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Mercy Ministries South Africa

Presently based in the Gauteng area, a multi-ethnic team travels extensively in the country, working with trained volunteers to bring healing and reconciliation on a deeper level within their country.

 

Background

South Africa had its first democratic elections in April 1994. The world was surprised by the effortless and bloodless shift of power from the white minority to a black majority. Many expected a bloodbath but, in answer to countless prayers, it did not happen. Since then black and white have been working together to build a new South Africa - “the rainbow nation.” People are now living together. They go to the same shops, banks, restaurants, cinemas, swimming areas and living areas. All the apartheid legislation has been removed from the statutes. On the surface everything seems alright and without problems. But, once you scratch the surface, you become acutely aware of underlying tensions. Hatred, mistrust, bitterness, unforgiveness are all very evident. Healing from ethnic division is now more important than ever. We believe the bridging of division is on God’s heart. He gave His Son to bridge the gap between man and God and He also gave His Son to bridge the gap between man and man, no matter what that gap or barrier may be.

 

Our Strategy

We believe that God desires the body of Christ to bring hope and to be His agent of healing and reconciliation within nations that have been fractured and wounded by ethnic division and conflict. Sadly, the church, which is meant to be the light shining in the darkness, has been both involved in the same conflicts and wounded by them. Often there is no difference between the church and the community in terms of beliefs, prejudices and behaviour. Obviously there are foundational Biblical truths which are overlooked or not understood. Our desire is to equip the church with biblically based truth that will heal and change minds and hearts.

We have been using a 3 to 4-day residential workshop called “Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Division.” (HWED)  It was developed and run extensively in Rwanda by Dr. Rhiannon Lloyd and now has been contextualized for use in South Africa. The workshop seeks to bring healing and wholeness to communities suffering from ethnic bitterness and hatred.  Christian leaders and their church members from different ethnic and church backgrounds are invited to encounter God and one another at heart level.  In a safe environment, they are encouraged to experience healing and are able to develop new perspectives and attitudes. They are then challenged to influence their congregations to demonstrate new perspectives and attitudes of forgiveness and acceptance.

In running these workshops, we have seen many pTaking pain to crosseople healed of their past hurts and then enabled to forgive. They move from a place of hatred to love. In the HWED workshop the individual encounters Christ and they will be presented with Biblical truths and specific topics. Though our workshops focus on racial/ethnic reconciliation, we see people being healed in many other areas of their lives as well.

In our experience people are deeply changed during the reconciliation workshop but once they return to their unchanged communities, old thought patterns return and we often find the same people returning to workshops to work through the same issues.  Through structured follow-up we want to facilitate reconciled groups praying and working together to see change in their community.  We realise that reconciliation not lived out practically in the community is empty reconciliation. Thus, our long-term goal is to see reconciled communities move on and begin to work together on community projects; together seeking to improve the quality of life in their locality.

 

Achievements

MMSA was registered as an NPO organisation in 2001 with a board of directors and a constitution. Since then we have run many Healing the Wounds of Ethnic Division workshops attended by several thousand people.  We now have volunteers located around the country that are trained to facilitate the workshops.  We send out a newsletter to around 1,400 prayer partners. If you would like to receive this newsletter, contact us.

Tembisa Local TeamThis is our Tembisa local team, together with our core team members, at the end of a workshop. This team consists of Ndebele, Khoisan, Afrikaner, Coloured,  Tsonga, Swazi and Zambian.

Of course the ministry is not only about numbers and programmes. The real progress is measured by the change in people’s lives. We have heard many testimonies of what God has done in healing and restoration. Some of these are available upon request. Below are few samples.

 

Testimonies

"In Graaff-Reinet a Coloured pastor who did not attend the rest of the workshop only turned up the last afternoon as we were busy with repentance time.  First, an Englishman washed a Black pastor’s feet and asked his forgiveness for the suffering of the past. Then another White English pastor came over and washed this Coloured pastor’s feet.  Shortly after that the Coloured pastor left again, but that evening while we were celebrating at the Rejoicing around the King's TableKing’s table, he came back with a large group of his congregation.  He said:  “I have traveled all over Africa and preached in many places, but since childhood I have had deep hatred in my heart towards the Whites because of what they did to us.  But this afternoon as the Whites washed our feet, the Lord showed me the racism in my heart and He healed me.  And tonight I brought my congregation here because I have come to wash the White men’s feet and ask their forgiveness from the hatred and racism in my heart.”  As he and his wife were washing the 2 White men’s feet, the tears were streaming down his face.  After that there was a special lightness and jubilation in the group as we praised and worshiped the Lord in songs & prayers of thanksgiving." 

"In Robertson a White Afrikaner farmer attended the workshop with a few of his farm workers.  At repentance time he washed the feet of the leader among his workers and asked their forgiveness for mistreatment of the past by his grandfather, his father, and himself.  It was very moving.  After the workshop the farmer asked us to stop at the farm stall outside of town the next morning on our way home, because he had a parcel that he wanted to give us.  When we stopped at the farm stall, he was not there and we waited until he arrived.  He apologized for being late, explaining that he had called all his farm workers together that morning and had washed their feet and asked their forgiveness. It had taken longer than he had anticipated, that is why he was late."

"In Rawsonville there was wonderful reconciliation between a White Afrikaner pastor and a Coloured lay preacher.  The 2 of them had grown up together on the farm of the White pastor’s dad and the Coloured man had actually led his White friend to the Lord when they were still very young.  At the workshop the White pastor asked his friend’s forgiveness because the Coloured boy had never had the opportunity to have proper schooling as he had to work on the farm.  Thus, still today he cannot understand English, nor does he find reading and writing an easy task.”