Homepage Feature — 5th February 2020
My name is George, I’m a Theology Youth & Community student at Nazarene Theological College in Didsbury, Manchester. Over the summer I won a bursary from Project Bonhoeffer whom Student Christian Movement was partnering with, to attend the January 2020 Bonhoeffer Conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
What else can I say, other than it was an absolutely amazing experience and blessing to be a delegate at the conference. Learning about Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology in the South African, post-apartheid context was eye opening, and listening to the black South African pastors speak about their struggles and how their theology was alive and their belief in justice, especially for the next generation, was so convicting. That they and their fellow activists were putting aside their dreams, careers, and aspirations so that future generations could live in equality was awe-inspiring. They fought for justice, peacefully, following the teachings of Jesus, and they prevailed.
This conference changed me in many ways. It cemented my belief that Christians must fight for social justice for all marginalised peoples. I now know that no matter the context, Jesus is all, for all, and that I have to minister and act in justice every day. Bonhoeffer was indeed a revolutionary, ahead of his time, and a reference point that we can use when we look at the world and its troubles today. I aspire to study Bonhoeffer more and understand his works at a deeper level, which I believe will bear much fruit in my life and ministry.
Living out an indefinite prison sentence, when his father finally got word of his son’s birth, knowing he was healthy, he named him, in their South African dialect, “we are happy”.
The highlight of the conference came at the closing moments, during an emerging scholar panel. There was a young black South African who shared his story; when he was born he remained unnamed for three months. The reason for this was because his father was jailed for protesting against the apartheid regime. Living out an indefinite prison sentence, when his father finally got word of his son’s birth, knowing he was healthy, he named him, in their South African dialect, “we are happy”. Later when this young man was able to question his father about his decision to name him this during a prison sentence, his father said that because he was born he and his fellow prisoners knew that the fight against the injustice of apartheid would continue. Because of this hope, he said, “we are happy”.
And so, in the face of all the global crisis. Global warming, war, political unrest, the rise of white supremacy in Europe and America, poverty, viruses, fast fashion, injustices against immigrants, racism, homelessness, government and corporate surveillance and everything else that threatens humanity, these are legion. And yet, we can still be happy, because the world is not without hope, and its hope is the Church. It is you and me, but we must act in justice, in Christ. When I look at my fellow graduates this year, who will stop being disciples in this institution and will move on and become apostles, teachers, preachers, prophets and evangelists, you are all the hope of the world, and in you lies my hope and the hope of the world, and because of that we can all be happy.