Theology in South Africa

The Perkins Global Theological Education Program prepares Christian leaders for complex cultural experiences through seminars and significant immersion experiences in other cultures. Students learn to build intercultural relationships, resolve cultural conflicts and guide intercultural ventures. In South Africa, participants are gaining insights into Christian hope in the region by exploring the political, economic, sexual, racial, and gender-complex experiences of the people of South Africa, and by participating in varieties of church and community-based ministries in Cape Town and Durban. This course is led by Dr. Evelyn L. Parker, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Practical Theology.

Perkins students also are blogging this summer from France at blog.smu.edu/studentadventures/category/theology-in-france/

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Post-Apartheid South Africa: Freedom or Free-doom?

michelle1An update from Michelle, a Perkins School of Theology student studying in South Africa:

While in Mbadleni, near the borders of Swaziland and Mozambique, we met with Rev. Lucky, Rev. Emmanuel Gabriel, and the people of that area.  We met with the Induna—the head chief—and had lunch with him at the government building provided to them after their church was inhabited by snakes.

When we were on our four-hour rocky journey to that part of the land, we noticed that we were being escorted by the South African police force. When we asked why we were receiving this treatment he responded, “Because you are Obama’s people.”

Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town, South Africa

We were totally taken aback by this, but continued to experience this treatment throughout. The people were so hospitable and proud that Americans wanted to come and listen and learn from their tribe. The program was for us to meet the orphans and their caretakers, the community, and to see the needs of the community.

They are in dire need of a church building, access to water, and a facility to help the orphans who are affected by HIV/AIDS. While there, we helped bless the land that they hope to build their new church on, and we spent time with the community. Our main focus was to visit the orphanage, but the hospitality, love, and community built between all of us far outweighed our initial goal.

After visiting the Zulu Land tribes, it was evident that their idea of post-apartheid existence was very different from others in the city of Durban. I asked Rev. Lucky what hope looks like after apartheid and he responded, “Are we living in Freedom or Free-doom?”

 The Cape of Good Hope (originally known as the “Cape of Storms”) at the tip of Southern Africa. (part of the Table Mountain National Park)

The Cape of Good Hope (originally known as the “Cape of Storms”) at the tip of Southern Africa. (part of the Table Mountain National Park)

I pondered this question, wondering what he meant by the two terms, and then he explained: post-apartheid existence is not easy and seems just as hard as when apartheid was happening.  People still do not have running water, consistent food to eat, or schools for their children to attend. The results of apartheid have left the people without basic needs, but their hopes for a better tomorrow still carry their spirits from day to day.

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