As I reflect on my time in South Africa, one of my personal highlights has been the opportunity to meet with local Christian leaders and to hear their inspiring stories of how their passion drives them to respond to God’s call to bring restorative justice to their unique contexts. From October 2007, when we first arrived in Durban, Phil and I felt prompted by God to “go” and visit leaders wherever God had positioned them; that in itself was a great privilege, but what emerged surpassed our expectations. Through listening to the leaders and God, so much has transpired through Soul Action – gatherings for leaders, training and collaborative projects – as together we have acted by taking the next step(s).
Phil and I are convinced that God has placed within every leader the very best solutions to whatever situation they face; as God’s image bearers we believe that every person is unique, creative, intelligent and capable. We can bear witness to this fact, particularly over the last 3 years as we’ve focussed more on practicing the art of listening; giving space to think, time to reflect, take ownership and decide next steps. Every leader inspires us; so many have taken courageous, bold steps as they join in with what God is doing.
Before moving to South Africa in 2007 I worked as a teacher in England for 11 years. I was, and remain, passionate about providing learning spaces where all children can succeed; where every child is given the necessary support and opportunities to fulfil their potential. But in moving to Durban, I really felt that God was asking me to lay this down and move out of my comfort zone – to focus more on working with adults. Through the Soul Action network of leaders that emerged from those intial visits – and its work within the education sphere – this has involved developing training materials, facilitating workshops for teachers, leaders and volunteers, and learning the importance of combining workshops and mentoring to bring positive change. It has been an incredible learning journey and such a highlight.
Combining 11 years focused on children (in the UK), with eleven years focused on adults (in South Africa), has led me to this point; the point where I believe God is asking me to work with teachers and children to develop an approach to education where everyone can fulfil their God-given potential, an approach that celebrates the creativity and uniqueness of each and every child, and which seeks to bring equality and integration to South African society.