Building a life and legacy that endures
New Wine International Update: South Africa
These are challenging days and alongside a personal sense of loss, disconnection and fatigue, I am deeply aware of the desperate needs, hardship, suffering and grief that far exceed my own.
South Africa is facing a health crisis that is in danger of rapidly morphing into an acute and chronic hunger crisis. Like a slow-motion earthquake, the historical fault-lines and injustices of the South African economy have been broken wide open by the economic shock of this shutdown. The social and economic landscape is still being shaken and changed by the pandemic. Millions have become food insecure overnight.
The mission endures
In the midst of this crisis, I have found it very helpful to focus on what God is continuing to do. The programs have changed but the mission endures. I am so grateful to the Lord for all the wisdom and guidance he has given us in the years leading up to this. We have so many ministries and ministry partners in our church and city that are proving invaluable right now, enabling us to step into an appropriate response and new strategies in a very short space of time.
Relationships that have been developed and deepened through many years of investing in churches, networks, impoverished communities and social organisations became a natural and trusted conduit of care.
Genesis 26 tells of Isaac sowing during a time of famine — and his faith risk is richly rewarded. Will we come with a scarcity mentality or a generous one that sows the Kingdom in a time of famine? He also drew water from wells both old and new. We all can draw on what the Lord was doing in us during the preceding months — what was God showing you before this time? It still matters — maybe more than ever — but perhaps it must find a different expression.
Stories of hope
Several of our social partners are rapidly repurposing their strategies during this time in order to respond to both the health and hunger crises.
We were able, by bringing together several key networks centred around our local church, to distribute 8,500 dry meals to several extremely vulnerable communities just before our lockdown began. Relationships that have been developed and deepened through many years of investing in churches, networks, impoverished communities and social organisations became a natural and trusted conduit of care.
One of our network pastors working in an informal settlement (a vast area of shacks and temporary dwellings) approached me to request assistance as most of his members supported the church through small cash offerings every week. We both assumed that he would be left without an income as no churches are permitted to gather. While I was still working on a response strategy, he informed me that even though he made an initial approach for assistance, his church have, in spite of all the challenges they face individually, opened bank accounts and continue to support the church and pastor for the time being. I am so grateful we have found an honourable partner in this pastor and church, and am also aware that they, together with thousands of others like them, will need our help in the months to come; some are facing up to 100% unemployment because of the lockdown.
We are praying into three images that prophetically illustrate our responses from a place of relative privilege:
The squirrel — We have ensured we have enough in the bank or the pantry and we are literally just holding on to everything we have. Underlying motivation — fear.
The spider — Spinning a web in the night so that we can take as much personal advantage out of this situation; “Fortunes are made in war!” Underlying motivation — greed and selfish ambition.
The chrysalis — Confined for the moment but waiting to fly, praying for the opportunity and strategy to re-join a unified nation, to genuinely invest in real change. Like a butterfly with new wings, to carry pollen from plant to plant, bringing new life and hope wherever you land.
Which one am I going to be? Who am I going to partner with?
It is a time of testing and while all around our foundations are being laid bare, my hope is that we are all appraising what is truly essential and what it takes to build a life and legacy that endures.
Craig Duvel leads the New Wine Network in South Africa.
Our International leadership teams are responsible for setting the strategy for delivering our shared vision and values. Some nations have summer conferences but our main emphasis is on networks of church leaders and churches that will together seek to bring deep and lasting changes for the glory of God. This is made possible by building authentic and trusting relationships between leaders. We currently have New Wine networks in Wales, Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, India and New Zealand — with exciting new opportunities opening up in Brazil, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Pakistan and others.