Protests, Prayer and Progress
It feels like April has been marked by plenty of protest marches and unprecedented prayer gatherings in South Africa.
On 12th April a national strike saw thousands march across the country calling for President Zuma to step down. Ten days later, a million Christians gathered just outside our judicial capital to, “…call upon The Lord to bring justice‚ peace & hope to our beloved South Africa” Angus Buchan (principal organiser).
“We need a Christian government!” (Angus Buchan 2017).
Channeling the spirit of Isaiah 66:8, Buchan asserted, “Let’s see this nation change in a day!” On 27th April we celebrated Freedom Day, twenty three years on from the day the nation voted for change as South Africa held it’s first democratic elections. In 1994, the ANC and Nelson Mandela – who were instrumental in ousting the last ‘Christian’ government – promised unity, peace, equality and freedom. We are certainly not there yet, but then you do feel words like these – and Angus’ for that matter – require greater degrees of action.
Soul Action Leaders’ Gathering
In April, Soul Action gathered Christians from charities, business and education; leaders we work with on a regular ongoing basis, who are all seeking unity, peace, equality and freedom in the contexts that God has called them to. In preparing to gather again, the Soul Action team was able to reflect on:
- our time together in February, particularly the strengths of gathering that leaders identified, i.e. time to intentionally connect with God and others
- the key themes that emerged from the one to ones we facilitated with each leader during March
- what we felt God was revealing to us as a team in terms of the focus for our time together in April
We concluded April’s theme ought to be ‘dialogue.’
In February, leaders had commented how they felt more comfortable being vulnerable in our one to one meetings, than with each other at gatherings. This was something the Soul Action team felt was worth exploring. From experience, when people feel listened to and able to share their thoughts, actions or experiences, and, when they set aside their agendas to listen to others, then new understanding and perspectives can be formed, collaboration can take place, and creative solutions can be sought.
Through dialogue, leaders saw how ideas became more refined as they built upon, developed from, and grew out of their initial thoughts. They used terms like ‘richness’ to describe the process of listening to, and learning from, different and fresh perspectives. In short, they found dialoguing enabled them to go deeper, unearth wisdom & clarify what God wanted.
A ‘dialogical’ approach to problem solving is continually informed by previous thinking, activities and experiences (for more on this, see the theories developed by Bakhtin, Freire, Herbert and Mead).
To conclude our time together we invited leaders to consider how to apply what God had revealed to them throughout the day by offering space for them to reflect, share with each others and pray together.