The First ‘Justice Conference’, South Africa

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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!

 

Leading after #FeesMustFall 2016

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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.

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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.

Transformation

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Our first collective response to the student movement as campus ministries in Cape Town was to have a campus tour with Afrika Mhlophe. Our intent was to not shy away from the issues and to create venues to allow students to participate in the national conversations that have been happening with a Christian framework. The tour was successful in providing a safe place to get students with different viewpoints to really talk and listen to each other publicly. The outcome was the beginnings of open conversations on “race” and the issues that surround it, equipping students with a Christian perspective on justice and an encouragement to the students to begin seeking solutions to the issues of their day. You can check out the video recorded at UCT here.

In response to this event we will continue to keep the safe space we created open for future dialogue around “transformation” of the campuses. We have several more events planned for next semester, as we know that change occurs gradually and outwardly, from internal to external. More than ever we are aware that we must keep doing what we have been doing until now: evangelize, make disciples and raise leaders because it’s people that change a nation!

Chaos is an opportunity. With that in mind, please keep praying for us that we would have  the courage to lead in this time. We are aware that this is a momentous time in our nation, and as such, we pray that we would come out of this united as citizens toward the dream and destiny God has for us as a nation. In Him, all things are possible.

Change the Campus, Change the World…

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.
-Hab 2:1

 

Praying for the Campuses during the mission week

Praying for the Campuses during the mission.

 

Outreaches at UCT’s society plaza week:

plaza o week mission 1

 

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Outreaches at CPUT’s plaza week:

CPUT o week 2

CPUT O week 3

 

The Dream Expands…

This year I have seen the expansion of God’s dream for my life with the start of a new chapter in my Campus Ministry journey.

I carry two intertwined roles in this new season. One is serving as a Western Cape Campus Leader for the His People and Every Nation Campuses, strategically helping campus ministries within the Western Cape grow and multiply. In the Western Cape we have campus ministries at UCT, CPUT, UWC, Tygerberg Medical Campus, the University of Stellenbosch and Boland College.

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Western Cape Campus Leaders social event.

I work with JJ in the City-wide Campus role. The role specifically focuses on enhancing the productivity and fruition of the campus ministers in 5 key areas:

1.Growing and establishing effective, powerful, and life changing God encounters

2.Evangelism

3. Discipleship

4. Raising and empowering student leaders to be released on the campus and later in society

5. World Missions

The campuses will be collaborating with each other to grow in the 5 key areas. During this first phase we will focus on four areas: our unity, taking LIT (see below) to our campuses over the next 3 years, looking at campus staff development (including raising new Campus Ministry staff), and growing our focus on World Missions. The mission fields we will focus on outside of the Western Cape are new campus ministry plants in Port Elizabeth and Kenya, and the strengthening of the campus ministry in Pietermaritzburg.

The other part of my new role is as the LIT coordinator for the Western Cape. LIT stands for ‘Leaders in Transformation‘. It is an institution that works to equip Christian student leaders to impact all spheres of society, and to act as “thought leaders” to influence the affairs of nations in the Southern African region and beyond. My role entails launching the program on the 6 campuses in the Western Cape. This is part of the main strategic objective we continuously have as Campus Ministries, which is to make disciples that transform society. We hope and trust that this program will be a huge step forward in raising up students to transform every sphere of society and bring the Good News into workplaces and businesses. I am excited to see where this takes us!

 

 

 

Transformers

In previous years, Campus Harvest was held as a single national event or 4 regional events, but for 2013 we had a total of 10 different Campus Harvest events across the country with 1745 people attending in total. The point at issue was ‘Transformation’ and “Transformers” is the name the campers gave themselves at this year’s Campus Harvest ‘Western Cape’ camp. There were about 250 people there from the University of Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of  Technology, and University of Cape Town campuses.  It was a warm experience for the students and campus ministers, even though the weather was bitterly cold! Friendships were strengthened and new friendships were formed. The weekend was lots of fun and crazy as it always is with young people. I am always amazed at how it is cumulative moments like these that forever change the course of students’ lives. They are opened up to the possibility of a life lived solely for the glory of God, and have the opportunity to answer the call to be world changers. It was a spiritually refreshing time, with great messages on transforming our society by being agents of transformation ourselves.

It was also an emotional time for me as I looked around and was struck by the number of lives that we have the privilege of impacting through campus ministries. A combination of joy and responsibility; joy of being a part of impacting and shaping lives for God’s glory, and the urgency and responsibility to use this opportunity for the greatest possible impact in the short time we have with each group of students!

The highlight for me was watching the students themselves leading and serving, and the younger campus ministers doing a great job with organising Campus Harvest. I look forward to the fruit that will come from this time away as we were all inspired to go and transform society for God’s glory!

Malibongwe, pictured speaking, was part of the 2011-2012 Year of Your Life team. He is a great evangelist and it was wonderful to see him minister.

Malibongwe, pictured speaking, was part of the 2011-2012 Year of Your Life team. He is a great evangelist and it was wonderful to see him minister.