One of the leaders I give spiritual direction to is on the executive committee at her church, and was chairman of the committee to select a new pastor. This church, while in a diverse neighbourhood of Johannesburg, is predominantly "white" and has an ageing population. The church has struggled to adapt to the "new South Africa," post-Apartheid, and clings to the past, whether it be how people ought to dress for church, how a minister should look, or who is welcomed into the church.
I meet with this leader on a monthly basis and, as she and the committee sifted through pastoral candidates, she realized that God was bringing a black pastor to their church. She received a lot of backlash and threats from congregants for this choice. Each month as we met she poured her heart out to me. Church was no longer a haven for her. She was a target. Half the church was threatening to leave. Everyone hated her. Yet still, by God's grace, she kept moving forward.
Each month we met, I listened, prayed for her, and journeyed with her. We looked together for where God might be in the midst of this mess, what his heart for his church is, and what His invitation to her might be. She managed, through prayer, fasting, and tears, to rely on God and recognize that he was over her church and all that was happening. All she had to do was follow him in obedience.
Trusting in God’s guidance, she shared her understanding of God's heart for their church with the members and cast vision for the future. And it worked! The new pastor was approved!
In recent months, this church is now beginning to make strides in cultural diversity, racial reconciliation, and taking its job seriously as being a light and hope to their community... all because of one woman's faith and obedience to God.
Please pray for more courageous and obedient leaders like this woman in South Africa.
From Annie Erickson, ETHNE, South Africa
We're excited to share a few stories of where we've seen God on the move among our staff this year! You can learn more about the impact of our ministries around the world by downloading our 2016 Annual Ministry Report, a colorful two-page insert that shares the reach and focus of our ministries, stats on some of the results we've seen over the last year, and how we have stewarded our finances as an organization.