Years ago in what was then called a “Colored Township” in Capetown, South Africa, I wondered at the hatred that caused that circular black burn mark on the street close to the front door of the gentle believers who had opened their hearts and home to me. What causes a person to “necklace” another with a flaming tire?
In those days of both Apartheid and tribal strife, nerves were strained. Many mornings in that enchanting country we awoke to read of more murders in the very areas we were attempting to preach the gospel of peace. As we drank rooibos tea with sugar and milk, plots were being devised, opinionated discussions were mounting in fury, eyes were flashing, and angry words were spilling out in one city after another. The fear and vitriol were masked by the genteel manner of the believers we met along the way, but it was there all around them. I had made several trips to this fascinating part of the world, and would make several more, but at that moment above all others, I felt the tensions of unresolved perturbation.
On another trip there at another time, our ancient driver and evangelist yelled out his Christian greetings to the people along the dusty road. We took the car and our bodies for a long trek through the bush to speak to people about the One who brings peace. When I talked with one of the native schoolteachers in the Christian-based schools this evangelist had started, she was dismayed but not defeated. Angry men had come through and raped some of the teachers and had damaged the schools, threatening, belligerent. The children were fewer that day after the ravaging had taken place. It was barbaric, but it was the unraveling world they had become increasingly accustomed to.
Did I have a message that could save them? Oh yes, I did. I still believe that. It is a message of true peace. Do you believe that it is such a message?
It seemed to me that what escaped the notice of many, though not all, in this religious country of South Africa was an understanding about who the real enemy was. It was not some other tribe or racial group or policeman or company boss, or even that unreasonable neighbor. It was God. They needed to be reconciled to God, and that reconciliation was reached by the saving work of Christ alone, and the resultant turning of their hearts away from ego to Him. This need is here in our country as well.
This is what we must be about above all, for all. “Be reconciled to God” is our message.