Natalie Maimane writes about her recent experience as a student in the first course run by the School of Governance, which was launched to equip leaders with Kingdom values and skills to lead in the political sphere. The SOG invites you to join an online conference The Great Reset — Be The Change from September 23 to 25 where top speakers and nation-builders will inspire Christians to be the change in SA.
A deep love for South Africa is something I have carried in my heart since I can remember. Alongside it, I have carried a love for young people and education. I remember knowing from Grade 1 that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I have always attended a church that is very community-minded, and been involved in trying to serve those communities in some way or another.
Mmusi was a pastor, also doing some work at a school and our connection around the issues of the nation was one of the things that brought us together.
At the time I married him, that was the journey of my life — studying South African history, becoming a history and English teacher, serving in church — each jar in my heart being filled in the conventional way I imagined it to be.
Then one evening at a youth conference of a couple of hundred people, my husband released a word from the pulpit about a young man with a desire to serve in politics. “The Lord says commit that desire to me and I will bless it”. No response. Not a single young person came forward. “It could be a woman?” Still nothing. I remember standing at the back of the auditorium close to the sound desk and feeling the power of that moment. Later that evening, as we drove home, I turned to Mmusi: “You don’t think that maybe, that word you brought tonight was actually for you?”
So with a word from the Lord and a burning desire in our hearts, we embarked on a much more unconventional journey — we answered the call into a part of society that many believers feel is unredeemable and our journey into politics began.
That was more than a decade ago. While Mmusi had immediately begun studying a Masters in Public Administration, I had left teaching and was deep into motherhood. I had always felt that we were partners in the fight for a prosperous, reconciled South Africa, but very often I felt unprepared for the spaces I found myself in. Slowly I gained confidence in speaking to “captains of industry” and politicos about current affairs, but was not always sure about contributing to deep discussions on economics or governance issues.
Towards the beginning of 2020, a friend of ours with a heart for our country, Dr Michael Louis, told us about the School of Governance. Their first course was set to run through the first half of the year and was called “Citizen Education 101, by Dennis Peacocke”. I read through the introductory email from our facilitator Gareth Stead, and so many of the topics resonated with me — here were the things I had thought about, debated with close friends, bandied about with my husband. Topics like “Worldview and Social Structure”; “Transcendence, Self-Governance and Service-Based Power”; “The Power of Human Choice and Economics” and one that especially grabbed my attention “Politics Doesn’t Have to be a Dirty Business”.
Here was someone who had studied Scripture deeply and come to the conclusion that Christians need to get involved in the present and future of their nations. That we were biblically mandated to do so. For someone who knew we had answered a desire in our hearts and that we had a word from the Lord, yet faced strong criticism from church leaders (many of whom we didn’t personally know) for entering politics, this course held many keys to understanding our own hard-wiring.
As our friend had said: “You can separate Church and state, but you can’t separate God and governance.”
Structured in a very accessible, manageable way, the course runs over 6-7 months and consists of 2-hour Zoom call sessions, once every 2 weeks. As a stay-at-home mom with a constantly changing schedule, I found it accessible and doable. The cohort that I was part of consisted of South Africans and international members of all walks of life, from the private and public sector, and from all demographics. This made for rich discussion and valuable contributions.
The content is based on the writings of Dennis Peacocke, a Christian from America who has studied economics and political science. His teachings outline the application of the Word of God in the spaces that the world most needs God’s principles. He does not mince his words! At times I found the firmness of his tone jarring, and yet at the same time, I could see the heart to bring the goodness of God to desperate citizens.
Peacocke’s is a call to the Church of Jesus to become contributors to their nations; a call to put into action values that every person, regardless of belief system, can recognise as beneficial. Citizens Education 101 is exactly that — equipping believers to bring the principles of God’s Kingdom into every space in which they find themselves. Most importantly, the core reason for doing this is to obey the command of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40 — “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’” — Matthew 22:37-40 NLT
We have often heard it said that love is a verb. Love in action needs to be felt in every part of society by every person. Our nations are in great need of action that seeks to serve and not laud power over their citizens. People need to experience a love that honours their right to free choice, and at the same time seeks to give them better choices for an increased quality of life.
Citizens Education 101 has given me the tools to continue to serve our nation using proven principles, to look to actively engage in the destiny of South Africa using values-based policies and to encourage the Church to be more relevant than ever before.