but what we do when there is no crisis. Injustice, prejudice, murder is happening all around us at an alarming rate – and yet we are not alarmed. Children are being killed in their thousands and what are we doing about it? We do not see a crisis, so we can keep safe and comfortable.

Thankfully there are Christians who do speak up, live out what they believe and suffer as a result (see 2 Timothy 3:12!). But as I look around me and at my own household and heart I fear they are few and far between.

When crisis hits us in the UK I would love it if the response to the question ‘where are the Christians?’ would be, ‘Where they’ve always been – championing the cause of the poor and marginalised, caring for the sick and those who cannot speak up for themselves, welcoming strangers and foreigners into their homes and families – living out what they believe.’


Yesterday in our main meeting as a church I did a section talking about the situation in South Africa. One fella came up to me afterwards and asked how he could help. He wants to come up with ideas of ways we can get involved practically.

Do you know of any ways we can help? Please leave a comment below…

Yesterday we had two more baptisms. It is always such a pleasure to see God changing yet another person’s heart. This time it was an 8 year old and a fella in his mid-twenties. They couldn’t be more contrasting. The 8 year old is from a middle class family. The mid-twenty year old is covered in tattoos and lives on a housing estate a team from our church have been living on and seeking to reach for a number of years. In fact he’s the first convert we’ve witnessed from that estate. Isn’t God great?!

What has also been encouraging is the responses we’ve heard about from Christians in South Africa to the situation of violence around them. It has warmed my heart to hear of people going to the places where there is need, taking in families who are homeless. We should be giving glimpses of the future where there will be a tree that will be ‘for the healing of the nations’. It is so encouraging to hear of people living that reality out in front of those around them, at great danger and cost to themselves. Let’s pray that people will listen more to the words that have been spoken for so long about the good news of Jesus in that land, since there is evidence of that good news in action around them.

Check out this post. It sounds great what Calvary Methodist Church in Midrand is doing…

Ok – I’m going to stick my neck out here and perhaps say some controversial things, and possibly some things that I have no right to say. Please challenge me on this. However my desire is that it provokes discussion and some serious thought, even if the conclusions are different to what I write below…

Here goes…

Hopefully it will not have escaped your notice that there is some horrific violence going on at the moment in South Africa, and it seems to be spreading around the country. Foreigners, that is other Africans, are being targeted it seems for taken jobs that mean locals are unemployed. The violence that has resulted is sickening.

I’m just in a conversation with JP Scheepers (his surname isn’t pronounced how you might think, as I found out recently!) about the situation. We both feel its a wonderful opportunity for the church to stand up and get involved in a practical way and bringing healing through the gospel. During apartheid some churches took an ‘apolitical’ stance. This meant that they did not get involved with what was happening, but chose instead to focus on ‘preaching the gospel’ (something not to be neglected!). But that seems to be as far as it went. During the Truth and Reconciliation hearings of the 1990’s this approach was apologised for.

My concern is that evangelical Christians are not going to be at the forefront of change in SA. For all the talk of the gospel, for all the commitment to the gospel, it is not going to show itself in people demonstrating the barrier destroying, people uniting nature of the gospel (see Ephesians 2).

This seems to me to be a great opportunity for evangelical Christians in SA to put their actions where their mouths are. Do we really believe that Christ draws people together across racial lines? Do we believe that so much that we are willing to take in people into our homes, eat with them, let them rest in our houses, maybe even shelter them when things get really hot? Are Christians in SA going to be known for protecting the foreigners, since the Christians know what it is to be a foreigner? Are Christians in SA going to be known as people who put their own safety on the line for people from a foreign land who they have no earthly reason to protect?

There is a lot of fear in South Africa at the moment. It seems to be fear that is driving this violence. But it is also fear that is paralysing so many Christians into inaction.

Maybe this is easy for me to say sitting in safe comfortable England. No doubt that that is the case. But the gospel has its challenges for us here and I need other Christians to challenge me when I’m not letting the gospel impact my safety and security and comfort.

However this is my challenge now to any South African’s reading this. Are you going to stand up and be different? When the stories of these difficult times are told in years to come will the name of Christ keep coming up? Perhaps it will. But let it not come up in the question ‘where were the Christians?’

Cry, the Beloved Country.

Sorry I haven’t quite kept up with the blogs over the past couple of days. I’ll write one about our time at Church on the Ridge soon.

We are now sitting at the airport waiting to get on a plane to fly home. It’ll be sad leaving the people here (and the sun!) but hopefully we’ll be back soon.

It’s been a good trip – we’ve learned lots, been encouraged, challenged and have lots to think over and talk to our church about. No doubt blogs will follow along those lines…

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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