Monday, March 16, 2009

Poverty Attacks Churches in South Africa

From the World Association of Christian Communication Congress in Cape Town:

Poverty Attacks Churches in South Africa
By Redemtor Atieno, Uganda

Speaking to participants of the WACC 2008 Congress who visited the Gugulethu Presbyterian Church 8 October, Mzukisi said that although apartheid was a terrible crime against humanity that left people with deep scars, poverty was an even worse crime.

“Poverty is attacking people’s dignity and is humiliating and dehumanizing the human being,” he said. He observed that it was very difficult to address the problem of poverty behind the pulpit with limited resources.

“How do you preach to someone who went to bed without food?” he asked. He said that although South Africa is rich with notions of human rights, people do not eat human rights. “By teaching human rights we are not solving any problem because the people want jobs and food.”
He said the problem of HIV/AIDS has increasingly become uncontrollable because the patients take the strong medicines on empty stomachs.

The church needs to find a more practical solution because talking and praying alone becomes an academic issue that does not help the people on the ground, Mzukisi added. “Anything that attacks the dignity of our people is a sin. As Africans we believe that men are the heads of the family and if they fail to provide, the situation attacks the pillars of the family” he observed.
Mzukisi said the church in South Africa has continued to preach hope and strengthen the faith of the people but at times they preach hope against hope. He further observed that although the South African government is doing its best to address the issue of poverty, the damage made by the apartheid system is huge and cannot be covered in 10 years.

He said the church was embarrassed by the outbreak of violent xenophobic attacks in the country this year that left many migrants of African descent dead after being attacked by the black South Africans in townships. Mzukisi said the church went round to remind the people that during the apartheid era they migrated to other African countries where they were warmly hosted.

During the visit to the Gugulethu church, participants also heard the moving personal stories of political activist Koleka Rhombela and Nonkosi Madini, who is HIV positive.

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