Friday, July 18, 2008

Madiba, 90 years of love

Nelson Mandela is celebrating his 90th birthday in his Transkei Qunu home today - 18 July 2008! Today this humble servant of humanity is with his family the people who made him what he is today. His wife Graca Machel said ahead of this day: The world needs symbols. The world needs to highlight the best values we can find in certain human beings. Mandela is one of those. Former South African president and co-winner of the 1993 Nobel peace prize, FW de Klerk rated Mandela as one of the greatest figures of the last century. He is the most famous South African who has ever lived and is universally regarded as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.

Mandela’s statesmanship and humility opt him to become the first recipient of the ICOC HOPE Unity Award in 1995. The Unity Award, resembles a hand holding a bundle of sticks tied with a cord mounted on an octagon shape for its base. This original idea came from Pat Gempel, former director of Development for HOPE worldwide. Steve Johnson, former ACES World Sector leader, was responsible for the design, while the hands of Jackie Perreault Gonzales sculpted a magnificent work of art. Pat’s idea based on an old fable tells of a father who handed his children a bundle of sticks tied with a leather cord and gave them the command, “Break it.” Strong as they were, none of them could manage the task and they handed the bundle back to their father. He then untied it, handed each a single stick, and said again, “Break it.’ This they easily did. With an air of gravity and a pause to help drive the point home, the father advised his children, “Unity gives strength.”

Madiba warmly received the honors bestowed on him from an ICOC delegation consisting of Dr. Mark Ottenweller, director of HOPE for the Poor in South Africa, Kip McKean, Bob and Pat Gempel on August 10th 1995 at his official residence in Pretoria. Roger Lamb recorded the event for KNN and the video was shown during the World Missions Leadership conference held in Johannesburg during the period of 9-13 August 1995.

The spirit of Mandela is unbreakable. How do you break love? Nelson Mandela made a profound speech to the court during his opening statement of the Rivonia trial in April 20th 1964. He valued death as an ally in order to achieve an ideal for freedom for all South Africans. During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

The day, February 11th 1990 Mandela walked free!

Instead of being a bitter man hardened by prison life he showcased to the world his famous Madiba smile! Through those bitter 27 years on Robben Island Mandela made every effort during tough negotiations leading up to the end of apartheid rule in 1994 to add to his faith goodness. The former National Party leader, FW de Klerk, acknowledged his working relationship during negotiations with Mandela went through hardship. He was a hard, sometimes remorseless negotiating partner and our relationship was often severely strained. Nevertheless, whenever the situation demanded it, we were able to overcome our differences and take concerted action to defuse the crisis as they arose. After his inauguration, Nelson Mandela used his personal charm to promote reconciliation and to mould our widely diverse communities into an emerging multicultural nation. This, I believe, will be seen as his greatest legacy.

And to goodness, Madiba added knowledge. And to knowledge self-control; and to self-control, perseverance. And to perseverance, godliness. And to godliness, brotherly kindness. And to brotherly kindness, 90 years of love.

Graca Machel is right: The world needs symbols. Perhaps the triumph of Madiba’s dedication to humanity is in the manner he is a living symbol of hope to the world. And perhaps, Mandela’s story will always remain a triumph because this man was in no position to freely give what he had freely received until his release!

Today, 13 years ago, those men from the ICOC delegation, who visited this champion of peace, must learn from an old fable when a father handed a bundle of sticks tied with leather cord and gave them the command, “Break It.”

I think that father (tata) is Nelson Mandela!

Madiba we salute you! Happy Birthday!

Sarel de Wet
Proudly South African

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Road to nowhere.


Dave Eastman’s article entitled Embracing Discipleship (Part 1) startled me for a number of reasons, mainly because the author proposes new insights and applications to embrace once again, or maybe for the first time, the discipleship to which we are called. Eastman is of opinion people should say ‘no’ to Jesus rabbinical one-over-another disciple model and ‘yes’ to one-another disciple partner arrangements. Is his proposal the correct model?

First it must be said, Eastman is an old hand from the Crossroads era. He has experienced many adjustments to the disciple approach since his first introduction in the late seventies. Terminology shifts between the founder of the Crossroads movement, Charles ‘Chuck’ Lucas and his protégée were early indicators of things to come; McKean pioneered an egoistic guru-style leadership in 1988 based on Jesus leading his few. The Boston movement, which McKean started in 1979, extended over a twenty-year span known as Episode 1, which relapsed in the new millennium with McKean’s Unity Meeting resignation in 2002.

Henry Kriete’s letter followed the Unity Meeting. Here, Kriete’s document presented an honest evaluation of past and present sins especially concerning the formation structures of discipleship in the former ICOC. I quote: That we have become a top to bottom hierarchy is not a question. The truth is we are. Why we have chosen this model, and sought to crystallize it, when the apostolic church has no such model, is the big question. Even with other models to pattern ourselves after; even with so many teachers in our churches who surely know better, the fact is that we have chosen and systematically enforced this one. The reason I use the word ‘enforced’ is simple: we have become what we’ve wanted to become; what we have insisted on becoming. How did this happen? I am not entirely sure. Why we let happen is the more radical question.

Clearly, Dave Eastman is not in favour of any pyramidal relations in his proposal, but he has already made a grave mistake. The fact is Eastman have chosen and systematically enforced this one – discipling relationships. The question is will Chicago Church let it happen? It appears that some Christians in this fellowship would be concerned about a renewed emphasis on discipling relationships.

The new ICOC have come a long way avoiding the pitfalls of the one-over-another model since McKean’s resignation. However, by large, leaders are determined not to let go of discipleship methodologies. Perhaps their dilemma could be explained if Micky Mouse would be removed from Walt Disney, would it still be a Walt Disney? The reconstruction attempts since decentralisation have almost levelled the ICOC to the Church of Christ. Imagine if disciple relations were compromised; the next step would be reintegration with the Church of Christ.

It’s sad to see men like Dave Eastman rallying for a position that would lead to more questions than answers, or a road to nowhere, especially if these men are unwilling to throw the baby out with the bath water, considering mandatory or intentional disciple relationships!

Ask this question during October’s discussion. Does it mean if you are born a ‘discipling’ church; you must forever remain a ‘discipling’ church? Is it not to use Kriete’s words what we have insisted on becoming? Eastman stated: We were born as a discipling church. We grew up as a discipling church. And though we made mistakes, and at times sinned, as a discipling church, we are still a discipling church. That means that each one of us needs to once again embrace discipling.

Well we know where were goin
But we dont know where weve been
And we know what were knowin
But we cant say what weve seen
And were not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out

Next time: The Road to nowhere

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Commentary on Discipleship to follow...


icoccommentary will focus on discipleship in a series entitled: DECODING THE DISCIPLESHIP TO WHICH WE ARE CALLED.

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