Peacemaking and Reconciliation Initiatives

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Guest Post

For the blog today we have a portion of an article shared with us by Herman Groenewald. Herman has contributed to this blog from time to time and really has a heart for mission. The following is from the “Praying for the World” newsletter:

Peacemaking and reconciliation initiatives

Jesus taught, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ However, different situations require different kinds of reconciliation and peacemaking as there are many types of breakdowns of community. Beyond personal conflict, strife can break out along religious, political, ethnic, regional, or even, sadly, denominational lines. Reconciliation of believers one to another is a Scriptural imperative, not a negotiable extra! But in a world where such fault lines exist virtually everywhere, the power of Christian peacemaking is also a profound evangelistic tool.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. John 14:17 ESV

An example from Egypt

On April 9, 2017, as Egyptian Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, carrying palm branches and chanting ‘Hosanna in the Highest’, coordinated bomb attacks on major churches in Alexandria and Tanta in northern Egypt left tens of people dead and hundreds seriously injured. The joyful celebration turned into mourning across the country. The attack was one in a series of attacks on churches and Christians that has left thousands dead and injured.

While many Christians struggle to choose between leaving the country or enduring more suffering, the extraordinary Christian response to the violent attacks that have taken place since 2013 has provided many opportunities for witness to the gospel and a renewed sense of mission to the larger community. Christians did not seek revenge; instead they extended forgiveness to those who murdered their loved ones.

Such powerful Christian testimonies had a lasting impact on the larger Muslim community that was stunned by the Christian response.

Meanwhile, many Christians have been empowered by the testimonies of those who boldly extended love and forgiveness, leaving them a renewed sense of mission amid suffering.

What is happening in Egypt is not a remote event in church history, but a living testimony to the power of the Christian faith.

  • Thank God for the service and suffering of the Church in Egypt. Pray for them.
  • Pray that persecuted churches everywhere will transform suffering into mission through forgiveness.
  • Pray for a zeal for peacemaking and reconciliation to spread through the whole Church.
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Our Calling and Mission

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Guest Blog

by Herman Groenewald

I have been reading one of my favourite passages that reminds me again of a calling I received in 1992 in reading Isaiah 61.

We see an Israel at the time under the shadow of Death, the sound of mourning, the ashes, and a spirit of heaviness. Considered as a “worm” by the nations, they had to come to believe in themselves. They needed freedom from these fears. For this the “The Servant of the Lord” has his redemptive work spelled out.

Reflecting on it and looking back at Isaiah 49 & 61 there is such a clear message for all of us. [Read Isaiah 49 and 61 here]

We are all called to servanthood as set out in Isaiah 49 when scripture points to Israel. These passages in Isaiah are very insightful prophecies.

At the centre of history is THE MESSAIAH, God’s chosen instrument through whom redemption will come, not just for Israel but for all nations.

All are called to hear the calling as we read the Word. And so many of us have answered the call. Not only to hear but to take the message to others. 49:6b.” I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach …”

God is the one who formed the nation Israel which is called to be God’s servant. The Messiah is formed from the womb and named before birth.  (Isa 7:14). Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

And so, the vocation of the servant is also given in the passages.

It follows on in Isaiah 61 (The song of the Servant) where we are shown and told about His role and calling. The fact that Jesus quoted this passage for the announcement of His public ministry (Luke 4:17–19) confirms the connection between Isaiah’s prophecy and Christ’s fulfilment.

I believe that these opening verses of the Song of the Servant give us a model for vision, mission, and of leadership for all generations. This also applies to us as His followers, to follow in His footsteps.

If we were to write a task description from this it can be analysed into a model for others to follow:

His Mandate: • “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me”

His Motivation: • “The LORD has anointed Me:

His Method: • “to preach”

His Message: • “good tidings”

His Market: • “the poor… broken-hearted … captives … those who are bound”

His Measure: • “preach good tidings to the poor … heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”

His Mood: • “to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God”

No leader, spiritual or secular, has ever accepted and announced such a detailed and demanding task. A task calls for accountability, and we can see that Jesus fulfils the tasks. And so, we also will be held accountable to our own task.

It is one thing to be effective in the work/task that we are called to do and quite another thing to create and communicate joy as a product of the outcome.

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 and 2, he concluded his reading of the passage with the words, “To preach the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:19). Jesus stops before the vengeance part as this would follow at Jesus’s return to complete the task.

We know that Jesus found Joy in His work and the Word refers to the scripture in Isaiah 61 as The Task of Joy.

We know that Jesus found joy in His work despite conflict, disappointment, and suffering. In John 17:13 He asks the Father that His disciples might have “My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

 It speaks about 4 things where scripture points out for us and our Task of Joy.

The Task of Joy (61:1–2). – MISSION

1) freedom to live (v. 3).             

2) freedom to serve (vv. 4–7).

3) freedom to act (vv. 8–9); and

4) freedom to celebrate (vv. 10–11).

It is so insightful when we read these passages and find the joy in the reading thereof and the deeper message. I trust and hope each of us will find a new message as we read the scripture and consider the model outlined for us.



Herman Groenewald

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All Things Bright and Beautiful

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by John Doyle

During one summer break from work I took my family to Sabie River. I wanted to give them a special holiday as we had a very busy year. It was our first time going there since moving from the UK. It was quite an adventure and we got introduced to parts of South Africa that over the years we grew to love. We saw so much beauty in the Kruger Park and around the Lakes and often I would just marvel at the Beauty and the majesty of Gods creation.

I remember one night sitting outside our chalet and looking at the Full moon over the mountains and it was so special just seeing the beauty it brought to the dark night. Everything all around was illuminated by the brightness of the moon. I did not have the words to describe the experience, and now, many years later I still remember it as if it was yesterday.
The Scriptures have much to say about the positive things of Gods creation in this world describing an appropriate love for the goodness of God in providing for His creation. Whenever the sun goes down and we see the brightness of the moon it reminds of this past experience. To see the moonlight when it spreads across our lawn it reminds me afresh of the Beauty that the Lord has given to us and to remind us of Who He is.
Likewise, when we see God’s wonderful creation of man and women and the World He gave to us. God gifted us with this World to bring peace and harmony to all peoples and this was confirmed in the sacrificial gift of His son Jesus. He made it possible despite all the trials and tribulations, for us to know and love Him and appreciate all of those many things that He brings into our lives that are Bright and Beautiful. We as Gods people should be so grateful for His extravagant generosity. There’s something more we must to do honor the God we serve.
Firstly, God is the Creator of everything that exists, and everything He creates is good. Genesis commences with the most foundational words in the Bible: “In the beginning God…” This planet and all it contains exists because the Lord has spoken them into being. Concluding each aspect of His creation Gods Word tells us “God paused” relishing the magnificent fruit of His labor, and said, “Now that’s Good.”
After night and day, creating prairies and mountains, and making great Mountains and Trees and flowers across the landscape of the World, God proclaimed – GOOD
Hebrew scholars tell us that another translation for GOOD would be “BEAUTIFUL.” I imagine God watching the tide roll over the shore or a flock of geese cut across the sky, admiring it all with deep pleasure. It would be good when we find ourselves in a similar moment and moved to a similar response, we can remember how we bear God’s image and, like our Creator, know true Beauty when we see it.
We need to be grateful for His extravagant generosity. Not only has He given us His son and this world we live in but He has also given to us Family and Loved ones and I am sure you will agree with me that they are BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL in each of our lives. My wife Barbara is Brighter than me and so much more BEAUTIFUL ⚘❤
Secondly the Lord continues to love and sustain His creation, despite the ways that so many in this world are so corrupt and violent. Tragically, there is a lot of human rebellion that has affected many in this world. Paul says that the whole of creation groans with pain, awaiting God’s redemption – Rom. 8:19-23. However, God continues to love the earth and people in it, He made. The first Bible verse many of us memorized assures us that “God so loved the world” and that this love extended all the people of the World.
Even more, God’s grace and mercy continues to sustain the earth. In Colossians, Paul explains how God reveals His own splendor and beauty through the wonders of this World. “The whole earth is full of His glory,” Isaiah tells us – Isa. 6:3.
Finally God promises to renew creation, refusing to abandon the World He loves. The Lord will not forsake this world but rather promises to restore it, healing the whole of creation. Revelation 21:1 describes His plans for the future as “a new heaven and a new earth.” When God has the final word, the earth will flourish. It will, at long last, be just as He intended. God will transfigure the very ground where we live and work, the very places where we often feel so futile and wonder if anything will ever be beautiful again. In His TIME, He will make all things BEAUTIFUL IN HIS TIME.
Lets remember God has named us as stewards of His creation, a calling for us to tend to His world and the gift of Children and Family with care and affection. Like Adam and Eve, we must tend to whatever the Lord gives us, working to make our lives and those of our family fruiitful. Lets give thanks to God for the Brightness and Beauty He has entrusted to each of our lives and let’s give time and energy for us to help Family and friends to become more BRIGHTER and More BEAUTIFUL for God and for each other.
In the Love of the Lord Jesus,
John and Barbara
Time to sing with me: All Things Bright and Beautiful
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.
He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.
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Blessed Assurance

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Guest Post

by John Doyle

2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day”
During these days of COVID 19, the whole world has been thrown into confusion, panic, fear and uncertainty. Leaders, politicians, Doctors, and scientists are all struggling to find answers and develop plans, procedures, methods and medicine to combat this deadly virus and try to manage the devastating effects that it is having on millions of people and their communities across the world.
It remains to be seen what the consequences of all this will be in terms of the global economic fallout and future social interaction. Barbara and I so want to be in the USA for our Granddaughters wedding and our sons birthday in August. There is so much uncertainty and yet we still have a Sovereign God who knows the beginning and the end of all things. We are Trusting Him for “His Will to be done”.
In these days we as Christians can take encouragement from verses like the one above and also from the fact that, we have Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit with us day by day. Before Jesus went back to Heaven He said, “… And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20. What a wonderful promise and a Word of assurance from the Lord himself to help us through these darkest of times!
During times of confusion and uncertainty, it is always good to remind ourselves of Bible truths which are sure and certain and can help us keep our focus on things from a Godly, Word-based perspective. This doesn’t mean that the problems and difficulties will necessarily just disappear, but it will enable us to see them differently and help us focus on the Eternal not the Temporary.
As the old chorus says, “Turn our eyes on Jesus, the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His Glory and Grace”.
We can find further encouragement from verses such as these: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For YOU are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” – Psalm 23:4.
“Let, I pray Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to your Word…” – Psalm 119:76.
‘The Lord is their strength and He is the saving refuge of His anointed” – Psalm 28:8.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the World you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD” John 16:33.
As we take these verses, and many more like them to heart and appropriate them for ourselves, our relationship with the Lord will be enriched, our faith deepened and our assurance that His perfect Will, will be done in all things.
Lets rejoicefully sing this together:
‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine:
O what a foretaste of glory divine,
Heir of salvation, purchase of God;
born of His Spirit washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.’
This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.’
We have a *Blessed Assurance* from our Mighty God and Savior that we are safely in His Loving arms from that day we gave our lives to Him to that day when we will be with Him in glory Forever.
In the Love of the Lord Jesus,
John and Barbara
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