Since it’s inception, Soul Action has always placed great value on establishing, sustaining and developing relationships, beginning in 2007/08, when the organisation began by first meeting and mapping the activities of 150 different Christian initiatives serving more than 80,000 people within the Municipality of eThekwini (popn. 3.5 million, 2292 sq km).
Leaders of Christian charities and churches spoke of needs such as domestic abuse, HIV/Aids, Orphans and Vulnerable Children. They also shared their sense of exhaustion, fear of duplication, isolation, and ongoing sense of frustration that they were, “…the only people doing this kind of thing.”
sensed God was inviting them to address this need. Through prayer, God confirmed their thoughts, revealing, “Just get people in the same room!”
2008: ‘Transcultural’ dialoguing begins
|By ‘transcultural’ Soul Action means the bringing together of elements from different cultures.
‘Transcultural citizenship’ is depicted by a positive attitude to diversity and a willingness to connect and dialogue with the ‘other’.
Soul Action believes that society is richer when citizens from different cultures come together and share.
What leaders would eventually refer to as ‘Soul Action Gatherings’ started in April 2008, when Phil and Rachel decided to gather an initial 40 leaders from the local churches and Non-profit charities they had visited. Leaders connected; many of them for the first time.
Rather than narration, preaching or teaching, Soul Action recognised that making space for dialogue – through facilitation – not only overcomes barriers like education, gender, race and socioeconomics; obstacles that might otherwise get in the way of relating transculturally, but celebrates, requires and utilises people’s differences.
For more than ten years, Soul Action has had the privilege of gathering over a thousand individuals from hundreds of organisations, in order to share their experiences, creativity, critical thinking, knowledge, life-long learning, unique perspectives, passion for social justice, respect for each other’s potential, and views on theology – all with the aim of addressing poverty collaboratively.
2015: connections with 750 people = little changes
In 2015, Soul Action was able to host more gatherings, start more initiatives, facilitate more training, coordinate more events, and work alongside more individuals (750) and organizations (250) than ever.
Despite this, the leadership of Soul Action felt challenged by the change that they still wanted to see in South Africa, namely an end to the Apartheid-like inequality and segregation that seems to persist.
2.2. bridging the transformation gap
|‘What people need when they are trying to bring about some change is someone to listen and respond as they talk through different ideas and possible courses of action. They need to explore what their ideas really mean, in detail, in practice, through both hearing themselves talk about them and through hearing another person’s response to them. They need a sounding board.’ 10 (b)|
Whilst transcultural gatherings and training – things Soul Action had a reputation for facilitating well – were catalysts for change, Soul Action noticed change was far more likely when these ‘events’ were accompanied by regular and supportive one on one relationships. Years of facilitating various education initiatives (see 2.3, pg. 7) – where there has always been a combination of one on one investment alongside any gatherings of people – were testament to this very fact.
2016: time to think and sounding boards
As well as continuing to connect leaders for dialogue, prayer and reflection every other month, Soul Action began meeting leaders one on one, the month between the usual gatherings.
2017: 800 ‘encounters’ with the same 100 leaders
Soul Action continues to gather and meet the same 40 leaders from business, 30 leaders from charities / churches, and 30 leaders in education, as part of its mission to establish greater equality and integration.
Soul Action creates space for co-learning that empowers, guides, mentors and supports people of all ages.