[notice]PETER TARANTAL of OM South Africa attended the biannual WENSA (World Evangelisation Network of South Africa) National Consultation at the Good News, Convention Centre, Muldersdrift, from July 16 to July 18. This is his report on the event. [/notice]
About 120 leaders of church and mission in and from South Africa met at the Good News Convention Centre, Muldersdrift from July 16 to 18, 2013 for the biannual WENSA national consultation. It was a time to worship God and celebrate what He is doing, to connect and be refreshed.
We started by looking at our past – tracing the beginnings of the story of the mission of the South African church. We were reminded that with all its remarkable achievements, this story, like all other accounts of the growth of God’s kingdom, helped build into the foundations of church and society fault lines that deeply impact our mission – in past, present and future. This theme was further explored in a discussion of a contextual theology of mission, working within the framework of the Cape Town Commitment. We issued a special statement (see below) and decided to call on SACLI (SA Christian Leadership Initiative) and Heartlines to convene a meeting focusing on comprehensive reconciliation. We will also convene a leadership group representing theology, church and mission, including the new generation.
Stories of hope
We celebrated stories of hope – from a testimony of social transformation through prayer and reconciliation in a rural community like Mkhondo in Mpumalanga to the story of unity and reconciliation on national level with leaders from the church, politics and the world of business through SACLI.
The consultation programme provided ample opportunity for the meeting of networks and the strengthening of projects and initiatives. Special attention was given to the place of women and the new generation in the mission of the South African Church. The former highlighted the painful experiences of women in society as well as in the church and its mission. This calls for confession, reconciliation, restitution and the opening up of new opportunities. The latter highlighted the education sector that has unlimited opportunities for ministry and mission, in South Africa and beyond our borders and the importance of media. The participation of children and young people – as participants, as part of the preparations and as visitors – enriched us and made us realise the need for meeting this new generation in their own world and to invite them to help shape the future of our mission. We decided to relaunch the Student Mission Network.
Networks and focus groups
The following networks and focus groups gathered in breakout sessions:
- Mission mobilisation
- Mission & Media (involve and learn from new generation)
- Orality (Southern Africa network)
- Integral Ministry (WENSA endorses the Micah Declaration)
- Mission Trainers (database, functional network)
The delegates expressed deep appreciation for the good work done by other existing WENSA networks, as well as by partnering churches and organisations.
We acknowledged that our society and world are facing serious challenges and that as church we have to continually re-examine who we are as a church and how we do mission, so that we can truly be salt and light to our world.
On the last day of the conference, on the occasion of the 95th birthday of former SA President Nelson Mandela, we thanked the Lord for his life and example, leading South Africa on the road to healing and reconciliation.
Theology of Mission: Special Statement
The meeting has taken note, with gratitude, of the convergence in missiological thinking in our time. Evangelicals and ecumenical are in agreement on a comprehensive, biblical definition stating that
1. Mission is primarily the initiative of the tri-une God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who, through His Word and His Spirit, is gathering His church from all nations upon the earth.
2. The glory of the church is that God calls us to join Him in His mission
- by proclaiming his Word and by calling men and women to salvation and faith in Jesus Christ (kerugma)
- by planting the church, his body, among the nations and by nurturing and strengthening the community of believers (koinonia)
- by concretising his love for the world by meeting the many needs of the world, the poor and the destitute, the marginalised and the oppressed, the sick and the suffering, and by accepting responsibility for his creation (diakonia)
- all of this we do in humble gratitude for what God has done for us, and to the glory of his Name (leitourgia)
3. One of the most urgent focus areas for mission in our time and our South African context is that of reconciliation. In spite of recent events in the history of our country we are still living in a deeply divided society where all the fault lines of the past – of racism, prejudice, fear, inequality, selfishness and injustice – are still too evident. The church, sadly, is often a reflection of the world around us, struggling against the same enemies in our midst. The legacy of apartheid is still with us, with all the injustice and suffering and alienation, caused by it. We are horrified to note the many instances of violence, especially against women and children, in the country, and within the Christian community.
The land and church is in dire need of healing. We therefore commit ourselves to a ministry of reconciliation. We acknowledge that lasting reconciliation to God and with one another requires the acknowledgment and lament of past and present sin, repentance before God, confession to the injured one, and seeking and receiving forgiveness. It also includes our commitment to seeking justice and reparation for those who have been harmed by violence and oppression.