The Church is at last taking up its rightful civic role in the Ekurhuleni Municipality where 45 pastors will be contesting seats as members of the Independent Citizens Movement (ICM) in the upcoming local government elections, said Rev Chris Mathebula in an interview yesterday.
A father of five, pastor of Hope Restoration Ministries, founder of a college, a citizen’s movement, an internet radio station and men’s, youth and charitable ministries, Mathebula is the mayoral candidate for the ICM which is fielding candidates in all 112 of Ekurhuleni’s seats.
“For too long the Church has been in the back seat of a bus driven by a drunk driver who can’t see because he is blinded by corruption — and for too long we have been hoping that this driver will get us to our destination,” he said.
He said South Africa’s churches are full of great leaders but for a long time they have been happy to remain inside the church walls and behind the pulpit” and have not stepped out like Joseph and Nehemiah and many other biblical leaders who took a lead in public governance.
Church leaders even need to shoulder responsibility for the wrong belief in government and political circles that the church must stick to prayer and preaching while they rule, he said.
“We taught them that and now it is time for us to fix that wrong teaching,” he said.
“The pandemic has been a rude awakening for all of us. Our economy is struggling, teenage pregnancies have escalated, gender-based violence has been amplified, national infrastructure stolen and corruption has hit a record high,” he said.
The closure of churches over the greater part of the past 19 months while other sectors were operating fully gave the church in SA its biggest shaking ever, he said.
Church leaders like himself who had “stayed in our lane” had to reflect deeply on their contribution to their communities and the country relative to the work that needs to be done in SA, he said.
Personally, he said, the outbreak of looting and destruction of infrastructure in July as churches were locked down was the moment when the growing conviction in his heart to step out became an “enough is enough” moment.
“So we pray and believe it [government closure of churches] was a wake up call for us to take up our rightful position outside the walls of the Church,” he said.
According to Mathebula the ICM is not about politics — but is an alliance of ethical, independent leaders who are already making a difference in their communities.
“We just want to give services to people,” he said.
“Even if it [the elections] doesn’t go our way we will be making a point — firstly by saying that the days of taking a back seat are over. Take courage and step in,” he said.
Secondly, he said: “It will be a big win if we can put it in the minds of Christians that you can do this in the future. If we can put some godly men and godly women in the system, that will bring peace of mind.”
The ICM was launched on September 16 at Hope Restoration Ministries in Kempton Park with Joe Mojapelo, a former chief operations officer of the City of Ekurhuleni, as chairman.
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