Friday, November 20, 2015

A Goldmine of another Sort Part 1 (November 2015)

A Goldmine of another Sort
                        - Southern Africa as a base for Missionary Recruitment



1. Jesus, the Pray-er: our Model for a close Walk with the Father…. ………………………………………5

2. Jesus, the Word of God: the Logos and the Rhema………………………………………………… …..15

3. Jesus, the paramount Encourager: He uplifts and consoles ……………………………………… ….. ..25

4. Jesus, God’s true Son: the ultimate Example of Obedience...................……………………..………. .  32

5. Jesus, the Son of poor Parents: An answer to economic Disparity ….………………………………......42

6. Jesus, the Servant Leader: An object lesson in servitude ………. ………………..……………….…...  40

7.  Jesus, the special Warrior: a fighter for real Peace………………………………………………….…..47

8. Jesus, a Man of Sorrows: An example of preparedness to suffer persecution……………………..….....  55

9. Jesus delivered people from all forms of bondage …….………………………………………………… 60

10. Jesus, the great missionary strategist ……………………………………………………………….……71

11. Jesus’ View of Unity as a Priority ..... ...  ......... ………………………………………….………......86
12. Jesus, the Homeless: a Refugee as a Baby and a Vagabond as an Adult …………………………….102

13. Jesus disregarded societal status: A nudge towards imaginative initiatives!            …………………….......108
14. Jesus taught ‘Enemy Love’: The Power of Reconciliation ……….……………………………............119
15. Jesus, an Example of proper Stewardship and a pioneer of good Ecology ……………………..…... .126

16. Jesus, a Man for the Individual: Fellowship as a Priority   ……………………………..…………… . 132
17. Jesus, the Risk-taker par excellence: a Call for special Solidarity..………………………………. …132  
18. Jesus, a Master in Conflict Management … ……………………………. …………. ………… .....  138

19. Jesus, the Non-conformist: Questioning sinful Norms ...…………………………………… ........... 145

‘South Africa is not only rich in gold dug from the mines but in faith that has been tested and tried... and proven to be more valuable than fine gold’ (Eileen Vincent, I will heal their land, Basingstroke (UK), 1986)

The best known bishops of the oldest Protestant Church, the Unity of the Brethren, better known as the Moravian Church, are the Czech educator and theologian Jan Amos Komensky (generally known as Amos Comenius) and Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the founder of the renewed Unitats Fratrum.
            The life work of Jesus could be summed up as that of a missionary. This theme we attempt to expound in this treatise. Jesus evidently understood himself as such because more than once he noted that he was sent by the Father (for example John 5:30). If we look more closely at the life of Jesus, we can easily detect bibli­cal prin­ciples and criteria for the recruitment of missionaries and evan­gelists.
            Zinzendorf in particular has been using the Bible as a cue to develop a missionary strategy. He inspired the congregation of Herrnhut that was founded in June, 1722 as an asylum for persecuted believers from Moravia and Bohemia. Those 18th century Herrnhut Moravians demonstrated that the ‘New Testament’[1] principles and practices can be fruitfully adapted and implemented for our time.
            The far-sighted Comenius had the vision of spread­ing the light of the Gospel from England. This happened two hundred years later, starting with the modern missionary movement, which received its main inspiration from William Carey’s book An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen. I propose that not only the theological thinking, but also the Church universal could be revitalized, perhaps even revolutionized if the Great Commission[2] gets its rightful place again. I could envisage a similar role for South Africa at this point in time.
          The Moravians of Herrnhut after 1727, under the bril­liant leadership of Count Zinzendorf, have proved that the mission­ary guidelines of the Bible are not mere theory. Georg Schmidt, one of these first generation Moravian missionaries, was instrumental in starting lively Christian groups at the Cape. This would influence the religious life for the decades thereafter.
It is no co-incidence that both the well-known Dr Andrew Murray[3] and William Carey were deeply influenced by the example of the Moravians. An inter­est­ing possibil­ity is that Carey might indirect­ly have been influ­enced from the Cape. The correspon­dence between Van Lier and evangelical contemporaries in Holland and England contrib­uted to the establishment of the Rotterdam and London Mission Societies. It is interesting to note the influence of the Moravians on Van Lier and vice versa. Quite soon after his arrival, Georg Schmidt’s legacy worked through into Van Lier’s life when he was present at the death bed of one of the missionary pioneer’s converts. The young dominee saw how the Khoi believer died ‘in complete rest and peace and in trust in the Lord.’ [4]
The Moravian Bishop Reichel, coming from Ceylon (today called Sri Lanka) en route to Germany, was cordially welcomed by Dr van Lier and the Cape prayer group. As a result, a few years later - in 1792 - a team of three new Moravian missionaries came to Genadendal. On the other side of the ocean the missionary physician Johannes van der Kemp was decisively influenced by the Moravians in Zeist (Holland). There Van der Kemp received the vision for world mission which he used for creating mission awareness in the Netherlands at large. After receiving his medical training in Britain, Van der Kemp was immensely used by God in the establishment of the Dutch Missionary Society. Worldwide he was one of the first to see the potential of converted and manumitted slaves as divine instruments to minister into their countries of origin.
Dr Andrew Murray was influenced deeply during his study stint in Europe. The Moravian settlement Zeist was only 10 kilometers from Utrecht where he and his brother John studied for two years from 1845. It is highly probable that there were some links.[5] In a letter of 14 November 1845 to his father from Utrecht, he wrote: ‘I have been led to surrender myself wholly to Christ’ (Du Plessis, 1919:57).
            Other groups who are the advance guard to-day in getting to the unreached, like Youth with a Mission, have been inspired by the prayerful Moravian missionary example of the first two centuries after 1727: Zinzendorf and Comenius were both men of God who took their inspiration from the unadulter­ated Word of God. They tried to apply the Word to the time in which they lived, albeit that both were visionaries, way ahead of their time. If the life and testimony of Zinzen­dorf especially is highlighted in this treatise, it must be stressed that it would be completely against the spirit of his teaching if the Count is even remotely hero-worshipped.  Zinzendorf wanted to point everybody to Jesus instead.
            I have been greatly encouraged through my private studies and through my experience that others had similar thoughts with regard to the potential of South Africans as missionaries. When a slave from Mozambique named Maart responded so well to five years of Christian teaching that he was considered to become a missionary to his own people in Mozambique. Dr van der Kemp definitely had that vision in the early 19th century which was regarded as revolutionary. At the end of the 19th century Dean Lightfoot, an Anglican priest, had similar ideas. He pioneered in the parish of St. Paul’s, just outside the present-day Bo-Kaap in Cape Town. Lightfoot saw potential missionaries in people of colour who could serve among other things as guides and interpreters. In 1911 G.B.A. Gerdener, a missionary among the Muslims at the Cape at the beginning of the previous century and later Dutch Reformed professor of theology at Stellenbosch, wrote: ‘South Africans ought to be the leading missionary specialists in the world. They grow up in this atmosphere, and have the field of research at their door ...’ (Gerdener, 1911:207). Many years later, Gerdener tried to get the message over in other wording, declaring that missionary work is ‘something that belongs to the being of the church, the fundamental function of the church’. However, the message hardly penetrated, not even in his denomination.
            My repeated reference to the example of the Moravians in this book is also intended as a tribute to the wonderful heritage of which I deem myself a part. With the increase of Bible teaching in local fellowships and the proliferation of house churches, I see the Herrnhut fellowship after 1727 as a model which could be adapted to our times. For that generation of Moravians, being a Christian meant to be involved with a mission to the whole world.
            At the same time, I am also sad that examples like these have by and large become obsolete, also in other denominations which had anointed beginnings. I do hope and pray that the dissemination of this information might (re)kindle interest in the life and teaching of Count Zinzendorf, an exceptional Christian. Further­more, I attempt to highlight the ‘key’ to world missions, which was given to the church universal by the worldwide acknowledged evangelical preacher, Dr Andrew Murray. At the time when The Key to the missionary Problem was first published, it literally exploded on the Christian scene and was used by God to stimulate missionary zeal and action in many coun­tries.[6] The key was only used effectively again in this way at the end of the 20th century with a similar result, starting with the crashing of the communist ‘iron curtain’ after November 1989. (This time Open Doors and the AD 2000 and Beyond movement were the prime divine instruments.) Encouraged by this dramatic turn of events, Open Doors repeated the request when extremist Islam substituted Communism as a threatening ideology, albeit under the cloak of religion. Ten year of prayer resulted in thousands of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus in the new millennium.
            Dr van der Kemp, Dean Lightfoot, Dr Andrew Murray and Professor G.B.A. Gerdener all thus had the vision to use missionaries from Africa for the Black continent. ‘... and through these (talented men) the whole of Africa may be influ­enced’ (Gerdener, 1911:208). Hans van Staden, an Afrikaner missionary, established the Dorothea Mission mainly through the intensive use of Black evangelists, notably Shadrach Maloka, who still evangelized in the 1990s. Van Staden was also the initiator of Patrick Johnstone’s Operation World, the book which has arguably influenced world missions more than any other work.[7] David Bosch, the leading South African missiologist at the time of his tragic death in 1993, had already influenced missiological thinking worldwide with his last work[8] to such an extent that things can never be the same again. South Africa has thus already influenced the world missionary movement decisive­ly.
            Yet, very few African precedents are known. An exceptional movement in the history of Christianity in Africa is the one associated with ‘Prophet Harris’. The simple message of the Black Episcopal Christian from Liberia, who began to work in Côte I’voire about 1914, was much more readily accepted by the Africans than that of European missionaries in spite of his radicalism. Stephen Neill, a prominent missiologist, wrote: ‘An encouraging feature of ... rapid growth in Africa is that so much of it is the work not of the mission­ary, but of the Africans them­selves’ (Neill, 1965:492). Harris preached not only the belief in one God, but also the abandonment and destruction of fe­tishes. This truth, expressed in 1965, is even more valid today. Another unheralded heroine was Eliza Davis George from Texas, who as a Black and a woman, had a lot of prejudice stacked against her. She was touched at a prayer meeting of the Student Volunteer Movement,   inspired to go and minister among those from where her ancestors had come (Tucker, 2004:360). As one of the first Blacks to depart as a missionary from the Western world, Eliza Davis broke many a missionary record until her death in her 99th year in 1980. But long before her, indigenous believers were used in pioneering work, without getting due recognition for it. Some of this has been filtering through in recent years more prominently, such as the role of Wilhelmina Stompjes in the Eastern Cape and four Xhosa evangelists in Malawi after 1876.[9] Patrick Johnstone sums the situation up aptly: ‘... much of the pioneering  missionary work in Africa has actually been done by humble dedicated African missionaries who have crossed cultural and national boundaries’ to evangelize people who are not from their own group or tribe’ (Johnstone, 1993:39).
            By and large however, we unfortunately have to state that a timely warning of Gerdener had not been heeded: ‘To disre­gard the future of the natives is to hang a weight round one’s own neck’ (Gerdener, 1911:208). Dr Andrew Murray warned early in the century against the danger of nationalism. Also this was not taken seriously. In fact, the warnings turned out to be prophetic, first through the racial prejudice, and even racial obsession of apartheid theologians; and later through the reaction to racialism, when many up and coming theologians of colour became obsessed by their opposition to apartheid. (I was among those, almost losing my way spiritually in the emerging Black Theology of the early 1970s.) We may not let the chance slip again for the new South Africa to take a leading role in world missions. The run-up to the Lausanne Committee event in the Convention Centre of Cape Town – exactly a century after the big conference in Edinburgh in 1910 – presented us with a golden opportunity to make a good start.
            Thankfully, things are gradually changing for the bet­ter. ‘Coloured’[10] and missionaries from South Africa with Indian ancestry are slowly coming into their own. In a few international mission agencies ‘non-White’ missionaries from Southern Africa already outnumber their White counterparts. From the Black population however - the vast majority population-wise - the momentum still has to take off for obvious reasons: economic disparity, a sad legacy of the past and a still prevalent perception (deception?) that a missionary has to be a White and/or foreign.
            The questions at the end of each chapter are first and fore­most intended as stimulation for further thought. I am quite aware that some of them might sound arrogant and haughty. Even as I wrote them, I was only too aware that I myself fall so much short of these lofty ideals. But I believe that these biblical standards should not be watered down only because they do not suit us. Instead, we should rather let ourselves be chal­lenged by them.
            There is perhaps no country in the world at this point in time which lends itself better to demonstrate the dynamics of the Gospel than the Republic of South Africa because of its diverse resource of people groups, its evangelical heritage and its economic disparity. Let us make a virtue out of a sad legacy. If the old Voortrekker adage ‘Eendrag maak mag’,[11] comes into its own, South Africa could soon become one of the leading countries in the ‘export’ of missionaries to all parts of the world. Yet, quite a lot of homework will have to be done in the churches. It is my prayer that the present book might be used as a provocation[12] to this end - challenging the South African churches to become the advance guard of the worldwide missionary army. For a start, I suggest that we take another look at the lessons taught by Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
            I am not apologizing that there is some repetition, which seemed feasible. Thus I have used the classic example of the Samaritan woman (John 4) a few times in different chapters. (In a separate study, A revolutionary Conversation, I examined the lessons one can learn from the Master Teacher.) For the rest, I do not regard myself an academic. This book is first and foremost the result of many years of pondering on biblical principles, supplemented by private studies and research. I originally intended this as an aid for church Bible Schools and home churches, hoping that it may be divinely used even wider.
            Although I am quite aware that a culture of reading must still develop in South Africa, I pray that the gist of this treatise might filter through to many compatrioots and others around the world at this time.

Cape Town, October 2015
                        1.  Jesus, the Pray-er: our Model for a close Walk with the Father

            Our Lord demonstrated by his example the priority of prayer and the necessity of being in God’s presence in real worship. We read that Jesus Christ communicated with His Father constantly. Every great crisis in His life was preceded by special prayer. He spent a whole night in prayer – the only place recorded – before He gathered His disciples around Him. D.L. Moody, the great American evangelist at the end of the 19th century highlighted the fact that ‘four times the answer came right down from heaven while the Saviour prayed’ (Prevailing Prayer, p.12).[13]
On more than one occasion he left the masses standing, to be alone with His Father (for example Mark 6:46). Jesus modeled solitude as an important and strategic component. At five points of crisis in his life he spent time alone with the Father – before the start of his earthly ministry, in the desert (Matthew 14:13); before choosing his disciples (Luke 6: 12f); when he received the news of the death of John the Baptist; after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:23).
            He literally overturned the tables of those who would dare to defile the temple; it had to be used as a house of prayer (Matthew 21:12, 13). He praised Mary for sitting in His presence, rebuking the zealous, diligent Martha, who surely meant to do her service ‘for Him’ (Luke 10:39-42). He encouraged his disciples, and us, to learn from Him and take His yoke upon us. As an example of prayer that is heard by God, the contrite publican is cited as an example, in contrast to the self-righteous Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14). In the teaching of the Master, for example in the Sermon on the Mount, various aspects of prayer are highlighted. In fact, prayer takes a central role in this series of teachings. Even in one of the most crucial aspects of prayer, namely that of our petitions not being answered, the Lord’s struggle, yes, his agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:38ff) serves as an example to us to seek God’s will in everything.

Prayer unites
A point to note in the Lord’s teaching is the corporate emphasis. In the lesson which got the name ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, we would search in vain for words like I, me, mine. Thus we read: ‘Our Father...´. ‘Your name...’, ‘Your Kingdom, ‘Your will’; ‘give usour daily bread´ ... etc. Prayer itself unites, more than anything else. It cannot be emphasized enough that it should be our priority to counter Christian disunity with all our might, last not least through our prayers, thus following the example of our Mas­ter (John 17:21-23). There the master prayed ‘that they may be brought to complete unity.’ The first half of the Decalogue, the so-called Ten Commandments, refers to our relationship to the Almighty and the second half to our relationship with fellow human beings.
            D.L. Moody notes interestingly that ‘the Lord’s prayer, more properly, is the one in the seventeenth chapter of John’ (Prevailing Prayer, p.13). He went on to observe not only that ‘this is the longest prayer on record that Jesus made’ but also that ‘our Master’s prayers were short when offered in public ... Long prayer in public are too often not prayers at all’. Quite interesting is Moody’s conclusion that ‘… prayers that brought immediate answers were generally brief.
            When one prays regularly for someone of whom one is critical, one’s attitude to such a person is apt to change as well, apart from the fact that prayer will change that person too. Visser ‘t Hooft has put it so aptly: ‘...our participation is, in the first place, by opening ourselves through prayer... The vertical dimension is the fundamental one and determines and conditions the other dimension’ (Visser ‘t Hooft, 1959:81).


Nehemiah as a Model of compassionate Intercession

Nehemiah qualified for leadership through his com­passion and concern for the city of Jerusalem when he heard of its deso­late state. ‘When I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven’ (Nehemiah 1:4). We read how Nehemiah prayed day and night for 4 months before asking the king’s permission to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. (Significantly, the wall was built in only 52 days!)
            We are indebted to Brother Andrew who highlighted – perhaps even exaggerating a bit – the value of searching and piercing questions by Nehemiah in his book Building in a broken World. The Dutch founder of Open Doors showed how by asking the right questions we can be led to prayerful action. Intensive listening creates the basis for getting involved in a meaningful way. Nehemiah displayed in his life the balance between faith and action, to be prayerfully active in the Lord\s service without becoming activist. Every step was important, from listening, waiting, prayer, repentance, organization and planning.  Nehemiah did not rush into action. He allowed the message to sink in. We can only really minister into needs when we experience something of the depth of the misery in our own hearts.
            But Nehemiah also demonstrated how spiritual life invariable leads to battle, to spiritual warfare of the highest order when prayer and action goes hand in hand. He did not rely on second-hand information. He went to go and explore for himself, discovering how the condition of the wall of Jerusalem was symptomatic of the spiritual state of the nation.
             Nehemiah was very much aware of his own inadequacy. Two prayers of confession are recorded (Nehemiah 1: 5-11 and 9:6-39) in which he includes his own sin and that of his family. In chapter 6 verse 9 he prays in view of the opposition of enemies who opposed the building of the wall: ‘but now, o God, strengthen my hands’.


Jesus in the Mould ancient Prayer Warriors

As a man of prayer, Jesus very much displayed his Jewish background. He will surely have known about Nehemiah’s intercession. He may have been reminded of the prayerful Nehemiah when he might even have broken down in tears as he pondered over the special city and its religious leaders. After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the establishment leadership was bent on silencing him, by force if need be. Instead, he shut up them by convincingly answering all their questions (Matthew 21:23 - 22:45). In a (com)passionate discourse the Lord lashed out at a part of the religious establishment with the sevenfold woe: ‘Woe you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites’…: Possibly the Master would have to speak to the leaders of His Body in a similar way. Jesus ended his discourse with the compassionate divinely inspired words: ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem…, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing …’ (Matthew 23:37).
Our Lord Jesus rose very early in the morning to pray. In Luke 6:12 it is reported how he had prayed all night. His agonizing prayer in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of His crucifixion, where it is reported that his sweat were like blood drops (Luke 22:44), has precedents in the Hebrew Scriptures.[14] Throughout the ‘Old Testament’ we see how God inter­vened after intercessory prayer. Abraham interceded for Lot and his family (Genesis 18:23ff). Moses was a type of Christ in that he was prepared to sacrifice his own life: ‘...forgive their sin - and if not, then blot me out of the book you have written’ (Exodus 32:32). The fervent prayer and cries of agony to God are mentioned as the fore-runners of the deliverance of Israel from the yoke of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:23). This is also the case at the birth of arch fathers and other biblical men of God, after their mothers had been barren (Genesis 30:6; 1 Samuel 1:11). When Hezekiah called on God in desperation on his death-bed, he was given another lease of life, fifteen years extra (2 Kings 20:3, 6).
            David called himself a man of prayer (Psalm 109:4). Moving confessions of Nehemiah (Chapter 1) and Daniel (Chapter 9) showed the way how intercession for the sins of one’s people could be done. Paul was likewise clearly someone who prayed a lot, often interced­ing for fellow Chris­tians, especially those who were going through difficult patches. In Colossians 4:12 Epaphras is mentioned as one who wrestled in prayer, literally agonizing in prayer for fellow believers. James (5:17) makes a point to stress that Elijah was prayerful. Yet, the apostle specifically stressed that Elijah was a man just like us.

The Lord as the Teacher

Count Zinzendorf and Andrew Murray could respectively be described as the giants of the 18th and 19th century. Murray is known to have been deeply impacted by Zinzendorf and the Moravians. Both Zinzendorf and Andrew Murray were men of prayer.  The Dictionary of South African Bibliography (Vol. 1, p.578) wrote about Dr Andrew Murray the following: ‘The golden ray of prayer illumined all he did. Like Luther, he believed that nothing that was amiss and demanded correction could not be corrected or endured by prayer.’[15]
            The extent to which Andrew Murray was influenced by Zinzendorf during his study stint in Europe is not known, but with Zeist being only 10 kilometers away from Utrecht where he and his brother John studied for two years from 1845, it is highly probable that there were some links.[16] In a letter of 14 November 1845 to his father from Utrecht, he wrote: ‘I have been led to surrender myself wholly to Christ’ (Du Plessis, 1919:57). In Utrecht the brothers associated themselves with the movement Sechor Dabar (Remember the Word), which had been founded by Isaac da Costa. The Jewish-background believer God had used mightily in the Dutch revival when the Church there was spiritually almost dead. The Murray brothers were instrumental in starting a missionary circle called Eltheto. Its extension was a monthly journal, which would contain extracts on the work of God throughout the world.
            Andrew Murray founded the Bible and Prayer Union in 1883. The main object of this venture was to encourage members of his church in Wellington to read the Scriptures daily and to pray regularly for specific causes. One of the first books of Andrew Murray had the title - translated into English as With Christ in the School of Prayer.[17] In 1904 he founded another prayer union, which was open to believers who had pledged themselves to devote at least a quarter of an hour daily to praying for others and also for the furtherance of the Kingdom.
            Significantly, the Bible verses he referred to in this booklet were taken from the Gospels. Following in the footsteps of the disciples, every chapter closes with a prayer preceded with the words ‘Lord, teach us to pray’. A whole chapter is devoted to what has been dubbed ‘The Lords Prayer’, and which Murray calls the model prayer. He stresses the Fatherhood of God in this prayer, proceeding to write a full chapter on ‘The infinite fatherliness of God’. (In modern times Floyd McClung highlighted this aspect with his well-known booklet The Father Heart of God). Andrew Murray changed the course of the Church in the twentieth century with two booklets in 1901 and 1911 after discerning the lack of an emphasis on prayer at two world conferences respectively in New York (1900) and Edinburgh (1910).

Prayer for Workers into the Harvest

The Lord exhorted the disciples and by implication also us, to pray for workers to enter the ripe harvest field (Matthew 9:38). This petition is to-day possibly more actual than ever before. Through the increased prayer for the 10/40 window, the unchristianized geographical area of Africa and Eurasia between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, it can be expected that many areas of the world where no or little mission work has been done up to now, may soon open up for Gospel missionary outreach. Many workers will be needed. We should take note however, that Jesus raised this clarion call of prayer for workers after He had been moved by compassion, when He saw that the multitude were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). The need is great for missionaries who have holistic compas­sion for people, concerned about their spiritual as well as their temporal needs.
            However, our prayer for the workers is very much determined by our harvest vision. If our sight is blurred by cultural, denominational, sectarian or any other prejudice, we might not even see the harvest on our door-step. In John 4 it is recorded how the disciples were so preoccupied with the temporal need for bread, that they over-looked the harvest of Samaritans. Perhaps our prayer for workers should also include the request for healing of our ‘eye defects’, our shortsightedness or even our spiritual blindness, so that we may see what the Lord has on his heart.

United Prayer
The Hebrew Scriptures highlight individual prayer giants like Moses, David, Elijah, Nehemiah and Daniel. A special case is mentioned in Scripture when the exiles returned to Jerusalem. There they had to discover to their dismay that those who had remained in the city had joined the detestable practices of the pagan neighbouring tribes (Ezra 9:2) and that the religious leaders had in fact led the way in the unfaithfulness to Yahweh, evident through massive intermarriage. Led by the visible prostration and the audible passionate confession with the weeping of the scribe Ezra on behalf of the nation, the assembled congregation was moved deeply. An atmosphere of remorse ensued.
            We need to add Jesus and Paul to the list of individual prayer giants. The ‘New Testament’ attaches a special significance to united prayer. The Bible book of The Acts of the Apostles adds the dimension of corporate prayer. Jesus himself taught both tenets. He encouraged prayer that is not visible – the closet variation to be alone with the Father – but he also said ‘where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:20). The presence of Jesus in the fellowship of his praying disciples gives united prayer its power. Corporate prayer should ideally be ‘of one mind’. Andrew Murray (With Christ in the School of Prayer) highlighted this aspect of prayer. In that classic he notes that the object prayed for should be some special thing, a matter of distinct united desire. Down the years revivals were preceded by prayer, often because believers took the cue from the pre-Pentecost believers being together in this way (Acts 1:13). It is interesting to note that the same author - Luke - reported in his Gospel how a dispute arose among the disciples when Jesus was still with them (Luke 22:24).
            We also discover how the element of crisis is used by God to spawn urgent prayer. With the first church this not only occurred during the days preceding Pentecost, but also when they were persecuted (Acts 4:23). God answered their united prayer miraculously in the case of Peter (12:12). Prior to this James, the apostle, had been killed. Thus, even combined prayer is not always answered according to our expectations and hopes. God is sovereign.
            Due to corporate prayer, incredible political changes have occurred in many parts of the world. Release of Chris­tians who had been imprisoned for their faith has been affected through it, but some of the persecuted were also killed, their churches and houses burned down.

Waiting on the Lord    
Nehemiah prayed, wept and fasted for days before he shared the burden of his heart with the King. He prayed all in all for 120 days before getting into the action of building the wall.
          Dr Andrew Murray put in practice what he had taught about ‘waiting on the Lord’ when he was invited to be a speaker at the World Missions Conference in New York, 1900 - billed at that time as the biggest ever to be held. (At that moment in time the effect of the Enlightenment and rationalism had significantly diminished belief in unseen forces like the Holy Spirit.) Andrew Murray had no inner peace about going to New York, not even after the organizers tried to use his famous friend Dwight Moody to entice him. Moody invited Murray to join him in outreaches in the USA after the World Missions Conference, but Murray was not to be swayed.  He felt morally bound to stay with his people because of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). We may safely surmise that Murray was sensitive to the Holy Spirit, only wanting to take instructions from the Lord.
          Murray’s subsequent absence at the conference ironically became the biggest cause of missions in the 20th century. After he had received the papers and discussions at the conference, Murray wrote down what he thought was lacking at the event in a booklet that he called The Key to the Missionary Problem. In the booklet Murray referred prominently to the 24-hour prayer watch of the Moravians. It called seriously for new devotion and intensive prayer for missions. Murray powerfully stated that missionary work is the primary task of the church, and that the pastor should have that as the main goal of his preaching. These sentiments were repeated in a small booklet he called Foreign Missions and the week of Prayer, January 5-12, 1902 - formulating that ‘missions are the supreme end of the church’.  He furthermore suggested: ‘to join in united prayer for God’s Spirit to work in home churches a true interest in, and devotion to missions (is) our first and our most pressing need.
            Murray proposed that the subjects for the week of prayer, issued by the Council of the Evangelical Alliance for January, 1902, should deal exclusively with the relationship of the Church to the Great Commission. His proposal was however only adopted and carried out in South Africa.

No Sacrifice too great
Dr Andrew Murray picked the dictum of Paul, the apostle, with regard to sacrifice, something which C.T. Studd would expand into the motto of the mission agency WEC International. Andrew Murray wrote:  ‘The urgency of the case is extreme. No sacrifice can be too great if we can only get the Church, or the more earnest part of it, to take time and wait unitedly before the throne of God, to review her position, to confess her shortcoming, to claim God’s promise of power, and to concentrate her all to His service.
          Dr Alexander Maclaren, a contemporary British church leader, dared to suggest that the The Key to the Missionary Problem had ‘the key to most of our problems, and points to the only cure for all our weaknesses (Du Plessis, 1917:391). The well known Bible teacher Dr F.B. Meyer forecast after reading the booklet: ‘If it were read universally throughout our churches… I believe it would lead to one of the greatest revivals of missionary enthusiasm that the world has ever known.’ It is surely no mere co-incidence that revivals broke out in different parts of the world in the years hereafter - in such divergent countries as Wales, Norway, India and Chile.[18]  (The effect of the Welsh revival on Korea has been highlighted by Patrick Johnstone. That country was fast becoming the biggest missionary sending nation of the world, only to be overtaken soon by China with its vibrant home churches.) 
          In South Africa the influence of Murray’s books was profound. In the course of 1902 the Boer War ended. Many soldiers came to the Lord. 150 young men - many returning from various military camps where they had been prisoners of war - declared themselves ready to go forth, after the necessary preparation o ‘labour for the conversion of the heather of Africa’ (Du Plessis, 1917:392). A Boer missionary institute was started at Worcester, which could be regarded as ‘an indirect result of the concert of prayer to which the Dutch Reformed Church was roused’ through the influence of The Key to the Missionary Problem (Du Plessis, 1917:392).
God is a God of Missions      
One of the classic statements of the early 20th century was that ‘God is a God of missions.’ Andrew Murray wrote powerfully about the influence of prayer on missionary enterprise in his booklet The Kingdom of God in South Africa (1906), ending with the words: ‘Prayer is the life of missions. Continual, believing prayer is the secret of vitality and fruitfulness in missionary work. The God of missions is the God of prayer. The work of missions is above everything a work of prayer.  He furthermore emphasized that mission work is not only the foremost object of the church, but that every believer should participate in it.
            Possessing the gift of an orator, and speaking furthermore at the right season, the right and just word, Andrew Murray succeeded in ‘opening up the larger view and kindling the nobler emotions’ (Du Plessis, 1917:470). Dr Murray was used in this way by God to get missionary endeavour as a worldwide priority, an important spur to the conference at Edinburgh in 1910. In turn, this conference can be regarded as a forerunner of the World Council of Churches. (An interesting fact is that William Carey had proposed a hundred years earlier for a missions’ conference to be held at the Cape of Good Hope.)


A close Walk with the Lord

A common element with all great Church reformers has been their close relationship with the Lord. Referring to Psalm 27:4 which expresses the wish of the Psalmist as the one thing he desires, to be in God's presence forever but possibly also highlighting the choice of Mary - compared to that of her sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42) - Comenius wrote a booklet Unum Necessarium (the one necessary thing). Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. The world must be changed and renewed. Restoration and renewal of man and humanity can take place via the one necessary thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ, the restorer of His Church.
            Count Zinzendorf, born in 1700, was prayerful already from his childhood days. In an autobiographical report he said how he would speak to the Lord for hours while he was still a toddler. ‘In conversation with him, I was very happy and thankful for what he has done for me through his incarnation’  (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:2). Already before he was three years old, he not only loved to hear about the Lord, but he started chatting to him, a practice he continued throughout his life. At this time he also started ‘preaching’. Spangenberg reports how criminally intruding Swedes were deeply challenged at heart in 1706 when the small preacher simply continued his sermon to the unusual audience (referred to in Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:6). In his late teens he already had a long prayer list. Erich Beyreuther, a German theologian and expert on Zinzendorf, refers to one of these lists, which the Count changed in Paris when he was 19 years old. It consisted of five pages (Beyreuther, 1957:187). On any day when he had too many other commitments to complete these lists of petitions, he would use the late nights to compensate for it.
An intimate Relationship with the Lord
Like the biblical men of prayer, Count Zin­zen­dorf had an infectious intimate relationship with his Lord. He knew that prayer means communication with God. ‘Umgang mit dem Heiland’ (communication with the Lord or better still, intimate communion with the Lord) became almost an over-used phrase in the East German village of Herrnhut that came into being through the compassion of the count. Zinzendorf practised this sweet relationship right to the end of his life. He regarded 1754 (six years before his death) as a silent liturgical year, a year of special communica­tion with the Lord (Spangenberg, 1971:1976). At about the same time he told the children at Herrnhut: ‘I have enjoyed this close personal interaction with Jesus for fifty years and I feel the happiness’ (Lewis, 1962:23).
            Zinzendorf’s 'communion with the Lamb' enabled him to speak so freely, intimately and wisely with everyone on these mat­ters. An indica­tion of his commitment to prayer and his broad vision comes out very clearly in a diary entry: ‘A very blessed night in which in deep humility before his pres­ence, I prayed for everyone in Herrnhut by name’ (Cited in Weinlick, 1956:90).
            Significant is also that the image of ‘front soldiers’ that included the yearning for martyrdom went into the background in the 1740s with Zinzendorf and his close companions, in favour of resting in the work done by Christ. Not so much their activism but their being at the feet of the Lord and their communion with him became increasingly important. Brother Andrew (1981:115) actualized this position in our days in the light of religious pluralism: ‘Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is a way of life. It is walking with Jesus. I can do that in any country. I can do that under any political regime.
            It belongs to general Church history that the Lord used a Moravians, notably Peter Böhler and Bishop August Spangenberg, to change the direction of John Wesley’s life. A major result occurred when he interacted with August Spangenberg while Wesley travelled to Georgia to propagate the Gospel. Spangenberg challenged him about a close relationship to the Lord. The Anglican missionary to the ‘New World’ realized that it was not enough to see people saved, the new believers had to be discipled. God led Wesley to develop a ‘method’ by which new converts could be taught to live a spiritually fruitful life.
            In this way the Moravians had a significant influence on the religious awakening in Great Britain as well. ‘Indeed, they were midwives to the evangelical revival and to the great Methodist movement’ (Lewis, 1962:23).

Ripples becoming Waves of Prayer
The Herrnhut Moravians exported an emphasis on prayer, causing some remarkable ‘waves’. They linked up with Theodore Frelinghuysen, who had gone to North America as a reformed minister in 1720. The Dutch national Frelinghuysen was a man of fervent prayer. He selected lay leaders and taught them to conduct prayer meetings and Bible Study in their homes. This infuriated some church leaders but their attacks on Frelinghuysen were counter-productive. Those attacks inspired Jonathan Edwards, who became the brain and inspiration of the great awakening in the New World.
Even more spectacular is that two and a half centuries later the waves of prayer were rekindled by the visit to Herrnhut in East Germany of a group of 19 intercessors in February 1993 (Goll, 2001:17). This was followed by the movement of prayer watches across the globe, including 24-hour watches across South Africa of a week apiece that started on 9 May 2004 in the Moravian Church of District Six, Cape Town. That building survived the apartheid demolition of churches in the former slum area merely because it had been declared a historical monument. Every week a different city or town prayed around the clock 24 hours a day for a full year.
            On Friday 13 August 2004 a few hundred schools all over South Africa participated in a day of prayer. Thousands of students knelt down, submitted themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and praying for people to see and experience the Father’s love for them. The prayer movement was greatly blessed when this culminated in the first Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2005.

Confession as a Revival Instrument

The Bible has no problem to narrate King David’s moral failures, and his penitence is highlighted. The beautiful Psalm 51 has become the example of a contrite heart ‘. Wash away all my iniquity… Against you … have I sinned…’ (verse 2-4). The ‘New Testament’ speaks the same language, namely that God forgives generously if we confess our sins. He is ever ready to purify us (1 John 1:9).                                                   Confession is an important element of prayer as a tool towards revival. The rebirth of the Jewish nation after the exile was prepared by the intercessory prayers of Nehemiah (1:6-9), Ezra (9:6-13) and Daniel (9:9-19). All three of them concentrated on the spiritual condition of the people and confession of sins.
In revivals through the ages, prayer was the basis. In these cases prayer brought about a con­sciousness of sin, which invariably led to confession and restitution. Andrew Murray stated: ‘an essential element in a true missionary revival will be a broken heart and a contrite spirit in view of past neglect and sin’ (Murray, 1901[1979]:150). In the arguably most well known recent major revival in South Africa, in Kwa Siza Bantu (Kwazulu Natal), Erlo Stegen, the leader, had been going through an extended period of prayer, but the Holy Spirit could only break through when he confessed his racial pride, idolatry, lacking neigh­bourly love and other sin.
Through-out his book The Key to the missionary Problem Andrew Murray men­tions prayer as the major single factor with the potential to change the world. If Andrew Murray states over and over again that the problem is a personal one, he also states clearly that personally we have this key in our hands: ‘We feel that our only hope is to apply ourselves to prayer. Prayer, more prayer, much prayer, very special prayer should first of all be made for the work to be done in our home churches on behalf of foreign missions’ (Murray, 1901[1979]:147). With regard to the latter, the Herrnhut church of the 18th century was exemplary. As the missionaries faithfully sent reports of their work on the various mission fields, the church prayed for them concrete­ly.
            About the priority of the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer, Murray continues a few pages further: ‘And yet, it is only when they have first place and everything else is made subordinate to them, that the Christian life will be truly healthy’ (Murray, 1901[1979]:150). But he knew that he had an uphill task, conceding: ‘This preaching of contrition on account of our lack of obedience to Christ’s great command will be no easy thing’ (Murray, 1901[1979]:155).

Strategic Prayer

In all ventures, strategic prayer should take an all-important role. Our strategic prayers should definitely include the prophetic wish that Israel and the Jews might recognize whom they had pierced (Zechariah 12:10). In different quarters a conviction has grown that a mighty roar of evangelis­tic and missionary activity will come to pass once this hap­pens. In this regard it surely remains an exciting prospect to consider the grand job the Jews did in the first century, bringing the Gospel to remote places such as India and North West China by 61 CE. Perhaps the removal of the veil from the eyes of Judaism may even become the forerun­ner of the opening of many Muslim eyes that Jesus had died on the Cross of Calvary. Or must the Muslims come to the Lord first in a significant way? Generally, it has been over­looked that the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 60:6+7 extends to the Muslims.
All Kedar’s flock will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple (Isaiah 60:7). Kedar and Nebaioth, who are mentioned in Isaiah 60:7, are the two eldest sons of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13). This prophetic word could include the possibility that the religious clerics and leaders of Islam may receive special revelation of who Jesus is.  Let us pray that they might discover how the message of the Cross has been consistently omitted in the Qur’an. May Jews and Muslims study the Bible and discover the mystery of Christ that has been hidden for generations from their respective communities.
            The prophecy of Isaiah 19:24+25 might even be an eschatological pointer towards a combination of Israel, Egypt and Assyria (Iraq) becoming a blessing to the nations. At any rate, the prayer ministry of Christians around the globe will be a determining factor within God’s sovereign will, because ‘God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son so that no one should perish...’ Reverend Ken Joseph, an Assyrian believer who was born and bred in Japan, pointed out that the bulk of Christians in Iraq are Assyrians. According to him, Christian nations have a debt towards the Assyrians. There definitely is some substance to this assertion. Not only for the present mission­aries ‘on the field’ is it absolutely indispensable that believers back home cover them in prayer. Strategic prayer for the opening up of new fields should also be practiced, for example prayer for the end of visa restrictions in certain countries. ‘Bible tourism’ should clearly be seen as a very limited solution to bring God’s Word to China’s masses as against complete freedom of religion. Chris­tians could be taught about ‘chain reac­tions’ of prayer, for example for visa restrictions in Indonesia to be lifted so that Chi­nese-speaking Indonesians could be reached. Such believers could be used in turn to evan­gelize in China, the most popu­lous country of the world. ‘Spiritual warfare’ for the masses of the Far East should be on our prayer agenda as a matter of prior­ity. North Korea remains a prayer challenge although changes for family contacts are encouraging.

Dramatic Results of Confession

The Stuttgart confession in Germany after World War II and the Rustenburg confession of 1990 in our country can be noted as two examples in 20th century history where this important element of prayer spawned a turn around of the respective coun­tries.[19] The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the late 1990s – originally suggested by Professor Kader Asmal, a Muslim academic, surely was a special instrument to help heal many apart-inflicted wounds.
In South Africa - and in the West at large - another confession would nevertheless be appropriate: confession of and repentance because of a system of economic oppression and exploitation of the poor. This is still as sinful as in the days of King Solomon. The prophet Amos discovered the terrible oppression of the poor behind the facade of affluence and great economic growth. He saw that the extravagant lifestyle of the rich was based on exploita­tion of the poor (Amos 6:1-7).
            The archaeological excavations of that era, which have shown the disparate housing, smacks very much of South Africa: beautiful big houses clearly separated from the densely built smaller houses of the poor.[20] Unless we confess and repent from these wicked sinful ways corporately, the present violence and criminal­ity might turn out to be child’s play compared to what we could expect. The apocalyptic future which the South African Prime Minister foresaw in the sixties has become a scary possibility: too ghastly to contem­plate.[21] We must realize that the racist pass laws of the past extremely disrupted family life in the Black communities. The Group Areas Act was the main culprit in uprooting stable ‘Coloured’ communities. This caused the slide towards anarchy and lawlessness, towards massive violence and crime. Biblical­ly sound confession could and should become the start of the checking of violence. Andrew Murray pointed out: ‘Contrition comes before restoration and renewal’ (Murray, 1901, [1979]:154). If the church repents by corporately confessing the sins of the fathers we may be sure that God is ready to forgive and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) - I believe God also wants to forgive collectively. That belongs to the nature of God if we confess our sins.
            It is definitely no over-statement that the big changes in recent years in many parts of the world are a direct result of prayer. Open Doors’ called for seven years of prayer for the former Soviet Union from 1984.[22] That was prepared by many years of prayerful Bible smuggling to the Communist world. Thus it was not so surprising that we saw the disintegration of the vast USSR in 1991! But we should not stop utilizing new opportunities for the Gospel. How an imminent bloodbath was averted in South Africa should never be forgotten. This was achieved through countrywide prayer that was supported by Christians from other countries in an unprecedented way - a concerted effort. Joint prayer would be crucial for tapping the resources effec­tively towards recruiting a new stream of missionaries from South African soil.
Confession for the Expansion of Islam         
Confession for the reasons behind the establishment and expansion of Islam globally and nationally has hardly been addressed as yet. The establishment and spread of Islam can really be termed the ‘unpaid debt of the church.’[23] At the origins of the religion Muhammad was misled, not only in believing that he was a special prophet to the Arabs, but also via heretical techings.[24]
A promising start was made with the recon­cili­ation walk in the Middle East in commemoration of the start of the first crusade 900 years ago in 1996, but it was not followed up. In fact, an attempt to this end from within the ranks of CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims) was resisted.
The rejection of slaves by the church in the colonial days gave rise to the establishment of Islam. On the other hand, Dr John Philip, a missionary of the London Missionary Society, who had been maligned because of his book Researches in South Africa, influenced the evangelical parliamentarian William Wilberforce decisively on his return to Britain. It is general knowledge that Wilberforce was the driving power behind the formal abolition of slavery. Dr Philip did little to endear himself to the colonists at the Cape. However, he ‘was single-minded and relentless, but his concern was not personal pride but the future of missions and that of the indigenous people of South Africa.’[25]

Erection of Signs
The expression ‘the erection of signs of the coming kingdom of peace’, which appears to have been coined by the Moravian Bishop Comenius a few centuries ago, has received a new actuality. Christians all over the world are challenged to seek God’s face for inven­tive means to usher in the return of our King. We in South Africa could even set the pace through our special blend of peoples. World evangelization remains the sign par excellence to be erected, something which Jesus himself used as a sign of the end times (Matthew 24:14). Chris­tians are challenged to emulate Jesus in their prayer life, so that the crime and violence may be stopped; that the situation might be turned around to one where benevolence and mutual sharing become the order of the day. I surmise that the arch-enemy is trying to use the ongoing violence to cripple the economy, so that missionaries cannot be sent out on a major scale. A major turn-around happened in South Africa through the St James Church (Kenilworth, Cape Town) massacre of 25 July 1993, after which many people came into the kingdom of Jesus. The stark reality and sheer brutality of civil war were indeed too ghastly to contemplate! Nevertheless, our fear that township violence could spill over into more affluent residential areas may never be the main motivation for prayer. The Lord’s exhortation to pray to the Lord of the harvest... is a much better spur. I dare say that a biblical widespread revival, which will thrust out new workers into the worldwide harvest, is apt to take care of the ongoing (gangster) violence and crime. The precedent in this regard is the revival in England when anarchic conditions were turned around, predominantly because of the spiritual renewal of the society as the result of the preaching of George Whitefield and John Wesley.
            Count Zinzendorf regarded it the privilege of the Pilgrim Church – after they had been exiled from Saxony to be salt and to anoint, to bless other churches. Let us pray that new vigour might erupt from the churches so that the remaining closed countries may be unlocked for the penetration of the Gospel, so that ‘Bible tourism’ might become superfluous and missionaries can be sent to these countries in stead. The commitment to prayer of the Koreans is definitely an example to Christians all over the world.
            Some congregations in the Western Cape are already reaping fruit as here and there individual Muslims have come to accept Jesus as Lord. United prayer could result in many ex-Muslims to be sent from Southern Africa to Islamic countries of West and North Africa, some of them originating from there. In turn, this may spiral off some Arab-speaking new believers going as missionaries to the Middle East. In fact, the mere factual situ­ation that some Christians from mission-minded congregations have been seriously praying for the Muslims might still result in some of them being called to serve the Lord in an Islamic country. A new situation has arisen in recent months with scores of Arabic-speaking Muslims from Sudan and Chad arriving in Cape Town. It would be completely in character for God to see some of these sojourners impacted and returning to North Africa and the Middle East. Is not that what happened at Pentecost?       
            The church universal would do well to take heed of Patrick Johnstone’s advice: ‘Courses on prayer to be incorpor­ated into required curricula of Christian seminaries, colleges and schools’ (Johnstone, 1993:620). Rarely-found prayer courses are generally still only an elective. On the other hand, an over-emphasis on academic degrees and accreditation has been detrimental, retarding spiritual prowess. A change here could deeply affect the Church and the progress of world evangelization for the better. God has given Capetonian Christians a special chance to impact the most populous country of the world. Not only has there been a massive influx of Chinese to South Africa (especially to Cape Town), but some of them have also been attending churches to get in contact with local people and to improve their English.

Food for thought:
When I have difficulty with my prayer life - it’s no shame to concede it - what do I do about it?
How concrete and structured have I been praying?
What part has confession played in my prayers?

And some ideas

How about attempting to get a prayer partner or more than one?
Why not start organising regular prayer meetings with Christians from other churches for your town/city, or for a mis­sionary/missionaries from your residential area or region?
Make a list of prayer items and check also whether they have (already) been answered. Do not neglect thanksgiving and praise for answered prayers!

                                    3. Jesus as the Word of God: the Logos and the Rhema

Generally Christians speak of the Bible as the Word of God. It should thus hardly be surprising that the Gospel of John calls Jesus the Logos, ‘the Word of God’. When one considers that God was communicating already from the creation by speaking, that He spoke to Moses from the burning bush and the Israelites via Moses on Mount Horeb/ Mount Sinai, it is only natural that His Son is called the Word of God. The writer of the fourth Gospel evidently saw it in that light, starting off with the same verse as Genesis 1: ‘In the beginning...’ The best summary of the speaking God through his Son in creation is probably Hebrews 1:1+2 ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son...
            It is furthermore good to keep in mind that the word is the basis of communication. He created Eve as a helper, as one with whom Adam could communicate, one who could talk back. Similarly, He wants to communicate with us. Count Zinzendorf exemplified the Umgang mit dem Heiland, the sweet communion with the Lord. To be a follower of Jesus means to be ‘in touch’ with him on a daily basis, as Henry Blackaby made it so practical in recent decades, calling it experiencing God.

The ‘Word of God’    
There is a universal element about the concept of Jesus as the ‘Word of God’, which is hidden from the superficial Western mind. That there is more to it than meets the eye comes to the fore when we consider that Muslims are especially challenged by this concept. In the testimony of Hamran Ambrie,[26] an Indonesian Muslim background believer, this term caused a major turning point in his search for truth. The logical extension of the speaking God at Creation, is the breathing God. The breath proceeds from the same mouth. In the ancient cultures breath and spirit become almost synonymous. In some Semitic languages the same word is used for breath and spirit. This obviously goes against the grain of the rationalist Western mind-set. No wonder that so many theologians jumped on the bandwagon attempting to ‘demythologize’ the miracles in the Bible.

Words of Life and Death       
The authority with which Jesus spoke, is evidence that He was indeed the personification of the Word of God. The big catch of fish in Luke 5 was only made possible after Peter and his fisherman colleagues were prepared to lay aside their rational thinking and experience. When Peter was prepared to obey on the Word of the Master, the foundation for networking was laid. The big catch could have been lost - perhaps even with net and all - if they had not joined forces!

            After Jesus had quietened the storm, the disciples called out in utter amazement: "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves they obey him!" (Matthew 8:27) In a portion from the sermon of the Mount (Matthew 5:21-30) a few examples are given how Jesus stamped his authority by correcting the distortion of the Torah through tradition. In Mark 7:13 the Master actually chided the Pharisees and some of the scribes for ‘invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down’. Then there was obviously his sovereign "AMEN, AMEN" which has usually been translated with "verily, verily"  in the older translations, followed by ‘... I say unto you’). That Jesus occasionally said ‘but I say…’ might have angered many to whom it may have appeared that he minimized the value of Moses’ Torah - for instance when he invited his audience to love their enemies. (In this particular case there had actually been distortion of the Law because Moses never passed on a commandment to hate the enemies. The ‘eye to eye, tooth for tooth’ (5:41) version came from the Laws of Hammurabi, which in due course were ascribed to Moses via the oral tradition.   Jesus made it clear that he did not come to nullify the Law but to fulfil it.
There was clearly no element of uncertainty or doubt in Jesus’ pronouncements. On a par – actually even greater - is the Johannine "I am’s" ("I am the door; ...the good Shepherd; ...the light of the world; ... the resurrection and the life; ... the way, the truth and the life". And then there is the special verse which sounds so strange in our ears: "You are from below, I am from above. Before Abraham was, I am.") Furthermore, we can read expressions like: ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).  On the island of Patmos Jesus reveals himself as "I am the First and the Last. I am the living one..." (Revelations 1:17). The allusion to Yahweh (I am, Exodus 3:14) is clear: Jesus is God.  
Islamic scholars have been highlighting the speaking of Allâh to create life, but that He merely said ‘Be’ for Adam to be there (Surah 3:59). This special divine quality comes to the fore in the life of Jesus when he raised Lazarus (John 11: , the daughter of Jairus (e.g. Mark 5:21-43) and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12).
            By contrast, the big accuser spoke words of confusion and death. In the Garden of Eden the serpent - true to his demonic nature - questioned what God had instructed (Genesis 3:3). In Jesus’ desert temptations the ‘New Testament’ equivalent of the serpent twice challenged our Lord to prove this fact. In the same context he invited Jesus to commit suicide by jumping from a dizzy height. It is no surprise that so many satanists commit suicide.
            On the same page, the native language of the arch enemy is the lie (John 8:44), even able to bring a different gospel (Galatians 1:8), a subtly distorted one. The enemy accordingly uses man’s words destructively, which can be murderous in character assassination.  The prophet Jeremiah (9:7) referred to the use of words by evil people: Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit. The same tongue that can bless and uplift, is also ‘a fire, the very world of iniquity’ (James 3:6). In the context this apostle appropriately points to the source of destructive words, the pit of hell. 
The Deity of Jesus     
The deity of Jesus is revealed through what God says of Him and what He says about Himself. The divine voice from heaven twice confirmed Jesus as the beloved Son of God. God intervened supernaturally at our Lord’s baptism, saying ‘This is My Son, whom I love...’ (Matthew 3:17). It is not surprising that the tempter immediately sets in with ‘If you are the Son of God...’ (Matthew 4:3). Jesus knew full well that the Jews would have great difficulty with this fact. He referred to himself as the Son of man (for example Matthew 8:20; 9:6; Mark 8:31), but every Jew who knew the prophecies would have been aware that the Son of Man and the Ancient of Days of the prophet Daniel was none less than the promised Messiah.
To the Samaritan woman the Lord conceded that he is the Messiah. When Jesus said to the Samaritan woman ‘The hour is coming and now is’ (John 4:23), she probably got the message. This was Messianic! This was not only prophetic language any more. Since the Samaritans shared in the hope of Israel, the woman knew that Jesus was speaking of the Messiah. The reply of Jesus ‘I am He’ may sound like merely an ordinary affirmative to Westerners, but it must have been the confirmation in her heart that this was indeed the great ‘I am’, an allusion to Yahweh. To the oriental this sounded very much like how Martin Buber, a Jewish Christian, translated the ineffable name of the Almighty into German: ‘Ich bin der ich sein werde’ (I am who I shall be). Jesus was implying that he is the representative of the Almighty - (part) fulfilment of the prophecy: They shall know... that I am he that does speak; behold, it is I (Isaiah 52:6). The latter prophetic sentence occurs in the context of the messenger whose wonderful tiding resounds on the mountains, the one who brings good news and announces peace. The Samaritans of Sychar subsequently deduced that He is ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42). Elsewhere the Lord stated clearly that He is greater than Jonah and Solomon (for example Matthew 12:41f), more than merely a prophet.
Everyone who has difficulties with His status as the Son of God is basically in the same category as those people who ‘did not understand what he was saying to them’, when the twelve year-old Jesus asked them in the temple: ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in ‘my Father’s house’ (Luke 2:49, 50). When Jesus refused to deny that He is the Son of God, it eventually led to His crucifixion (John 19:7).
It is significant that his being the Son of God is so clearly depicted at the crucifixion. He addressed the Almighty as Father when he beseeched Him for forgiveness on behalf of the perpetrators and Jesus committed His spirit to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46). The Roman officer and other soldiers exclaimed after the evident supernatural intervention: ‘Truly, this was the Son of God’ (Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39).
            Whilst Psalm 22 is generally known as the Psalm of the Cross, it contains a wonderful and significant progression whereby the heart-wrenching cry of pain and suffering culminates in a song of victory. The Psalm of the Cross is also a Psalm of the Kingdom! ‘All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations will bow down before him’ (Psalm 22:27). And this is guaranteed: ‘. .. for he has done it’ (verse 31). In the ‘New Testament’ this is echoed with the words of the Master; ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).
The Gospel according to John (e.g. the Logos (Word as Creator – the Word was God, (John 1:1ff) and The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ( John 1:14) and Paul, the apostle, both confirmed the deity of Christ. In the letter to the Colossians (2:9) we read: For in Christ the fullness of the city lives in bodily form.
The Scriptures as the Word of God  
 It is quite clear that ‘the law and the prophets’ were regarded as God’s revealed Word at a time when only very few people could read. In His Providence God deemed it fit not only to save Moses from the brutal killing of small babies, but he also ‘organized’ things in such a way that Moses received the best secular education of that age at the court of the Pharaoh. Here he was taught the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Miriam was on hand to take him as a baby to the gifted Jochebed, his relatively unknown real mother. With her husband Amram, she was also responsible for raising Aaron and their sister Miriam. These parents were probably also the supplier of spiritual nourishment and teaching in the formative stage of their lives.

            Moses exhorted the Israelites more than once to pass the great deeds of God on from generation to generation by word of mouth (Exodus 10:2; Deuteronomy 4:9; 31:13). Yes, they were enjoined to imprint on their children the Word of God. David not only frequently referred to the Law as God’s Word, but he also saw the necessity of having the Word in his heart. He really took the biblical injunctions seriously. Thus he sees the righteous man as someone who ‘meditates on God’s word by day and by night’ (Psalm 1:2).
            Jesus was clearly raised in this tradition. Already as a 12-year old He was so well versed in the Scriptures that the teachers in the temple were amazed at His questions and His replies (Luke 2:46,47). The Gospel according to Matthew records how Jesus refuted the enemy with the Word. Satan quoted Scripture out of context, but Jesus was equipped to correct him accordingly.
            The majority of the disciples were raw fishermen, who were probably more or less illiterate. One gains the impression from the Gospel reports that initially they had hardly been reading the Scriptures. Of course, they were orally taught by the Master himself.
            Their relationship to the Scriptures changed after the ascension of Jesus. Matthew for one, as a tax collector obviously had to be literate. He evidently studied the Scriptures diligently as he endeavoured to convince his Jewish compatriots that Jesus was the promised Messiah. But also the fisherman Peter seems to have used the period of active waiting on the Comforter profitably to dive deeply into the Scriptures. The two references he quoted in Acts 1:20 must be regarded as only vague references, which could only have been discovered by prayerful study of the Word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

The Purpose of the Scriptures

The prophets knew that God’s Word was the vehicle to bring His rebellious and backslidden people back to Him. Repeatedly the promise is connected to obedience to the Word and its teachings on the one hand and punishment for disobedience on the other. Down the ages the preached Word was divinely used to call back-sliding Christians back to God and His ways.
            At this point the purpose of the Scriptures should be emphasized: guidance and correction. David exclaimed: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psalm 119:105) and Paul advised Timothy: "Every Scripture is ... useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
            Paul emphasized that the Word should dwell richly in us (Colossians 3:16). Of course, this does not mean that we have to imitate Ezekiel who literally seems to have eaten the scrolls (3:3). It does mean however that we may be radical. In fact, Paul encouraged us in a similar way that Christ should dwell in us and from there we must be rooted[27] and established in love (Ephesians 3:17). The Word in us has the quality of purification. Therefore John can say that whosoever remains in Christ, sins not (1 John 3:6). There is of course always the occasion of lapses, when one leaves the close communication with Christ. This is the time when the enemy loves to strike, when we are overcome by sin (Galatians 6:1). In this regard there is a definite difference between willful sinning and accidental sinning. However, confession and the conscious refraining of sinful behaviour (Proverbs 28:13) opens a clean slate to the road of victori­ous living in the footsteps of the resurrected Son of God (1 John 1:9 ‘if we confess our sin … ‘ He … will purify us from all unrighteousness’ ).
            An important snippet of advice from Paul, which he passed on through his letters, is not to indulge in fruitless theological discussion which too often merely divides the body (for example 2 Timothy 2:14ff; 2 Timothy 6:3-6). In the first letter to the Corinthians he wrote about the wisdom of the world, which they should definitely not strive after. In the same context (1 Corinthians 1:18-21) Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 to note how futile philosophy is and that God will ultimately baffle and destroy the useless learning and wisdom of the Greeks. The early church fathers latched onto this advice. Tertullian, a jurist who joined the Christians of North Africa in 207 AD, saw philosophy as a major culprit: ‘heresies are themselves prompted by philosophy ... After Christ Jesus we desire no subtle theories, no acute enquiries after the Gospel...[28] Count Zinzendorf likewise detested philosophy.
            If the Church through the ages had heeded this advice, a lot of tragedy could have been avoided. Here I refer not only to the many splits which account for the multitude of denominations, but especially also to the doctrinal and petty bickering of Church leaders have been confusing Christians down the centuries. The possibly well-intended notion – to emphasize the deity of Jesus – at the Council at Ephesus in 431 CE to describe the mother of Jesus as theotokos, the God-bearer, merely led to her later being venerated and regarded as the 'Mother of God.'
            This confusion is reflected in the Qur’an and was clearly used by the arch enemy to mislead Muhammad, the gifted leader of the Arabian Peninsula and founder of Islam. Through him millions have been led astray up to this day, millions who now worship him as their prophet.[29] The call ‘back to basics’ which resounded throughout South Africa during the early 1990s is still valid. Perhaps we should say ‘Back to the unadulterated Word of God’.

The Word as Dynamite

The church of the Middle Ages stayed in the darkness because the Word was not only obscured, but also hidden from the masses on purpose. Only priests were allowed to read the Bible. By way of contrast, in recent years we have seen how the mere translation of (parts of) the Word into the spoken language of previously unreached people groups - be it on paper or through tape cassettes and CDs - have changed the lives of thousands dramatically. It belongs to well-known Church History that it was the rediscovery of the Word through people like Wycliffe and Luther which caused a major wave of spiritual renewal in Europe. The special contribution of Luther to the Reformation was that he made the Word accessible to the rank and file German Christian. The role of the invention of printing is of course paramount in the disseminating of the Word. In this regard it is good to be reminded that exactly this was the motivation of Johan Gutenberg, when he saw that the Christian truths were kept imprisoned in a few manu­s­cripts. He wanted to give wings to the truth. Only in the 1960s the second Vatican Council permitted ordinary church members to read the Bible for themselves. In the 1980s we saw a mighty turning to Christ in the Roman Catholic Church in South America when the rank and file church members were encouraged to read the Bible. A similar movement occurred in the Middle East in recent years as every Muslim who has access to Internet can now read the Bible in their own language (preceded by ten years of prayer for the Muslim world).
            The smuggling of Scriptures to Communist countries during the cold war was a major source of power, dynamite that eventually caused the demise of the Communist ideology. The gift of one million Bibles to the Orthodox Church at the occasion of their one thousandth year celebration – next to the seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union from 1984 - caused the dismantling of the ‘iron curtain’. The translation of Scripture into indigenous languages not only opened many primitive tribes to modern civilization, but it also gave them dignity.
            A noteworthy occurrence in recent Church History was achieved by an anonymous ex-Muslim, who achieved a breakthrough in a North African country after he had pushed aside all his intellectual knowledge from theological seminary and concentrated on communicating the Word to Islamic countrymen. Using the Muslim custom of learning the Qur’an by heart, he used a verse from Scripture repeatedly every time he visited his Muslim compatriots. The Word is still sharper than a double-edged sword, which can penetrate the strongest resistance; it also judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17).
Pastor Youssef Ourahmane, a former Muslim, narrated how over the last 30 years there has been a revival in that country. Before 1980 the number of born-again followers in Algeria could be counted. There are now over 100, 000 believers in the country. He has personally seen Imams, Islamic scholars and terrorists come to Christ. In 2006 the Algerian government brought in a law that stated no evangelism of any kind would be allowed and ordered several churches to close down. The churches refused to obey the government and said “You had better build more prisons because we are not going to do what you are ordering.” Since 2006, because of the persecution of Christians, the church has grown faster than before and the Algerian government has come to understand that they will never be able to stamp out the church.
            In a similar way, the conversion – and rejection by his family – of Abdul, a Muslim-background believer of South Asia – spiralled into hundreds of thousands becoming Isahi Muslims, followers of Jesus. (The abbreviated version can be found in The Camel, as narrated by Kevin Greeson (2006:23-30).
            On the other hand, we must be realistic enough to know that God’s Word will not always be welcomed with open arms. This is nothing new. In fact, the tearing up or burning of Bibles has a Hebrew Scriptural precedent. In Jeremiah 36 it is reported how the king’s secretary and other officials were alarmed by the prophecy of Jeremiah to the extent that they thought the king himself should also hear it. But in callous contempt he cut off the parts from the scroll which had been read and threw it into the fire. The message of the scroll almost sent Jeremiah to prison.
            Martin Luther, on the other hand, might have fared even better if he had taken the Pauline advice more seriously to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). His courageous bold stand is laudable, but we should not forget that it spawned the rift which caused great damage to the unity of Christianity. Luther was not even prepared to work together with the Swiss reformed believers.[30] (Compare Luther’s attitude with the clear stand of people like Francis of Assisi and women in the Middle Ages. Even popes went to them for counsel.[31]) This should not be construed however as support for scripturally indefensible doctrines like papal infallibility ex cathedra (from the papal chair) or worship of Mary as the ‘mother of God’.

The Challenge of Scripture
Obedience is honoured by God, but compromise is seen as disobedience, as sin which incurs the wrath and punishment of the Almighty. It was basically the disobedience of Adam and Eve to His word which led to their fall and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The disobedience of Saul was linked to impatience when he could not wait on Samuel.. This caused the divine rejection as King of Israel. Even sacrifice is rejected by God if it is mixed with sinful behaviour, if it is not accompanied by remorse and repentance (1 Samuel 13:12ff). Such forms of animal sacrifice and all ancestry worship are regarded as watering down the Word of God, whereas the appropriate reaction should be respect for God’s Word (Isaiah 66:2,3). Jesus actually told the Pharisees that they nullify the power of the Word through their traditions (Mark 7:13).
            On the contrary, obedience to God's Word is sometimes required where it does not make sense. Faith, trust in God and obedience are closely linked to each other. When Abraham chose to oppose the idolatry in their home and even to leave his home region, his father Terah would have been very unhappy. Because he believed – we could say against all odds in the unseen God – it was divinely honoured, reckoned unto righteousness (Genesis 15:6). At a later major crossroad of his life, Abraham left early in the morning to sacrifice his unique, the one and only son of the divine promise (Genesis 22:3). Was this pre-meditated to prevent being influenced again by his wife or was it radical obedience after the early compromises? He might even have been confused somewhat by the divine command, which would have brought him back to the level of his pagan compatriots who offered children to the idol Molog in the fire.
            It is reported how Zinzendorf was getting challenged in his faith in the Holy Scriptures from a very early age. He became deeply involved with questions around the authority of God's Word from the age of seven (Beyreuther, 1962:84). He discovered that whoso­ever is prepared to face uncomfortable questions and then take a step of faith, can only grow through it spiritually. Zinzendorf had the courage to speak bluntly of tran­scription errors, of geographical and chrono­logical mis­takes in Scripture. He saw it as no major tragedy that the apostles erred in their immi­nent expectation of the second coming of the Lord. He even proceeded to say: ‘Misunderstood prophecies can and should not be defended, but they should rather be pre-empted and acknowledged’ (Cited in Beyreuther, 1962:89).
            Some evangelicals have difficulty with the fact that Count Zinzendorf apparently had no problem with critical studies of the Bible. The Count believed that God can fend for Himself if any honest seeker has doubts and questions about the Word. But where­as Zinzendorf never encouraged his congregation to evade the uncom­fort­able ques­tions of biblical and historical criti­cism, he also showed them how to handle these issues. He discerned the sovereign way in which the Scriptures do not try to hide imperfec­tions. This was to him a proof of their histori­cal credibility. On the other hand, the believers had to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate difficult issues. Zinzendorf neverthe­less reckoned that there would be ‘verderbte’ (spoilt) texts which could not be explained. Those dark passages one should leave as they are rather than explain them incorrect­ly. He steered the church members carefully through seri­ous Bible Study, without getting academic.

Dealing with Higher Criticism
Evangelicals often make a special point of the inerrancy of the Word. It is however important to remember that the various biblical authors were humans who were not infallible. It is unwise to try and defend God’s Word to the hilt in the face of opposition. Playing around with the words inerrancy and infallibility could then develop into unfruitful semantics.  In 1896 Andrew Murray responded to an article in the British Weekly about the dearth of conversions (Du Plessis, 1917:471). His diagnosis of the evil went beyond superficial symptoms; he suggested that the main cause was not the influence of the Higher Criticism, nor the lack of evangelical sermons, but the lack of the Holy Spirit.  In this way he was reaching for ultimate causes, teaching us a lesson or two in dealing with the so-called Higher Criticism.
            There are inconsistencies in the Bible which cannot be explained away easily. If any seeker is really keen to get to the truth, we may trust that God is fully capable to meet such a seeker on his own terms. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilization, put succinctly what has been the experience of believers down the ages: ‘I do believe that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, but I cannot say that I’ve arrived at that belief without a struggle, or without many, many questions and doubts over passages in both the Old and New Testaments’ (Verwer, 1993:57).
One of the best examples of the power of the Word happened in the ministry of Dr Billy Graham. He was seriously challenged in 1949 as a young evangelist with Youth for Christ to delve deeper into academic biblical studies. He had started to doubt the authority of Scripture. On the other hand, he noted how the quoting of Scripture in sermons and at other occasions so often evidently had an effect beyond human arguments. The turmoil in his spirit led to deep soul searching. ‘In a spirit of absolute surrender before God, he cried out, “Oh God, I cannot prove certain things. I cannot answer some of the questions... but I accept this Book by faith as the Word of God.”[32] This was the divine intervention in his life, leading to the famous Los Angeles Campaign a few days later, an event that effectively stopped the rot toward theological liberalism not only in the USA, but in different countries of the Western world. Dr Graham would be God’s special instrument again in the run-up to major conferences in the cities of Berlin (1966), Lausanne (1974) and Amsterdam (1983 and 1986), events that can be regarded to be the effective catalyst for the slowing down of the worldwide march of atheist Socialism and Marxism, and ultimately for the smashing of the ‘iron curtain’ in 1989.

The Abuse of Scripture
A typical example of modern-day abuse of Scripture could be doctrinal differences around the meaning of the Greek words logos and rhema. What purpose does it serve to go to some length to explain for example that logos is supposed to refer to the written word and rhema to the spoken word? A closer study would show that they are used interchangeably in Scripture.[33] But again, what would be the purpose of such a study? Through academic ‘stone throwing’ about nothing, much energy is lost that could rather be used to spread the Gospel. It should suffice to know that Jesus is God’s Word, which must be passed on as the good news, a power of God unto salvation for those who believe in Him­ (Romans 1:16). What a sad indictment that many have not heard the preached Word because Christians were entangled in theological and doctrinal wrangling (Compare Romans 10:15 ‘How can they hear without someone preaching to them?’) In fact, the sharp edge of the Word is blunted in this way.
            It is sad that the length and mode of the exposition of Scripture has been a reason for controversy.  Sometimes we continue debating when the examples and teaching in the Word are clear enough. Unfortunately it seems as if the tradition that developed through the ages that one person comes up with a more or less prepared lengthy monologue became the accepted practice within a set liturgy. From the example of Jesus we can easily derive that he did not live up to that sort of expectation in this regard. (After his reputation had gone ahead of him, he must have disappointed his Nazareth audience thoroughly when he not only abrogated the prescribed reading from Isaiah, but he merely said that the prophecy had been fulfilled that day, Luke 4:16ff.) In this case, when the Lord discerned the surprised reaction, he more or less entered into dialogue with the audience. In many other cases, for example when he used parables, we should rather speak of dialogue than monologue. Also we can deduce from Paul’s teaching that some prior preparation by fellowship members is completely in place, but then by everybody, and not by only one preach­er. Whenever believers come together, everyone should be ready to contribute, be it with a revelation, an instruction, a hymn, a psalm or song (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19).
            The monologue-type sermon received a monopoly as a way of communication in church services. Mutual fellowship suffered when it became habitual to leave immediately after the church service. We compare this to how constant dialogue was present even at a mass meeting with thousands present, as we can read in John 6. Jesus didn’t make a fuss either when hundreds of those who were offended, walked away. In fact, he gave the faithful twelve the option to follow the example of the masses (6:67). Note also how Yet, in most churches monologues, without any active participation of congregants, is not only standard practice, but it seems also completely unchallenged.           
            In this regard Zinzendorf was quite radical. He believed that the Holy Spirit can empower anybody to interpret the Word for himself according to his own capacity and circumstances. Not only the professional teacher had the right to expound Scripture, because the paracletewill teach you everything’ (John 14:16). In the beginnings of Herrnhut Pastor Johann Rothe practised a revolutionary mode of worship which turned out to be a great attraction. The preaching was followed by a general conversation between the pastor and his hearers (Langton, 1956:68). 
Semantics around Dialogue?
A scripture that has been abused to justify long monogue-type sermons is the context of Acts 20:7ff. We read there that Paul was speaking until midnight because he would leave the next day. But to translate Acts 20:9 as the Living Bible did - ‘Paul was speaking on and on’ – is rather deceptive. The verb in Greek – dialegomai – just refers to speaking, perhaps even dialogue-ing with the others, due to the special circumstance of his eminent departure.
          Another debate has been raging in evangelical circles around dialogue. Especially the talking and discussions with people from other religions have been maligned. This attitude definitely has justification because so many councils, conferences and synods are full of hours of discussion without anything substantial coming out of them. Yet, we should keep in mind that there is a definite case to made out for missionary dialogue. The biblical paradigm could be Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4) or Paul’s dialogue with the debating club on the Aeropagus. A condition for missionary dialogue seems to be an openness to listen to the other point of view without a rigid stance, but it does not imply an absence of a principled stand. Flexibility to listen to the other point of view does not expect quick fixes but this does not mean an absence of a goal. The ‘New Testament’ follower of Jesus does not believe that one can come to the Father in any way, but he/she does not expect people from other faiths to start following the Lord through our convincing arguments.  We do have the privilege though to expect the Holy Spirit to open up biblical truths to anyone, but in such dialogue our own attitude to adherents is apt to change as well.
          A positive example of missionary dialogue occurred when ‘Mr Pentecost’, Dr David du Plessis engaged in intensive talks with representatives of the Vatican in the early 1960s. This resulted among other things in the decision of the second Vatican Council permitting ordinary Roman Catholic Church members to read the Bible for themselves. Another example occurred when Brother Andrew was a member of the official Dutch delegation at a conference in the 1980s on human rights. At this event in the conference centre De Burcht in the Dutch village of Heemstede, he offered to donate one million Bibles to the Orthodox Church on behalf of Open Doors for their coming millennial celebration. Apart from the seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union from 1984, the dismantling of the ‘iron curtain’ can be attributed to the acceptance of the gift.

Dialogue to be refused?         
The Bible contains an example where dialogue – just for the sake of it - has to be refused. If it is clear that the opposing conversational partners just want to talk, we would do well to emulate Nehemiah when he refused to talk to the likes of Tobia and Sanballat. It sounds so nice when someone invites: ‘Come let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono’ (Nehemiah 5:2). Translated into modern idiom this could sound like the following. ‘Come let us have inter-faith dialogue at a neutral venue!’ The good leader will discern whether the opponents are genuine in this dialogue or whether the invitation for dialogue is not just a ploy to hold up God’s work. Nehemiah replied: ‘I cannot come down.’ He saw through the enemies’ strategy, that they wanted to take away the leader so that all the followers would stop working. They wanted to talk and talk until no time was left for working. All too often it is forgotten that the real enemy of God’s work is not outside the realms of religion. Sanballat was an Ammonite and Tobia was an Arab - so to speak inter-faith candidates.
          A valid application for our time is to look for the enemy in the own camp. How many pastors and mission leaders’ time is swallowed up with endless meetings and discussions which are in essence demonic. How often people phone the pastor just to complain over matters which do not even warrant a proper hearing. How valuable it is that we have the Holy Spirit at our disposal to guide us, enabling us to distinguish between genuine seekers after truth and those who merely love to hear their own voice or those who want to trip one up like the Scribes and Pharisees who came to Jesus with all sorts of questions. 


False Alternatives

Contextualization and confrontation as opposites in outreach would be a case where false alternatives have been projected. If all issues were as straightforward as the logos/rhema debate, it would not be such a problem. How­ever, there are instances where the heart of the Gospel is at stake. One such issue is the so-called contradiction of contextualization and confrontation. The ‘New Testament’ is quite clear that both have its rightful place; in fact, proper contextualisation inevitably leads to confrontation. The nature of the Gospel is that the message of the cross ‘offends’, it is foolishness to those who do not believe (1 Corinthians 1:18).
            Improper contextualisation occurs when the adaptation to the culture goes so far that no confrontation comes about. The message of the Cross is always ‘folly’ to those who get lost (1 Corinthians 1:18). On the other hand, it does not mean that the carrier of the good news must set off on confrontation course every time he/she shares the Gospel. Jesus taught that his followers should be ‘shrewd as serpents and as innocent as the doves’ (Matthew 10:16). Paul became a Jew to the Jews and a Greek to the Greeks. (1 Corinthians 9:20ff). Neverthe­less, this did not eliminate the necessity of confron­tation with the Romans, the Greeks or Jews. In fact, the mere fact of his contextualisation, going into the synagogues, sharing the Gospel from the Scriptures, more than once led to a threat to his life. Abusing contextualisation to avoid confronta­tion is unbiblical. Senseless dialogue which becomes an end in itself is biblically untenable. This does not take away the necessity of sharing the Word in a way that is appropriate to the culture. Ideally, sharing the Gospel respects the hearer in every way. It is sensitive to his/her special needs.
            Bad adaptation could even creep into Bible translations to accommodate our comfort zones and water down the sharp edges of the Word. The American ‘Inclusive Version’ translates away terms like God as Father and Jesus as Son. Also in other languages ‘offensive’ terms have been scrapped. The question is whether all this is not a case of getting what itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). In chapter 5 we show how ideology has influenced the effort of an Afrikaans Bible translation in this country. In Holland the new Willibrord translation of 1995 stirred up emotions because the commentary to the text clearly reflects accommodation to modernist New Age thinking.

Unprofitable bickering          
Being the good strategist he was, Jesus did not allow himself to be trapped in fruitless discussion over trivial matters, like to whom tax should be paid (Matthew 22:17f) or even religious ones, for instance where one should worship (John 4:20). Jesus encouraged the disciples to get rid of the dust on their feet if the message of the Kingdom is rejected (Matthew 10:14).
            Intellectualism not only often leads to unprofitable bickering (2 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 6:3,4) but it also sup­plies an opening for the demonic, just like the arts and the sensual (see Genesis 3:6: The fruit of the forbidden tree were luscious, they were a feast for the eyes and able to impart wisdom). Many a theo­logical student lost biblical truth when the quest after worldly academic learning got a grip on his mind. Paul echoed this wisdom in 1 Corin­thians 1: 27-29: ‘God has delib­erately chosen to use ideas the world considers foolish and of little worth in order to shame those people considered by the world as wise and great... In fact, we may even be satisfied with it in a certain sense: ‘We are glad all our dealings we have (depended) ...not on our own skills (2 Corin­thians 1:12).

Serious Bible Study
An example of a much better use of Scripture than the false alternatives, which are sometimes derived from it is seen in the life of Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians after 1727. From a very early age the Count was searching the Scriptures, later becoming the spearhead and driving force of the Order of the Mus­tard Seed when he was at secondary school.  Here it was already clear that a missionary spirit was evolving. The choice of the name of their order has of course the biblical parable as its origin when Jesus referred to the small seed which grew into a mighty plant (Matthew 13:31f).
            In the congregation at Herrnhut the Bible study was thorough and deep. Those brothers, who had a gift of Scriptural exposition, received full freedom. Spiritual leadership was charis­matic rather than based on formal academic training (Weinlick, 1956:87). The Herrnhut Moravians were not apologetic about it at all. When someone suggested that the group was shallow and superficial, Zinzendorf retorted in passing how eager the congregation listened to the splendid scriptural exposition of Leonhard Dober, who used the Hebrew text for this purpose although he was no academic, only a potter.
            Another potter with the same surname, Martin Dober, often found distinguished and learned people in his audience. How they appreciated his teaching is proved that they even went to sit next to the potter’s wheel to listen to his teaching. ‘... he might be visited by a count, a nobleman or a professor, who found him barefoot in his shop.’[34] Martin Dober was also the most popular preacher at the morning devotions at 5 a.m. (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:34).
            Count Zinzendorf himself set the good example to use Scripture to unite rather than divide. Thus he would use Bible verses to reconcile parties who were at loggerheads. Yet, he was humble enough to acknowledge his own limitations, by avoiding diffi­cult or controversial portions from Scripture (Weinlick, 1956:91).
            The Herrnhut congregation of his day took the Pauline exhortation at face value that the Word should dwell richly in us. The Watch Word, which started in 1728, was primarily a verse from Scripture which was passed on and memorized. They cannot be faulted that later generations of Moravians used these verses out of context or that the Watch Word became a substitute for the reading of the Bible itself, abusing it as a sort of oracle.     
            How seriously they treasured the Word, is evidenced by the fact that Spangenberg (1971:1033) quoted various Bible verses when the com­mun­ity deviated from traditional practice, such as ordaining missionaries by letter.
            It does seem however that the private study of the Bible - contrasted by communal reading and studying - was not encouraged in Herrnhut extensively. This eventually led to a practice where in later years only the daily texts - thus only verses out of their context - were read. Similarly we cannot generally applaud the practice of using a Bible verse at random, but I am only too aware that a scrip­tural word out of the blue - sometimes given by a stranger - has often been a special word of encouragement. It was clearly the leading of the Holy Spirit when Zinzendorf used a Bible verse at random for an impromptu sermon which saved the Herrnhut church from a rift in 1728 (Weinlick, 1956:81).

Reaction to the Word
James, the apostle, has been challenging the Church down the ages to be doers of the Word rather than being mere readers and listeners, comparing us with looking in a mirror without doing anything to improve stains or other inadequacies. Stubborn insensitive people are often associated in the Bible with being stiff-necked. The letter to the Hebrews (3:8) points to the cure: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’ From Physiology we learn that hardening of the artery walls restrict the flow of blood to the heart. This hardening comes for example from a build-up of fatty material on the artery walls. Just as hardened tissue can cause a serious physical paralysis like a heart attack, a hardened heart can bring great harm to our spiritual lives. Rebellion, pride, independence, anger, resentment and bitterness can cause the heart to harden. The cure is repentance and/or a renewed commitment of our lives into God’s hands. He promised in this regard: I will give them an undivided heart and a new spirit in them: I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).

            It seems useful to remind ourselves that the Bible still has to be translated in quite a few languages, and that more modern variations of (parts) of Scripture like the Jesus Film (on video/DVD) have found their way into many a home and into many a heart. The biblical promise that God’s Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11), should really excite us for great things to happen. But it should also inspire us to spread the Word by all means at our dis­posal.

Food for thought:
A quote from Dr Oswald Smith: ‘Is it right that we should hear the Gospel for the umpteenth time if others have not heard it for the first time?’
‘What place has Scriptural teaching in (y)our youth work?.’
What role does Bible Study play in our church, in my life? (not merely the reading of a Bible calen­dar, or even devo­tionals written by others.)
And some ideas
How about bringing ‘old-fashioned’ Bible memorization into our church services, also on Sundays?
Are church members being encouraged to share recent blessings, which they have had from their private Bible Study?
                        4.  Jesus, the paramount Encourager: He uplifts and consoles
            If Jesus had only given the Great Commission as a last command which we had to obey and fulfill without any ado - as a compulsory testament, something which we had to comply with strictly out of respect for our Master, it would have become a legalistic burden. All three the synoptic Gospels mention how the promise of help and comfort is used in conjunction with the exhorta­tion to spread the Gospel to the end of the world. In fact, the Gospel of Matthew (28:20) ends with a reminder: ‘And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Mark (16:17+18) speaks of divine assistance and Luke (24:49 and Acts 1:4) actually recalled that Jesus had instructed them to wait on the promise of the Father. According to the fourth Gospel, this promised assistance from God is called the paraclete,[35] the Holy Spirit (for example John 14:1; 14:16; 16:7). The Greek word has been translated respectively as comforter, advocate and substitute. Thus a part of the nature of the triune God is given in a nutshell, viz comfort and encouragement.

God uplifts and undergirds
Also in the Hebrew Scriptures Yahweh is the one who helps the downtrodden and the afflicted, the one who will never leave nor forsake those who put their trust in Him. He is the God who carries his children on eagle’s wings, especially when the going is tough, when they are tired and weary. Noah’s faith was vindicated as he listened primarily to God, who strengthened him supernaturally when the scoffers tried to discourage him (Genesis 6:22; 7:5). In fact, like the eagle that flies high above the storm, God lifts us up, undergirds us, especially when we are fiercely attacked by the enemy (see Exodus 19:4; Isaiah 40:31). When Hezekiah called on God in desperation on his death-bed, he was given another lease of life (2 Kings 20:3, 6). Elijah experienced encouragement when he was burnt-out (1 Kings 19:14). Yahweh is ready to uplift the despondent, ready to give a future to His people even when they are overwhelmed by hopelessness and bondage (Jeremiah 29:11-14a). God used Nehemiah to restore his people to a covenant relationship with him.

It’s no Shame to be fearful

Right from creation man was intended to communicate with God. Satan is the great imitator from the start, trying to cause doubt. With Eve the serpent uses a question in Genesis 3:1, distorting God’s words slightly in a sly way: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ The deceiver also did it with Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:3). Time and again he tries to make us fearful, to bog us down, to lame us; yes, he even tries to rob us from our faith by abusing Scripture.
            Abraham was called a friend of God primarily because he often communi­cated with God. But even he was attacked by fear. Twice he used a half truth, calling Sarah his sister when he perceived his life to be endangered. The repetition of the promise of off-spring was surely intended to reassure the aging Abraham. When his wife understandably doubted, God supernaturally supports His friend. God helps and encourages whosoever trusts and obeys him. In Genesis 32 it is mentioned without any camouflage that Jacob was afraid to go back to his people, after the intrigue, and deceiving his brother Esau. The fear of reprisal was real and awe­some. Supernaturally God intervened, encouraging him. But this only occurred after he really had a life and death fight with the Almighty, which ended with his plea: "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
            The Gospels take for granted that Jesus deals with a bunch of fearful followers. In fact, the very first evangel­ists after the birth of the Messiah, the shepherds on Bethleh­em’s fields, had to be comforted by the divine ‘Fear not..!’ Some diligent scholar discovered long before the age of the computer that the phrase ‘Fear not’ and equivalents with the same message occur 366 times in the Bible. Thus for every day of the year - even those of the leap year - is accounted. Bravery and all human effort without God’s help, is outlawed. In our Lord’s teaching to his disciples, Jesus said: "Without me you can do nothing...’ (John 15:5). This truth has been placed exactly between the promises of his Holy Spirit in Chapter 14 (vv. 16 and 26) and 16 (vv 7-9; 13+14) of the Gospel according to St. John. This emphasizes the unity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The invitation of Jesus and His promise to the weary has almost become classical: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Barnabas the Encourager     
Barnabas, one of the leaders of the pioneering church at Antioch, hailed from Cyprus. He had sold all he had and gave it to the newly formed church in Jerusalem. Barnabas was known for his ability to encourage others. It was he who went to look for Paul in Tarsus after the gifted former persecutor of the church could possibly have been side-tracked or even lured back into the fold of the synagogue (Acts 11:25).  Quite often an element of risk is also involved when giving encouragement.
Barnabas and Paul made the radical decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Later Paul took Silas and Barnabas had young John Mark as his partner in mission work. The example of Barnabas in encouraging others seemed to have rubbed off, having a snowball effect. This could have been just the encouragement Paul needed – he had a serious disagreement with John Mark on their first trip - to utilize the gifts of the young Timothy, entrusting him with leadership responsibilities. Mark became the first to write an account of the life of Christ. He ultimately also became a great encouragement to Paul when he was imprisoned.
            Through his letters - even from prison - Paul encouraged thousands of Christians, right into our present day and age. He spread the Word like no one else before him, teaching among many other things that encouragement is part and parcel of God’s nature. Unparalleled was his own comfort­ing of afflicted Christians, often accompanied by the injunction that they should do likewise. A typical sample is 1 Thessalonians 5:11ff: ‘So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing... comfort those who are frightened.

God uses the Fearful
Moses is the prime example of someone to be used by God. When he still thought that he could assist the Almighty, he was useless. But after he had been humbled, the divine presence could stat rebuilding his stature as an obedient servant leader. The dynamic Moses was in the right humble attitude at the burning bush, albeit that he objected that he was not qualified (Exodus 3:1), that he did not possess all answers (Exodus 3:13), that he was not convincing (Exodus 4:1), that he was not eloquent (Exodus 4:10), objecting finally that he was unwilling (Exodus 4:13).
It is significant how God assisted Moses not only when he was fearful to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to ‘let My people go’, giving him his brother Aaron as a mouthpiece, but also how Moses was vindicated when Aaron and Miriam rebelled because their brother had married an African (Numbers 12:1-12). Moses - humbled through God’s dealings with him - displays a Godly spirit, not allowing even the slightest thought of revenge to enter his mind. The Almighty wanted to use him not as a mighty liberator but as a humble instrument.
            The Bible teaches that God specifically uses the fearful when they trust Him, even more so when they become completely dependent on Him. This is wonderfully depicted in the life of Gideon (Judges 6-8). He could easily be described as a coward with a serious inferiority complex. Coming from the poorest family of the half tribe of Manasse and youngest of all, he thought he had ample reason to shy away from an awesome task. By the way, the inferior family background can also haunt the gifted. The tall Saul was impressive by all stan­dards. But he had an inferiority complex. The first time we read about Saul, one senses: here is a man with a destiny. He was ‘an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites - a head taller than any of the others’ (1 Samuel 9:2). But like Gideon, he was shying away from the awful task of leading his people because of his family background. Yet, God called Gideon a mighty warrior when he was in hiding from the all-conquering Midianites.
            God can and wants to use the fearful, yes, even the coward. There is only one condition: they must be obedient and dependent on Him alone. Gideon experienced concretely what God promised through Moses: ‘The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’ (Deuteronomy 20:4).

A special Form of Encouragement

Guilt and sin have been major instruments which the enemy has been using to bog people down. From the moment Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, the need of atonement for sin was highlighted. Animals had to be slaughtered, blood shed to get the skins which eventually covered the couple. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews noted succinctly that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin’ (Hebrews 9:22). The problem which Jews have with the atoning death of Jesus - when their tradition insists that it has to be animal blood and not human blood - be­comes academic when we consider that Isaiah 53 points to the coming Messiah as a lamb, which is to be slaughtered. This was atonement because ‘it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down...he was wounded and bruised for our sins’ (Isaiah 53:4f). John, the Baptist, twice pointed to Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29, 36).
            Apart from the atoning aspect in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is quite clear that it belongs to God’s nature to forgive unrighteousness and sins (Exodus 34:7). The Psalmist lists among the good things not to be forgotten, the fact that God forgives us all our trans­gressions (Psalm 103:2). His readi­ness to for­give stems from His love. This is wonderfully illustrated through the prayer of King Hezekiah when he was terminally ill. The burden on Hezekiah’s soul was at least as bad as the illness. Thus the forgiveness of his sins really filled him with joy (Isa­iah 38:1-17). Jesus quite naturally displayed this characteris­tic of God. A lame man is not only healed, but also his sins were forgiven (Matthew 9:2). The pros­titute who cried unabatedly and repentantly as she bathed Jesus feet with her tears, heard from him: Your sins are forgiven (Luke 7:48).
A beautiful example of how Jesus restores even those who have failed him can be discerned in the life of Peter. This did not only occur there at the lake Galilee where Jesus thrice charged him to feed the flock in subtle variations – which obviously broughtback memories of the threefold denial that fateful night. But also before that bold Peter dared to go to him – walking on the water – and sunk… The Master did not let him drown. He saved Peter and carried him back into the boat. The Saviour offers a lifeline to every drowning creature who is willing to take His outstretched hand.
It is no wonder that the religious establishment got upset. In their eyes our Lord elevated him­self to the status of God with such a stance. In the view of Mus­lims this is dis­gust­ing ‘shirk’, to attach a partner to God. In stead of fighting with them, Chris­tians should rather try to understand the problem Muslims and Jews have with the deity of Christ. If we do that, we might find some of them opening up to the Gospel, because neither Judaism nor Islam has a satisfactory reply to the problem of sin. Yet, we must be careful not to sound trium­phalistic about it. It is only by grace that we are saved, because there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ ... (Romans 8:1, 2). He has freed us from the vicious circle of sin and death. 

The perfect Example of Forgiveness
It should not surprise us one bit that the Master teacher gave us the perfect example of forgiveness. When Jesus was betrayed by a disciple, brutalised by soldiers, mocked and abused by the masses, falsely accused, tried in a dubious ‘court’ and unjustly executed, it appeared that everything that could go wrong, did so. Significantly, the first words of the Master on the Cross according to tradition were tantamount to granting forgiveness to the perpetrators. They did not know what they were doing, because they were basically obeying demonic orders. Yet, not known to those who observed the horrendous execution of an innocent saint, as well as the perpetrators of this massive injustice, a great battle was possibly being waged in the invisible spiritual realm.
The arch enemy was honour bound to emulate divine forgiveness in the religious sphere. From ancient times the idea was spread that forgiveness can be atoned for in other ways than through faith in Jesus and His blood shed for us on Calvary. Stones, trees and shrines – including the Black stone of the Ka’ba in Mecca were used in similar fashion. Payment of indulgences and offerings of sheep remained a favourite down the centuries, but this was later substituted with human agents like a priest or the denomination as is the case with the New Apostolic Church.

Jesus consoles and uplifts
Jesus consoles and uplifts those who have been given up by others like the lame man in Bethesda, who had been ‘decaying’ away for 38 years. But he often uses those who have been rejected and despised by others as powerful instruments. When they believe in him (like the Samaritan woman of John 4) their lives can be changed radically. Many others can be and often are touched and challenged through the testimony and Christ-like lives of radical followers of Jesus.
            The authoritative ‘fear not!’ of Jesus can come to people in a similar way in the most diverse circumstances. The resur­rected Lord comforted Paul when his life was in acute danger (Acts 18:9) and He uplifted the burnt out John who had been exiled to the island of Patmos (Revelations 1:17f). But He can also carry us through in the most adverse condi­tions. Jesus is the mighty sustainer, who is always ready to see us through if we put our trust in Him.
            Divine encouragement was of course also extended and experienced in a similar way by Hebrew Scripture prophets. The prophet Elijah was the divine instrument to comfort the widow in Zarepath when her only son died (1 Kings 17:17-24). But soon thereafter the prophet needed encouragement himself. Elijah was deeply depressed at this point in time, perceiving that he was the only prophet left when the wicked Queen Jezebel was really after his blood (1 Kings 19:1-15). He was divinely encouraged to such an extent that he even went straight into the ‘den of the lion’. In the palace he challenged the royal pair, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, with the theft of Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21). Without special anointing from on high, Nathan would never have had the courage to challenge his King about the latter’s adultery and indirect murder of Uriah. When Jonah was waiting on the destruction of the wicked city of Nineveh, God used a worm to teach Jonah a lesson: that he was selfish and without compassion towards the Ninevites. His depression was actually completely uncalled for and unreasonable.
            If Queen Jezebel personified wickedness in women, it is significant how God used females to encourage dejected, oppressed and rejected people in history. The French will immediately think of Jean d”Arc of Orleans and the British have their Florence Nightingale. In recent decades the brave nuns, who put their lives on the line bringing the bold Corrie Aquino to power, by ushering in the end of the wicked regime of the dictator Marcos. Few South Africans are aware that it was two brave women, the Catholic nun Celeste Santos and Nomangezi ??, who were the special instruments who opposed the mighty apartheid regime in the Black squatter settlement of Crossroads in May 1981. That would ultimately lead to the ‘battle’ of Nyanga, where Black women inflicted the first major defeat to the apartheid regime in 1981 non-violently, ushering in the removal of the resentful discriminatory pass laws.

Taking God’s Forgiveness seriously
An aspect which also needs mentioning in this regard is that of taking God’s forgiveness seriously. It is completely unnecessary when Christians feel that they must suffer for sin in a wrong way. There is of course such a thing as consequences of a sinful life, for example immoral actions before one’s conversion, which may almost haunt you. But even for those sins Jesus has died. We must never attempt to atone for our own sins in a sort of self-imposed purgatory.
            The corollary however is very necessary, and can never be over-emphasized. We must forgive those who have hurt us and we should never get tired of it. This is what Jesus intended when he referred to the seventy times seven times of forgiving. He wants to help us to concentrate on kindness and love for the perpetrators rather than on our own hurt. In somewhat different wording Paul charged believers to 'heap fiery coals' of love on those who have offended you. We may ask God to enable us through the Holy Spirit to live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on us (Romans 12:17f), and to practise the qualities of love as listed in 1 Corinthians 13. It is indeed impossible to ‘love God and hate the brother’ (1 John 4:20).
            An excellent modern-day exposition of forgiveness has been given by Wilson Goeda who had gone through the mill himself. After getting to know how the cycle of rejection penetrated into his mother’s womb before his birth, he had to learn to first forgive himself and then to forgive his mother. Thrice she had attempted unsuccessfully to commit suicide because his father had fled upon hearing that she was pregnant. In later life he had grown so much spiritually that he bought flowers from a very meagre income, leaving them at the house of someone who almost killed him on racial grounds. He wrote on the accompanying card: ‘...I just want to say to you that I pray for you.  I love you’ (Goeda, 2006:90).
Support and Encouragement for the Frail and Afflicted
I reiterate on purpose that it belongs to the nature of God to support and encourage the frail and afflicted. In chapter 5 we shall examine how God is depicted as the champion of the materially poor. The book of Job teaches that affliction is definitely not a straight-jacket result of sin, but that God often allows difficult circumstances in the lives of his beloved. In fact, the supernatural encouragement which the believer can experience in such circumstances gives a special dimension to suffering. This is what the suffering servant of God experienced tangibly: ‘He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the faint-hearted, those tempted to despair...’ (Isaiah 42:3)
            Jesus, the prime encourager, can console us even when we are experiencing the utmost despair, because he himself was tested to the utmost (Hebrews 5:7-9). In the very dark moment of temptation, the Master chose to submit in obedience to the Father: ‘Not my will, but your will be done’ (Luke 22:42).
            This was the introduction to the greatest paradox poss­ible. On the one hand this was the divine yes to ‘becoming sin’ on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21), which would ultimately lead to our Lord crying out: ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46). On the other hand, this was also the start of the victory over sin and death. Through the Cross and the subsequent resurrection, death lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55, 56). At the Cross the teeth of the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) were so to speak extracted; the enemy was conquered through our Lord’s death, because this was followed byhis resurrection. His death avails for our sins. His resurrection empowers us towards a life of victory in which we need not be slaves of sin any more. Whenever the enemy reminds us of our past (sin), we may remind him of his future (as the completely defeated foe). The death and resurrection of Christ enable us to call out with Paul: ‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ After listing many difficulties, Paul proclaims in Romans 8:37: ‘... in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’
            Yes, especially in the day to day practical difficulties Jesus proves to be the paramount encourager. While he was on the earth he encouraged people in different circumstances. How he healed the sick, is well-known. The Gospel of John cites the turning of water into wine as the Lord’s first miracle (John 2:11). Since then He has turned sadness into joy time and again. When the two despondent, bereaved, disciples discussed the difficult things of the previous days on the way to Emmaus: ‘Jesus joined them and went with them’ (Luke 24:13ff). Similarly, Jesus wants to go with us. He wants to carry us through the rough patches of life on eagles’ wings. Through the Holy Spirit we are encouraged. That is exactly the power of the Gospel: how Jesus can completely overrule the tricks and vibes of the enemy. If we confess and repent of our sins, God not only cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:9), but he can even use extreme calamities for his own sovereign purposes, by turning it around.

Comfort and Consolation of Confession

David experienced the healing power of confession for himself (see Psalm 51). However, he missed out later in his life when two of his children com­mitted similar sins.[36] In the Bible many stories and verses illustrate that it is part and parcel of God’s nature to comfort and console like a mother (for example Psalm 118:5; Isaiah 66:13; Romans 15:4f). The Word also warns against the temptation to seek comfort from doubt­ful sources like material possessions and riches (cf. Luke 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:9). God alone can really comfort. David testi­fied to this in his evergreen Psalm 23. His Shepherd comforted his soul, bringing him to green pastures. The Good Shepherd Jesus (John 10) likewise wants to give to his children the very best, just what they need, including comfort and encour­age­ment.
            The Early Church cared for the marginalized. Acts 6 mentions a group that would have been doubly disadvantaged, the Greek-speaking widows. The care for widows and orphans was something that the Hebrew Scriptures had prescribed. The Assyrian Church of the first century possibly had a special facility and role for widows. It seems as if they had even been baptizing others, because a new decree was introduced, prohibiting the widows to baptize men.
            Paul clearly teaches that encouragement next to comforting others is a ministry which every Christian can and should be involved in. The Father of compas­sion and the God of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4) wants to encourage us in order to empower us so that we can also do it to others. To the Galatians (6:2) the carrying of each other’s burdens is even called ‘the law of Christ’. However, it should not be seen primarily as a command, but rather as an overflowing; when others see and hear how we are carried through in our distress and problems, it can comfort and help them to put their trust in God. Just like Jesus can comfort and encourage us because he himself was tested in the extreme, we become better qual­ified through diffi­culties and sufferings to comfort others. We are not meant to be heavily burdened by the problems of others, but we have the privilege to take these afflictions in prayer to the Cross.

Taking it up for the Under-dog         
Every time Jesus spoke about Samaritans, tax collectors, the poor and public women, he took it up for the under-dog. He praised the tax collector Zaccheus without any accusation whatsoever. The repentant prostitute (Luke 7:36ff) harvested praise without any reservation. In the process Jesus attacked the self-righteous­ness and the hypocrisy of the Phari­sees (for example Luke 18:10ff), but he did not pull them down in the mud either. Like the prophets of old, he wanted to lead them to repentance rather than scoring points. Samuel of old had already pointed to the fact that God looks at the heart rather than to an outward show of religiosity (1 Samuel 15:22). Our Lord’s comparison between the prayer of the Pharisee and the tax collector is not meant to highlight the differences, but rather to invite reconciliation after repentance. He had problems with the attitude of the Pharisees, but he neverthe­less had no qualms to accept an invitation to dine with one from their ranks (Luke 7:36). Jesus in this way demonstrated how it is not Christ-like to fear socializing and association with so-called enemies.
            The first Moravian refugees like Christian David brought with them the concern for the persecuted church in their homeland. This soon rubbed off on all the inhabitants of Herrnhut. Thus the Swedish academic Arved Gradin helped to encourage the persecuted Protestants in France en route to the Orient. Count Zinzendorf not only integrated this concern for the persecuted into the ethos of Herrnhut but it also became part of his vocation to see to it that the Gospel would be brought to the most unreached groups in the world. This care for the under-dog permeated the life of all early Moravian settlements. It was natural that they would take it up for those people groups that were threatened with extinction like the indigenous Indians in North America and the Khoi at the Cape of Good Hope. This they performed through work of social and educational upliftment rather than through political involvement.

Associating with the Despised           
Our Lord was known to be a friend of sinners. The establishment took serious offence that He dined with the likes of the chief tax collector Zaccheus. The moral religious elite was surely horrified when the word went around that Jesus did not object vehemently when a prostitute dried his feet with her hair.
            Count Zinzendorf was a worthy follower of the Lord in this regard, completely unconventional. He appeared to have had no qualms to take the Pilgrim Church into the castle Ronneburg, to live there with the despised of their society, ‘thieves, gypsies, sectarians and Jews’, but he also defended the move when the respectable refugee leader Christian David objected (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:68). One of the reasons why people opposed Zinzendorf was because he took it up for the under-dog. When King Friedrich Wilhelm I asked him why he was resented by others, he explained that his opponents abused such socializing, ‘um mich mit dergleichen Personen in einen Topf zu werfen’, throwing him into the same pot with the people he tried to defend (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:76).


The Purpose of Cell Groups: Mutual Encouragement

Count Zinzendorf picked up the provision for widows, by creating a special group for them. Theodore, the widow of his good friend Heinrich von Reuss, led the widows ‘choir’ in Herrnhut. One Sunday in the year it was their special day. Zinzendorf understood this biblical principle better than most of his contemporaries. The community of Herrnhut was divided into little cells, into bands and choirs for the very reason of mutual encouragement and upliftment. The communication with each other and with the Lord - as they shared joy and sorrow - made out of them such a radiant and loving community. By taking seri­ously the scrip­tural principle of mutual care for each other into the stat­utes of 12 May 1727, the soil for the revival was prepared. Every member of the community was required to use his gifts for the common good. Everybody received a task: for example to care for the widows, the orphans, the aged or the sick. A whole series of social institutions were started. In fact, it was quite revol­utionary for those days that the Church was now told to care for those who are old and sick (Beyreuther, 1965:71).
            It has been reported how Zinzendorf missed John Worthington, the regular organist on a certain Sunday during a visit to the Moravian congrega­tion of Fulnek in Britain. When he heard that Worthington was terminally ill, he immediately visited and prayed with him quietly (Spangenberg, 1773-5[1971]:1963). God blessed his stand with the afflicted when the organist was up and about a few days later.
            There are many examples how the Moravians took the mess­age of empathizing and encouragement seriously. Even the children took up the cue. After the Moravians had to leave Herrnhut mainly because of the support the community had given to foreign refugees, they landed eventually at the Ronneburg. This was a derelict castle, which was inhabited by thieves and various other outcasts of their society. But Zinzendorf’s off-spring invited the children of the beggars to come and join them at the table for meals.

Fellowship in stead of Boycott

the Count practised the principle also outside of the community. He saw it as his duty to stand with those who have been rejected by the society at large. His vision of the bigger body of Christ, made it imperative for him to visit the Separatists and the ‘inspired’ Christians, groups which were shunned by the Lutheran State Church and the Pietists alike. Even though he disagreed with their ideas, for example their rejection of infant Baptism and Communion, he believed in keeping the communication lines open. In stead of joining the general boycott of other Christans, he endeavoured to persuade them to discover what the Bible teaches.    
            The issue of boycott, a weapon that was used effectively in the 20th century to isolate the racist regimes of the former Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, did not fit into Moravian Church policy. In fact, Moravians were taught to stay clear of politics.[37]  It is nevertheless not completely insignificant that although Zinzendorf did not distance himself from the Pietist practice of non-interference in politics, he was not indifferent to injustice and oppressive conditions. It is however debatable how helpful it was that he criticized the bad conditions in the church anonymously through a polemical weekly, ‘The Socrates of Dresden.’
            Professor Johannes Verkuyl (Break down the Walls, 1973:155) refers to the momentous speech of Dr Robert Nelson at the WCC consultation on racism in Notting Hill, London (1969). Referring to a fresco of the Italian painter Giotto about the awakening of Lazarus from the death, Nelson noted that the man who helped Lazarus was a Black. (It is generally known that Simon of Cyrene in North Africa, who carried Jesus’ cross, is sometimes associated with Simon Niger - the Black - of Acts 13). Dr Nelson asked: ‘Could it be that we Western White people need to take the hand of fellow Christians from Africa, or Asia, or Latin America to be helped out of our dead faith into a new power of life? ... a power for reconciliation and forgiveness is hard to find.South Africa could become a blessing to the nations if those who have become strengthened through many afflictions, utilize this power to encourage and uplift others. A good start was made through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of the late 1990s and the church-led restitution that was initiated by Dr Charles Robertson and started at the Cape in 2004.

Food for thought:
What part does encouragement and comforting play in correc­tion? We easily tend to forget that people who have wronged or hurt us, could even feel bad about it. By saying to them and showing them that we have forgiven them - even before they have apologized - we could encourage them.

And some ideas
Possibly the mere showing of interest, for example by a (short) visit and a phone call, just to enquire how someone who has been known to be depressed or de­spondent, can make his/her day. It is definitely a good exercise if you yourself have been helped out of the gutter of some sort of despondency or in another way, and after having received encouragement from the supreme uplifter through prayer - or through counselling by another Christian - to try and console someone else who may need your support.
Forgiveness is a major encouragement, but continuing to speak about the hurt of the past often rips up old wounds. A good antidote for gossip is to check whether the person has forgiven the perpetrator. Otherwise one could so easily become a dumping ground for his/her negativity and gossip.
                                    4. Jesus, God’s true Son: the ultimate Example of Obedience

            The prophets knew that God’s Word was the vehicle to bring His rebellious and back-slidden people back to Him. Repeatedly divine promises were linked to obedience to the Word and its teachings on the one hand and punishment for disobedience on the other. Down the ages obedience to the preached Word was also used by God to call back-sliding Christianized peoples back to Himself and his ways. God thus used the Wesley brothers and George Whitfield in the 18th century to bring about a revival in England.
The biblical Tenet of Obedience        
The all-import­ant biblical tenet of obedience is really at the heart of the Word. All sin and hurts could possibly be derived from the opposite. The disobedience of Eve and Adam started the rot. By way of contrast, the hall-mark of Noah was obedience.
            Obedience is honoured by God, but compromise is seen as disobedience, as sin, which incurs His wrath and punishment. A classic example of obedience to God’s law and the teachings he had received, is Joseph who refused to be seduced towards adultery (Genesis 38:7-20). We note that it was not so much Joseph’s superior sexual morality that swayed the matter. That he would have abused the trust of the master would have negatively impacted his faith in Yahweh. His integrity led to his imprisonment. However, his faith in the God of his forefathers was vindicated when he later became the second in command in Egypt.
            Saul was initially raised by God, after he had showed exemplary traits like modesty. However, his disobedience to the Word of God via the prophet Samuel led to his shameful demise. The lesson is clear: God honours radical obedience, but any compromise is already tantamount to dis­obedience.
Gideon (Judges 6-8) and King Asa (2 Chronicles 15+16) are the examples of initial obedience to God with ensuing success, followed by compromise at the end of their lives. In both cases tragedy and disgrace were the results.
            ‘New Testament’ teaching is the complement of what the Law and the Prophets had been pioneering for centuries. Yet, it needs to be emphasized that the Bible definitely does not teach slavish obedience. It would be more correct to see critical obedience as the biblical norm. When Gideon could not see his way clear to obey straight away, God nevertheless took him seriously. His hesitant obedience, initially expecting a proof of the presence of God (Judges 6:17) and his need of absolute certainty that God wanted to use him (Judges 6:37ff), can be seen as an example for checking God’s will. The enemy does have ways of emulating God. In our time and age some people speak too glibly about what God has purportedly said. It should become a custom and habit to use biblical checks and balances to discern God’s will otherwise we can be deceived so easily. His written and preached Word, peace at heart and the advice of mature believers should usually assist to this end.

Radical Obedience
Both Noah and Moses pointed to Jesus through their radical obedience. Oral tradition - confirmed by the biblical report - notes that a hall mark of Noah was his total obedience. Almost as a refrain we read about the former: ‘Noah did everything just as God commanded him’ (Genesis 6:22; 7:5; 7:9; 7:16). Noah’s obedience was combined with his trust in God although we do not read about a special relationship between him and the Almighty. Noah nevertheless became the example to all of us, to put our complete trust in God. He simultaneously challenges us towards complete obedience to the divine revealed will. Noah’s obedience culminated in him entering the Ark with his family only upon God’s Word.
         Moses has set the example magnificently. Over fifty times it is recorded of Moses: ‘As the Lord commanded Moses, so did he do.
            In the ‘New Testament’ radical obedience is highlighted when we read of actions by followers of Jesus that would not make common sense. Thus Peter threw the net ‘on the word’ of the Lord after failing to catch any fish at night and Philip leaves the successful ministry in Samaria, the revival (Acts 8), going so to speak in obedience on a ‘wild goose chase’ to the lonely desert road to Gaza. The believer knows however that God’s ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8, 9). John, the apostle, repeats in a circular style in 1 John the relationship between loving and believing God on the one hand and obeying him on the other hand. Obedience is the proof of loving God.
            The deacon Philip went ‘down’ to Gaza on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at a time of blessing and revival in Antioch (Acts 8:26ff). Don Richardson in his book Eternity in their hearts suggests that the Philip mentioned in Acts 8 was one of the deacons who had been inaugurated in Acts 6 to take care of the neglected Greek widows.[38]
What a ‘stupid’ thing to do, we would say! To go to the desert road! Philip follows it up with something just as completely unheard of. He, a very ordinary Christian, addresses a foreign dignitary, an African finance minister, with a rather audacious, insulting question: "Do you also understand what you are reading?" Perhaps one could say that this was the beginning of the evangelization of Africa, started by an ordinary but obedient follower of Jesus.
            The letter to the Hebrews (5:8) states that the Master learned obedience through his sufferings and Paul, the apostle, gave a summary of Jesus’ life as one of utter obedience: He, ‘being in very nature God...humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross.’

Obedient Submission                                                                                                                            The obedient submission to God is a tenet that is well known in rabbinical Judaism. The Talmud reports how Abraham referred to Isaac as the substitution for the lamb. On the way to the Akedah – the sacrifice – Satan is said to have attempted unsuccessfully to dissuade Isaac from obeying his father and when he failed, the deceiver tried to impede their journey. According to oral tradition, Isaac however cooperated fully in the proposed sacrifice, even begging his father to bind him tightly lest he might struggle involuntarily and render the sacrifice invalid. According to tradition the obedient son replies: ‘To the will of the living God in thankfulness I bow.’ Just like Isaac, the Lord Jesus would willingly lay down his life. One almost hears the echo centuries later, in the Garden of Gethsemane after Jesus had been agonising when he was required to empty the cup. It must have ‘contained’ something against which his whole being rebelled. It has been suggested that it could have been the sins of the world against which the sinless Son of God came in fierce opposition. The victory is achieved after the Son had learned obedience through his suffering (Hebrews 5:8): ‘Not my will, but thy will be done’ (Mark 14:36). The events leading to the crucifixion and the Cross of Calvary itself echo Abraham and Isaac’s obedient submission in every respect, culminating in Jesus saying: ‘Father, in Thy hands I commit my spirit’
            God, who provided the ram on Moriah, also gave the Lamb on Calvary, his only Son. The ram prefigured the slain lamb of the Passover that saved the Israelites in the hour of judgement. The Lord Jesus became the Lamb slain for the sin of mankind. Now whosoever believes in Him as Saviour, receives everlasting life. Paul recorded the significance of this fact in the following words: ‘For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2).
         Two other types of Christ with regard to obedience occurred in the wanderings of the Israelites through the desert. The cloud pillar and the fire resting on the Tabernacle prefigured in a special way what Jesus said:  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Closely connected to the cloud pillar was the sound of the silver trumpets. They were used as a signal for the journeying of the congregation. The believer needs to listen to the voice of the Lord, whose words are as tried silver and purified gold. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

The Serpent at Work
The Israelites had the option to obey or not to do it, to go for the blessing or for the curse. They could choose between death and life. The most significant instance of this choice for life was probably where Moses was required to put a brass serpent on a pole after poisonous snakes had bitten many Israelites (Numbers 21:4ff). This was God’s punishment after the Israelites had rebelled, displaying grave ingratitude at His provision for them. The serpents which had bitten the rebellious, disobedient Israelites in the desert, remind the Jew of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. As they once had to slaughter innocent lambs obediently at the exodus from Egypt, the obedience of the Israelites was tested when they had to look at the brazen snake which would bring healing in its wings. 
         The great serpent’s head was so to speak smashed on the Cross of Calvary. That is why Jesus could prophetically challenge all generations to heed the universal meaning of his death on the Cross: ‘Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life’ (John 3:14f). The letter to the Hebrews, which is so close to Talmudic thinking, picks up the cue: ‘Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ (Hebrews 2:14ff). Paul, the apostle, surely had the same idea in mind when he wrote ‘the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20).
The brass serpent of Numbers 21:4ff served for the temporary healing of those Israelites who were bitten, but who got a second chance if they were obedient. Jesus would be lifted up so that all who believed in him might have eternal life. Whosoever believes in faith in Jesus as God’s healing instrument, the ‘New Testament’ ‘serpent’ on the Cross, will be healed from being bitten by satan, the ‘snake’ who is the liar from the beginning (John 8:44). In the book of Genesis it is described how satan originally came in the image of a serpent to deceive Adam and Eve.
   The issue of obedience is thus highlighted. One can state that the way Moses did this is depicted even more pronounced in the Book of Deuteronomy. Again and again the Israelites were told that the demand of obedience to the laws are for their good (e.g. Deuteronomy 6:24). Moreover it is clear that their obedience is not an effort to buy God’s favour, but rather it is expected because they enjoy His favour. The Israelites were not called to purchase their redemption by obedience, but to obey because they are a redeemed people.
   A servant girl, who had been taken along as a captive, became God’s instrument to point Naaman, the Aramaic army officer, to Elisha as a prophet of God (2 Kings 5). In the enfolding story, Naaman got healed only after he had obeyed the instructions of the prophet.

Link between Suffering and Obedience

One of the spiritual lessons strange to the rational (Western) mind is the link between suffering and obedience. Already in the Hebrew Scriptures biblical personalities had to learn obedience, albeit often through trial and error. Biblical figures knew that choices for God often incurred the displeasure and even wrath of their family and countrymen. When Abraham chose to oppose the idolatry in their home and even to leave his home region, his father Terah would have been very unhappy. He could have been even angry with Abraham because of this.

            Similarly, Moses had to be severely reprimanded – almost becoming the victim of divine wrath because of his disobedience – after initially offering various excuses for not being able to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. On the other hand, his siblings were very angry when Moses married an African, the Cushite.  He received divine confirmation. But he would have known that such a step of obedience was not prone to harvest elation, joy and affirmation from friends and countrymen.
            To obey God, Gideon needed the cover of night to destroy the Baal idol in their home (Judges 6:27). The obedience of Daniel’s three friends to the divine command brought them literally into the fire, the furnace of a pagan King. In the case of Daniel himself, his faithful prayerful obedience led to the company of hungry lions.    
            It should be a sobering thought that one of the reasons for the anger of the Jews at the teaching of Jesus was his opposition to their proud national­ist thoughts. According to the Gospel of Luke (chapter 4) he referred positively to other peoples in his sermon in the syna­gogue of Nazareth. This rubbed the Jewish audience up the wrong way. The initial excitement about the return of their renowned prodigy and amazement at the words of the son of Joseph (4:22) turned sour when Jesus referred to the widow of Sidon, a foreigner and Naaman, the Syrian military officer.
            By far not everyone was spared persecution after the conscious choice of obedience. The Master led the way. ‘Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he had to learn from experience what it was like to obey, when obeying meant suffering’ (Hebrews 5:8). And when his followers wanted to crown him King (John 6:15), the Master refused it, to be ultimately mockingly hailed as King of the Jews – with a crown of thorns.
Second century martyr Bishop Polycarp became the model so much that Tertullian was led to proclaim the blood of the martyrs to be the seed of the church. The truth of Tertullian’s adage can be easily verified in the lives of people like Jan Hus from Prague, whose martyrdom we commemorated recently. He died on the fire stake in Constance in July 1415. Of the great personalities of church history Martin Luther was the exception rather than the rule, when he was spared the experience of the martyr’s death.
            Already as a boy, teenager and young man Count Zinzendorf was mocked and derided because of his choices for the Gospel. In stead of following in the footsteps of his late father to become an influential minister of the King of Saxony, he took it in his stride to become almost a nothing, to be banished for standing with the refugee believers.

Moses, God’s Friend but no Robot
We read in Exodus 33:11, ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’. The special relationship is also seen in Moses’ words to the Almighty. Thus we read about him saying in the same context ‘If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you.’ God responds with: ‘My presence will go with you...’
            The replies of Moses show however that he was no robot; the friend of God can also voice negative feelings. God shows understanding when Moses raved in bitter disappointment and frustration: ‘...What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of these people on me? ... I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me’ (Numbers 11:11,14-15). In a sovereign display of Divine understanding, Yahweh encouraged Moses, by instructing him to appoint seventy leaders and officials to assist him.
            Whereas Aaron and Moses were disqualified to enter the promised Land because of their disobedience – they smote the elevated rock whereas they were required to speak to it – Jesus became the  example of meticulous obedience and submission to the will of the Father.
            It is remarkable in the context of the discourses of Moses with the Almighty that He does apparently allow believers to question Him. We do not have to believe slavishly and uncritically. In the Bible questioning God is accepted. In fact, there are passages, for example long ones in Job, Psalm 73 and the whole book of Habakkuk, where the questioning of God is mentioned as the most normal thing on earth. In these Scriptures God dialogues with the doubtful, for example as He did with Abraham and Moses. As friends of God we are fully permitted to voice our disappointment and frustration in prayer. God sees the heart and we may reckon with it that He takes our views seriously. A condition is that we must be honest in our questioning and willing to submit to his overruling and guidance. The sovereign God can however also become angry, when he regards our arguing as unreasonable. Moses experienced the anger of God more than once.
We have seen with Gideon how uses even the coward. There is only one condition: they must be obedient and dependent on Him alone. Gideon experienced concretely what God promised through Moses: ‘The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’ (Deuteronomy 20:4).

God’s Moulding process        
God often uses affliction, disappointment and trials to mould us. The spiritual growth of Joseph in this regard underlines this principal. As an arrogant young man he became haughty because of the gift the interpretation of dreams - that he had received. After he landed in prison and after using this gift once again in respect of the butler and baker, he seemed to have learned the lesson well. When he was summoned to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh he replied humbly: I cannot do it by myself, but God will tell you what it means (Genesis 41:16).
         Psalm 66 highlights an interesting anomaly. God cannot be enveloped in a mould. God brought the Israelites through the waters of the Red Sea and he saved individuals like Lot from fire. Destructive waters and purifying fire are used to strengthen and mould David – just like Abraham and the other arch fathers before him. Every follower of the Lord is treated like silver in the crucible. In Malachi 3:2 the Almighty is compared with a goldsmith who purifies the special metal from all impurities in the red-hot fire.
         God had to reprimand Joseph and Moses, using exile after they had acted in the flesh. Yet, His hand was on them, guiding and chastening them through suffering. It is especially hard to witness our loved ones suffer. But then, it is so wonderful when that what Bishop Retief (1994:59) calls ‘the Joseph principle’ comes into play: ‘...You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’ (Genesis 50:19-20). We detect the divine hand - especially in the light of the constant enmity between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael up to this day - when we note that both Joseph and Moses were rescued by Ishmaelites. The Midianite traders (Genesis 37:25, 28) who pulled Joseph out of the cistern were called the descendants of Ishmael. Moses spent the years after his flight from Egypt in Midian. This was a time when these ‘Ishmaelites’ seemed not to have been regarded as Israel’s enemies. Moses’ father-in-law Jethro was a Midianite priest with whom he co-operated without major reservations or hassles. Jethro actually ‘was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians’ (Exodus 19:9). And Moses gladly accepted the advice of Jethro to delegate the work, which had become too much for him to accomplish alone (Exodus 19:24). That the Midianites became enemies of Israel was apparently not because of their religion, but because of their idolatry. In this regard, Israel was however no better. Moses and so many prophets after him had to rebuke the Israelites on this very score.
         To the same end of moulding, God used a worm to teach the prophet Jonah that he was selfish and without compassion towards the Ninevites. In the ‘New Testament’ Peter’s denial of Jesus before his crucifixion was part and parcel of the divine preparation to make out of him the rock on which the Master could build his Church. Paul was a young believer with a misdirected zeal when the resurrected Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He had to be moulded and shaped before God could use him. This process covered at least twelve years. This should make us think deeply about the sending of young people on missionary outreaches with very little preparation.

Sometimes the Father gives us a second Chance      
How gracious of the Father that he gives us a second chance, yes sometimes even a third and a fourth one, to bring us back to His purpose for us. The biblical condition is remorse and repentance. In 1 John 1:9 we read: If we confess ours sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
         We should be thankful for the ‘great fish’ - the pits of despair and tribulation that bring us back to our senses. We should praise the Lord for the storms, the troubles that focus our faith and give us opportunity to share the good news with those who might not be our first choice, but who are God’s challenge for us.
         Jonah assumed that Nineveh would have no time for God. Christians too easily assume that certain people groups are resistant to the Gospel. Jonah had to learn that it was not only the city of Nineveh that had to repent. He himself and especially his attitude to the Ninevites had to change. We as Christian Capetonians might still be very surprised by the reaction of Muslims and Jews to the Gospel if our own attitude changes to one of love and compassion.

Obedience rather than Glamour
A sign of really great personalities is that they can choose suffering rather than glamour when the chips are down. At the outset of his ministry Jesus chose not to be impressed by the adulation of his Nazareth townsfolk. In stead of riding on the crest wave of praise, he swam against the stream, risking his life in the process (Luke 4:14-30). When a multitude of Jewish worshipers wanted to forcefully make Jesus their worldly King (John 6:15), he refused this elevation. In stead, he left the multitude. In the same chapter it is recorded how he responded with a hard word, after which the crowd left him en masse (John 6:66).
         When Peter merely faintly suggested that Jesus should escape his innocent death, the Master had to rebuke him strongly, seeing no less than satan behind this idea (Mark 8:33). Although he was the Son, the Lord had to learn obedience to the Father (Hebrews 5:8). By the time of the Gethsemane struggle he had obviously learned the lesson when he was required to empty the cup, the content of which ultimately took our Lord from the presence of His Father, so much so that he ultimately used the word forsaken. In the agonizing prayer of the Garden, He responded thrice with ‘not my will but your will be done…’ (Mark 14:36). Jesus chose the road of suffering, to be ultimately crowned with thorns. His Kingdom is not of this world.
         The line between acclamation and rejection can be very thin at times. Choosing for absolute truth often makes the difference. Compromise could sometimes prevent persecution or rejection. When Bishop Comenius had received secular recognition via the invitation to become the rector and pioneer of the newly established Harvard University near Boston in the ‘New World’, he declined, preferring to stay with his small persecuted flock in Poland.
         Count Zinzendorf not only taught, but he also displayed that he was teachable. Thus he became willing to go to Dresden in 1721, although that was really the last of the places where he wanted to serve the Lord, after the godly Magister Schwedler had spoken to him (Beyreuther, 1957:231).
         When Zinzendorf was offered a full-time post as one of the cabinet ministers of the Danish throne, he declined, citing his commitment to Herrnhut as a reason. (Earlier he had aspired to go to Denmark.) He was willing to be employed in some lesser capacity, so that he would have time for free-lance religious activ­ity. He really understood the bibli­cal injunction ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.

Cape Examples of the Principle        
Similarly, Andrew Murray declined the invitation of Dwight Moody to address the World Church and Mission Conference in New York in 1900. In view of the South African War he stood in the middle of the warring parties with his Scottish background but his intense love for the Boers. His obedience to the Holy Spirit bore ample fruit through The Key to the Missionary Problem, which he wrote in 1901. He wrote the booklet after he had requested the papers that had been delivered in New York. In them Dr Murray discerned the lack of an emphasis on prayer and missions. In a similar way, the German martyr and pastor Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned from the USA to the lion’s den of Hitler’s Nazi regime, knowing full well that he could soon be in trouble there. Watchman Nee voluntarily went back into the despotism of Mao Zedong in 1949. Richard Wurmbrand on the other hand was used by God after his release from Nicolai Ceascescu’s dictatorship to expose the cruelties of that regime.
Special Responsibility of Leaders                                                                                                                 The Bible relates clearly how there is a special responsibil­ity for leaders to walk before the Lord in meticulous obedi­ence. The enemy is quick to pounce on any failure on their part, to exploit it to the full.
         Adam and Abraham are examples of men who listened more to their wives than to God, with disastrous consequences. Through Adam’s disobedience sin came into the world. In human terms we could really empathize with Abraham because the couple was still waiting on the repeatedly promised child. After 10 years in Canaan, Sarah’s suggestion must have made a lot of sense. But this compro­mise - like that of Saul many years later - brought them much sorrow. The major rift between the Jews and the Muslims can be traced back to Abraham’s compromise. To us it might sound as a ‘minor disobedience’ when Moses beat the rock with a stick after God had instructed him to speak (Numbers 20:8, 11). In God’s sight however, it was so serious that Moses and Aaron were harsh­ly punished: they were not allowed to enter Canaan. Joseph’s haughty or arrogant attitude is not spelled out in detail because of his gift to expound dreams, but it is not difficult to derive at the conclusion that he needed correction. Apart from the apparent favouritism by father Jacob, why would his brothers otherwise have been so resentful, to the extent that they were prepared to kill him?
         Of course, in Jesus we have a second Adam (see Romans 5:15-19), the perfect reply to the problem of sin. He was also a second Moses.  The Hebrew Scripture prophet was prepared to have his name blotted out of God’s book (Exodus 32:32) because of the sins of his people. The Lord - in taking our sin onto himself (2 Corinthians 5:21), became the perfect ran­som (Mark 10:45).  Our Lord Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, became a curse as He was nailed to the Cross, as the payment of our sin to reconcile us to a holy God (Romans 3:23).

Modern Examples of inconvenient Obedience
One could cite various examples of Christians in recent decades who were prepared to take flack and harsh criticism for responding to what they knew they had to do, yes, to be sometimes ‘fools for Christ’ (This is however by far not the same as foolhardiness). The best examples are found possibly in the breaking down of the communist ‘iron curtain’.
          When Pastor Richard Wurmbrand came to the West after he had been bought free - after an extended period in Romanian communist imprisonment - he dared to expose not only the sad role of Christian leaders in accepting Soviet puppets as representatives of the World Council of Churches, but he also highlighted the suffering of underground church leaders. Dr Billy Graham was severely criticised for going to places like Moscow when it was the in thing in evangelical circles to boycott everything that reeked of Communism. When Anne van der Bijl – more widely known as Brother Andrew – inconveniently visited a communist youth event in Warschau in 1955 and Prague at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1968, his eyes were opened to the vicious ideology. A programme of smuggling of Bibles – at considerable risk - was developed in obedience to the Lord. His insight to bring the Word to communist countries ultimately contributed not only to the smashing of the ‘Iron Curtain, but he also blessed many believers around the world with his penetrating unconventional teaching through many books.

An Example of Compromise
The obedience of Abraham sounds so overwhelming. If ever there was one who had to learn obedience through his suffering, then Abraham was one. Learning the hard way, he now stands there as a prime negative example to every believer who dare to play around with compromise.
            It has been suggested that by taking his father Terah with him from Ur, Abraham delayed God’s dealings with him. For as many as fifteen years there were no further commands, no additional promises and no communication between Abraham and God. There is every indication that the worldly Lot could have been a drag on his spiritual pilgrimage. Abraham definitely still had to learn to wait on the Lord before acting in panic like going to Egypt when famine broke out. God had to deliver Abraham after his ‘white lie’ that Sarai was his sister. This had brought him out of the divine will.
            The habit of lies proved very pervasive. When Abraham perceived a threat from King Abimelech, he resorted to the same half truth once again, saying that Sarah was his sister. By this time he had received the divine promise of off-spring more than once. God’s mercy and grace came through. Yahweh of the Hebrew Scriptures is forgiving and merciful in the extreme!!
Abraham compromised by listening more to his wife than to God to have a child with his slave Hagar. This was the cause of division between the offspring of Isaac and Ishmael. The strife between his descendants via Isaac and Ishmael had repercussions that still keep the Middle East in suspense. Through his mistakes Abraham had to learn that it pays to be completely obedient. He thus became a pointer to Jesus also in this way and an encouragement to every believer.

Examples from Disobedience
Initially, God had his hand on Saul, who stood head and soldiers figurat­ively and literally above his compatriots, ‘an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites’ (1 Samuel 9:2). He was so to speak hand-picked from the insig­nificant clan of Matri from the minute tribe of Benjamin (1 Samuel 10:20)).  The impatience of Saul was perhaps the major difference between David and his predecessor, who tried to cover up his sin by giving others the blame after he had been impatient, rendering his burnt offering disobediently and prematurely. Saul was rejected because of his impatience because he could not wait on Samuel. ‘You have disobeyed the commandment of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 13:13). Still later, he was struck, falling full length on the ground as divine punishment after he had consulted a witch, a spiritist (1 Samuel 28:20). This was symptomatic of his falling from divine grace.
The life of Saul illustrates the principle that God will definitely find someone else to finish the task in the case of disobedience. That David came to the throne in this way is well-known, but generally it is over-looked that Abraham was used similarly after his father Terah remained in Haran, in contra­vention of God’s purposes (Genesis 11:31).
         This message is also conveyed by Luke and Paul with regard to salvation history. God has a special pur­pose with the Jewish nation (Bosch, 1990:59). We as Christians should however remain humble, remember­ing that we are only the wild olive which was grafted into the real olive tree, Israel (Romans 11:17, 18).
Jonah was rebuked by God for his nationalist thinking. He had fled in the opposite direction to which God had sent him. That speaks of disobedience. It is striking that in spite of his disobedience, God still used him when he testified on the boat to his faith in the unseen God. Initially it could have been fear of the wicked Ninevites which drove him to the frantic step, but the end of the story clarifies the issue: Jonah had evidently been more interested that the Ninevites should be punished, rather than that they should repent. We are also tempted by this carnal trait, seeking retribution and revenge, at least occasionally.
            One of the Bible’s greatest themes is that God loves the whole world - not just one group. Abraham was called to be a blessing to the nations. Jonah did not understand this and had to be reprimanded. Jonah was not alone in his thinking that the Jews were so special in God’s eyes that it excluded other peoples. Jesus corrected the congregation in Nazareth, making them so angry by his reference to the widow of Zarefath in Sidon and Naaman from Syria that they wanted to kill him. Obviously their thinking corresponded with that of Jonah.

An Invitation to Self-denial   
The rebuke of Jonah was tantamount to an invitation to self-denial, so to speak a challenge to take up his cross. (We are reminded that Jesus first said ‘deny yourself’, before inviting his followers to take up the cross.) To accept that the Ninevites could be forgiven, that God could change His mind, was obviously very difficult for Jonah to accept. Sometimes the impression has been spread that God is not moved easily; that He can just do what he likes in an authoritarian and wanton way. Jonah thought that God was bound to His original prophecy of doom. He had to learn that God was basically compassionate, that the Almighty takes ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their wicked ways and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11). We compare the reprieve of David (2 Sam. 12:13) and Ahab (1 King 21:28) after they repented and humbled themselves before God. He gave them a new chance. That is the nature of God: loving forgiveness after repentance, rather than punishment for our sins.
Jeremiah 18:7ff possesses special actuality for Capetonians. Evangelicals who think that God is obliged to bring many prophecies over the city - without united repentance and prayer - would do well to know that the Bible forces a good rethink on the matter:  ‘...And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it’.
I am convinced that if Christians are willing to accept corporately that we cannot put God into a box of Western Theology ‑ the Scriptures have actually originated in the Orient ‑ we might find Muslims and Jews more open to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The complete biblical message seems to be: God is loving and forgiving, he is slow to anger but there comes a time when continued sinning will call forth his wrath.[39] Furthermore, the verse from Jeremiah 18 quoted above repudiates the belief that God never changes His mind. The Bible repeats more than once that the Almighty is in principle unchangeable and sovereign, but not arbitrary and aloof. Compassionate and remorseful prayer moves him, especially when it is done corporately. We note for example how the Ninevites averted the destruction of their city through united repentance. In the totality of the biblical message Isaiah 57:15 puts it pointedly that the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity is also with the low and humble, giving new courage to repentant hearts.

From God one cannot flee     
Jonah ultimately had to face the music: You can attempt to run away in disobedience, but so often you take your unresolved problems with you. From God one cannot flee. Jonah was convicted of his sin and admitted his guilt. Faced with severe judgement, he did not lose hope but cried out for mercy. He confidently confessed his belief that “Salvation comes from the Lord” and promised to make a sacrifice with thanksgiving (Jonah 2:8,9). Being an Israelite, Jonah knew that the Law of Moses required a sin offering to be sacrificed.  He knew that it provided a basis for forgiveness.
             Significantly, Jonah did not jump into the water when his disobedience caught up with him. He requested to be thrown into the sea (Jonah 2:12). Thus his action became a pristine form of baptism - a voluntary decision after the recognition and confession of sins. Similarly, Jesus submitted himself to be baptised by John at the beginning of His ministry - although he was without sin. No wonder that John the Baptist was taken aback at Jesus’ request.
            Jonah was the sign of someone going down into the depths and being raised to new life, an example of God’s power to raise someone from the dead. He thus typified the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But Jonah was only a type. He finally died whereas Jesus did not die again after his resurrection.
            The message of Jonah includes God wanting to take us out of our cosy zones. In the age of the internet we are tempted to want to do too much from our computer. In no way does this invalidate the parable of the Sower, who had to go out to sow his seed. Sometimes one feels like running away from the task at hand, just like Jonah. Then God has to whistle us back to the point of our ‘infringement’, giving us another chance.


Disobedience and Compromise as a Handicap

Biblically, compromise is regarded as disobedience, as sin which incurs the wrath and punishment of the Almighty. The Hebrew Scriptures depict more than once how defeat followed when disobedience and compromise crept in. Moses had to tell the Israelites – this is recorded in Deuteronomy 1:45 – that their tears before the Lord were of no avail. ‘He paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you.’ The reason for God’s deaf ear was their rebellion and arrogance. Tears of frustrated foolhardiness do not move God. The downfall of Gideon (8:24) and King Asa (2 Chronicles 16:3+7) was caused by their disobedience. In both cases their exceptional feats, which had their origins in obedience, were marred. A very tragic case is that of the child king of Judah, Josiah.Through the godliness of King Josiah, especially after he had heard the Law read (2 Kings 22:8-20), the judgment was delayed until after his death. A prophetic word had been given to him to die in peace. However, through disobedient premature military involvement he was slain prematurely on the battlefield death. Saul is the negative example of one who went it alone, cutting himself off from correction and encourage­ment. His actions included all the elements of dishonesty and dis­obedience: improper modesty (1 Samuel 10:22), taking honour for himself, [40] impatience (1 Samuel 13:9), imposing his will on others (1 Samuel 14:24), followed by sinful independence and activism (14:.36).
            Yet, also in this regard we cannot pack God neatly into a box. The Bible gives some interesting examples of disobedience to instruc­tions which are contrary to God’s will. When Jonathan inadver­tently ate honey when he was supposed to have fasted on the instruction of his father (1 Samuel 14:27ff), Saul was ready to kill his son. The soldier colleagues were not punished by God for coming up in support of the disobedient Jonathan. Likewise the soldiers who refused to kill the family of the priest Abimelech for inadvertently protecting David, did not come under any divine reprimand (1 Samuel 22:17).
            Christians should be guarding biblical values and basic freedoms against oppressive laws and policies enacted by the government. We should take to heart the prophetic warning given by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel: ‘Because they had not obeyed My laws but had rejected My decrees and desecrated My Sabbaths, and their eyes lusted after their fathers' idols. I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by’ (Ezekiel 20:24-25). Could it be, the reason we are constantly fighting statutes that are not good and laws we will not be able to live by - is because we are not obeying God and living righteously before Him?
            God still warns us for not listening to Him or obeying His Word. He gave His people over to severe correction through the means of the unbearable laws of pagan nations. If we will not obey His Word willingly, we may be forced to obey pagan, oppressive laws unwillingly or resist at great cost.

Disobedience to the Great Commission

I deem it appropriate to repeat a warning of Andrew Murray ([1901]1979:154), namely the danger of disobedi­ence to the Great Commis­sion, the last command of our Lord Jesus. No wonder that churches which do not reach out to the lost, turn inwards and get entangled in internal quar­rels. In this regard the moral high ground of Paul, the apostle, should be noted. Everything has to be uprooted in the Church, which could hinder the spreading of the Gospel: ‘We try to live in such a way that no one will be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act...’ (2 Corinthians 6:3).
            But we can also put it positively, for example in the words of Robert Coleman: ‘Evangelism is not an optional accessory to our life ... It is the commission of the church which gives meaning to all else that is undertaken in the Name of Christ.’
            Deliberately I do not make any distinction between evangelism and mission. If anybody would insist on a choice, then the priority should be on ‘making disciples’, working in depth rather than in breadth. That was the example of our Master. We have to share the Gospel with the unreached, to those nearby and those far away. The use of modern tools like the internet should be included in the process.
            Cornelius can be compared with the staunch Muslim or any true seeker after God. In Acts 10:4 one reads: The angel answered: Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.’ God looks at the heart. This confirms the way God looks at things, as 1 Samuel 15:22 states: God is delighted more in obedience than in burnt offerings and sacrifices. Almost simultaneously Peter’s heart was prepared by God to step down from his haughty view of Gentiles. Thrice he objected to the unclean animals, which he was required to eat in the vision. Only hereafter Peter was obedient to ‘go downstairs’ (Acts 10:20), to drop his condescending view of non-Jews, which was very common in his environment. He had to realise that the Gospel was for Gentiles too. 
          As Christians we should nevertheless remain humble enough to confess our collective debt because millions of Muslims have been misled. It is sad that a Christian priest was instrumental in assisting Muhammad to believe that the supernatural figure which appeared to him was identical to the angel Gabriel of the Bible. Furthermore, if we consider that the Bible speaks of arrogance (1 Samuel 15:22) and materialism (Colossians 3:5) as equivalents of idolatry, we discover that Western Protestant Christians are basically no better than any other people groups whom we would like to accuse of idolatrous practices. The appropriate attitude is repentant humility, asking God to open the eyes of many to the nature of the biblical Gabriel as a candidate to be the Angel of the Lord, and especially to accept with thankfulness that Jesus also died for Muslims and Jews. The Lord used similar words of encouragement to the fearful and faint-hearted via the angel Gabriel of the biblical and Talmudic tradition in Luke with the shepherds on Bethlehem’s meadows, as well as when angels occur in the Bible elsewhere.

It is so important that children learn at home to be obedient to their parents. The proverb ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’, might sound antiquated in our day and age. (Children have been taking parents to court for taking these words too literally.) This is basically nevertheless a biblical injunction (compare Proverbs 13:24; 29:15). The fact of the matter is that the lack of discipline and admonishment - also in families of believers - is creating a lawless society where everybody does what he likes. It is in our own interest to get back to biblical basics, taking discipline and correction seriously.

Herrnhut Discipline   
The Herrnhut Moravians took discipline seriously. An interesting case was our own Georg Schmidt, who was sent to the Cape initially ‘on probation’ as punishment for a perceived serious misdemeanor. Schmidt had been imprisoned in Moravia because of his faith. After his release he was slandered. A rumour was hereafter spread - which Count Zinzendorf believed as the truth - that Schmidt signed a document in which he was supposed to have recanted his faith to regain his freedom. The Count ordered that Schmidt had to forego fellowship, going alone to the ‘Wilden’, the resistant ‘Hottentotten’- not in a team but alone as further punishment.
          Without any apparent grudge, Schmidt accepted the unfair punishment to be ‘banished’ innocently to go to the distant Cape of Good Hope. Two weeks after his call he was already on his way to Africa.
A second example of Moravian discipline is Christian Protten, an African from mixed parentage. He was the son of a European soldier and the daughter of a tribal chief, one of the first persons from the third world to become a Moravian in Herrnhut in 1735.  
He was probably the first indigenous person to minister in his home country as a missionary since the Eunuch of Ethiopia (Acts 8), landing in St. George del Mina (Elmina) on 11 May 1737. After a sad incident when he accidentally killed a child when cleaning a rifle, he was recalled to Europe a second time. His bad temper and alcoholic habits prevented him to get a hero’s place in the annals of the Moravian church. (see p. ?? for more information about the special contribution of Christian Protten).

Food for Thought:
Am I willing and ready to suffer even rejection because of my decision to be obedient in following guidance which opposes the status quo?
Am I prepared to tread the lonely road when compromise could avoid suffering persecution or rejection?

And some Ideas:
Are we as local congregation prepared to demonstrate visible expressions of unity, breaking through local, regional or sociological barriers of our society?
How can we make obedience to God more practical in our families, for example by attempting to reduce the role of TV?
                        5. Jesus, the Son of poor Parents: An answer to economic Disparity.

            Through the ages the full implication of the (voluntary) poverty of Christ has often been spiritualized. It has usually been scaled down and sometimes the application was limited to attitudinal matters. Of course, at Christmas time we commemorate that the baby Jesus was only wrapped in swaddling clothes, that a crib was his manger, a baby cot with hay. Rarely, it might be stated that His parents brought along turtle doves as an offering: the sacrifice of the poor. The Gospels do not hunt for a reason to explain away that Jesus had no place to live, no head to rest his head (Matthew 8:20). He was poor, full stop!

A biblical Injunction watered down

A typical example of how Western theology watered down the impact of the Gospel has been theologizing the Lord’s saying ‘The poor you have always with you’ (Matthew 26:11). This Bible verse has all too often been abused to justify economic disparity. The context of these words shows that Jesus praised the lavish warmth and love of an unknown woman (or Mary, the sister of Lazarus). Was it perhaps too radical for male-dominated Western Society to accept that this act of the anointing of the Messiah (meaning anointed) was actually performed by a socially despised woman? What makes the narrative of Matthew even more remarkable is that this happened to the Master while he was enjoying the hospitality of an outcast, a leper in the report of Luke 7. (According to the Gospel of John a similar event took place at the house of Lazarus and his two sisters.)
Another case in point is the beatitude ‘blessed are the poor’ (Luke 6:20). The watering down even crept into a Bible translation of this verse. The 1983 Afrikaans translation comes up with a spiritualized rendering of this beatitude about the poor: Blessed are they who know how dependent they are on God.[41] Thus the intention of the Greek metaphor has been eradicated. According to the original text, the poor is blessed, full stop.
The translation of Proverbs 22:2 is another example. Earlier versions brought the rich and the poor in a close proximity to each other. The Afrikaans translation, which was still reprinted in 1983, translated the notion that rich and poor[42] meet, but the Nuwe Afrikaanse Vertaling (1984) and the more recent English ones, for example the NIV and the Living Bible, simply note that God has created both rich and poor. I suspect that we westerners have fitted the words to what we would like to hear. Paul, the apostle, describes this phenomenon in 2 Timothy 4:3 as follows: ‘what their itching ears want to hear’.

Opposition to Cost-effectiveness       
In the parable of the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) Jesus uses a typical sample of the despised of his society, as an example of radical giving. The Gospels clearly show that the poor have a lot to give, especially immaterial gifts like love, warmth, devotion and hospitality. Jesus taught that giving should not always be measured in terms of its (cost)-effectiveness. This goes com­pletely against the grain of typical Western thinking, where we might for example be tempted to ask how effective it is to give to the poor. A typical Western expression is ‘a drop in the ocean.’
In God’s eyes the love and devotion to Him could have unintelli­gible ‘waste’ as result! When his disciples[43] or Simon the Pharisee were ready to condemn the ‘wasteful giviing’ of the precious nard ointment by the unnamed prostitute, Jesus praised her affection as a prophetic act. Prayer journeys to strongholds of the arch enemy might not look very ‘cost effective’, but they may turn out to be more ‘productive’ than years of toil, of writing books and compiling expensive video productions.
            Jesus was of course taught by rabbi’s who used the Hebrew Scriptures as a basis. In fact, the verse about the poor among us (Matthew 26:11), is simply Deuteronomy 15:11 quoted by Jesus. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures God is depicted as the champion of the materially poor. If they were treated unjustly and exploited by the wealthy, they could call on the king who would have been compelled to intervene on their behalf. Special laws were divinely promulgated to see that nobody should starve. Thus the people of Israel had to let land lie fallow during the Sabbath year and ‘let the poor among the people harvest any volunteer crop that may come up’ (Leviticus 19:10). The Sabbath year (every seventh year) and the Jubilee year (the 7th Sabbath year) were intended by God to be equalizers, so that everybody should get a chance to start anew. Cape Town was put to shame when the Weekend Argus reported on Saturday 3 November 2007 how a Congolese refugee died on a CBD street basically of hunger.
            Jesus was definitely deeply influenced by this thought pattern. Bosch notes that the the idea of the year of jubilee permeates the Gospel of Luke (Bosch, 1990:41).[44] That the nation of Israel did not heed the laws given to them, may never be an excuse for us to perpetuate the historical pattern of greed and exploita­tion, but it should rather be a challenge for us to adapt these traditions for our time.
            The first Christians carried on in this tradition, giving aid to the poor siblings in Jerusalem. Visser ‘t Hooft calls this inter-church aid ‘.. a witness to the solidity of the bond between all who belong to Christ(Visser ‘t Hooft, 1959:49).
            Paul, the apostle, also came from the same school of thought. Thus he laid a link in the economic sense, as can be seen in his wording of 2 Corinthians 8. Here he radicalizes the idea: ‘Though they (the Macedonian churches) have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford, but far more...and not because of nagging on my part (verses 2 and 3)... Now I want you (wealthy Corinthians) to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving (v.7)...You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor he could make you rich ...(v.9)’
            Also in the teaching of John, the Baptist, sharing is mentioned. When his listeners asked him what they ought to do as a token of their repentance, he identifies their sin in terms of the preparedness to share their possessions with the poor (Bosch, 1990:22). This means that riches as such are not condemned out of hand. Job, Abraham, Joseph, David and a few other personalities in the Hebrew Scriptures are examples of affluent people who were nevertheless mentioned as positive examples.
            But Jesus warned against riches that could even make it well-nigh impossible for someone to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:23­, 26). Also Paul saw riches as a snare, as a temptation. The love for money is described as ‘the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:9, 10).

Also for the Rich there is a Place in the Sun

Nevertheless, Jesus had no scruples to socialize with rich people. He entered the house of the wealthy Zacchaeus, dined with the Pharisee Simon (Luke 7), who surely was not a pauper either. The affluent Joseph of Arimathea regarded him as one of his friends, so much so that he offered his tomb after the crucifixion of Jesus. Likewise Peter visited the influential Cornelius and Paul never made a secret of it that he hailed from the Pharisee establishment. The latter group was not regarded to belong to the poor of their society. The message is clear: rich people should be challenged to share their wealth in a dignified way. Without delving too deeply into a biblical motivation for it, I suggest that this indicates a ‘red card’ to a paternalistic ‘Father Christmas’ attitude of giving or - even worse - to give conditionally, with strings attached.
            At the same time the dual content of mission work, spiritual and social, is evident. Missionary endeavour can never be limited to mere economic upliftment. By his life-style Jesus demonstrated that mission and social involvement belong together. He taught and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and healed all illnesses (Matthew 9:35). His disciples were expected to do likewise: According to this report of his public ministry, Jesus asked them to pray for more workers for the white harvest. Yes, the evangelist noted specifi­cally how the Lord had been moved with compassion. His practical compassion for the despised woman that came at midday to Jacob’s well ushered in the harvest of Samaritans who discerned that he was the Saviour of the world (John 4:42). Concern for the practical needs is more than only a valid reason for evangelization. Jesus looked at the whole person: we should do likewise.
            With regard to a holistic approach including social involvement, the ‘father’ of modern missions’, William Carey, followed in the footsteps of the Moravians in many a way. Profusely using the work of Bishop August Spangenberg, he first wrote his monumental An enquiry into the obligations of Christians to use means for the conversion of the heathen, which singularly ushered in missions like no other work before it. Carey established the Serampore Mission, a Christian community that had an impact on all of India after being more or less insultingly exiled from Britain by his fellow Baptists. Carey not only translated many Christian and secular works in India, but he also fought to bring an end to the practice of sati, the burning alive of widows on their husband’s funeral pyre. He also influenced young British civil servants to deal with the Indian people in a just and culturally sensitive way.

Non-material riches

Christ ‘became poor to make us rich’. Surely this must especially be understood in a spiritual sense, because Jesus did not even possess a bed. The poor Macedonians shared from their ‘riches’, which they received through their faith in Christ, after they had first dedicated themselves to Him (2 Corin­thians 8:5).  The stark difference between wealth and poverty, along with materialism,[45] belong to the greatest societal sins of our time. Both excessive possessions and survival worries suffocate the preached word;[46] money can stand in the way of the salvation of someone.[47] Spiritual values have abso­lute priority compared to material ones. As Proverbs 16:8 ?? states and it is repeated in other wording in 28:6: ‘Rather a little justly than a big income with injus­tice.’ Furthermore, there is a connection between poverty/riches on one hand and faith on the other hand: ‘For if I grow rich, I may become content to live without God. And if I am too poor, I may steal, and thus insult God’s holy name’ (Proverbs 30:9). There is also an interaction between spiritual and material values: A surplus of the one can lead to a dearth of the other. Many a believer fell away from the faith when his wealth increased. Generally, material­ism has led to a mixture, a syncretism in Western society which is alien to the spirit of the ‘New Testament’. Wealth has not only effectively divided the rich from the poor; it divided the Church.
Spangenberg (1773-75:1181) reports how Count Zinzendorf was filled with compassion when the Jewish Daniel Nunez da Costa and his wife approached him just before his return from the Caribbean in 1739. Zinzendorf paid their fare to enable them to get back to Europe. Zinzendorf understood very well that border-crossing mission work implied a holistic approach. He even went the second mile, giving his state-room to the couple, while he himself shared a cabin with other passengers (Weinlick, 1956:146). How drastically that differs with some modern giving for missions. One of the best (i.e. worst) example is probably a stingy old lady who ‘generously’ sent a parcel with tea-bags as content to a missionary family, with the note: ‘these bags have only been used once!’
Zinzendorf's generous gesture was evidently not meant as a bribe, but Da Costa did get interested in the Gospel hereafter. On the ship he would often be with the Count until after midnight. But Zinzendorf would not coerce him in any way; he did however share his faith freely and ‘how the Lord loved him’ (Spangenberg, 1773-75:1183). In fact, Da Costa stayed for four months with the Moravians in Marienborn and corresponded with Zinzendorf for years hereafter.[48]

It however also happened that the Count ran out of cash himself. He was not too proud to walk long distances such as in November 1735. Casually he reported how he arrived in Beyreuth at nine in the evening after walking during the day from Ebersdorf. His nourishment for the day had been three pears and some bread (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:39).


Economic Disparity as a Challenge

The apparent global economic disparity is demonstrated in every South Afri­can city. Even in small country towns there still is a clear divide between the haves and the have-nots, a heritage of apartheid practises. A clear challenge has arisen for South African Christians. Just like in the Jerusalem of the first century (C.E.), the differences could become another reason for the ministry of relief.
            Grave economic disparity goes against the spirit of the ‘New Testament’. Paul advised the Corinthian believers: ‘Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some time they can share with you when you need it’ (2 Corinthians 8:14). Will the incarna­tion, our Lord’s becoming flesh, also be made concrete in the new Southern Africa? Will we as the wealthier Christians see the biblical necessity of sharing meaningfully, yes to the extent of becoming prepared to ‘impoverish’ ourselves? Throughout the history of missions, the greatest impact has been made on world evangelization by men who took this biblical imperative seriously. St Francis of Assisi, wealthy as a young man, has been the universal model of apostolic poverty. ‘It was his release from the powers of greed that enabled him to move into levels of spiritual power and save whole cities (in Wagner, 1995:26). Count Zinzendorf put all his material pos­sessions at the Lord’s disposal to further mission work. Sharing of possessions was common in Herrnhut after the revival of 1727. In fact, for twenty years a communal life-style was practised by North American Moravians, where sharing with the local Indians was seen as the biblical command.
            C.T. Studd - famous cricketer and millionaire of the late 19th century - gave away a fortune because he realized that no sacrifice could be too great in the light of what Jesus has done for us on the Cross of Calvary. Kwa Siza Bantu in Natal has shown that the principle is far from anti­quated. Communal living is still practised there after the start of the revival there in 1966. A subsidiary project was started near to Malmesbury in the Boland.
To a lesser extent some mission agencies have been practising the principle with success. A communal life-style is somehow determined by charismatic leadership. It happened more than once that the initial drive petered out after the death/demise of the original leader.  The Moravians were blessed that the gifted Bishop August Spangenberg could take over the helm after the death of Count Zinzendorf in 1760.

A Challenge to the Rich

Zinzendorf made full use of his status as an aristocrat to get acquainted with the very rich. In fact, it was the invitation to the coronation of Christian VI in Denmark which became the decisive spur to the missionary movement from Herrnhut. Of course, the Count loved meeting those wealthy people who also served the Lord. (However, he had utter disdain for the immoral life-style of the nobility of his day.) As a rule the rich whom he befriended, rose to the occasion, enabling the Moravians to do all the missionary work they did. Through the influence of the rich merchant Cornelis Schel­linger, the Moravians could for example buy the castle at Zeist in Holland. They had been desperately looking for property closer to the sea, from where the missionaries could go out to the unevangelized world.
            At the Lausanne II congress in Manila (1989), the congress leaders made the following statement: ‘World evangelization will make little progress, unless the Christians accept the challenge of the poor.’ We should take to heart what Josefina Gutierrez, said in the light of her experience in the squatter camps of Manila: ‘Our faith does not make any sense unless it is coupled with appropriate deeds.[49] Viv Grigg boldly summarized this issue very aptly: ‘Many sins prevent effective intercession. Penetrat­ing urban centres of affluence may require the voluntary renunciation of wealth’ (in Wagner, 1995:26). Wealthy and middle-class South African Christians have all the chances to practise ‘charity begins at home’ in this regard. Thus they could become an example for other Western Christians, who do not have the close proximity of third world living condi­tions.
            We should be careful that we do not speak too glibly about this matter, knowing that there is a price to pay. It is no wonder that the rich young man went away sadly (Matthew 19:16ff).[50] It is important to note the relationship of possessions to the call to discipleship, to following Jesus. This is the biblical basis on which wealthy people can be challenged to share their privileges voluntarily. It would be wrong to dilute the bibli­cal challenge in any way. Nevertheless, it might be a help to note that there exists an oral tradition according to which the Cypriot Barnabas was the rich young man. Later Barnabas not only had the special insight to search for Paul to help him (Acts. 11:25), but he also became a stalwart warrior leader in the missionary con­gregation of Antioch.

… and a Challenge to the Poor

People who are generally regarded as materially poor South African Christians, have a special obligation to share from their brand of ‘riches’. In spite of even abject poverty, these people often still radiate human warmth and hospitality as part and parcel of their way of life. They should however be wary of becoming infected by the materialism of Western society.
            South Africa has robbed itself by not fostering inter­racial contact in the past. But it’s not too late to make amends. Blacks should be invited to share from their imma­terial riches. The wealthier compatriots could do their part by conceding the poverty of their individualistic living and becoming open to learn from the more communal living of Africa. The world at large has already profited through the contribution of Archbishop Tutu. He has been advocating the continental concept of ubuntu, whereby people can only realize their full potential via respectful inter-action with other human beings, irrespective of their religious, social, cultural or whatever other conceivable background.
            The Republic of South Africa has always been proud to be known as a Chris­tian country. If we would live up to it, then it should not be a problem for all financially able South African followers of Jesus to be prepared to share with those who are less fortunate materially. Then we could for example support missionaries from other African countries and even from other parts of the world.
            In fact, the principle is not so strange any more. Some South African churches are already supporting evangelists from the Indian subcontinent. Various training institutions have been offering relatively cheap Bible School training as well as giving bursaries to the indigent. This has been going on already for some years. In the Peninsula, the Cape School of Missions in Ravensmead (later in Grassy Park) pioneered to empower people from the disadvantaged groups and from other African countries through very affordable fees and acceptance of candidates without secondary education certificates. More of this sort of thing could go some way to meet the new missionary challenge. Wheels for God’s Word and Ten Forty Outreach/ Africa Arise were two other initiatives that started in Cape Town in recent decades after servants of God had been moved by the Holy Spirit to start projects that attempted to ultimately reach millions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, using simple tools and basic training of evangelists.           
The idea of training given by some churches, using African languages as teaching medium, is of course quite old. In many of those institutions the motivation was not to get Black South Africans as missionaries to the rest of Africa. The most extreme case occurred when only White graduates were chosen to go to other countries of Southern Africa and individ­ually even further afield. The Black students were often only trained in order to go and teach their ‘eie mense’ (own people). Biblically speaking this is not good enough. Acts 1:8 does not speak only of Jerusalem, but also about Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
            Professor Gerdener was a notable exception in Dutch Reformed circles at a time when the apartheid ideology took shape in a rather isolated instance when he envisioned his denomination to become Not a sending church as opposed to a receiv­ing church, but two sending churches for the waiting millions who are still outside (Gerdener, 1959:103). [51] Sacrificial giving and radical sharing still is a challenge to all South Africans.


A few positive Examples

South Africa has one major positive example. The Christian community of Kwasiza Bantu, where common sharing of resources is still the practice, has been functioning in harmony for over four decades.[52] Christians from all races and various strata of society, even Christians from overseas have been blessed. This community - along with the reconcili­ation work of Africa Enterprise - contributed significantly to the break­down of apartheid. Here the unity in Christ has been practised and preached. Unfortunate­ly Kwasiza Bantu is situated so far away from the rest of South African society that it took years before its existence was even generally known. (In the 1980s there were other groups like Koinonia under the leadership of Dr Nico Smith that also tried to break down the racial barriers, but us a rule there was not a general sharing of income like Kwasiza Bantu.)
             Cape Town has seen a few splendid examples of meaningful sharing of resources in recent years. In 1998 a couple from Mitchells Plain, who came to the Lord from Islam, Abdul and Zulpha Morris, became God’s special instruments to help abused women and abandoned children. Charles and Rita Robertson, an Afrikaner couple made significant resources available for the Cape offices of Jericho Walls. This movement helped usher in the Global Day of Prayer, networking closely with Graham Power and his construction company which significantly contributed to some spiritual transformation of the Cape Peninsula. Dr Charles Robertson was a catalyst for church-led restitution.
            A French immigrant has been helping many French- and Swahili-speaking female refugees sacrificially with accommodation, practical assistance and generating employment towards a modest income. Very few people are in the position to emulate this, but the principle could become an example of how to deal with the economic disparity in the world at large.  Nevertheless, this can mainly be expected from people who have a new mind-set, for example committed believers in Jesus who have been transformed from within (see Romans 12:1,2). Is the sharing of employment too radical to suggest as a possibility at this time of enormous unemployment? The alternative is quite ghastly, to quote ex-Prime Minister Vorster in a different context. Less people doing more work has become general and fashionable. The tag 're-organization' is nothing else than a dubious euphemism for modern exploitation. This will inevitably lead to more and more people being stressed, if not getting burnt out. Rising oil prices have been causing substantial increases of basics. Much of the profits disappeared into the pockets of the rich. This is sinful, which may lead to squatter food riots, unless the problem is tackled at its roots. Economic injustice is becoming the new time bomb.

Assisting the underdeveloped first World

It hardly needs any debate to state that the so-called first world is socially completely underdeveloped with its emphasis on individualism and materialism. South Africa’s Christians could become a role model to the rich Western countries not only in the voluntary sharing of wealth but also in accepting non-material aid from the poor magnanimously. Hospitality and spontaneity are sadly lacking in most Western countries. By the way, the relationship between wealth and inhospitality is not new at all. Jesus had to reprimand the relatively socially high standing Pharisee Simon about his duties as a host (Luke 7:44-46).
            The biblical imperatives of patience and long-suffering are virtues which have been tested and tried by Black South Africans through their experiences under oppress­ive apartheid policies. What a blessing these Christians could become to many countries if these immaterial advantages are put into the service of the Lord. This has been realized in some unexpected quarters. In an article in the December 1991 issue of IEM (Indian Evangelical Mission) ‘Outreach’, a ‘Macedonian call’ was published, which originated from a part of the former Soviet Union. It included the following words: ‘If you Asians and Africans come, you do not come with green paper[53] in your pocket, but you come with a heart of love. No one will expect you to pay for a big project, or deliver some technology, or bring millions of books along. ... So you will bring... your experience and your answers to problems that you have faced in your country. We talk about reconciliation and about mistrust. Where should we learn this if not in Latin America or Southern Africa? You Christians of Africa and Asia have solved the problems you are facing daily, and some of them are very similar to the Soviet problems. May be you have more answers than some theology professors from Germany or North America.
            Of course, we know that we are still far removed from solving all the problems in South Africa we are facing, especially that of the ongoing violence and crime, (even though the cause of the present malaise can easily be detected in the spiral that followed the law that created easy bail opportunity.) It is generally recognized that South Africa has some experience in the area of racial reconciliation.
            Viv Grigg points to a special dynamic of reaching the poor: ‘From the ministry of preaching among the poor emerge spiritual leaders... Being among the poor proves to be a training ground for understanding the structures which oppress and cause poverty. Luke 4:18 tells us that God unleashes his spirit especially on such servants' (in Wagner, 1995:27).
Food for thought: How far am I prepared to share my livelihood, my income with poorer brothers or sisters in Christ, even to the extent that it hurts? Am I also sharing immaterial riches like love, compassion, warmth, my time, hospitality?
Deon Snyman, a full-time worker of the Foundation for Church-led Restitution, suggested that the property owners should invest the ‘dividend’ they earned from the steep increase of the value of real estate into a fund to empower the poor. Assisting their domestic workers to buy a house is another suggestion that has been followed up by quite a few affluent people.

And some ideas:
How about supporting a missionary/missionaries from your area, in combination with other churches from a different economic back­ground?
If you belong to the upper layers of society, have you ever thought of getting some experience of township hospitality? The accommodation there might probably not be that what you are used to, but it will definitely help you to understand another culture better.
                                    6. Jesus, the Servant leader: An Object Lesson in Servitude

            Jesus himself set the pace as he washed the feet of His disciples (John 13). In so doing he performed the menial task that was usually done by slaves. The importance John attached to this act of love is amplified when one considers that the story of the feet washing takes the place in the context of the last supper in the fourth Gospel.

The Servant Leader pre-figured
Paul penned in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-8): "Your attitude should be the kind that was shown to us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross."
            It is interesting how this was pre-figured in the life of Moses. The rejection by his own people again and again, especially during the desert travels, is well-known. But also the run-up to this tragedy points clearly to the ultimate destiny of our Lord, to save people from slavery, from every form of bondage. We see the former prince of the Egyptian palace doing the work of a slave at the well, drawing water, filling the troughs and letting the sheep drink (Exodus 2:20). The deeper message of Philippians in the life of Moses pointing to the death and resurrection of our Lord was aptly summarized by the author of the Hebrews (11:24-26): ‘By faith Moses… refused to be called the son of the Pharaoh”s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God … considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt’.

            The implication is clear: Christ descended from the heavenly glory, not regarding it as degrading to come and live among men. In fact, Christ became a servant; a doulos, a slave. Voluntarily he took upon himself the humiliation of the Cross to redeem us from our sins. Another implication is that servitude means giving of yourself uncondi­tionally. Sacrificial living is missionary in itself, opening people up to the Gospel truths without words. Peter likewise deemed the fellow­ship of mutual service (1 Peter 4:10) as quite important.

The Gospel according to Mark depicts the fact that Jesus gave his atoning death as a duty done by a servant: ‘And whoever wants to be greatest of all must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to help others, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:44f).  In the first chapter of the Gospel of John (verse 12) it is specifically mentioned that he came to His own but that ‘those who were His own did not receive Him.' This was applicable to His home town where He could not perform miracles because of the scepticism and unbelief there. This was also valid for the nation of Israel as a whole to our day.


The Ball Game: modern Feet Washing

Steve Sjogren gives an interest­ing modern-day adaptation of feet washing: ‘Jesus would be showing people the love of God in practical ways. Instead of washing feet he might be washing cars. After all, that’s the way people get around these days.[54]  Sjogren makes quite clear that - following the example of Jesus - credible deeds should ideally precede words. He calls his whole approach appropriately ‘Servant Evangelism’.
            Another aspect which is also implied in the Lord’s example in John 13 is servant leadership. In so many words Jesus taught His disciples when they were quarreling about who should be the greatest: "The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves... I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22: 26-27). In their book Lead like Jesus Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges point out that the word leader is mentioned six times by the Lord but the word servant/slave more than 200 times. And in one of the six times Jesus actually said: ‘Do not be called leaders…’ (Matthew 23: 10).
            Servitude in a church implies a mutuality which fosters fellowship, but at the same time it calls for a commitment to one another. Our Lord’s ‘new command’ to love one another (John 13:34), has many variations in the epistles: accept one another (Romans 15:7), encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24f), forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32), honour one another (Romans 12:10), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).
The biblical Way to Leadership
Jesus taught his disciples the way to greatness, one could just as well say the biblical way to leadership: Whosoever aspires biblical leadership, must be prepared to take the lead in servitude.
            The way in which someone ‘climbs the ladder’ in secular society is in complete contrast to the biblical way. The widely ‘accepted method’ of modern society is to blow one’s own trumpet and deride the rival. More than once Jesus forbade people to spread the news that he had healed them. The apostle Peter summarizes the biblical way of getting to the top: ‘If you will humble your­selves under the mighty hand of God, in his good time he will lift you up’ (1 Peter 5:6, similarly James 4:10).
            There is furthermore a modern tendency in some circles, purporting that democratiz­ation makes leadership superfluous. ‘Rotation of the chair’, ‘self-realization’ and similar con­cepts cloud the fact that people have different gifts. Jesus definitely looked at the issue differently. A closer study of his dealings with Peter will show how He nurtured and developed the natural leadership gifts of Peter. Through his impulsiveness the disciple was courting with disaster. The Master used exactly Peter’s major weakness to bring him down from carnal bravery to mature him into the eventual mighty apostle. The Bible acknowl­edges natural gifts of leadership, but some­times the sharp edges must be cut away, the shouting tendency toned down before a natural leader can be used by God. Alter­nately, too often the spiritual God-appointed leader is not the impres­sive-looking person or the eloquent speaker. However, the Bible is quite clear that servant leadership is needed, optimally in the context of a team.
            It seems furthermore as if the ‘New Testament’ churches had a group of servant leaders rather than a single leader. This was certain­ly the case in Antioch (and this was also the situation in 18th century Herrnhut). This does not rule out the presence of a charismatic gifted leader, a ‘general’ or ‘captain’. But he should still be a servant leader of course.
            Finally, it is important to take a quick look at the way in which leaders were chosen in the ‘New Testament’. Jesus spent time ‘in the hills’ (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 3:14) before he summoned certain ones to become his chosen twelve. After his ascension the eleven remaining disciples prayed and drew the lot to determine the successor of Judas.
Barnabas and Paul were commissioned while the Anti­och church prayed and fasted. Nowhere do we read of ‘democra­tic’ elections after men/women had been required to blow their own trumpet in one way or the other, as is the custom in so many churches. In Acts 6 we find the cri­teria for deacons to be chosen, included being Spirit-filled. In his letters - notably in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2 - Paul also gave clear guidelines what sort of people should be in the leadership of churches. That should give ample guidelines when the time has arrived for leaders to step down, for example when the behaviour of children bring dishonour to their parents. An honourable reason to step down is a mu­tually agreed moment to give others the chance to grow into leadership, especially when there is a case of over-commitment. The open transparent church council meetings - where ordinary church members could join in - is another option which would be in accordance with the Spirit of the ‘New Testament’.[55] In home churches and informal fellowships this model can nowadays be more easily practiced (See also consultation with church leadership below on p.105).

Biblical Leadership
The Bible clearly contradicts the way in which leadership operates in secular society. Natural man tends to look up to the man/woman who shouts loudest, to those who can make the best impres­sion. We should contrast this with the way how Saul was hiding in the baggage after he had been anointed as king (1 Samuel 10:22), albeit that we cannot take unbecoming modesty and an inferiority complex as a model. Jesus left the crowd when they were about to make Him their ruler (John 6:15).
            Also in Christian circles the affluent mode has taken over: whoever can afford the most expensive technology, is the front-runner. Therefore, missionaries are still predominantly recruited from Western countries and from affluent societies. Koreans seem to have emulated this unhappy pattern.
            In the Word there is an emphasis on the calling of new workers by God rather than their recruitment. There is a subtle difference between the two concepts. But even then, someone who clearly has had God’s hand on his life, usually only qualifies through a humbling crucible experience. Abraham has rightly been called a friend of God. Only through experiences of humiliation, deportation and seemingly endless waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promise to him, he became true to his name, the father of nations. Moses was spared as a baby and raised in the palace. But he was not spared the experience of the life of a refugee and the dependency on a mouthpiece. He became the ultimate example of biblical leader­ship, as he did not attempt in any way to defen­d himself when his sister rebelled against him as leader (Numbers 12). He became a type of Christ where God had to intervene on his behalf: Jesus did not open his mouth after his accusers had led him away like a sheep, which was about to be slaugh­tered (Isaiah 53:7). God seems to specialize in calling and raising people from low parentage for leadership, for example Gideon and Saul. An outsider like the reddish David from the little town of Bethlehem was God’s chosen one. (He was evidently not regarded as a ‘real’ son by his father Isai. Who his mother was is unknown. That he had to be specially fetched after all the ‘real’ sons had been paraded, and that he was reddish, indicated that his mother may have been of different extraction.)
But also David only qualified after humili­ating experiences. Once he even imitated a madman to save his life. And yet, he became ‘a man after God’s heart’ because he was repentant.

Types of Death and Resurrection

Hebrew Scriptural precedents of Jesus as the suffering servant come to mind, people who had to go through the crucible to serve their people. Joseph was more or less innocently thrown into a well (Genesis 37:21) and Jeremiah (38:6) was treated likewise because of his uncomfortable prophecies. In both cases the initial idea was that they should die. Both were rescued before this could happen. Just as the implication of resurrection is contained in the verses from Philippians quoted above, both Joseph and Jeremiah were ‘resurrected’.[56]
Abraham experienced Gethsemane and resurrection in a special way through the sacrifice of his son. The dark hour after the instruction to sacrifice his only son, was followed by the resurrection experience on the third day (Genesis 22:4), after which he could confidently speak about returning with the lad (22:5). With His own Son, God allowed Jesus to become a ransom for our sins, He did not intervene; that was the Lamb, that would die for the sins of the world (John 1:29,35).
            The Cape had its own version after Georg Schmidt, South Africa’s first missionary, deemed it feasible to leave the Cape to get a ‘proper’ ordination in Holland. (He had originally only been ordained by letter). Fifty years later the core of a congregation had been predominantly formed by Magdalena, one of his converts at Baviaanskloof, the later Genadendal, albeit that she still enjoyed two years of discipling before Schmidt left for Germany.


To follow Christ means stepping down

Ever since Peter gave the example of stepping down from his condescending attitude in obedience to the command of the Holy Spirit to enter the home of the Roman soldier Cornelius, there can be no excuse for any artificial social barriers in the Church of Jesus Christ. Any effort in this regard would be tantamount to disobedience to the teaching of the Word. In his Epistle to the Philippians (2:5ff), Paul showed that this is the crux of the Gospel, that our Lord 'stepped down' so to speak, ultimately into the grave, having left his heavenly glory in obedience to the Father.
            Through the ages missionaries have understood that to follow Christ meant ‘stepping down’, being prepared to forgo privileges and being prepared to be humiliated for the sake of the Lord. Unfortunately, but definitely not in the spirit of Christ - an air of heroism was attached to being sent out as a missionary.  However, authors and publishers have been very selective with biographies and historiography in general. Those missionaries who fitted the role expectation like David Livingstone and Mary Slessor were put on a pedestal, but ‘troublesome’ missionaries like Dr John Philip, who rocked the boat of British (and South African) society by speaking out on behalf of the oppressed, were branded as ‘political.’ Similarly, South African Christian mission history displays bias against the missionaries Johannes van der Kemp and James Read. It was not appreciated that they married slaves. In the case of Van der Kemp the age difference complicated matters, as did the immoral behaviour of Read, fathering a child outside of wedlock. Of course, the society of Jesus’ days also had a problem with the religious leader who socialized with ‘sinners’, the lower ranks of their day.
            Ruth Tucker has given a healthy breeze in this regard with her honesty in her book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, 2004. Thus she narrates on p. 185 the special debt of Britain in the run-up to the Opium War. (1839-42). It is very sad indeed in this regard that missionaries were involved with opium smuggling. Roman Catholics have been very good in hiding the misdemeanour of their friars and nuns. The example that Afrikaans dramatist and poet C. Louis Leipoldt used in Die Heks, viz. that of a 'witch' who had been sentenced to death when it was revealed that Cardinal D'Orilla had fathered her daughter, may be an extreme case. Only here and there records such as this can be found, but the unbiblical expectation of celibacy for all Roman Catholic clergy may have created a lot of bitterness against Christianity This surely is a part of the unpaid debt of the Church.
It has perhaps not been appreciated sufficiently that real, meaningful contact between master and servant contains the seed of radical mission work. The best example in well-known mission history is probably when Count Zinzendorf ‘stepped down’ to speak to the slave Anton at the occasion of the coronation of Christian VI of Denmark in 1731, after the mediation of one of his team from Herrnhut. This was a case of meaningful dialogue[57] because Anton, the slave, challenged Zinzendorf, the aristocrat, in no uncertain way. The Count responded positively, inviting Anton to come over to Herrnhut and repeat his challenge to the congregation that had already heard of the worldwide mission need. (This happened for example at a meeting on the 10th February 1728, when Zinzendorf especially referred to distant lands - Turkey, Morocco and Greenland. Twenty six men were hereafter prepared for missionary work, even though there was no immediate prospect to leave for some mission field.)
In Herrnhut Anton did not mince his words either. He stated unequivocally that any prospective missionary to St Thomas, the island in the West Indies from where he originated, should be prepared to become like one of them; the missionary candidate had to be prepared to become the equal of a slave. The Moravians of Herrnhut, through their child-like faith in Jesus, accepted the challenge spontaneously. In the next few decades they left the little village in their hundreds to places all over the world. We note that the above-mentioned challenge to missions of February 1728 occurred already half a year after the widely reported revival of 13th August, 1727. Although the Herrnhut believers were apparently still very much in the revival mood, they needed the slave Anton to get them moving to the mission fields. What will be the reaction of wealthy South Africans if their poor com­patriots challenge them to share their lives meaningfully, to become servants, the equivalents of slaves?[58]

Stepping down as a Custom?
The socialization of Count Zinzendorf with Anton was definitely not an one-off occasion. It was part of his life-style to converse with kings and slaves alike, whoever came across his path. For almost a decade the Count had been ‘on everyday terms with artisans and peasants’, confirming his instinctive conviction that spiritual gifts are independent of social rank (Weinlick, 1956:96).
            Zinzendorf legally renounced his titles in the US in 174?? because he found them an impediment among the colonists. Benjamin Franklin was present at the ceremony, which was conducted in Latin in front of the Governor of Pennsylvania. Zinzendorf was said to be the only European nobleman who went among the Indians, visiting their leaders as equals.
            Though Zinzendorf did not promote the abolition of slavery, inside the Moravian Church slaves were truly equal. In Bethlehem, PA, at the single sisters' house you could find a German noblewoman, a Delaware Indian, and an African slave sharing the same dormitory room. Where else in the world would that occur at that time? And Zinzendorf endured much criticism for allowing women to preach and to hold roles of leadership in the church.
            The example of Zinzendorf was also emulated outside of Moravian confines. The Dutch missionary van der Kemp, who was no stranger to the Moravian settlement of Zeist before he came to the Cape, would be a model for contextualisation.
            The German Karl Gutslaff would perfect the model, dressing himself like a Chinese national to gain entry into China. Gutzlaff started off in Indonesia after comissionaing by the Dutch Missionary Society. His strategy was to train Chinese refugees as evangelists and missionaries for entering the proud Chinese mainland. At this time China would not permit missionaries to enter any more in the wake of the Opium War during which missionaries played a sad role, involved in smuggling. Gutslaff, who found his way to Hong Kong, later also had the vision to train nationals of that country to reach the Chinese millions in the interior. He trained Hudson Taylor, who started the China Inland Mission. Sadly, the visionary got involved in a hoax which created a lot of hype in the West. Funds that were often sacrificially donated for the missionary cause, ultimately landed in the black market opium trade (Tucker, 2004:185).

Servant Leadership   
Count Zinzendorf demonstrated what servant leadership was all about. Although it becomes clear from all reports that he was a dominant figure in the church, his style was nowhere autocratic although aristocratic. Thus he regarded the way Friedrich Martin treated his Negro congregants as too strict, but he did not oppose his missionary in the least ((Spangenberg, 1773-75:1177). Even though he disagreed vehemently on some issues, it seems that Zinzendorf hardly ever imposed his will on others. Although he was for example very dissatisfied about a financial transaction which had been enacted in his absence - and against which he protested as soon as he heard about it, the Count scratched the capital together with great difficulty (Spangenberg, 1773-75:1490).
            The Count excelled at integrating the initiatives of congregants. Centuries before cell groups were ‘discovered’, the Herrnhut congregation was divided in 56 small bands where an informal atmosphere encouraged innovation. Thus the cup of the covenant - whereby the cup would pass from hand to hand as well as the dawn service on Easter Sunday, which were both initiated by the group of the single brethren - became standard practice in the denomination as a whole (Weinlick, 1956:85).
         Zinzendorf instructed candidate missionaries to have this servant attitude: ‘You must never try to lord over the hea­then, but rather humble yourself among them, and earn their esteem through the power of the Spirit...’ How seriously they took the instructions is borne out by the fact that Matthaeus Freundlich, a first generation missionary in St Thomas, married the mulatress Rebecca, at a time when non-Whites were still called ‘Wilden’ even in the literature of the Brethren. The missionary had to seek nothing for himself. ‘Like the cab-horses in London, he must wear blinkers and be blind to every danger and to every snare and conceit. He must be content to suffer, to die and be forgotten’ (Lewis, 1962:92). Zinzendorf demonstrated what it means to regard the other higher than yourself. Spangenberg reports how he really praised the North American Indian believers. In his diary the following entry is found for March 9, 1729: ‘...I spoke earnestly with our servant Christoph and was deeply humbled by his testimony concerning him­self. He is far in advance of me’ (Lewis, 1962:90).
         It is evident that the lessons were thoroughly learned and put into practice. In his first confrontation with the Moravians with him on a ship bound for North America, John Wesley was deeply impressed: ‘...I had long before observed...their behaviour.’ He was struck by their humility, ‘performing servile offices for the other passengers which none of the English would undertake.

Teachability and Humility
On the other side of the spectrum Zinzendorf also taught that the leaders had to be teachable themselves. ‘Only when the ‘Amtsträger’ (clergyman) becomes a brother amongst brethren and accept from them fraternal help in comfort, encouragement, complimenting, admonishment, correction and prays with and practises brotherliness as one of them, then brotherhood is realized. The church cannot live on the long run from an invisible and uncommitted brotherhood(Beyreuther, 1962:193).
         Through his example Zinzendorf inspired others. His teachability inspired noblemen and professors to go and sit at the bare feet of the potter Martin Dober (Weinlick, 1956:87) and his putting the kingdom first found a following when learned men declined high academic posts. Spangenberg refused an offer as professor of Theology at Jena (Weinlick, 1956:111) and Samuel Lieberkühn, who had studied Hebrew thoroughly, preferred to go and work among the Jews in Holland rather than accepting an offer to become professor of Semitic languages in Königsberg (Lüt­jeharms, 1935, in the footnote on p.110). Arved Gradin, a prominent Swedish academic of Theology and Philology, declined the call to a professorship at Uppsala university, coming to Herrnhut instead.

Lording and Servility
The lording attitude was often copied and emulated by non-West­ern ministers. South Africa has been no exception to this general statement. Bossing is still one of the problems in churches throughout Africa. This has sometimes made it diffi­cult for church members to submit, with splits as a result. Some of these ministers had and sometimes still have their own domestic workers living in sub-standard living conditions. What a change would take place in South African society if Christians of all races start doing things together on a substantial scale, including the household chores, gardening and drinking tea.
         Unfortunately the servant attitude of the early Moravian missionaries degenerated to such an extent that missionaries were later not commonly known any more for a servant-like attitude. In fact, in South Africa just the opposite took place, as the influence of apartheid society took its toll. In the (Moravian) mission town of Elim for example the townsfolk were calling the missionary ‘Heer’ (Lord) in the late 1950s. They were looking up to the missionaries in an attitude of servility rather than with a healthy reverence and respect. Too often how­ever, the missionaries unfortunate­ly also adopted the condescend­ing habits of the White colonists.
         South Africa has another problematic legacy, which is related to the issue under discussion. People of colour have often gone to the other extreme, which is best described by the ‘ja-baas’ mentality: even educated people sometimes went cap in hand in an undignified attitude to get some things from Whites. It was all too often regarded as ‘Christian’ to suffer under the bossy attitude of a superior. In the next chapter we shall look separately at the issue of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. It should suffice to say here that although Jesus taught us to have the attitude of a servant, yes even of a slave, this does not mean that it should transpire in an undignified way. Paul taught Philemon that he should take his run-away slave Onesimus back as a brother in Christ. Both the bossy attitude as well and the cap-in-hand mentality is outlawed by Scripture! South Africans may have to repent of both, as the case may be, and ask forgiveness from the Lord and from the other party where possible.

Thumbs down to hierarchical Church Structures

In the ‘NT' church plural non-hierarchical leadership seems to have been the norm. Presbyters and deacons were not regarded as titles but given respectively as a token of respectful honour and a function in serving. Pastors, teachers and evangelists were on a par as part and parcel of the four- or five-fold ministries. Likewise apostle was a function, those sent from the bosom of the church from which the word missionary was derived via the Latin missio.
            The biblical model has hardly been practiced better than among the Moravians of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) in the ‘new world’ in the 1750s. ‘Seldom has even the most easy service executed with such holy reverence... a brother in the stable or in his manual work can ever think that he does nothing for the Saviour; whoever is faithful in the outward (things) is just as well a respectable servant of Christ as a preacher or a missionary.’ The joy with which they performed mundane tasks, intersperse with love feasts, could make one jealous. Even at work they would sing. Thus Spangenberg could write: ‘In our economy the spiritual and physical fit together like the body and soul of man...’
            The practice in South Africa became a complete caricature where the clergyman in White Reformed denominations was called dominee (from the Latin word for Lord) the colleague working in one of the Black churches was an eerwaarde, reverend. In rank and file Afrikaner parlance the latter clergyman was derogatorily called the kafferdominee. Black clergy with inferior training were called evangelists. In episcopal Protestant denominations the whole papal hierarchy is still intact minus cardinals and the Pope.     
            Hierarchical church structures have favoured and condi­tioned leaders to become bosses. The dictum coined by Lord Acton that power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely, is so true, also in religious contexts.  This is however alien to the spirit of biblical servitude; loving brotherhood, or rather siblinghood, should be the hall-mark of Church work where the leader’s endeavours should aim to empower the congregants.
            The early Moravian missionaries evidently understood this very well. They discerned that ‘New Testament’ life had to be demonstrated. In the Caribbean they bought slaves free, took them into their houses and worked alongside them on the plantations (Spangenberg, 1773-1775 [1971]:1177). On the other hand, the Herrnhut fellowship respected the culture gender pattern of their day, whereby a distance of mutual respect had to remain intact. The sisters called each other ‘Du’ but used the polite respectful‘Sie’ when they addressed the brethren. Among the brothers the same thing happened. But also the Bishop was not addressed with a title, but merely as brother so and so. (In fact, his role to this day is merely that of the pastor of the clergy, without an administrative function).
            The caricature of Christianity as it has been practised around the world, is definitely not very attractive. The advantages of superior educational opportunities and good medical care became the misleading trophies of missionary work. Indigenous people were regarded as civilized or Christian when they started to wear Western clothing. No wonder that an oppressive system could flourish - a set-up where suppression became the order of the day. Wealthy ‘Coloured’ and Black Christians often unfortunately also adopted repugnant superior attitudes, playing the boss in the worst sense of the word. What a pity that the unity and fellowship in Christ of rich and poor, of educated and unskilled, hardly got a chance. In this climate, the brotherhood of Islam became for many quite attractive. Others saw the only solution in Communism to achieve some sort of parity.

Grace versus Law
Paul's distinction between Isaac as the son of the promise and Ishmael as the son of the bondswoman is unquestionably very valid just as that between grace and law. It has however become a tragic by-product, a haughty condescending attitude towards Islam and Muslims. The distortion of Paul's distinction between grace and law developed into a sickening arrogance not only between Protestantism and Catholicism, but a travesty of what the Bible teaches.

Protestant theologians were taken on tow by Martin Luther in his going overboard to create the impression that grace and law are mutually exclusive or even asserting that ‘Law’ belongs to the ‘Old Testament’ and grace to the new covenant. In spite of Paul's warning against a lackadaisical attitude towards sin – he actually said in Romans 8  'far from it', licentiousness and even grave sin is tolerated with the excuse that 'grace abounds' or 'die liefde bedek alles', love covers everything. This often happens without remorse and clear evidence of breaking with sinful behviour.
In Reformed churches the dichotomy is weakened to some extent when the law is usually read in their liturgy in some form on Sunday in the morning. Following Paul, the apostle, this is followed up by a pronouncement of grace. In more than one instance the Hellenist upbringing of the prodigious Paul comes through. Greek philosophic thinking loved the 'either... or' sentence construction. Coming from his personal experience during which the legalist interpretation of the Torah - against which our Lord also protested vehemently - he would proclaim the law to be an educator to bring one to faith in Christ. Hebrew thinking is more inclusive, wary of false alternatives. Under this influence Paul wrote to the Galatians (3:5) along similar lines with regard to the gift of the Holy Spirit: ‘... by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith.’ (Elsewhere we examine the false alternatives of works and faith.)
            The incorrect legal and forensic interpretation of Torah – preferably with negative connotations – in contrast to the Jewish understanding of loving and protective teaching, led to a caricature. The sad part of this is that this construction even found its way into Bible translations. The King James version – generally regarded as one of the best English translations - thus fell into the trap by translating John 1:17, incorrectly translating the Greek word kai (and) with but, thereby indirectly implying that there is a contradiction between the law given by Moses and the grace and truth which came through Christ.
            If one considers how inclusive Count Zinzendorf and his Moravians were – and how the count viewed grace - we understand why they were possibly the most successful ever in the outreach to Jews. The abounding grace that went ahead of the emissaries to the ‘heathen’ nations enabled him to be bold enough to see the same grace at work in the christening of infants, not getting involved in divisive debates about the mode of baptism. In America they put so much grace in practice to accommodate the Sabbatharian habits of the indigenous population that they practised two days of rest. The celebration of the Singstunde (singing hour) on Saturday evening was a tradition adapted from the Jews, where the Sabbath celebration starts on Friday evening.

Mutual Support of Victims    
But we can also learn from the lessons of the past. The suppression by the authorities of this country in the apartheid era was effectively opposed by the cohesion and mutual support of the victims. Even children played a part, for example through collections at schools for the families of workers who had been retrenched after they had been striking. The Bible teaches us to bear each other’s burden (Galatians 6:2).  However, solidarity which causes undue and unloving pressure and friction is not in line with biblical identification with the victim, which has love as its motive and driving force.[59] In fact, the ethical problem with strikes and the like is that the original meaning of the word protest – to testify positively to something - is often completely lacking. Pro-testare signifies a positive testimony of what one stands for. Striking workers sometimes have no alternative on offer. All too often the modern-day protest only comes up with negative criticism and demands. (This may however not be interpreted as support for exploiting and oppressive employers, who need to be challenged and opposed.)
            The Christian knows what to do with his own burden and that of the heavy-laden: to drop them in prayer at the Cross of Calvary, and attempt to alleviate suffering if he is in the position to do so. A prominent characteristic of the early Christians was their mutual love. The cohesion and mutual support, yes the loving solidarity of Christians would make great inroads in every materialistic and individualistic society. It could become a major factor in the spreading of the Gospel, as it has defi­nitely been the case with Kwasiza Bantu. At this time of large-scale unemployment, practical solidarity of Christians which leaves human dignity intact, will tell a tale of its own.
Meaningful Dialogue
What could happen in missionary terms if the peoples of South Africa would engage in meaningful dialogue? Yes, it may mean for many wealthy Christians to step down and being pre­pared to become servant-like. The economic sacrifice might perhaps prove to be less difficult than the attitudinal aspect. In South Africa, some Christians have been quite generous in their giving for mission work, but too often it was not accompanied by the attitude of a servant. If it had been the case, the Muslims of South Africa would most probably not have remained an unreached group in terms of the Gospel.[60] The challenge is thus directed to ordinary men to listen carefully to the inner voice. It may lead to unusual, almost humiliating tasks, but it should at all times be done in the attitude of a servant.
            The question might be asked: what can the ‘lower class’ people do to meet the ‘upper class’? Or is it only a one-sided issue? Indeed, ‘stepping down’ is the ball game; the premise is a situation of siblings, brothers and sisters in Christ. But once the servant attitude is evident and equality assured - the responsibility is equally with those who may be socially on a lower level, to share whatever they have to offer.

            Fortunately, a new spirit has already slowly started to sweep over parts of the country. Since 1994 new positive measures have been introduced, which would have been unheard of in earlier days. It has become quite possible that affluent Chris­tians may still become involved with the homeless and drug addicts on a significant scale on another level than the condescending habits. The latter attitude was of course better than nothing, but biblically it is not good enough. Thankfully, groups like Habitat for Humanity and a group operating on behalf of Church-led restitution has already made a tentative start in this regard. If the biblical servant spirit takes off, a substantial flow of missionaries to other parts of the world becomes a distinct possibility.

The Lack of loving open-minded Dialogue
Just like the Roman Catholic Church before Vatican II (1962-5) prohibited their members to search the Scriptures for themselves, Muslim adherents were discouraged (and still are) to read the Bible. Even stronger, Muslim fundamentalists are harshly persecuting those Christians who have left Islam, notably in the Middle East. A next step would then logically have to be discouragement of the study of the Qur’an (as opposed to the mere reciting and superficial reading of it).
            The reticence with regard to the reading of the Bible can be understood if one considers how an anonymous convert from Islam has put it: ‘Faith in Christ as the Qur’an represents him, is the logical introduction to Christ as the Gospels portray him.  Open-minded dialogue goes down the drain if Muslims are kept from reading the Bible themselves!’
            Christians are nevertheless also guilty of similar perpetrations. Intolerance was not only the practice long ago through the Inquisition and later with regard to Anabaptists and other non-conformists. Right into the present age modern forms of persecution have been inflicted on theologians who have held differing views than those prescribed by their respective churches. In the Roman Catholic Church action was taken against Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx, who had been major movers at Vatican II. Also in Protestant churches many ministers who had divergent views, for example on the christening of infants, were forced to leave the ministry or at least leave the respective denomination.[61]
            In similar vein, we must add that sacrificial love as a central teaching of Jesus somehow never broke through significantly at any stage of Church History - apart from localized revival-type situations. It was probably not taught clearly as well. Even to-day so many self-confessed followers of the man of Nazareth often appear to be guided more by self-centredness and selfishness. That was camouflaged with nice-sounding words like self-determination and self-realization, pushing through their own will rather than by an attitude in the spirit which Jesus had pioneered, namely that of ‘thy will be done’. More than ever there is a need for concrete steps to break down the walls rather than pious inter-faith talk without any visible results.
            Last not least, with regard to loving open-minded dialogue, we need to highlight that the dependency syndrome killed honest sharing of ideas like few other measures in mission history. Fearing to offend the ‘generous’ givers from the rich Western nations not only stifled initiative on the part of the receivers, but it also stimulated and perpetuated a beggar attitude among the bulk of the churches of the third world. The call from Africa for a moratorium of money and missionaries in the early 1970s may have sounded very uncharitable.  Possibly this was inspired by a reaction against the bossy attitude of Western missionaries who all too often have been giving the impression that they always know it better. One wonders why 2 Corinthians 8 is still unknown by and large, namely how the poor Macedonians begged to be given the opportunity to bless the mother church in Jerusalem? How often is it taught that poor believers have much to give? Was this not what Jesus also demonstrated with the gift of the widow’s mite?  The Church world-wide will possibly only really only come into its own if the unity of the Body of Christ in all its diversity is restored across all man-made barriers, thus displaying the multi-coloured wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). The verses following that and the next chapter of Ephesians give us an extraordinary glimpse of the universal Body of Christ, the whole family in heaven and earth (3:14) as Paul prayed for the believers – together with all the saints - to be empowered by the four-dimensional love of Christ (3:14-19).

Food for thought:
Am I prepared to ‘step down’, to get into missionary dialogue and serve those who have been placed under me? Alternately, am I free from negative servility, have I come to respect my Christian boss as a brother/sister in Christ, who is sometimes also in need of loving fraternal encouragement and/or correction?

And some ideas:         
Organize outdoor worship/singing services with local churches from other racial groups and foreigners.
Include ‘foot washing’ in the programme of a combined service. (This should not be outdoors.)
How about organising servant evangelism as a multi-racial group, which includes foreigners, for example cleaning the toilets of bars and restaurants of the city in residential areas with doubtful repute?
7.  Jesus, the special Warrior: a fighter for real Peace

An important facet of warfare is to know enough about the tactics and strengths of the enemy. ‘Intelligence agencies’ are used to gather information about the enemy. The classic biblical precedent is the 12 spies who were sent out to Canaan (Numbers 13). Thereafter Joshua sent out two spies to the city of Jericho (Joshua 2).
         Many victories have been won in the spiritual realm the last two decades as Christians became more aware that we are involved in ‘spiri­tual warfare’. Of course, this should have been nothing new. The apostle Paul had already written in the first century about ‘the devil’s schemes’ and that our struggle is ‘not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers... against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:11f). Somehow the enemy has succeeded in blinding the eyes of the church for many centuries to scriptural lessons which seem so obvious to us now. Many ‘types’ of Christ can be found in Scrip­ture, but there are also quite a few of the devil. With regard to the latter, the Pharaoh, with whom Moses had to contend, easily comes to mind (Exodus 5-14). The traditions around Nimrod, who is said to have master-minded the tower of Babel, also comes into the frame. The scheming and plotting of Haman to kill all Joys shows every sign of the work of the master planner of evil (Ester 3).
In our day and age HAMAS and the leaders of Iran. (One wonders whether it is mere co-incidence that this is again the Persians, the country of Haman?)

No place for Vengeance
Some Christians give the impression that leaving the revenge over to God (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30) is solely a 'New Testament' trait. Not only are these verses a quotation of Deuteronomy 32:35, but there are also quite a few other Hebrew Scriptures verses (for example 1 Samuel 24:13; 2 Chronicles 24:22; Jeremiah 15:15) with the same message. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the spirit of revenge, which is sometimes ascribed to the Jews (and from there possibly emulated by the Muslims), is actually a distortion of God’s plan with His people. Of course, revenge was ordered when His name was at stake. More than once the Israelites incurred God’s wrath, when they were following other gods (for example Judges 6:1; Jeremiah 5:4-9).
            Some Christians believe fallaciously that Jesus departed from Hebrew Scriptural thinking by refraining from revenge. His correction of the one-sided oral notion of ‘eye for an eye’ and hating the enemy blurred our perception, thinking that such an attitude is consistent with Mosaic Law. A comparison of Luke 4 with Isaiah 61 where Jesus actually stopped short of quoting ‘the day of vengeance of our God’ (Isaiah 61:2), this perception may even be enhanced. We can regard Peter, the apostle who walked the earth with our Lord for around three years, to have been a good judge of the Master’s motives. He summarised His life as follows, as part of an example to follow: ‘When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats’ (1 Peter 2:23).
            We are actually taught in the Hebrew Scriptures: ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord’ (Leviticus 19:18). Furthermore, though God sometimes has to punish, He is also ‘forgiving and merciful unto those who love Him and keep his commandments’ (Deuteronomy 5:9, 10; Psalm 99:8). With his example of enemy love, Jesus simply stepped in the footsteps of King David.

Feed rather than fight your Opponents
One of the most profound examples of the principle of feeding rather than fighting your opponents is found in 2 Kings 6:8ff. Elisha the prophet was given special insight into the spiritual realms when the Syrians sought to thrash and invade Israel. The one moment he asked God to open the eyes of his servant to discern the unseen army protecting them, but the next moment he prayed to the Almighty to close the eyes of the enemy forces. When the invading Syrian army was blinded and thus rendered powerless at the mercy of the Israelites - Elisha advised the king not to kill them but to feed them and sent them home.
            Because some of his Psalms call for divine revenge on his enemies, Christians tend to forget that David had also refrained from it more than once. When he had the chance to kill King Saul, he only cut off a piece of his robe (1 Samuel 24) and on another occasion he spared the king at a time when Saul was once again after his scalp. David refused to practise revenge because he had respect for God’s anointed. Even more dramatically, 1 Samuel 25 narrates how David was prevented from taking revenge. After he had already vowed to kill Nabal and his men, Abigail - Nabal’s wife - was divinely used to intervene. Nabal dies after a heart attack, with the message emerging clear as crystal that vengeance is to be left to God. It is significant that this narrative is recorded just before the next opportunity for vengeance on Saul in 1 Samuel 26. It is almost as if God had reminded David once again of the divine principle, lest he succumb to the new temptation. This is so much in line with what Paul taught, that God will enable us to withstand temptation victoriously (1 Corinthians 10:13).

The Nature of the Battle       
Few Christians today are aware that Paul was basically paraphrasing Isaiah for the Gentile Ephesians, adding a few more items of the armour. In Isaiah 59:17 the breastplate of righteousness and the helm of salvation are mentioned. It has hardly been noted how Paul proceeded - just like Jesus had done by citing from Isaiah 61 - to delete vengeance in his version of (spiritual) weapons. Vengeance would fit to the darker side of things. The follower of Jesus walks in the light, detesting anything which belongs to the kingdom of darkness.
            It is striking what Paul added to the armour. To buckle yourself with truth is saying in another way: ‘I get ready for battle’. We remind ourselves that Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). It also highlights the fight against the real enemy who is a liar from the beginning, whose ‘native language’ (John 8:44, NIV) is lying and deceit.
            What is especially important is how the ‘NT’ sees the nature of the battle. Paul summarised spiritual warfare aptly: ‘not against flesh and blood’. In the same vein the aged John wrote on the island of Patmos how the victory will be finally clinched in the spiritual ‘war’. The ‘general’ of the army is the meek Lamb. The Unitas Fratrum and Zinzendorf adopted the symbolism, using a lamb with the banner: ‘Our Lamb has conquered. Let us follow Him!’ (Two centuries before him Luther was also very much aware of the real presence of the devil - so much so that he has gone on record as having thrown his ink-pot at the accuser.)
             It is interesting how the Talmud saw Moses as a Lamb, and thus a precursor of the one of whom Isaiah 53 prophesied, the sheep who wouldn’t open his mouth as he is being taken to be slaughtered, the Lamb to whom John the Baptist referred: In a dream about the boy Moses, the Pharaoh sees the lamb outweighing the might of Egypt on a pair of balances.
            On the other hand, Jesus is also the Lion of Judah. No wonder that the adversary tries to emulate him, going around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But this lion is a bad copy of the real one. Basically he only makes a lot of noise, his teeth have been extracted on the Cross of Calvary.
            On the issue of ancestral veneration the ‘New Testament’ is not ambiguous. Even for the practice of funerals Jesus would sound harsh in the ear of many an African: ‘let the dead bury their dead.’ The inference is clear: when there is a conflict of loyalty, following Jesus must have the priority. Also Paul emphasized that you cannot worship Christ and other religious powers at the same time (1 Corinthians 10:14-22).

God’s Wrath incurred
Repeatedly it is stressed in the Scriptures that God’s ‘revenge’ is caused by the estrangement and disobedience of his people. They incurred God’s wrath by running away from him (compare for example Isaiah 63 and 64). The strict words of the prophets were intended to bring them to repentance - back to God. His wrath has the same purpose. He sometimes even used other agents to carry out punishments, especially when his people persevered with idolatry.
          Idolatry is equated by Jeremiah (2:13) with leaking cisterns. Jeremiah 3 similarly referred to the idolatry which caused the nation to ‘have the brazen look of a prostitute’ (v. 3), but the prophet included this in a moving plea on God’s behalf: "Return, faithless people," declares the Lord, "for I am your husband" (v.14). Throughout the Bible the writers’ intention is to get the wayward people reconciled to God, but on His terms: holiness and righteousness.
          Ezekiel 16 is an account of how God took special care of the despised Jerusalem, nurturing her until she became ‘the most beautiful of jewels’ (v.6). But she turned out to become a prostitute of the worst kind through her idolatry. God hates idolatry. Jeremiah (4:3) advised not to sow seed on unploughed ground and among thorns. Jesus explained the effect of seed sown among thorns: but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful (Mark 4:19). We should never try to either give someone else the blame or belittle sin, for example by calling greed or covetousness materialism. Paul, the apostle, equated this to idolatry (Colossians 3:5). In stead, we must uproot the thorns. Our love of money and possessions makes our hearts like rocky ground and full of 'thorns' (compare Luke 8:14 ‘The seed among the thorns represents those ... whose faith is choked out by worry and riches and the responsibilities and pleasures of life.) No wonder we become cool, hard and hurting if these issues are not brought to the Cross. Confession and repentance is needed, for individual and for collective sin. Moses confessed the sins of his people after they had worshiped the golden calf, even though he was not involved himself. In the process he became a type of Christ, willing to be blotted out from the divine book of life, willing to bear the consequence of the idolatry of his people (Exodus 32:32). Confession of materialism as idolatry should be the logical conclusion. Sharing meaningfully with the poor would be the proof that we are serious about restitution.

Jesus toned down Revenge    
That Jesus clearly toned down revenge, made him extremely unpopular. The author Luke especially picked up this facet of His ministry. The absence of revenge runs like a golden thread throughout the Gospel of Luke. Bosch suggests that this - perhaps more than anything else apart from nationalism - was a major reason for the change of atmosphere during Jesus’ address in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:18). By quoting Isaiah 61, the Lord Jesus stopped just short of the reference to ‘the wrath of our God.
Jesus surely did not endear himself to His Jewish com­patriots by quoting Leviticus 19:18 ‘love your neighbour as your­self’ when he narrated the parable of the Good Samaritan. (Jews traditionally despised Samaritans who mixed pure worship of Yahweh with elements of the Baal cult). This parable is only recorded in the Gospel according to Luke. It is very clearly a teaching on ‘enemy love.’
What caused the complete change of mood that day in the Nazareth synagogue ultimately? Was Jesus’ implied opposition to vengeance the only cause or are there other reasons?  I suggest that the positive reference of our Lord to foreigners above all else rubbed his townsmen up the wrong way. This obviously angered them xenophobically, so that they wanted to throw him down the cliff.

Turning the other Cheek
The reaction of Jesus to the possibly angry or at least indignant exclamation of the Samaritan woman of John 4 - that he as a Jew dared to ask her for a drink - could be interpreted as an example of ‘turning the other cheek’. Instead of retaliating, the Master initiated a discussion on water. In the radical suggestion by Jesus to ‘turn the other cheek’, one finds an excellent example of a crooked misconception that developed out of the elevation of the ‘New Testament’ (in respect of the ‘OT’). Theologians have misled so many of us as Christians to regard the Hebrew Scriptures as inferior! The Bible is a unit. Hebrew Scriptures and ‘NT’ belong together, even though well over 90% of sermons in churches are taken from the ‘NT’. For many years I thought that Jesus’ instruction to ‘turn the other cheek’ was new and innovative. How big was my surprise to discover that Jesus was actually only quoting the Hebrew Scriptures, and not even fully at that. In Lamentations - of all places - Jeremiah identifies himself fully with the sins, the idolatry of his people, which resulted in the exile. Then he writes: ‘Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him and let him be filled with disgrace’ (Lamentations 3:30). The suffering servant of Isaiah, who is widely accepted as a prophetic foreshadowing, a type of the Messiah, likewise displays these characters: ‘I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting’ (Isaiah 50:5-6).
No Door-mat
There is however another fallacy. Because Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, some people deduced that Christians should be ready to be trampled upon, to be a sort of door-mat. Far from it! In John 4 it is reported how a rumour was brought to the Master that John was baptizing more converts. What the motives of those people were who came to Him with the rumour is not clear, but the dynamite contained in it is quite evident. His clashes with the religious estab­lish­ment, equating the leaders with white-washed tombs that contain dead bones along with His overturning the tables in the temple, are all well-known. They demonstrate that Jesus was nowhere the softy some people want to suggest. Matthew (Chapter 23) high­lighted his criticism of the Pharisees, influential religious leaders of the synagogues in a whole chapter.
            In our dealings with people from other faiths some loving straight talk might be necessary. Senseless debating should be avoided, but they must also hear the truth spoken in love. It is however not always easy to discern whether the conversational partner in religious matters is a sincere seeker after truth.
            Anno 2015 xenophobia is still very much present in South Africa. Resentment towards Muslims among Christians runs a close second.  If we dare to oppose the mood, we should not be surprised to be castigated or side-lined. We should not expect any support from the rank and file Christian. And yet, we have no option if we take following Jesus seriously.  
            It is my conviction that confession is one of the most important biblical mandates in countering any guilt incurred in respect of Muslims (and Jews). Next to that, forgiveness always plays an important part to set parties free who have lived or are living through any form of strife or conflict. Wherever restitution is needed, we should not hesitate to rectify wherever possible for our part of the guilt.

Can we take our day to day interaction as human beings as a point of reference? How does one handle conflict in a biblical way? Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 is the valid paradigm in this regard. The salient points from this teaching are: a) It is futile to wait on the other party to offer an apology in the case of hurt. If you know there is something between you and a brother or sister, you just make the start to get the air cleared, staring with an apology from your side and be willing to offer forgiveness even before the other party apologized. This is also the route to take even if your own part in the development of the rift is minimal and the other party’s guilt is gross.  The biblical route is always to be the least, to serve rather than expect to be served. If there are things to be set right, we have to do it promptly and generously. (Zaccheus was ready to return the fourfold of what he had taken from some people!!)

Two Examples from History.
The same principles can be applied if guilt of greater magnitude has been incurred, even that between nations. I want to give two examples from history.
            France and Germany have been enemies for centuries. They were still fighting each other fiercely in the Second World War. Albeit not quite in the same vein, Nazi-led Germany and America were certainly not allies in the first half of 1945. Four great nations – Great Britain, France, West Germany and the USA – formed the core of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, which kept the expansionist Communist Block at bay for decades.
            How did the change come about?  I believe that it started in the spiritual realm with the Stuttgart confession by German Christians for the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews.  That set the platform for the reconciliation between France and Germany. Their respective presidents Adenauer and De Gaulle became the founders of the powerful economic unit which today is called the European Union.
            America was ostensibly willing to forgive Germany, taking responsibility for the destruction of the German infrastructure during the war by responding with the Marshall Plan. Generous aid was given to help rebuild a devastated West Germany after the War, in stead of harbouring revenge towards the former enemy. This was of mutual benefit to the two nations and to many other countries as well in its aftermath.
            The second example is taken from our country: In the 1980s Southern Africa was heading for a major racial war. The oppressive apartheid regime under President P.W. Botha seemed to be bent on rather seeing the subcontinent go up in flames than being ready to make meaningful concessions towards racial equality. The confession of Dutch Reformed Clergy in 1982 started a process which ultimately resulted in the Rustenburg confession of November 1990 which ushered in the new democracy. The magnanimous gesture of Nelson Mandela to offer forgiveness – even before the apartheid ideologists were willing to apologize – set the platform for an unprecedented unity across the racial divide.[62]

Strategies of the Arch Enemy
The Pharaoh of Moses' day as well as Herod at the time of Jesus’ infanthood tried to nip the spread of God’s Kingdom in the bud, killing all babies to prevent God’s plan to be fulfilled. A modern version is sexual perversion with abortion and gay ‘marriages’ as sprouts from this tree.  Fewer babies are born in Western countries from Christian parents while Islam started taking over their crèches, kindergartens and primary schools. HIV/Aids, which started among gay men in the 1970s next to teenage pregnancies with all its social ramifications, are bad fruit of the demonic deception. We discern how prayer turned the tide in biblical times. Israel was liberated from the yoke of Pharaoh after the prayer groans and agonizing of God’s people (Exodus 2:23). This was also the case at the birth of arch fathers and other biblical men of God, after their mothers had been barren (Genesis 30:6; 1 Samuel 1:11).
         In recent decades the person of Nehemiah became important to the church universal. The way Israel’s pious enemies - Sanballat and Tobiah - operated gives import­ant insights into the strategies of the arch enemy (Nehemiah 4-6). The negative run-up, the pushing aside of the Samaritans by Ezra and Serubbabel because of their nationalist bigotry at the building of the second temple was possibly not the best response. In the case of Ezra, he was intensely shattered by the moral degradation which developed in Jerusalem through miscegenation, idolatry and complete disregard of God’s laws. In the ‘New Testament’ we can read how Jesus attempted to rectify the prejudice towards Samaritans, notably in the gospels of Luke and John.

Satan masquerading as an Angel of Light    
The way how the enemies of Israel tried to infiltrate, is typical for New Age thinking. The im­pression is often spread that we are all wor­shiping the same God in different religions. Even some evangelical believers have been misled to think that the God of the Bible and Allâh of the Qur’an are ident­ical.  The latter book clearly teaches that God has no son. In fact, Allâh is aloof and distant. He has 99 attributes but no paternal or maternal qualities figure among them. The Hebrew Scriptures in general and Judaism in particular do not only see the Almighty as ‘Our Father in heaven’, but He also has a Son, although the name is not spelled out there (Psalm 2:7, 12); Proverbs 30:4)). In the ‘NT’ this happens when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary, instructing her to name the son to be born – and who will be called Son of the Most high – Yeshuah. He would save His people. Twice the divine voice from heaven proclaimed Jesus to be ‘My beloved Son’ (Matthew 3:17 and 17:5). Paul, the apostle, taught how deceptive the arch enemy is, that he is masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), often operating as a wolf in the garb of a sheep. Satan is the father of lies from the beginning (John 8:44). In Galatians 1:8 we find the possibility inferred to that a different gospel can be brought by an angel.
         The consistent omission of everything alluding to the Cross in the Qur’an is thus no coincidence. In fact, a close comparative study of the angel Gabriel in the Bible and the Islamic Jibril points to ‘another mighty angel’ (Revelation 10:1). This sounds very much like the supernatural figure that Muhammad encountered after his experience in the cave of Mount Hira. The real nature of Jibril also becomes clear when one notes that the mighty angel of Revelation 10 will be roaring like a lion (Revelation 10:2). 1 Peter 5:8 defines the roaring lion as satan. The effect of this supernatural experience[63] on Muhammad is more in line with demonic phenomena than when biblical personalities have been visited by an angel. With the differing anti-life expressions of Islam in recent years – suicide attacks and calls to kill all infidels have become quite common - we have enough reason to say that this is a distorted gospel, indeed the work of a masquerading angel (Galatians 1:6-8).
         We must pray for discernment to see how idolatry and occultism can be cleverly mixed in worship. In the run-up to the pogrom that transpires under king Ahasveros, the scheming of Haman shows every sign of the work of the master planner of evil (Ester 3). Less known among Christians is how Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, tried to restrict God in his operation against Israel (1 Kings 20:23): Yahweh is not the god of either the hills or of the valley. He is omnipotent and the Almighty. He does not want to be put into any box or compart­ment.

Occasional Need of Confrontation
In no way should we condone an airy-fairy covering up of differences. Jesus used the prime weapon against the devil, God’s Word, when he was attacked in the desert. But also the assistants of the enemy had to be opposed. Because he had observed their ways meticulously and listened carefully to what they were saying, Jesus could venture into enemy territory, telling his religious opponents to their face that they were hypocritical.
            The Master furthermore spoke of ‘binding the strongman’(Matthew 12:29). Paul wrote about ‘taking captive every thought’ (2 Corinthians 10:5), about ‘strongholds’ (2 Corinthians 10:4) and ‘weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left’ (2 Corin­thians 5:7). The full ‘armour’ of the believer (Ephesians 6:11ff) belongs of course to the very well-known portions of Scripture which have even been taught to children in Sunday school. In traditional theology these warlike terms have possibly been over-spiritualised. (This probably happened when the superficial impression could be gained that it might clash with the reign of the Prince of Peace.)[64]
We note that division is the paramount strategy of satan. Through the ages the enemy has succeeded to sow division in churches and in society at large. The ‘flesh’ in some Christians who wanted to assert themselves saw to that. The first Jerusalem Apostolic Church seems to have handled the supernatural gifts of the spirit in a more balanced way (see Acts 2:42-47). Both Peter and Paul did not shun confrontation. When principles were at stake they were no slow coaches in heated debate. Acts 6 and 15 reflect conflict-laden situations. In both cases the end result was a sharing of responsibilities and a doubling of the work. If conflict is handled well, it has the potential to spread the Gospel even more widely and the work load can be delegated among more people. After Peter had been taught by God that he should cease despising those nations which he had regarded as ritually impure, he was prepared not only to act upon it by going to Cornelius (Acts 10), but also to defend his action before his colleagues.
            The end result of the delicate situation in Acts 6 was the appointment of deacons. The heated debate in Acts 15 resulted in church planting where the best men were sent (Verse 22).
         Calling a spade a spade might sometimes also be necessary. In Galatians 2:11-15 it is reported how Paul criticized Peter to his face in the presence of others when he sensed hypocrisy. If the actions of fellow brothers and sisters confuse young believers it might be necessary to do the unusual thing to reprimand them publicly.
         Paul had been taught at the feet of the renowned Gamaliel. As a Pharisee, he thus had a head-start. But, like the Master, he dared to confront his opponents on their own turf. In every town he went to the syna­gogues. In Athens he challenged the learned Greeks who were constantly debating, for example on the Areopagus (Acts 17:16ff). The presence of him and Silas caused a furore in Thessaloniki, especially when Paul spoke about Jesus as the Christ (Acts 17:1-9). In the same vein, the apostle did not beat about the bush in his condemnation of hand-made gods as idols. This made the Ephesians very nervous, causing an uproar in the process.
         At a time when it has become fashionable to be a 'revolutionary',[65] by just quitely leaving the church, there is more than ever need for healthy confrontation. Every pastor should know why people are leaving his ship. Before leaving, church members should pray for a good opportunity to share their frustrations and/or disappointments in a mature and loving way.          

Following the Master’s Example
The disciples grasped full well that they had to follow the Lord’s example - to serve rather than retaliate. Peter put it on paper that we should follow in the footsteps of the Master (1 Peter 2:21). He also taught this with regard to the pastors who should be an example to the flock and not lord over them (1 Peter 5:3). Paul likewise taught to the various congregations the importance of behaviour that would be emulated, which was worthy of the high calling of a follower of our Master (Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Paul’s preach­ing got its weight through his convincing life. Our lives should be open letters, which could be read with pleasure. Nobody should have the opportunity to take exception when looking at our life-style (2 Corinthians 6:3). In fact, he chal­lenged the church in Corinth to ‘follow my example as I follow the example which Jesus gave us’ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The Thessalonians evidently heeded this advice: ‘You followed my example and thus the example of our Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 1:6). This is very strategic. We thus have to question seriously the tendency of many theological institutions to employ lecturers who may have good academic qualifications in Evangelism and Missions on paper, but who have hardly (or have even never) been involved in the practical side of missionary outreach them­selves and who never intend to do that.

The flexibility which Jesus displayed was actually taught by Paul as strategy. In 1 Corinthians 9:19ff the missionary apostle stressed how he adapted to the various groups of Jews and Greeks ‘in order to win at least some of them.
         Zinzendorf discerned the importance of this principle. He saw on the one hand the ‘untiring will to reform’ of the ‘children of the world’, but on the other hand he discerned ‘sleeping churches and their inactive congrega­tions’ (Beyreuther, 1962:190).’ Not much has changed since then. Influenced by the principle of the eccle­siola’s of the Pietists, the Count organized the Herrnhut commun­ity in small ‘bands’ and ‘choirs’. This would of course not only be easier to handle than big churches with many meetings and little outreach, but even more important was the ‘innere Einheit’ (internal unity) that they wanted to maintain at all costs.
         The Herrnhut community sensed the need that everyone could put his gifts into the service of the whole church. For this purpose they had no hesitation to create new offices, but if such a new function would not be effective or if they could not find a suitable person to take it over when someone left for missionary service, it was changed or scrapped (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:31). Brethren and sisters were specially appointed for the care of the poor and the sick. Also young people and children were involved because the Moravians wanted them to learn early to serve the Lord and His Church.
         Out of flexibility the 24-hour prayer watch evolved. Around 22 August 1727 the congregation considered how to counter the fact that the enemy was not sleeping day and night. Taking their cue from the altar of the ark, which was always burning (Leviticus 6:12f), they decided to ignite a voluntary sacrifice of intercession that would burn day and night (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:35).

Proper Timing
In terms of warfare strategy we should furthermore note the timing of things. The Bible makes a point to state that Jesus came to the earth at the kairos, at God’s appointed time (see for example Ephesians 1:10). A closely related issue is the relation­ship between waiting and going. Jesus, with his divine nature, obviously understood this perfectly. Already as a child He knew that He had to be in the ‘house of His father’ (Luke 2:49). But for His public ministry he also knew that He had to wait for the divine approval. The Gospel of John reports how Jesus had to rectify his mother, who evidently expected some miracle from Him: His time had not come (John 2:4).
         With regard to the timing of ministry, we see this principle at work with Paul who had to wait at least 3 years, perhaps even 14 years (Galatians 1:17f, 2:1) before he could use his evident gifts fully. This is also the case with other strategic people in the Hebrew Scriptures. Joseph seemed to be God’s appointed vessel from the start. After his life had been wonderfully saved, God was with him as he displayed true mettle in the service of Potiphar. Yet, he had to languish in jail after grave injustice. Nevertheless, it looked as if his faith and obedi­ence to God was vindicated when the butler promised to bring his innocence to the attention of the Pharaoh. But God in his own complete­ly incomprehen­sible sovereignty deemed it necessary to keep Joseph in jail for another two years. One way to explain this seems to be that it was not God’s appointed time for his release.

Waiting and Delay     
Delay is evidently part of divine moulding, even if it means postponing plans for a long time. But it has a definite purpose. Moses had to learn patience, Joseph and David humil­ity. Lessons like these are not easily learned. Even after an extended period of ‘school­ing’, Joseph still seemed to battle with his bitterness against his brothers when he saw them for the first time. It is not clear from the biblical report whether his initial dealings were meant as revenge, but in Genesis 42:7 it is recorded that he addressed his brothers harshly. God’s Spirit continued to minister to him until he broke down, weeping hysterically (45:2).
         Although Moses had been thoroughly taught in the top ‘university’ of his time (see Acts 7:22), he still needed forty years of preparation in the desert before he had the required humility to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Through­out the Bible God puts a very high premium on obedience in humility. Disobedi­ence and impatience cause delay at best. But if one persists, one may lose out completely. Elijah had to flee and wait on the Lord for approxi­mately three years (1 Kings 18:1) ahead of the major confrontation with the Baal priests on Mount Carmel. David had to wait for many years before he was enthroned, after he had been anointed as King while he was still a juvenile.
         The Bible also gives negative examples of the principle. The most tragic case is possibly Saul who lost the kingship because of his impatience (1 Samuel 13:9ff) and disobedi­ence.
         Although we know Jesus is the King of Kings, we still have to wait on the consummation of this fact. After the ascension of Jesus, the fearful disciples waited prayerfully on the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that they would be endowed with power from on high (Acts 1:14). There is evidently a special blessing on corporate waiting on the Lord, especially when it is around the related issue of waiting on ‘doors’ to open up. Thus a rich harvest followed when the doors to the Middle East and North Korea started to open up after many years of prayerful waiting by believers. In this light the prophecy of Isaiah 19:23-25 may sound very unlikely with Iraq, Egypt and Israel together in an alliance, but it is not so out of bounds anymore, with the highway between Baghdad and Cairo already a fact.
         In history Jan Amos Comenius probably goes down as one of the most profound examples of someone who was willing to wait on the Lord. He uttered a remarkable prophecy that the ‘hidden seed’ sown through the martyr’s death of Jan Hus would finally sprout another hundred years thereafter. Very patiently the Moravian exiles developed a long term strategy and vision ‘that made possible some of the greatest contributions to the church and civilization’ (Rick Joyner, Three Witnesses, 1999:11). 
         An interesting modern day variation of the principle is the strategy of South Korean students. They have been praying for years for the opening up of the Communist North Korea, but they are also ready to sacrifice a year of their studies to ‘invade’ the north, to spread the Gospel as short-term mission­aries as soon as the atheist country opens up for missionary work. This may happen soon. Families that have been separated since 1948 have now been allowed to visit each other.

On the Look-out for divinely prepared People!
In the same vein the ‘New Testament’ seems to teach that the apostles knew that they had to look for those persons who had been prepared by God. An interesting aspect in this regard is the relationship between waiting and going. Philip was called from the action in Sama­ria to 'wait' at the desert road of Gaza. At the right moment we see him ‘running’, after the Holy Spirit had nudged Him to go towards the vehicle of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-30). Martha had to get her priorities straight: not the waiting on the Lord in practical service but waiting at His feet is required (Luke 10:41)!
            Awaiting the hour of the Lord became second nature to Count Zinzendorf. He ‘would not rush souls into a quick decision or push them, but left it over to the Lord... and thus he suc­ceeded with many’ (Spangenberg, 1773-1775 [1971]:1338). Zinzendorf radicalized the principle to such an extent that he taught: ‘... the Gospel may not be preached whenever it enters a person’s head to do so; rather, it too has its appropriate time’ (Forell, 1973:25).’ To substantiate this statement, which almost contradicts the Pauline injunction to preach at all times (2 Corinthians 4:2), Zinzendorf used no less than four different Bible verses: Galatians 4:4, ‘When the time had fully come’; Mark 1:15, ‘The time is fulfilled’, Luke 19:42, ‘At this your time’ and Luke 14:17 ‘He sent them out at supper-time.’ Of course, this is no real contradiction. The word should be preached in and out of season, (2 Timothy 4:2; Colossians 4:5+6), but discernment is also called for. In fact, Jesus warned us not to throw pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6) in a similar con­text.

Herrnhut embraced Waiting on the Lord[66]  
The Herrnhut congregation obviously grasped the principle of waiting on the Lord. This is especially interesting in respect of the famous revival which broke out on the 13th August 1727. About the run-up to this event we read: ‘but all through the summer, the people seemed to be waiting and preparing for a still more signal visitation and commandment from the Lord.’ They knew that biblical waiting is an active process of getting prepared for the anointing of God’s Spirit. We read of night-long vigils of prayer and meditation during this time and a covenant of ten single brothers on 22 July 1727 to meet frequently ‘to pour out their hearts in prayer and sing­ing and mutual exhortation.’ On 5 August Count Zinzendorf and 14 brethren spent the whole night in ‘religious conversation and prayer’. Finally the whole congrega­tion continued praying after the afternoon service on August 10 until midnight, coven­anting with one another under tears to dwell together in unity and love. Thus the reconciled community could go to the Commu­nion service of Wednesday, the 13th of August. The waiting on the Lord continued even as they walked in small groups from Herrnhut to the neighbouring town of Berthelsdorf where the communion service would be held in the village church. ‘All seemed to be awaiting an extraordinary visitation at the church’ (Lewis, 1962:58).
            At a later stage, following the example of the disciples (for example Acts 1:26), the Herrnhut congregation used the lot extensively in this process of waiting. Thus Tobias Leopold, who had initially been preparing to go with Leonhard Dober to St Thomas, was turned down by the lot. Two years later, after patiently waiting on further instructions - but working as diligently on the home front while preparing for the Lord’s ‘green light’ - Leupold led a team of fourteen brothers and four sisters to the neighbouring island of St. Croix, only to die there half a year later.
            The same principle was applied whenever problems arose. Thus Zinzendorf instructed his diaspora workers: ‘When impediments are thus laid in our way, either by clergymen or magistrates, it is our duty to lay the case in prayer before the Saviour, and wait His time for removing them’ (Lewis, 1962:122).

Marriage as Warfare
Taking their cue from Jesus and Paul who were not married, the Church down the ages took the celibate as a model. Herrnhut Moravians wanted to be ready for service at all times. Marriage was delayed on pur­pose as part of the strategy. They were clearly following the apostle Paul’s advice in this regard. Zinzendorf himself had to go through the moulding crucible after two disappointments in romance. The end result was for him the ‘Streiter-ehe’, according to which marriage primarily had to serve the cause of the Gospel. He was of course adhering to the principles Paul had laid down in 1 Corinthians 7:29. According to the warrior marriage concept, matrimony had to serve the extension of the Kingdom. Therefore marriage was not encour­aged, but neither was celibacy. In fact, marriage was consciously delayed and only single men were initially sent out to the mission field. However, also the single sisters were prepared for mission service. Celibacy was not a Moravian ideal, but both men and women pledged themselves to put marriage secondary to service for Christ. Most Moravians eventually married but postponed this step until it fitted in with the assignments the Lord had for them.
         Zinzendorf entered his own marriage more out of rational considerations than romantic feelings. When he proposed to Erdmuth, she was challenged to get married to him ‘as if she had no husband.’ The Count was very serious about the issue, often leaving his wife behind for many months as he left on his extended trips to further the Kingdom. Erdmuth, the countess, took the dual role of father and mother bravely in her stride. In fact, she was getting ready for poverty. When they married she was disappointed, surprised to get a luxurious suite and servants at the beginning of their marriage. On her deathbed however, she was blessed when her husband returned after an extended absence just before she finally closed her eyes. (However, remorse befell Zinzendorf after the death of Erdmuth in 1756, because of his extended visits away from home.)
         A similar story, albeit not tragic, can be told of the other great 18th century Moravian, Bishop August Spangenberg. He and his wife were wedded for the ministry, standing at the helm of the American work, equally involved next to each other ‘like two artisans who joined for the solving of a task’ (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:127). Visitations to the various congregations and mission stations as well as negotiations with the government required frequent absence, sometimes for many months at a time. Yet, we should not romanticize the warrior concept of marriage in any way. (The separation of CT and Priscilla Studd, the founders of WEC International, at a time when she was terminally ill, caused tremendous strain on their relationship.)
A Warrior Mentality
The Church has already been called in ancient days an ecclesia militans, a fighting church. The worst interpretation of the concept was the Crusaders who took it upon themselves to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims and calling the Jews murderers of Christ. Centuries before them Church leaders like Augustine - who operated in the early 5th century - have given the cue to rank and file Christians to use coercion in stead of persuasion to bring the erring back to the faith or to bowl doubting people over. Before Augustine, the Emperor Constantine subjected big geographical areas, ‘christianised’ many people groups by military force. This he had definitely not learnt from the Jews. The predominant hope of the people of Israel had never been ‘to convert the whole world to Judaism but to convert the whole world to God.’ Muhammad and his Saracen successors ably used the Constantine precedent – aided by Christians bickering in a petty way over doctrinal issues – to subdue and islamise the bulk of the Middle East, using the military version of jihad, holy war.

         A warrior mentality – a biblically sound one - was definitely evident in Herrnhut where Count Zinzendorf was regarded as a real general of Christ. The ‘general’, known for his special ability and gift of extempore poetry, came on board with songs, enriching religious spirituality with a new ‘Gattung’ (genre) called Streiterlieder, warrior hymns. Their King was of course the Lamb. Accordingly, they boldly sported the old motto on their banner: the Lamb has conquered, let us follow him. (The Lamb carrying such a banner is the international emblem of the denomination.)
         I have not been able to discern any connection between William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army and the Moravians. The imagery was similar, taken even further with ranks and all in the Salvation Army. C T Studd was clearly influenced by William Booth and his Salvation Army. Typical of the spirit of the new English warriors songs were hymns like ‘Fight the good fight with all thy might’ and ‘Onward Christian soldiers ...going as to war.’ That Studd also spoke of ‘prayer batteries’ was nearer to biblical truth. The idea was that the little prayer groups should operate as canon batteries, either preparing the areas where the ‘infantry’ can move in or to provide cover and prayer support for the missionaries on the field. That everybody can be involved, and that not only special courageous people are fit to be used by God, is of course very scriptural. In the story of Gideon, it is especially precious how God could use the cowardly Israelite because he was willing and obedient, albeit very hesitantly. Exemplary was also how Gideon gave due to those who were not initially involved in the battle, but who did play a part in the mopping-up operation (Judges 8:2,3).

Examples of good and bad Timing
An ancient idiomatic expression states that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword.’ This has been proved again and again, such as when a booklet by the Portuguese General Spinola ushered in the demise of the dictatorships not only in his own country and that of neighbouring Spain, but which also led to the liberation of the Portuguese African colonies. This exerted pressure on the former Rhodesia and South Africa to also release their grip, seeing Zimbabwe, Namibia and finally South Africa becoming democratic. In a similar way, the booklet of the Dutch theologian Breek de Muren af in 1973, appears to have been seminal in setting Afrikaner theologians thinking deeply about the roots of the racist ideology that was spiralling towards the precipice of civil war of massive dimensions, albeit that it was not so dramatic. Eight Reformed theologians were ready to make a public statement on Reformation Day (31 October) in 1980. Two years later their stand had snowballed when eighty from the same church background wrote in an open letter that they were mede-aandadig, that they were accomplices to the upholding of the wicked apartheid system. The 1986 Synod general synod of the denomination prepared the road for the Rustenburg Confession of 1990, which brought the ultimate breakthrough, which made it almost impossible for the politicians to go back to a compromise of half backed White domination.
         The timing of saying and writing the right thing is just as important. A divine element can be easily discerned when Mark Gabriel, a former Egyptian scholar and lecturer from Al Azhar University in Cairo, had to flee his country in 1994 after he had become a Christian. Witnessing the PAGAD (People against Gangsterism and Drugs) excesses in Cape Town on 4 August 1996 on TV, when Rashaad Staggie was publicly executed by burning, this was the cue for him to start his research on jihad in Islamic literature. Shortly after the New York twin tower tragedy of September 11 in 2001 he was approached by one of the directors of Strang Communications in the USA, where he had subsequently settled, whether he knew of someone who could write on the topic. Affirmatively he mentioned that the manuscript merely had to be translated into English. The publication of Islam and Terrorism in 2002, and translated into over fifty languages subsequently, became in due course an instrument to assist in the ushering in of the ideological demise of Islamism.
         One of the most recent expressions of a biblically responsible application of a warrior mentality is the brave but loving exposure of the true nature of Islam by Mark Gabriel in his latest book Culture Clash (Strang Communications, Lake Mary, Florida, 2007). One senses his compassion for the co-religionists in which he was born and bred when he still proceeds to conclude that the culture clash can still be resolved by a reform of Islam, by a new interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadith (p.176). (He reminds me of my own naïve hopes many decades ago that apartheid could be broken down by gradual removal of oppressive laws.) And yet, such an effort by Muslim theologians could be the beginning, just as apartheid theologians first saw the light.  
         The whole world can nevertheless be grateful that Mark Gabriel possibly prevented a world war by advising President Bush to refrain from intervening militarily in Turkey or Iran.[67] He was very charitable in not highlighting the abuse and high-jacking of his exposure of jihad (the President gave a copy of Islam and Terrorism to every member of the national Congress in Washington) for the less fortunate military intervention in Iraq, but Mark Gabriel was honest and bold in not only highlighting the wording but also the bad timing of a White House move: ‘It didn’t help when President George W. Bush made the semantic blunder of declaring a ‘crusade’ against terrorism shortly after 9/11’ (Culture Clash, p. 154).  May Dr Gabriel's bold stand and invitation have a similar positive emulation among Muslim theologians as it occurred with the apartheid regime.
         But this will not be easy. The bold witness of people like Mark Gabriel and Nonie Darwish, another brave follower of Jesus, only came to pass after dumping the all-pervasive fear in Islam, to let it be substituted by the love of Christ. Perfected agape love drives out all fear (1 John 4:18). This is redemptive and powerful to liberate millions who are still gripped by fear of standing out for the truth, which could set them free.  Ultimately the darkness of the lie cannot stand against the light of the truth which will only get bigger as more and more Muslims find salvation through faith in Christ in different parts of the world
Praise, Worship, Fasting and Weeping
A text which is rightly quoted quite often is Zechariah 4:6, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty’. This is basic to spiritual warfare, but it is unfortunate that the context is usually not considered when the text is quoted. Other basic principles are contained in this prophesy of Zechariah 4, namely that of the power of the weak and the ‘few’ in building the temple. ‘Shouts of thank­s­gi­ving’ declare that ‘all was done by grace alone’ (v.6-8).
            Praise is used in the Tenach[68] a few times in the attacks of God’s enemies. The most well-known of them is probably Joshua and the seven trumpets whose marching as the group around Jericho was augmented by the united shout after the sev­enth time on the seventh day. (We note the repetition of the number seven, the biblical number for completion and perfection.) Some­times fasting and praise occur in close proximity, for example Nehemiah 9:1+4.
            The enemy apparently attempted to let fasting lose its initial purpose as a tool in spiritual war­fare. In the church at large it was either com­pletely neg­lected, or it became a ‘work’ to earn God’s favour, for example the fasting during lent. Jesus himself fasted and prayed for forty days and nights before he started his ministry (Matthew 4:2). When His opponents pointed to the fact that His disciples were not fasting, he did not play down the feasibility of it. He merely stated that the disciples would be doing it when he, ‘the bridegroom’, would not be around (Matthew 9:15). He did however attack fasting as an outward show to impress others (Matthew 6:16; Luke 18:12). The Master was fully in line with Hebrew Scriptural teach­ing where we read for example that God rejects fasting when those who are fasting are practising evil pleas­ures and oppress (underpay?) their workers (Isaiah 58:3). But the Hebrew Scriptures teach just as clearly how fasting can be a sign of penitence (2 Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21; Jonah 3:5; Daniel 6:18; Joel 2:15). It can also be used as a weapon in fight­ing the enemy (Esther 4:16). In recent years this has been prof­itably rediscovered. In South Africa Christians were chal­lenged to fast and pray in the 40 day period leading to the national day of prayer on July 7, 1996.
            The Germans developed a tradition which they called ‘Buß- und Bet­tag’. The original intention was obviously to encourage Christians to repent and pray. The celebration of the day deteriorated into empty insignificance. During the various revivals over the cen­turies many Christians became involved in com­mitted prayer. Usually a vision for the strategies of the enemy was lacking. In so many cases denomi­national splits and tensions followed periods of revival.
            Count Zinzendorf approached the idea very closely through the ‘Dank- und Fasttage’ (Days of thanks and fasting). On the first of two occasions on 10 February 1728, they started speaking about distant lands, about Turkey, Africa, Green- and Lapland. When some brethren indicated that it had to be regarded as imposs­ible to go to these places, the Count pro­nounced in faith that the Breth­ren would be given grace to go there. At the second day of thanks­giving and fasting two months later, trips were already decided upon to go to Stockholm and England. The foundation of the link between missions and prayer was thus laid.

             We are thankful that the Holy Spirit has illuminated the minds of believers in different parts of the world on ‘Spiri­tual Warfare’ independently of each other in recent decades. Terms like ‘spiri­tual mapping’, ‘territorial strongholds’ and ‘identificational repentance’ may not yet be household words in church circles. However, only a few years ago they would have been com­pletely unknown.[69] The need of having prayer back­ing when any worker enters the spiritual strong­holds of the enemy is not only discerned more clearly, but it is also implemen­ted more and more. The terminology have however not always been handled carefully, causing disunity in many a case.

Perseverance in spite of Rejection
Even though His message was rejected - Jesus spoke to friend and foe alike, without evading or avoiding the likes of Pharisees and Scribes. In John 4 it is reported how he took the shortest route between Judea and the province of Galilee, without circumventing the disliked and despised Samaria.[70] His claim to be the Son of God was the main reason why he was cru­cified.
         In similar vein, Paul moved on from the synagogues and towns where the message was rejected. In Acts 13:51 he symbolical­ly removed the dust from his feet. We note in this passage how the influential people of the town were instigated against the messengers of the Gospel. Through the ages the wealthy and the intelligentsia were usually the least responsive to the Gospel.
         If the other apostles at first did not grasp the message of the preponderance of outreach to Jews properly, this cannot be said of Paul. He made a habit of starting his outreach in cities with a visit to the synagogues (Acts 17:2), seeing the Jews as a priority. We find that Paul used the Hebrew Scriptures to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ (for example Acts 17:2). Even after he had been rejected and shunned in the one town, he would nevertheless start in the synagogue of the next town as if nothing had happened. Paul thus also displayed tenacity and perseverance as part of his armour in conflict with the resistant Jews.

Valuable strategic Lessons    
We could also learn valuable strategic lessons from Jesus in his approach, using geographically concentric circles. Acts 1:8 does point to the possibility of first getting active in one’s own city/town (Jerusalem), thereafter perhaps to your own prov­ince/region (Judea), to another culture or ethnic minor­ities (Samaria) before going to the ends of the earth. But it would stretch the text too far to deduce that this sequence should be strictly adhered to or that they are mutually ex­clus­ive. It is nevertheless valid that a missionary should ideally first prove himself in his home church, in his home town before getting involved cross-culturally. To see missionary trips merely as adventure is bound to be catastrophic for all parties. In recent mission history there are examples of how years of arduous toil by long-term mission­aries have been wrecked by the result-orientated holiday-spending helpers who did not comprehend the culture of the country concerned; often these ‘helpers’ had not been involved with evangelistic outreach in their home town before such trips.
            In the choosing of less-sophisticated Galileans, as well as the zealot Judas Iscariot as His disciples, Jesus displayed shrewd tactical insight, which we could also emulate. This sort of people is possibly much easier to mobilize for missions than the more educated and academic. But this does not imply that Peter easily left his nets to follow Jesus. To leave your profession to follow Jesus full-time is a decision which is never taken easily.
The Sins of anti-Semites
It is not always very clear how some Christians got to the conclusion that we as gentile Christians have no right to present the Gospel to Jews. Even though Western Christianity stands guilty with its haughty ignoring of the missionary efforts of the first century (CE) Jewish enterprise, to spread the Gospel to places like India and China, it does not absolve us from the responsibility to challenge Jews. The rift caused between Jewry and Christianity by Emperor Constantine’s favouritism is something to confess corporately as Christian guilt. That could be a start.
            Yet, the sins of anti-Semites through the centuries do not remove or even diminish any part of the Great Commission. Of course, we must be very sensitive. As Paul has already told us, Gentile Christians are merely the grafted branches into God’s family tree, not the root (Romans 11:18-20). The Jews are the main stem of the olive tree, God’s chosen people. All our missionary efforts to them should be geared to that purpose: so that they might realize their full potential. A ministry of prayer is very much called for. Reaching out in love to the Jews with the Gospel of Jesus could make all the difference to world missions!
            Similarly, care should be practised in our dealings with Muslims. There is such a lot of guilt and shame involved, that the spread of Islam in the Western Cape could be described as a part of the unpaid debt of the Church. In this regard we mention the treatment and rejection of the slaves in colonial days and the role of apartheid, which was seen as the policy of a Christian government. These are only two of many examples of the debt incurred. But guilt does not absolve us from the responsi­bility to share the Gospel with our Muslim countrymen with sensitivity and love.
            The number of Jews and Muslims in South Africa might not be so impressive, but they might turn out quite significant if we consider the biblical prophecies with regard to these special people groups. Mission­aries to Israel, to the Jews of New York and to the Arab world might spark off a worldwide missionary movement! The missionary move from Antioch, Alexandria, Babylon and Baghdad in the first century CE may have been approached by Zinzendorf and his Herrnhut Moravians in the 18th and 19th centuries, but definitely not equalled!

Food for Thought:
Jews and Muslims have been neglected in missionary endeavour. In how far have our missionary efforts been guided by expedience? Has the resistance of these groups and our yearning for quick results not perhaps been too much of a guiding factor?

And some Ideas:
What can we do to rectify the mistakes of the past? Should it not be a priority to bring together believers from the three Abrahamic religions in cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg?
What possibilities are there for the church to get involved in restitution, such as to serve the many Muslim families affected by drug addiction?
How about starting up a prayer group directed at the conversion of Jews and/or Muslims?
Alternately, why not include this as a regular feature in a normal prayer meeting?

[1] As Christians we have been referring to the Hebrew Bible as the 'Old Testament', a term that knowledgable self-respecting Jews consider denigrating. I try to avoid the term because of the negative connotations. It somehow creates the impression that the 'New Testament' ('NT') either augments or even supercedes the Hebrew Scriptures. For lack of a better term (Jewish scholars sometime refer to the'NT' as Christian Scriptures). I continue to use 'NT'. I try to use ‘New Testament’ consistently, i.e. with inverted commas.
[2]     Matthew 28:19 and 20: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. 
[3]  In his booklet The Key to the missionary Problem at the beginning of the 20th century, Andrew Murray put a very strong case for the church at large to take the Great Commission seriously again.
[4] He saw how the Khoi believer died ‘in volkome rus en vrede van sy siel en in vertroue op die Here.’ (L.R. Schmidt,  Ds Dr Helperus Ritzema van Lier, 1937:6)
[5]     The link must have been quite substantial because the two eldest daughters of the Murrays were sent to the Moravian educational institution with its hostels in Zeist in 1872 (Du Plessis, 1919:266). Andrew Murray worked on a biography of Count Zinzendorf, which he unfortunately had not completed at the time of his death in 1917.
[6]     Preface to The Key to the missionary Problem, contemporized by Leona F. Choy and published by Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington in 1979,  p.7
[7]     Patrick Johnstone met his first wife Jill, who wrote the children’s version of the book, while they were mission­aries with the Dorothea Mission.
[8]     David Bosch’s book Transforming Mission, had its seventh printing after only two years in November 1993­. The booklet on the Gospel of Luke, Goeie Nuus vir armes ... en rykes, (Good news to the poor ... and the rich) which was originally written as study notes for Unisa students, is a missiological gem that should be made accessible to a much broader reading public.
[9]     This is respectively highlighted in the book of Timothy Keagan, Moravian Mission in the Eastern Cape, 2004 and that of Prof. T. Jack Thompson, Touching the Heart, 1999. As far as I know the work of indigenous church workers such as the Methodist pioneer Jacob Links in Namaqualand has hardly been given attention in mission history. This is not even taking into consideration the contribution of unrecorded work in West Africa. The first Moravian missionaries were assisted in St Thomas (1732) by the old Marotta, who had been brought over as a slave from West Africa.
[10]    With regard to racial terminology, which unfortunately became so important in South Africa, I use 'Coloured' to denote the people of mixed race, next to White and Black respectively (with the first letter as a capital) for the other main population groups (except in quotations).
[11]    This is of course is an adaptation of the Latin version "ex unitas vires" that highlights that unity exudes life and power. Sadly the warning of the second part of the motto, viz. tweedracht breekt kracht (discord breaks power is all too often forgotten).
[12] I refer here to the Latin original of the constituent parts, pro and vocare, meaning to call, to draw attention to something in a positive way.

[13]    This transpired at Jesus’ baptism, at His transfiguration, when the Greeks came to see Him and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
[14]    Traditionally we have been speaking – sometimes derogatorily about the ‘Old Testament’ - forgetting that the Bible is a unit where both parts are equal in value, i.e. the Tenach, consisting of the first letters in Hebrew for the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nebiim) and other Scriptures (Chetubim), is very much a basis for and foundation of the ‘New Testament’.
[15]    The Barbour Publishing Company in Uhrichsville, Ohio (USA) published a compendium for daily use, ‘A Daily Devotional on the Deeper Christian Life’ in 1996 with the title The best of Andrew Murray on Prayer.
[16]    The link must have been quite substantial because the two eldest daughters of the Murrays were sent to the Moravian educational institution with its hostels in Zeist in 1872 (Du Plessis, 1919:266). Andrew Murray worked on a biography of Count Zinzendorf, which he unfortunately had not completed at the time of his death in 1917.
[17] The original version was published in Dutch in 1885 with the title ‘De school de Gebeds’.
[18]    A similar effect has been achieved when the 24 hour prayer watches were revived at the beginning of 2000 CE, with Namibia’s Bennie Mostert and John Mulinde from Uganda prominent. 
[19]    An important predecessor of the Rustenburg confession was the open letter of 123 Dutch Reformed ministers of 1982, which set the tone for a discussion to question the unjust laws of the country. In this document the ministers confessed that they were ‘mede-aandadig’, accomplices to many of the social evils in the country.  
[20]    Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an age of hun­ger, Intervarsity Press,  1977: 63 (Dutch translation)
[21]    Prime Minister Vorster warned the country many years ago about this scenario.
[22] That the Dutchman Bob van der Pijpekamp and another believer prayed against the occult powers at the mausoleum of Lenin in the Kremlin while they were waiting in the queue for one and a half hours in 1980 is not widely known. This was a part of the prayerful outreach of Christians during the Olympic Games in Moscow.
[23]    In an unpublished paper I have described the spread of Islam in the Western Cape as such.
[24] I expounded this in detail in my treatise THE SPIRITUAL PARENTS OF ISLAM.
[25]    Andrew Ross: John Philip, 1775-1851, Missions, Race and Politics in South Africa, (Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, 1986), p.??         
[26]    H. Ambrie, God has chosen for me everlasting life, The Good Way, Rikon, Switzerland, p.15 and 21
[27]    Radical comes from the radix, the Latin word for root.
[28]    Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticum (c.200) in Bettenson, 1967(1943):3f              
[29]    We should nevertheless not be blinded to see who is behind it. Even the great reformer Martin Luther was used by the enemy through his writings. Adolf Hitler quoted Luther in his hatred for the Jews, which ended in the holocaust.
[30]    As Praamsma (De Kerk van alle Tijden, II, 1980:113) noted, Luther refused the right hand of reconciliation of Zwingli, ('Er is niemand ter wereld met wie ik mij liever verbind dan de Wittenbergers'), Luthers only reply was: 'You have a different spirit from us.'
[31]    Martie Dieperink, Dochters naar mijn hart, (Kok Voorhoeve, Kampen (Netherlands), 1995), p.187-191
[32]    Quoted in Lewis Drummond, The Evangelist, the worldwide impact of Billy Graham, 2001
[33]    Compare for example 1 Peter 1:23+25 and the Septuagint version of Jeremiah 1:1f where in the one verse rhema is used and in the other logos.
[34]    Heinz Renkewitz, Zinzendorf, p.37 (quoted by (Weinlick, 1956:87).
[35]    Some theologian who leaned towards Islam came along with the ingenious idea that parakletos should read perikletos, which would render Achmed when it is translated into the Arabic. Eager Muslims jumped to the premature conclusion that Muhammad was thus prophesied by the Lord. However, Muhammad was by far not the first to suggest something along those lines. Centuries before him, Mani, the third century founder of Manicheism, had also dubbed himself likewise. Mani furthermore saw himself as the last true prophet and as the seal of the prophets (cf. Surah 33:40). Montanus and Elkesai were two other ancient personalities who saw themselves as the seal of the prophets.
[36]    Ammon raped his half-sister Tamar, and Absalom killed him because of this (see also 2 Samuel 13 how the lack of communication between David and his children aggravated the problems.)
[37]             Seen against the background of the perpetuation of structures and practices of injustice, the boycott and the moratorium of church workers from the rich Northern Hemisphere was intended as a temporary non-violent means, as a last resort to make violent resistance redundant. (A problem was however that the boycott weapon was applied selectively: Rhodesia and South Africa were targeted, but not the regimes of dictators like Idi Amin of Uganda and Ceauçescu’s Romania). Robert Mugabe has been getting away with murder in recent years without even getting apparent reprimands from the bulk of the Black leaders of the continent.
[38]According to Acts 8:1 ‘everyone except the apostles’ had been fleeing into Judea and Samaria. This seems to substantiate Richardson’s suggestion on p. 200 of the quoted book.
[39]Compare for example Psalm 81:8ff, where one finds a reminder of Yahweh’s intervention and aid - interspersed with Him wooing and warning His people.
[40]Apart from the fact that God should have received the glory, the actual fighting was done by his son Jonathan (1 Samuel 13:3, 4) and Saul also built a monument unto himself (1 Samuel 15:12).
[41]    Afrikaans Translation: Geseënd is dié wat weet hoe afhanklik hulle van God is.
[42]    Afrikaans: Rykes en armes ontmoet mekaar
[43]    Judas in John 12
[44]    Literally: Die hele Lukasevangelie is met die idee van die jubeljaar deurdrenk.
[45]    Paul equates materialism with idolatry, Colossians 3:5
[46] About the seed which fell among the thorns it is said in Luke 8:14 that the words of the Gospel are "choked out by worry and riches ... and the pleasures of life." 
[47] In Luke 12:16ff Jesus says about the rich fool: ‘Yes, every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven.
[48] Izaak da Costa is a famous Dutch poet with a Jewish background. There are however more Da Costa’s in Holland who converted to Christianity from Jewry. I have not been able to detect a link between the Jewish-background Dutch poet Izaak da Costa and the couple that Zinzendorf ministered to.  Izaak da Costa kept the evangelical flame burning when Holland looked to be drowned by liberalism in the churches.  The work and influence of Izaak da Costa appears to have impacted Andrew Murray deeply during his study stint in Utrecht in the mid-1940s.
[49] Literally, possibly translated: 'Ons geloof heeft geen enkele betekenis, als het niet gepaard gaat met zinvolle daden.' Werken onder de Armen, Tear Fund, Netherlands, Dec.1991, p.15.
[50]    In recent months Cape Town produced a contrasting example of a young student whose bequest was the catalyst towards the start of a home for orphaned children in the Cape suburb of Diep River.
[51]    Literally: Nie meer ‘n sendende teenoor ‘n ontvangende kerk nie, maar twee sendende kerke teenoor die wagtende miljoene wat nog buite staan.  Gerdener's general position was however very ambivalent. In many aspects his thinking was very close to that of the apartheid ideologists.
[52]     A precedent of cross-cultural community living was the German-Americo-Indian-Moravian combination in Bethlehem, Penn­sylvania under the brilliant leadership of Bishop August Spangenberg in the 18th century.
[53]    American money is being alluded to.
[54]    Steve Sjogren, Conspiracy of Kindness, p. 31
[55] In the early years of the mission agency WEC International, even children could listen to the discussions at conferences.
[56]It is noteworthy how God used people from outside the nation of Israel. In the case of Joseph he was rescued by Ishmaelites (!) and in Jeremiah’s case an African came to his aid. A North African, Simon of Cyrene, carried Jesus Cross during the last part of the way to Calvary.
[57]    I do not make any excuses for using the word dialogue, which has been maligned in some evangelical circles. From the context I attempt to show that there is also be a very positive side to it.
[58]    In Greek the word doulos is used for both slave and servant.
[59]    See 1 Corinthians 13 where many laudable things are mentioned, which become null and void when love is not the chief motivation.
[60]    In fact, the Zanzibari’s, who were Christianized at the turn of the 20th century in Natal, later turned their backs on Christianity, returning to Islam.
[61]    I would like to stress here that although I differed with my church leaders on this issue, I left the Moravian Church of my own volition. I was offered another function where I was not required to christen infants.
[62]    There was still some euphoria left after the 2007 Rugby World up victory, albeit that the couch decided to leave the country in the wake of racist expectations in some quarters for a Black successor).
[63]Muhammad was depressed and suicidal hereafter. For two years after this encounter he thought that he was demon possessed. Various persons have testified to have seen the vision of a scary gigantic figure.
[64]In his booklet The Destiny of Israel and the Church, 1992, Derek Prince wrote about three P's as spiritual warfare        weapons: Proclamation (pp. 109-112), Praise (pp. 112-116 ), Prayer (pp. 117-120 ). (Sunffering under) Persecution could be added as another P. Brother Andrew expanded this significantly in 1998, devising ten strategic steps, ten P’s (prophetic, planning, persistence, preparation, presence, penetration, profiling, permanence, proclamation and power) to which he linked a prayer apiece.

[65]    In his book Revolution (Tyndale House, 2005), George Barna highlights the phenomenon of Christians who experience vibrant faith beyond the walls and confines of the conventional congregational church format.
[66]    In this paragraph I quote exclusively from Lewis, 1962:55f
[67]This he shared personally. He was invited to the White House to advise the President and the Pentagon about the matter in 2007.
[68]The Hebrew Scriptures are also commonly known in Jewish circles by its acronym, Tenach or Tanakh – Torah, Nevi’im, K’tuvim. In English they are known as Law or Pentateuch, Prophets and Sacred writings.
[69]    A whole range of practical books on ‘spiritual warfare’ have been published since the late eighties. The tone in some of these publications is sometimes too arrogant. Followers of Jesus are still very much involved in battle in different places, but these books contain valuable guidelines and insights. The dramatic spread of the Gospel the last few years can definite­ly be attributed to the increased use of ‘spiritual warfare’ tactics and lessons.
[70]    Cf. Luke 9:53 where messengers of the Lord were turned away by Samaritan villagers merely because they were heading for Jerusalem. (Of course, it all started with the rejection by Ezra and Serubbabel when their ancestors wanted to help build the temple.)


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