I have been involved in Christian ministry since my early teens. This involved outreaches, charity drives and many prayers at hospitals and in even more homes. That part of my ministry never stopped.
But between the years 2010 to the first three months of 2014 I did extensive community work through social crime prevention and community engagement, as a police chaplain and later on as a domestic violence coordinator, running the local victim support centre, and working with community leaders, NGOs in the area and with the people in the community.
I initiated and planned, with others, big events and was involved in many community-building initiatives, action-against-crime events, prayer walks, moral-regeneration activities and much more.
But at some point, during this time, I remember getting frustrated and tired, almost burnt out with all my giving and self-sacrifice. It felt like the more I gave, the more the community required. I recall saying to someone also labouring in the community at the time: “It seems like we are fighting a losing battle. After everything we and so many others are doing, things are only getting worse.”
It was during these times that the mountain of community upliftment seemed impossible to climb and I felt like giving up.
A higher calling
But I was pushed by more than just the community’s need for improvement. I was driven by more than just my job. I was motivated by a higher calling to improve the lives of others and help in the little ways that I could to empower a generation of people to lift themselves out of poverty, violence, crime and a poverty-mentality into a better quality of life. And so, every day I would get up and get ready to make a difference, do the best I could and I gave what I could of myself to help transform a community or at least one person.
Today, I have actually replaced the nature of my community involvement with Kingdom ministry, which I never stopped doing since my teens, and have moved some of my focus to political commentating and trying to make my voice heard in the cacophony of voices resounding in the political milieu of South Africa. And here again, I have met my old foe. For the more we speak out about corruption and about the dangers that face our democracy, the worse things seem to get.
I admit that I had already questioned the necessity of speaking out, as it appears that no one is listening. There are many voices speaking out against the current and past looting of our national coffers and the destruction of public trust and of the organs of state. But the battle sometimes seems too great…
As a budding political commentator, I am overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the task at hand. The rot in our country goes so deep. The vitriol over the past and the handling of our differences in the present are so numbing that I am exhausted and my will to fight is fast fading away. And I find myself at the same place, albeit under different circumstances: that place of fatigue against forces that always seem to rally and find a way to make things worse.
We simply have to make a stand
We are made to feel useless and our rights, as citizens, seem immaterial. But this is where the tale gets interesting. Because it is here that our better judgment kicks in and we realise that we simply have to make a stand. And that stand is not just the local elections next year, no, that will be the climax. We must make our final stand starting now. And we must not give in to defeatism, frustration or fatigue. When we are spent, we recoup, refresh and take a break, but we never stop fighting. We keep at it and even if no one is listening, we continue to raise our voices. We rise up and start something, like so many are already doing around this beautiful country.
And make a stand we must. There is one thing I learned in my life – and I learned it the hard way – things can always get worse. In 2001 I was having probably the worst year of my life. It is the one time in my life I can recall being depressed. I was so down I felt it physically. I was living with friends in Johannesburg but my family and parents were in Port Elizabeth. And I felt so down that one Saturday evening when it was already dark, I decided to take a walk to a phone booth to call my family in Port Elizabeth, just to hear familiar voices.
While walking to the phone booth I remember praying and saying to the Lord: “It can’t get worse than this!” I literally said that in prayer. Well, I finished my call and as I was walking home through the night shadows, I was suddenly accosted by five or so guys with knives and robbed of my wallet with some money and all my cards in it. Let me not talk about the disillusionment and the shock to my faith that incident brought on me, but that night I vowed that I will never say that a situation cannot get worse, much less say it to God!
And that is why I know that if I resign myself to the current state of our nation and of the powers that be, that I am signing up for worse. So, before it gets even worse, I choose to get up from the ground of discouragement, dust myself off, straighten my back, square my shoulders, lift up my chin and face the demons challenging our nation. I choose to fight with all the weapons at my disposal. I can write, so I will write. I can organise for a good cause, so I will organise. There are people I can influence, so I will influence. There are things I can say, so I will say them. I can campaign for righteous governance, so I will do it. I can vote next year, God willing, so I will. I will do all I can, except give up or give in. And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
I say to everyone who reads this piece, that we are at a critical time in South Africa’s future history. Never before has change in government and change in the national discourse been as vital as it is now. Our very lives, fortunes and future depend on it. This is where we must make our final stand. This is where we draw the line and say, “No more! The corruption ends here! Partisan agendas above national interest stops here! Undermining the public trust and intellect ends here! Looting and mismanagement of state funds and state institutions stop here! The nationwide crime spree stops here! We will no longer tolerate and ignore farm attacks and murders, which affect a vital and specific demographic in South Africa and all of us, for that matter! We want a government that enables law and order and not lawlessness and death.” South Africa deserves a government that has the will to protect its people and improve the lives of all who live in it.
Where there is a will, there is always a way! Let us pray for God to have His way in South Africa and let us roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty to execute God’s way, each with the little we have and with what we can do!