Sunday, 8 November 2009

in the land of Mandela ... and others!

Not sure how this will work, but 've been in South Africa for four days now and just got a wireless connection - so I thought I'd start with 'one I prepared earlier' and drip feed the other entries I've made along the way and as and when I get some access to internet..... here goes.....

Thursday 5th November entry.

Well, I'm now well and truly on my third and final month of sabbatical. I was, however, delighted to have the excuse to meet with my team leader colleagues on Wednesday despite sabbatical, but didn't enjoy Lyons' late equaliser in the evening. I've arrived in South Africa where I've been delighted to respond to an invitation to be part of a review of over 100 congrgations who effectively been, or going through, what equals 'PMC South Africa'. Not at all sure what to expect, but I am looking for some translatable clues which might help our own much needed UK transition into a missionary movement of churches again. Whilst I have no doubt about the need for this, many will consider it a rather naive dream, but it is one I am still nurturing and have reason to believe for good reason. I am being inspired by reading 'Mandela' - Anthony Simpson's biography. Born in rural Transkei, now in his 91st year and most probably the greatest living hero in the world, but one cannot really escape the fact he spent 27 of those years in prison. I keep reading that number, but it takes a while for it to sink in – 27 years! I remember praying for his release and for an end to apartheid (apparently pronounced 'apart hate' and not 'apart hide' as I've always said, which in itself is an interesting play on words). However, on reflection now and to my shame, it feels as if it was all pretty half-hearted. It's remarkable how I at least, have been able to speak with some passion about peace and justice, but within a vacuum and with next to no personal consequence to myself. So, even before I landed, there was a degree of personal therapy going on! I often think of the AA introduction - 'my name is Nigel and I'm an alcoholic' as a helpful reminder of my humanity, which (not very pc) means I have to begin any visit like this 'my name is Nigel and I'm a sinner.' OK - I won't use those actual words with everyone I meet. One thing I have found very interesting is the fact that the things the govt. authorities always initially banned Nelson Mandela from were meeting like-minded people and travel - and here I am hoping for both in abundance - my prayer is. both will prove to be the help and power the SA authorities recognised they had the potential to be.

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