It has been exactly three months since i posted about the Angus Buchan prayer time in Bloemfontein which i wrote about here.
Which got a lot of people mad. How dare i challenge such an obviously God thing and good people with good intentions gathering together to pray for the country? How can that possibly be a bad thing?
If i remember correctly, my writing on the prayer event was more questioning than condemning and yet a lot of people chose not to answer the questions but rather shout me down. It has been three months now and so hopefully we have all had some more time to think about it and now feels like a good time to look back and try and figure out together whether it was a good thing or not [cos if so we should do it again and if not we should do it differently or not at all, right?] and maybe be able to identify both strengths and weaknesses from the occasion in terms of looking forward.
i found this interesting passage that talks about judging in the bible and seems to suggest we shouldn’t:
“1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Or does it? Maybe the clue is in the second part. You will be judged with the same measure that you judge others. Is that saying don’t judge or is that saying that we shouldn’t judge someone else about something we are not prepared to be judged about? So calling for consistency and warning against hypocrisy? Don’t you dare point a finger at someone else for something you are not doing yourself? That seems a lot more fair given the tone of Jesus’ questioning of the Pharisees in Matthew 23.
Jesus’ intro to that passage seems to suggest as much:
2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
Tell me the stories!
But before we get ahead of ourselves and talk about judging, what really needs to happen is for the stories of how life has changed since the April 22 event to be shared. Those are what is most likely to vindicate any kind of criticism around the event. And with many who claimed upwards of a million people gathering to pray and call on God combined with a mass moment of confession and repentance, there cannot not be stories.
Later on in the Matthew 7 passage i quoted above it has this phrase: By their fruit you will recognise them.
That is the standard i want to be judged on. And so i am more than happy to call others on the same thing. Where is the fruit?
This past week i was continuing my studies of LUT [Leadership in Urban Transformation] which i am thoroughly enjoying and being crazily challenged by and on three different occasions someone brought up the Justice Conference which happened back in March of this year.
Which makes me excited and happy cos my wife Val organised the thing. But more than that, makes me believe without a shadow of a doubt that the conference lives on.
There have been gatherings happening in both Joburg and Durban since the conference. Speakers from the conference have had opportunities around the country and some overseas as a result of it. Churches have been meeting to discuss how they do things and what needs to change. People have quit jobs and moved homes. Conversations have continued and action has been taken. Non-profits have been dialoguing about how they work going forwards. Family members have been changing the way they view minimum vs living wage and a host of other decisions. The Justice Conference landed in March, with only about 1000 to 1200 people present over the two days, and yet the ripples continue to move out and in many cases gain momentum.
When i questioned the Passion worship event that 15000 people attended [and from a point of sharing pros and cons of the event – was definitely not a witch hunt but an honest ‘this felt good, this didn’t so much’] people went off at me [including a good number of pastors] but since the event happened i honestly have not heard a single story. Not saying they didn’t happen, but i haven’t heard one instance of anything being different since 15000 people gathered to worship [and there was also confession present at that event, which was one of the things i really loved]
Same with the Angus Buchan prayer event – i have not heard a peep and this time we are claiming a million people? A million people who gathered and confessed and said “We will do things differently from now!” [that’s what repentance is!] How is it possible that the stories aren’t flooding our newspapers? Or at the very least our pulpits.
Or is it just that i somehow have not heard them? The 1000 person event ripples across my social media on a weekly basis and offline as well.
Show me the money!
So this is the opportunity for you to share with me some stories of changed lives that happened as a result of Angus Buchan’s prayer event. In a way that answers some of the questions or concerns about the nature of the event that i posted about here.
i do want to believe. If a million people [and there were many more who gathered as churches across the country to pray without going to Bloemfontein – which in my head makes a whole lot more sense in so many ways] had a change of heart in some way, then there have to be stories that came out of that. Those are the stories i want to be sharing.
What changed in South Africa as a result of the 22 April prayer event? And if nothing significant did, then would you still do it again? i think it is so important that we can honestly ask and answer this question.
Let’s not be mistaken. This is an incredible prayer. But the highlighted section is important and some might say critical for the ‘Then…’ part to follow.
Have we turned from our wicked ways?
Are we paying the people who work for us a living wage?
Are we using the money we have in general in a way that is pleasing to God and looking out for the least of these?
Are we continuously asking God to search our hearts and highlight the racism that still exists in word and thought and deed and to convict us of it and lead us into changed behaviour?
Are we thinking about second cars and third toilets and holiday houses and overseas trips and new board games and other things that should cause us to wrestle with decisions made about things over people?
Are we building relationships with people who don’t look like us and bridges towards people whose living standard is way below ours?
And more. Basically are we living the commitment we made when we said we would follow Jesus?