Our real kick off for the year was the Justice Conference! This was an absolutely wonderful way to begin the year in light of all that has ensued in our nation over the past months. It was just so timely. The students who came to the conference were so excited by the content and the fact that all the issues facing South Africa were being looked at head-on. It was well attended and diverse making the learning challenging, very emotional but most effective, everyone left the conference stirred.
My highlights were seeing this conference come together in this incredible weekend, and speaking to friends and students about what they were learning. It was an answer to prayer to see justice accessible for individuals and institutions, which was so helpful, as people’s most frequent question is, “What does this mean for me?” All in all, it was an awakening, relevant, and rewarding weekend with much work to be done in South Africa!
Photo of the protests courtesy of the Duke Chronicle
In the Western Cape, the university campuses where we have our campus ministries started very late this year (mid March), except for the University of Stellenbosch. This is some of the aftermath of the Fees Must Fall protests; deferred exams, lack of student housing for the new year and delayed employment for those who were meant to be graduating.
As the dust settles and we look ahead to our future – and the prospect of more unrest – we sense the need to both strengthen leaders and raise up more leaders as we move forward. We are aware as campus ministries that we are always only 1 year away from extinction because of the fast student turn-over. We witnessed last year that God’s presence, and specifically His presence through Christians, makes such a difference during times of deep turmoil. The mediation, the peaceful witnessing, the prayer, and the counseling carried out by many Christians across the body of Christ had such an incredible impact on the situation.
Photo of UCT’s Jammie Plaza courtesy of Stay Centred
This year, we are looking to strengthen our leadership development across all of our campuses. For us this means being more effective in equipping our student leaders both for their own growth, and to improve their ability to disciple other students. It also means more effective equipping of Christian students who are entering student governance, and framing the issues of the day with a Biblical perspective so that they can be salt and light on the campuses. There has also been a greater interest among the Christian university staff to engage and explore their role in campus life.
Through every adversity and difficult situation, we move forward with the knowledge that God has His hand on His people, and that we carry His presence within us.