Women of Madagascar

He stands before you

Source Pinterest.com

Just a man?

In the dust and in the sand

Oh women, so grand.

Your hope, your joy, your pain He sees,

Feeling the wind of uncertainty

Many nations sublime

Island in geographical design

A single destiny, one family

Today, I come to share a dream

Whisper in this space of time

Call upon your heart to believe enough to dream

South Africa your neighbour your friend

Sharing our destiny

Our purpose, identity

Reaching out together

To God in eternity

Oh women of Madagascar

Prophetic are your words

Called to bless, curse no more

Let the nightmare stay in the dark of night

Let a new day begin in the light

Oh women of Madagascar

This is your land

Will you trust enough to dream again?

To stand united with Him

In the dust and in the sand?

Women of Madagascar

Reformation or Revolution?

EFF pats itself on the back after painting Soweto red

Source of image: http://www.news24.com/elections/news/eff-pats-itself-on-the-back-after-painting-soweto-red-20160501

When we fail to invest in the social problems of our society because we are too busy protecting our privilege and defending our comfort the enemy will come in the night, promising hope, and steal the dream of all of our children. In time they will find out that it was a fake hope and their nightmare will begin. We have to ask why have we not encouraged the good and brave to join the political discourse. Why have we been so apathetic? Can we not see the times are changing and the opportunity to defend what was secured through great sacrifice may be lost? What we need is to tell the green yellow black and blue to grow up and start acting like leaders of a great nation. The sea of red is growing!  We must decide to believe in the dream and let the dreamer manage the risk of the nightmare. We must understand that the Gospel is the Good News! The Kingdom of God is near. The Kingdom is about righteousness peace and joy. Righteousness is about right relationships. It is about justice including social Justice. Right relationships in society. About equity and fairness. About sharing the second tunic. About access to hope!. We must ask ourselves what we must do to facilitate access to hope. The time to pontificate has passed. Once we have the downgrade to junk status rising inflation will do what propaganda cannot do. It will bring about rapid social movements. We are facing either a social reformation or revolution. I am reminded that the definition of faith is the substance of that which is hoped for the evidence not yet seen! The distilled question is what movement are we going to join? Reformation or revolution  or maybe we will by default join the movement of apathy and indifference. A movement that lies caught in the jaws of revolution.

Reformation or Revolution?

We must choose between the nightmare and the dream!

Picture taken in Saint Annes Hilton by Dave Rees 

As South Africans we have a choice whether we buy into the narrative that as a nation we are on the decline. It will seem that we are at this moment in time standing before a fork in the road. Either we prepare for the unfolding nightmare or we choose to believe in the dream. The narrative is something we must choose. Where we focus is where we will invest our capital: relational, spiritual, social, human, financial, technological, infrastructural. So are we going to focus and invest in the nightmare or the dream?

It is indeed a critical moment as we reflect on our present political discourse around patronage and personality. We as a society are in distress. Deep within our souls we know we are made of better stuff, better than telling, as did the leader of the opposition to President Zuma,  who has been democratically elected,  to “voetsek”. Surely the majority political party can decide for themselves. Let them express their interests choosing their own leader. Let the coming local elections then judge them, holding them accountable for the choices they have made. This is what democracy means.

The SA democracy, purchased off the lives of so many, must be now be protected. Our youth, talented, ethical, idealistic and passionate, not corrupted by cynicism, must join political structures and make the political parties the kind of institutions that we are proud of.

We must not allow a spirit of self serving violence and fascism to lead. They must not be allowed to steal the precious moral authority. They will abuse it and us.  Therefore, the time is now to decide who we are and what kind of future we want.

We have an amazing constitution, a legacy of the best that SA could birth. Now as the Constitutional Court steps into that legacy and makes us proud, we must also be as brave and reciprocate this magnanimity.

As South Africans we have to ask why we have allowed this path towards political corruption. Is it not because we have not addressed economic corruption where the ordinary person no matter how hard they work, if they have work, have not been able to get out of poverty?

It will seem that inequality is the root of our problem. What we are needing is a critical response and ownership of the NDP, the only real macro strategic plan that we have.

To see what we are doing have a look at www.james127trust.org

We must choose between the nightmare and the dream!

Sharing the Second Tunic

generosity-f5cd281b-8a2d-4ccc-b491-71e5db8ae1d4.jpgAs we face increasing global uncertainty with the election of a new US President, possible uncertain exit of the UK from the European Union, Brazilian presidential  and economic crisis, Syrian refugee flood and the implications of Turkey negotiating access to the EU, we as South Africans are also facing the greatest risk to our future.  If we do nothing many of our children will be mobilized into revolution with others going into “exile”. In all of this we need to embrace the Gospel and the Good News, the “Kingdom is at hand”. For me this means committing to right relationships because this is at the heart of righteousness and justice.  We as South Africans have to face sharing the second tunic. If we keep collecting more while our neighbour has none he will come one night and take for himself that which was not offered in love. In all of this we have a choice, we can either practice our faith or we can show our indifference and mask our fear. For example, if you are a student take more than one lunch to class and share it with a classmate who has none.  If you are a parent reach out and support another little child that seeks your gaze. If you are a church member ask the awkward question who is the church?  I think we all have tough choices to make in the next 3 months, the consequences of which we will have to live with for decades to come.

Sharing the Second Tunic

Celebrating 11 years: The James 1:27 Trust

Very few innovations and dreams make it beyond the imaginary stage. While just a few actually get born, even fewer deliver on their “mandate” or “vision”. Eleven years after its launch on 11 October 2004, the Trust while still carrying its dream is now also firmly rooted in reality with evidence to show that we are making an impact.  As with all social enterprises, there is however both encouraging and discouraging news. What we now know is that our model of family-based care within an Asset Based Community Development context works. We also know that holistic care is necessary if one wants to move children and families from emergency relief to rehabilitation, development, autonomy, and ultimately to reciprocity. We’ve learning that care needs are better managed within an efficient and integrated care management system that also controls budgets and sponsor relations. 

We can also see that a social movement is needed. We have to dramatically scale the number of people investing in social problems in society to match the scale of the problem.  The present student protests show that South Africa is ripe for its own type of Arab Spring. Furthermore, like Brazil, South Africa is at risk of a credit rating downgrade to junk status. If this should happen, such a downgrade will make our debt repayment costs more expensive, seriously harming our economy. The impact of which is to fuel an already deep rooted political and social dissatisfaction among our citizens in general and our youth in particular. The question is, what can we do? Do we just feed the nightmare by being passive and complain or do we take decisive action and invest in the “dream” of a new kind of society?

At the James 1:27 Trust, we believe that the ground is now ready for social innovation. It is perhaps a false narrative that in the long term, South Africa as a nation, is in decline. We have a purpose and a future, not for evil but for good. So what is this plan? We believe that the gap between resourced and poor is not just a measure of inequality: but is the very space for an emerging social market. It is the space where capital is transferred. Capital that is social, human and financial. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) bring to this e-commerce market a unique value offering, where their service offering can be packaged, monetized and commercialized. The main seller of the service being the community located social entrepreneur who takes care of the vulnerable and responds to the social problems in the community. The buyer of the service is a social investor, an ordinary tax payer, who recognizes that by giving a part of his tax directly to the delivery agents of welfare services he is able to better mitigate the social risk faced nationally. Social risk that is political and economic. This monthly subscription becomes a form of annuity buying a kind of social insurance. So in addition to budgeting for life, short term, care and health insurance, the consumer will also sign up for social insurance in the form of a subscription to sponsored private welfare services for a selected beneficiary or cause. In this “market” space, NGOs compete making for more effective and efficient “customer/beneficiary” focused care! As this kind of “social financial services market” expands it becomes the stimulus for economic growth.  Importantly the stimulus is funded through private as opposed to government funding.  This is good news given that our problem, globally, is unsustainable government debt!. Expectations on stimulating economic development through increased government expenditure without increased revenue through the tax base, is therefore just unrealistic.  

What we don’t know is what impact this kind of private, citizen based, economic stimulus could have on job creation and through growing the care industry service, on poverty. It may well be more significant that we imagine. The social market also lends itself to expanding concepts such as franchising and loyalty systems. The franchising models scales what is already working and through a quality service focus supports customer centric standards. The loyalty system just address the cost to the consumer after tax benefits are taken into account.  

What we are therefore seeing is the creation of new Social Enterprises that function off professional business principles within market fundamentals and at the same time serving the common good. Managing this value chain is the Trust’s “care management platform”. The Trust is the first NGO in Africa to run SAP Business One and is also probably the first globally to use PTC Windchill, a life cycle management solution. The Trust, located at the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, seems well placed as a social enterprise to serve our many care-based partners and orphan and vulnerable children and youth.

So after eleven years, there is good news. We now have a more defined social and business innovation model. But what is the bad news? Our communities are more broken than we could ever have thought possible. In some areas the children that we work with, up to a 70%, present with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In addition, behaviour change models are struggling to cope with teenage pregnancy. The power disequilibrium between older men and young girls make for a distressing fact that nearly two thousand young girls are infected with HIV weekly. Half of our homes have absent fathers.  Added to which are issues affecting the pace of transformation, ineffective delivery of basic services, unemployment, corruption, Xenophobia, violence against women and children, access to drugs and risks of human trafficking.

So is there hope? We believe that there is hope indeed. The game changer being leadership. While waiting for our political leaders to calibrate their spiritual compasses, business leaders also have an opportunity to respond.  The main focus being to mobilise the social capital (employees and customers) within their organisations. In so doing these social consumers (investors) buy social justice via access to a social market. In closing the gap, they address poverty and unemployment at systemic level. This, we believe, is the genesis of a positive social movement. One seed, becoming one tree, becoming a forest. Leaves bringing healing to the nation.  We don’t have to have a violent revolution fuelled by a fascist ideology to change.

So why don’t you start becoming an agent for change and as my one friend says, as “leaders are peddlers of hope”, why don’t you just do what you can! It may be easier than you think.

Celebrating 11 years: The James 1:27 Trust

Protest Against Corruption

Painting of Jesus by Tomek Morawski

Painting by Thomas Morawski

There is something deeply satisfying in walking in solidarity with thousands of others for a principle that one deeply believes in.  The marches in Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban on Wednesday 30 September against corruption were aimed not only against government but also business and all other forms of corruption.  The slogan of ethics, values and clean living resonated among many. One man told me “I am marching against corruption in the knowledge that I personally need tighter discipline and ethics”. The Pretoria march from Burgers Park Hotel to the Union Buildings flowed like a river with more than 7500 people enjoying the diversity and expression of solidarity.  Banners as diverse as from those with political slogans to Lawyers for Human Rights  Against Corruption, Poor Against Corruption, Atheists Against Corruption to Churches United Against Corruption made for a united message that SA is mobilising.  One particularly striking  poster was a picture of the Union Buildings with a “for sale” and then “sold” sticker on it.  As the day passed, I started pondering the significance of what had transpired, and thought of Christ walking the streets of Jerusalem 2000 years ago.  There were similar sounds, revolutionaries baying for the overthrow of the Roman occupiers to the indifferent response of the compromised elite.  Herod and his ilk had sold their souls for power, privilege and wealth. Jesus, cognizant of both, kept His gaze upon the Kingdom and its objectives. He was bringing the Gospel as planned before time with the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven was near: the Kingdom being about righteousness, justice, shalom and joy. Threatened by this, the status quo, both revolutionaries and the compromised elite, played their roles and participated in His crucifixion. “Give us Barabbas” they shouted!  South African Christians need to know that while we walk in solidarity within a defined Kingdom space and as we march against corruption in the streets, because we have to,  we march however, in the knowledge that we follow a Kingdom agenda.  Our position and space is only really safe when we are persecuted by both the revolutionaries and the compromised elite.  To be their friends tells us that we are ourselves in great danger!

Protest Against Corruption


It is time for the Church to lead!  South Africa is facing rising political, social and economic problems. This is also true globally, with inequality, unemployment and poverty the main drivers of social unrest. As Brazil faces a downgrade in their credit ratings South Africa also faces the possibility of having a similar downgrade to “junk status”. The consequences of this is to make our debt more expensive and further pull the country into economic stagnation.  As our youth become more vulnerable to fascist political rhetoric we run the risk of having our commitment to human rights eroded by a general belief that democracy has been unable to deliver on economic rights with the gap in inequality continuing to make South Africa the country with one of the highest GINI coefficients globally, a nation at risk and a nation in decline. We therefore need a fresh perspective on our narrative that God has a dream for our nation and that together we must manage the threatening nightmare.

A “fresh expression” is therefore needed, while innovation addresses something new, a fresh expression also looks to the ancient paths.  These relate to the common good, with leadership embracing a downward reach to accepting the responsibility for the most vulnerable in society. The indignity of the dust remains an effective tool to shaping servant leadership. Furthermore, as we all embrace our own weaknesses we begin to be free to realise that the local Church was never intended to be an institution, but a relational expression of community and justice where power is devolved and decision making shared.  This is particularly relevant as we face an increasingly complex world where truth and love need to be held in equal measure.

Jesus said that the Gospel is the “Good News”.  The Good News is that the “Kingdom of God” is near.  The Kingdom is about righteousness, peace and joy.  Derek Prince argues that these are sequential, each requiring compliance of the other.  There can therefore be no joy in our Church if we do not have “shalom”, which Timothy Keller describes as the “webbing together of God, humans, creation within equity, fulfilment and delight”.  By extension there can be no shalom without righteousness which in both Hebrew and Greek is the same root word for justice.  Our journey towards shalom and joy begins therefore with getting all our relationships right.  This is not just an event but rather a deep rooted attitude of the heart where we allow Christ in each other freedom of expression with the understanding that our frail humanity and inherent self-interest requires gentle discernment. It takes collective responsibility and mutual respect as we translate through each other, prophetic direction.

The local church remains the building block of the body of Christ and as such needs to protectively guard both her rights and responsibilities.  My own journey has taught me not to criticise the church but to be the church. In this regard, I am very influenced by the need for sound doctrine, uncompromising love, embracing the pursuit of truth and accepting inherent conflict, as well as ethical stewardship of power, money and talent.  The ever present reality of the seat of appraisal for all believers and officers of the Church remains a constant call for humility and commitment to listening and searching for wisdom.  The sobering thought is that as God has given the local Church authority and a mandate to steward its member’s gifts and callings He also holds the Church responsible for creating an enabling environment in which members can find their dream and fulfil their vocation. My deep conviction is that unless we all leave our comfort zones in order to find Jesus in the dust we will not understand how to do this. Our greatest risk remains that we may find ourselves unable to effectively build the temple because we are too burdened in building the cathedral.


Love is Transformative


Love is transformative. ”Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Called you…”. Our identity and purpose thought of before conception. A place to which we are spiritually programmed, where we want to go and be but seemingly can’t find. We are constantly in a loop trying to return. In this, the risk of idols in the mind and in the world becoming false places of safety. Fear and anxiety rule. It is only when we connect with Jesus and through Him like a little child touch the face of our Father that we can really know that we are safe, accepted, and deeply loved. From this place of being we begin to heal from the wounds of the soul. Jesus ever present with the balm of the Spirit. Interestingly our enemy while using our wounds is more focused on our talents and successes and togetherness. It is Jesus who is really focused on our brokenness. Our enemy knows that pride, ever present in our togetherness, takes our heart off the healer. So paradoxically, our weaknesses while in need of soul care and healing becomes our greatest surrendered and yielded spiritual tactical advantage. However, being in fellowship and care is essential. The great design while building into us the inner sanctuary, private alone space, includes that communal sanctuary. The family, work, community space. “Mutual indwelling”. God in us. Us in God”. It is in the in-between spaces, between us, that we experience grace, acceptance, kindness, compassion, understanding, insight and indeed love. It is here that the presence becomes tangible. The same presence that we are seeking for, the same presence that our soul recognises as the non-time space. Heaven, where our Father is. As we practice righteousness and justice in our relationships, Shalom hangs over us and then as day follows night, so too will come joy. When we taste of joy life becomes light again and we feel we can endure all things. Truth and love in balance. No hiding, no shame and no deception. Just a gentle bringing into the light, into the love, into the acceptance of Christ. As we listen carefully we hear the whisper….it is all going to be ok!

Love is Transformative

Dancing Without Shoes in the Cold


Last night I went with a local church team in Port Elizabeth to an open park in the old part of the city to meet some homeless people and their children. There were about 60 people and 25 children. Chairs were put out, and a little service was held. Welcome, worship, reading of the Word (Psalm 17), a testimony and a short presentation and invitation to the Gospel. With the Church across the road’s doors closed, we were in a Cathedral under the stars. The bitter cold did not stop the children, even those who had no shoes, from dancing. Their beautiful faces beaming hope and joy. On the sides, in the shadows, weary adults sat. They have heard it all before. Unmoved, they were impatient to eat and go and secure their place to sleep. But one man who had been in prison came and took the mike and like a poet poured out his heart, addressing heaven as he lamented his pain. Prayed for in a huddle, I sensed that his demons, his loss, his grief was silenced for a while and that the Gospel like gentle rain was falling on him. One day He truly will be free. After everyone had eaten and the serving team cleaned up, I watched as one happy boy collected a cardboard box on the instruction of his mother who was pushing their trolley carrying all their possessions. I watched as they disappeared around the corner into the night. I was left feeling, once again, that in the ordinary is the extraordinary and in the simple the sacred.

Dancing Without Shoes in the Cold