When churches indulge in racism, hatred and divisions, they exhibit the height of hypocrisy –by preaching the powerful and all-liberating gospel of Jesus Christ– and yet failing to walk and reflect their talk through reconciliation.
This warning was made by Reverend Sipho Sibisi, a pastor at Prophesy Ministries, a Pentecostal church in Grey Town, outside Pietermaritzburg City, during a crucial Reconciliation Meeting African Enterprise (AE) organised in Pietermaritzburg on July 17.
More than 40 pastors and other senior church leaders attended the meeting, convened only a few days before AE formally starts celebrating its 50 years of ministry in Africa and overseas.
The celebrations will include a Jubilee Gala Dinner in Pietermaritzburg, on August 23. Prior to this, churches will mount a week-long and city-wide evangelistic campaign in Pietermaritzburg, from August 12.
Reverend Sibisi, who was the meeting’s moderator, urged the church leaders and members of their congregations to seek reconciliation among them, to remove the sins and vices which have not only weakened churches but have also disappointed an eagerly-watching world.
“The church is the custodian, pillar and the upholder of truth, of ethics, of values, of Godliness and of holiness. These are characteristics only found in the church,” he stressed, adding that even social and political structures recognise, and salute, the moral high ground occupied by churches operating on correct Bible principles.
In Pietermaritzburg, elsewhere in South Africa and the world over, the church needs to take a strong stand to eradicate the sins and vices, to prove that Christians are beneficiaries, and thrive on, the true reconciliation, love and unity that Jesus brought for all when he was crucified at the cross at Calvary, Reverend Sibisi stated.
“This meeting is a very, very serious and important one. It calls upon church leaders, for the ministry, to go back to the true calling. It’s going to be hard and challenging…but I plead with you to hang in there. I plead that we reconcile all differences dividing us, in order to be the church we are called to be,” he exhorted.
The meeting participants later went into comprehensive and sensitive group discussions that included the society’s racial groups exposing issues that stumble them in their Christian and social lives. But in plenary session reporting, all the racial groups confessed that the racial and social tensions and problems emanate from non-Christian habits, attitudes and sins that poison individuals and the entire society and which call for reconciliation.
The reconciliation meeting in Pietermaritzburg came in the wake of another one, also facilitated by AE, which champions church unity among the various denominations the organisation works with. The previous one was held on June 19 in the city and the climax was a glowing testimony on how the church in Witbank City, in Mpumalanga Province, overcame racial and other divisions after an AE-facilitated city-wide evangelism campaign there in 2009.
AE intends to hold more of such discussions in the near future, explaining that genuine reconciliation should not be rushed before the involved party hear one another out and pray. –AE Communications