Imagining a Nation

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Siki Dlanga (front left) poses with Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane and young leaders on the 2014 Freedom Mantle retreat held on Robben Island.

Siki Dlanga, Freedom Mantle leader

Imagine if student leaders who participated in this year’s #FeesMustFall protests had an opportunity to listen to God’s heart for them, their campus and the country? What kind of leadership and influence would we see emerge in our nation?

Freedom Mantle ended 2015 with an Imbizo on Robben Island on the first weekend of December, one year after the death of Nelson Mandela. A group of young leaders spent three days in Robben Island praying, healing and considering the cost of leadership. They received considerable media coverage in print and on TV as they committed themselves to picking up the mantle of their elders and leading the nation as Christian Godly leaders.

We have discerned the need for a retreat for Christian students who were involved in the recent protests, as well as those aspiring to be involved in change. Freedom Mantle has invited Christian Activists from USA, Baltimore who will be joining us, and sharing their experience, as well as learning from our South African story. Older Christian leaders who were student activists in the 1970’s and 80’s will be present. Christian student organisations and student activists will also be participating in conversations as part of the retreat. The time together will serve students in an intergenerational context to pray, listen to God together, listen to one another and be refreshed spiritually and mentally in order to be prepared for 2016 and beyond.

The event takes place in Stellenbosch University in January 2016 and we are excited about this opportunity to serve students. Next year marks 40 years since the Soweto uprising. I believe this is an opportunity for the Christian community in South Africa to be proactive about what takes place in our nation. We are daring to believe that after these last 40 years since 1976, God is able to lead South Africa to 40 years of peace, if we will respond with faith in our approach to the challenges that face our beautiful nation. In the story of Moses and Joshua we learn that God will not fulfill His promises to a grumbling nation. He will however cause those who have faith to inherit His promises as we see in the lives of Joshua and Caleb in the book of Joshua. We are discerning that the unrest of the born-frees is a generation that is simply groaning for the inheritance of their generation. However, if God does not intervene, not even our leaders in their best attempts can provide the answers to the questions that will be asked of them.

It may seem like an impossible dream in the natural, but God has done miracles in our nation before, to quote our first president, “It seems impossible until it is done.” If the giants of our nation, including inequality, are overcome, peace is possible. We cannot slay these giants in our own strength. It is for this reason that we gather the students, particularly as student movements are looking to escalate the protests in 2016. Our prayers are that God will escalate solutions for our nations. We also pray for an increase of God’s presence and that He would give us the love we need for one another, as we are a diverse people. We need this love for one another if we are to successfully work together in order to build this nation.