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Report from South Africa: “Missionary” Updated


Earlier this year I received an invitation. I looked at it with interest. It was for a three-day missionary training course being held at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa. “Our High Calling” was being organized by a local missionary group called Soul REAPERS (Revived & Energised Adventist Proclaiming the Eminent Return of our Saviour).

The movement was started by a group of church friends in South Africa in 2008 with the desire to urgently finish the gospel work in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world by training and involving young Seventh-day Adventists in missionary work. The group also plans to help the Seventh-day Adventist church plant churches in un-entered areas. The group has now grown tremendously including local church members, students, young professionals and pretty much anyone who desires to see the group’s objectives fulfilled.

So from what I could tell from the invite this training program would entail: 

  • Information on the history of missionary work in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
  • How to truly experience the Three Angels’ Message
  • Practical Bible study tools

I decided to attend the three-day program. Little did I know that this training would completely change my views on missionary work.

The entire program, from the singing of the hymns through the presentations was handled in such an orderly way (we do, after all, serve a God of order), which lacks within most of our churches. Most of the attendees and presenters were South African, with a few from neighboring countries Zimbabwe and Lesotho. A very large young crowd was in attendance, with not too many older churchfolk represented.

What echoed throughout the seminars was the fact that we are now living in the days of the third angel’s message and Satan is hard at work entertaining us with all forms of devices, television, and fashion and as the inspired pen says: ‘‘Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures, will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind.” At a time like this we are not to be sleeping but out in the field sowing, reaping and preparing a people to meet the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

What left a lasting impression above all is the devotion, dedication and passion for Christ of these young people.

One misconception that was dispelled is what it means to be a missionary.

For many, when the word “missionary” is heard or spoken one thinks of someone who leaves their home/country/job and proclaims the word. But contrary to this belief, missionary work is for all of us; as one speaker said “If you are not a missionary, you are a mission field.” Needless to say, I want to choose the former.

Missionary work of course involves proclaiming the Word. One does not always have to leave one’s family and job. Sometimes all that is required is a willing heart and an open hand to advance the work.

Unfortunately, missionary work is not embraced by all – especially smaller churches. For many, missionaries were always white men from overseas coming into villages, and sometimes leading the villagers astray.

“Missionary” reminds me of the statue of David Livingstone in Edinburgh, representing a missionary/traveller, with a Bible in one hand and the other resting upon an axe. With this kind of overtone to the word, obviously not many black people will embrace the thought of having their children venturing into missionary work. 

When missionaries came to South Africa and the rest of the continent, many were possessed with a moral self–righteousness that led them to make hasty and uninformed judgements upon indigenous norms and values they were scarcely equipped to understand. Typically they had the indigenous people do away with their customs. One such missionary was reported as saying: ‘’Of the missionary failure in [the Transkei, South Africa] there is no doubt. Even today the amaXhosa is not a Christian nation. The fact that abaKweta (circumcision initiation) ceremonies takes place two miles from the University College of Fort Hare in the year 1959 symbolises the missionary failure significantly to influence the way of life of the rank and file of the tribal amaXhosa.‘’

Perhaps had there been someone working in the Transkei who the local people were more familiar with, greater understanding would have ensued. It is up to each one of us, who understand our friends and our families and our co-workers, to witness to them. It is up to each one of us to be a missionary in our own communities.

Talk about thought-provoking! This training definitely made me think, not only about the current state of my own faith, but about what actions I can take in my own surroundings.

This training was for many, myself included, a call to start walking the walk, reflecting Jesus in our day-to-day lives. I learned that being a missionary isn’t all that bad.

I look forward to seeing the Reapers blossom and many more training programs like these. Weekend programs are planned one per month for the next several months in different locations in the country.

Ideally, the upcoming programs will be better advertised, as I feel that our churches didn’t really know about this program.

Thulisa Kula is a young South African Adventist born into the faith, and a single mom. She works for a shipping company as an inside sales executive. Kula serves her local church as communication secretary & education director.  She loves the outdoors, mostly hiking, and is an aspiring writer.

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