Reverend Jan Scholtz
Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus can be mistaken for the classic story of repentance: the sinner who senses guilt opens himself to Jesus’s saving grace. But by his own light, and those of his community, Saul, the Jew from Tarsus, was doing no wrong in trying to suppress a descending movement within Judaism. It took Jesus to show him the error of his ways.
Most of the evil in this world is done try people like Saul, who behave they are doing good. In an earlier time, as a society, we condoned racial segregation with racist arguments-even in our own houses of worship. We did not even welcome, let alone ordained, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered persons into our church and society. Back then, many in our society thought they were doing the right thing. When it finally came, our “conversation” as society was not dramatic like that of Saul. Jesus’ voice did not suddenly stop the society in the tracks, neither the voice of those we discriminate against. In short, it took time for society, to discern and accept that Jesus message of radical inclusion leaves no one out.
Back in the 1960s, the concern that Martin Luther King addressed were not just issues of society and culture, they were issues of Justice. The same is true for many of the challenges that face this country today. The call to respect and care for each other as brother and sister is not just a political or social statement: Remember the word of Jesus: “If you love me feed my sheep.” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord God with all our heart and mind, but the second one is to love our neighbour as homelessness, war and health care and the marginalisation of the voiceless and powerless, are moral issues. They are issues that people of faith must be engaged in. Therefore, as christians, it doesn’t matter whether we live in good or bad times. In fact, it seems to be exactly when the economy is taking time to get out of the woods that we still rise to the occasion. So practically speaking, what can we do? We are worried about assisting, because we don’t know how to plan for the future of our families and society at large. But we have the opportunity to begin checking in with each other and with our neighbours to find out who is worried about losing their jobs. That opens the door for us to create support groups for those who have lost their jobs and those who are just afraid they might lose their jobs.
We have the opportunity to discretely inquire how our retirees are doing, to find out especially whether those who are in failing pension plans have enough for food and rent. That opens the door for us to emulate and complement the work by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare and soup kitchen by beginning to serve a free meal once or twice a week. In addition, we have the opportunity to find out about our young people are in social welfare and their potential income sources if they can’t afford high-end concerts etc.
That opens the platform for us to literally open the doors for our institutions and churches to invite the young people to come together informally under adult supervision to share constructive ideas, friendship and perhaps they can use their shared talents. Our role as a predominantly christians nation is to continue to raise our voice for more just systems, for eradication of poverty, for policies that do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, the physical ability of sexual orientation to encourage, support and pray for peace. We are called not of a belief in a still-speaking God and God of Justice. Maybe this all sounds overly simplistic! I would maintain that this is what the church has done, and done well sins the old days of Peter and Paul (Acts 1-10)
In conclusion, we live in an extraordinary time. There is no question about that. The only question is how we will respond. Will we do what Namibian Christians are called to do? Let us rise up with greater readiness and determination. Let us move on in these days of challenges to make the Namibian House a better nation. If we do, I guarantee that we will not have to worry about getting out of the woods.