This past week, we attended a continent wide conference called “Amahoro”. It’s a word that holds the same meaning as “Shalom”. In parts of Africa, you would greet someone with this word repeatedly until you feel the connection with them. It’s quite a beautiful thing to read, but to experience amahoro… I may begin using this word in my speech more often. I’ve been quite overtaken by the significance of it.
Up front, I have to tell you… I have NO idea how to explain what God has done in the last week here. My jaw is still on the ground in awe of what He is stirring in my heart, what He is doing across the continent, and how He is bringing MASSIVE healing to deep wounds everywhere. For me personally, it’s changing a lot of deep deep things that I have no words for. All I can do is share you this story. There’s much more to process in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead. (yeah, it was that big of a deal). Here’s one story…
As you may have picked up by now, South Africa is a complicated place. There are SO many things happening in this country. You have race issues, gender issues, wealth issues, and what is coming to the forefront more and more are generational issues. In South Africa today, you have members of the generation that implemented Apartheid, members of the generation that were born into the system and had to work the system, and you have young people who were between five and ten when Apartheid ended. Each generation is highly different and has experienced South Africa differently. So the question now rests in how do we live in harmony, not only with those of different skin pigmentation, but also with those of different generations?
Once upon a time, a man named Adriaan Vlok (pronounced Flok) was the minister of the police in South Africa. In his brigade was a fiery young officer named Sean. Mr. Flok instituted a great number of raids against black people. There were bombs set off in buildings, raids on people’s homes, people hunted down by the police (of which the young Sean was part of). At the end of Apartheid, Sean found himself dealing with serious post-traumatic stress disorder. The counselors told him he needed to stop carrying the weight of what happened solely on his shoulders and find someone to place that blame on. He blamed Mr. Vlok.
“Whenever I would swear, I would never use a swear word, Mr. Vlok. I would use your name.”
Three years ago, Mr. Vlok met Jesus. Things changed.
I believe that Jesus changed the heart of this once cold heartless man because he sought reconciliation. He went to find people he had hurt and not only asked for forgiveness for what he had done, but asked if they would be willing to let him wash their feet (literally). He has made a life of reconciling his past. Confessing his sins to those whom he sinned against. Many would say that’s not necessary if Jesus forgave him of his sins. I think the way of Mr. Vlok’s journey is a much deeper experience of salvation though. He is bringing healing to countless others in his experience of the resurrection power of Jesus.
At Amahoro this week, he told us his story. So did Sean. As Sean was sharing, I was at the edge of my seat. Then Mr. Vlok responded.
“I’m so sorry that I caused you this pain. I think this pain you’ve been experiencing for the last 15 years needs to end now. Sean, first, can you forgive me? Second, can I please please wash your feet?”
With tears in his eyes, Sean responded. The sins of the generation were broken… right in front of my eyes. Countless Afrikaaners in the room were in tears as they were given words for pain they had been feeling as well. Hope was extended for a wholistic reconciliation of South Africa. It wasn’t just racial reconciliation. It’s generational reconciliation, gender reconciliation, economic reconciliation… it’s the reconciliation of all things that MUST happen in South Africa. It’s the wholistic reconciliation that I believe is precisely what God has in mind for ALL of his creation… Americans, Congolise, Kenyans, British, etc… Take a minute to watch these two short films. This is a symbol of hope that the empty grave of Jesus offers all of us. Amahoro