I’m reminded that I did not comment further on the repentance paper that my colleague and I wrote for a possible process in regard to the South African situation. We drafted the paper (see below), but it’s still in process of discussion and decision making with a group of church leaders. However, they have agreed that we publicize what we have written so far. Any later changes or papers will come online as and when they’re finalized.
A Kairos Moment: A Call to Confession & Repentance
“You have planted wickedness and have reaped evil,
You have eaten the fruit of deception and corruption.
Plough up your fallow ground,
Sow righteousness and reap mercy,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until he comes and rains righteousness on you”
The words of the prophet Hosea (10:12-13) ring true in our ears in South Africa today. We have sown greed and reaped lies. We have said, “It is our time to eat!” But we are eating the fruit of deception and corruption. Where is righteousness and mercy? Where is justice for all? We have reached a kairos moment: It is time to face what is happening and turn to God by ploughing up our hard hearts with confession, repentance and action, to save our nation. God may then come and rain righteousness – the reign of justice – on our land.
Greek kairos means “a time” of impending disaster and/or opportunity for God’s intervention – a miraculous turn around for good. It can go either way depending on how we respond. Carry on as normal? Or intervene? We have reached a “tipping point” of decay due to the corruption of character in leadership and in ordinary South Africans. The way of the leaders is the way of people. We are indeed a corrupt nation! Unless we repent – intervene for a radical turn around – we will come under God’s judgement. Violent social unrest will overtake us all.
The Signs of The Times
Archbishop Desmond Tutu held a press conference on 4th October 2011 in regard to the Dalai Lama visa debacle. With prophetic fury he rebuked the ruling party as “arrogant and disgraceful… worse than the Apartheid government.” It marked a symbolic turning point in the Church–State relationship in particular, and in South Africa in general. As concerned Christian pastors and leaders we stand with Tutu and say, “Watch out! Watch out! I warn you, watch out!”
This prophetic outburst was not the isolated ranting of an old man as some have said. It came after a sustained period of constant revelations of corruption at high levels in government and all sectors of society – with deceptive cover-ups and arrogant denials. This has all but broken the good faith and morale of ordinary citizens. So much good has been done in our new democracy, but it’s fast unraveling. The miracle of 1994, built on the high moral ground and sacrifice of the Nelson Mandelas and Desmond Tutus and others, seems like a distant dream. How have we become so sinfully arrogant and corrupt so quickly?
Jesus said, “interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-4). Beside the culture of entitlement – now unbridled greed and brazen corruption – other dark clouds are coming together, threatening a storm that can destroy our young democracy. Crime and violent-power have become endemic. Every twenty-six seconds a so-called man rapes a woman or child. Sexual trafficking is rife. Moral values and social ethics are in serious crisis. Our liberal laws have empowered a holocaust of abortions. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is overwhelming – surely God weeps? Unresolved issues of race face us on many fronts, the result of a superficial reconciliation. Political reconciliation without meaningful social and economic reconciliation has not worked; e.g. restorative justice, reparations, land restitution, poverty and unemployment, still define themselves along racial lines.
Polarization is once again taking place. Most whites are perceived as having opted out of the project of redressing the past and building a common future, becoming critics from the sideline. Black Economic Empowerment with affirmative action, employment equity, housing for the poor, etc, has not reversed past inequalities. In many instances it has fed nepotism and greed. The poor are not empowered. They cry out for justice. The lack of service delivery because of corrupt and incompetent government officials – local and national – is leading to violent protests. The call of the ANC Youth League to appropriate land without compensation and nationalize the mines, further fuels the fires of unrealistic expectations, white fears, and social unrest.
These are some of the signs… how do we respond to this?
A Call to The Church – Especially its Leaders
As concerned Christian pastors and leaders we believe it must start with us: “It is time for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1Peter 4:17). If we take on symbols of judgment – like wearing black armbands or black clothes, even sackcloth and ashes – and mourn and weep before we come under God’s judgment, then we might avert it. We are in God’s hands; we are not at the mercy of evil. Therefore we should take up the “lament” of Jeremiah… ‘Why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn again in repentance to the LORD. Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say, “We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us”’ (Lamentations 3:39-42).
How can we pray for our nation, for our government, when we have not confessed and repented from our own sin? What moral authority do we have as the Church in South Africa to speak to the government and the nation? We are compromised by our own sin, by our pride and arrogance, power and lies, anger and violence, lust and immorality, greed and corruption. We mirror society. Our churches are more a copy of our nation than a model of God’s kingdom. Are we, as spiritual leaders, any better than the socio-political leaders? If we confess and repent, God will have mercy and forgive. He will come and rain righteousness on us – the reign of godly and competent leadership, of ethical and good governance as in 1Timothy 2:1-8 (and see Romans 13).
Our focus on spiritual leaders, and then on our churches, does not mean we do not share this vision of intervening in our nation with a broader forum. It’s a matter of reality and priority – the ultimate power and battle is spiritual – God is our savior and no one else, no political party or ideology, or nothing else. Having said that, we do want this kairos call with the attached document to go out to all sectors of society: religious, political, business, labour, educational, community organizations, etc, for awareness, discussion and action.
If we take up one major sin with confession and repentance, it will overflow to other issues by the conviction and work of the Holy Spirit.
We call on all Church leaders and congregations of Jesus Christ to confess and turn from deception and corruption in our personal lives, in our families, in our local churches, in our places of work and in society in general.
We call on all Church leaders and members to be radical about this matter: To disclose any form of corruption they have knowingly participated in; to disclose anything they have acquired through unethical means, no matter what this may entail. We call on them to make restitution as much as it is possible – to go and confess and return what has been taken, or to bring it to the Church (that will be identified) that it may be handed over to the relevant person or authorities.
To enact this, we call on all Church leaders to gather their people for specific public services of confession, repentance, restitution and prayer. We call on the leaders and people to put on symbols of repentance as mentioned above, to mourn and weep for the sins of leadership, of the Church and the nation. We take Daniel as our model – see Daniel chapter 9. The worship service is the place to disclose any form deception and/or corruption we have participated in, and to receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.
We further call on all leaders and members to courageously confront and/or report any and every act of corruption in the family, in the local church, in the work place, in government and in society in general.
In this manner we are calling on the Church – all its leaders and members – to come clean and recover our integrity in the name of Jesus Christ. Perhaps God may use that in some way to intervene and save our nation.