The year was off to a very rocky and slow start as the student demonstrations continued to escalate and spread to a total of 6 South African university campuses, and even go across the border to Namibia!
All of the South African universities gave students the option to postpone their end of year exams to January because of the protests, so we started the year with many students writing deferred exams from last year. In the case of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC), things were so chaotic that the students wrote their exams at a military base so that university officials could control the situation.
In the aftermath of the uprising, there are mixed feelings on the campuses. Many of the issues have not been addressed. The protests have provoked the nation, making it an unsettling time but also a very poignant time: because of the influence students have had, South Africans are more openly discussing and questioning the state of the nation. The most heart-crushing part has been the racist attitudes, thoughts and opinions expressed in our country.
Academically, many students failed their exams because of lack of access to campus libraries and because of the increased emotional stress at the time of writing. Many students who had scheduled internships were affected because results were delayed. Passions and emotions are high because of this whole situation, and we have witnessed terrible violence and vandalism. This chaos and uncertainty has been the backdrop against which we began the year on our campuses nationwide.
We as Christians must respond. The nation and the campuses are crying out for justice and peace. More than ever we as Christians need to be the salt and the light; to understand the times; to engage with the issues around us; and to hammer away at the outworking of the gospel in this situation. It is a call to each and every person in the nation to respond, to join in and to influence the conversation so that we might reach the right solutions. Christians have an incredible responsibility to be those that reconcile people to God and to each other because of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. God loves righteousness (the pursuit of right relationships with God and everyone else), social justice and peace.
Alongside the student protests, we are doing our best to listen and to work toward equipping our students theologically so that they are able to effectively engage with the issues of their generation and the age they live in.
We keep doing what God has always told us to do: to reach the lost and make disciples who wholeheartedly obey Jesus in all things and under all circumstances. All of our campus ministries in the Western Cape are now up and running and the work continues as effectively as possible, given the circumstances. Below are some highlights from the two campus missions I participated in.
Let us keep praying for our campuses and for our nation! Please join us as we pray and look to establish God’s Kingdom where we are.
I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what He will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Outreaches at UCT’s society plaza week:
Outreaches at CPUT’s plaza week: