I can vividly recall back in middle school when I first learned of the system of racial segregation, Apartheid, that existed in the country of South Africa. Even as a young teenager, I recognized the historical similarities between this country and my own, the United States. Just as slavery has left a sad legacy in the U.S., South Africans are still seeking to overcome the stain of the racist system that they operated under for a good portion of the twentieth century.
As one that has always been intrigued by history, I've held an interest in South Africa for as long as I can remember. In fact, I even took a class on South Africa while in college. We learned about the history, people, languages, and culture of the people that live in this country on the southern tip of the African continent. Though separated by thousands of miles, the parallels between the United States and South Africa are eerily similar.
For some time, this was a country that I hoped to visit. In 2002, I got my wish as I joined a team of over fifty people with The Impact Movement as we spent seven weeks in Johannesburg, South Africa as a part of Operation Sunrise Africa. During our time there we exposed thousands to the gospel and saw over 700 indicate decisions to receive Christ. After over 15 years of walking with the Lord, this experience was (and still is) my greatest ministry highlight. This was just eight years after the wall of apartheid came down, but the remnants were still obvious. As we ministered in Soweto and other township areas, the deprived opportunities of black Africans was obvious.
And now fourteen years after the fall of apartheid, its after effects are still felt. Mark Galli writes of this reality in a recent Christianity Today article entitled, "Seige From Within: Day and Night in Johannesburg." Though this is a country with a real crime problem, just as the U.S., Christians have the opportunity to make a difference. South Africa is dealing with the consequences of years of racial oppression and hatred and the only answer to this kind of history is for individuals to visibily be the hands and feet of Christ.
For a great read and to learn more about South Africa under apartheid, check out Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
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