“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-5)
A Universal Sin
The past few weeks in the United States have been difficult. In the midst of a global pandemic, racial tensions in our country seem to be at nearly all-time highs due to the recent horrific murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.
Racially motivated crime is distinctly ugly. Christians confess a common humanity; all people are image-bearers of God and equally precious in his sight. As we groan under the reality of racism’s prolonged existence in America, the sad truth is that it exists all around the world.
In South Africa, government-enforced Apartheid only ended in 1991 – less than 30 years ago. Gospel-centered churches there keenly feel the lingering divisions of racism and the necessity of striving for unity as God’s people.
A Universal Hope
But the gospel of God’s reconciling grace to us in Christ also exists all over the world.
Acts 29 member Anchored Baptist Church, planted by Wade and Tara McComas, is working to reflect the diversity of their local South African community as they share the good news about Jesus.
Hermanus is located on beautiful Walker Bay, about an hour and a half south of Cape Town on the Western Cape. It is known for whale watching and wineries. A Google search will bring up stunning regional photographs and tourist information.
But for all the wealth and natural beauty of Hermanus, it also bears the scars of injustice and poverty. According to a local news report covering last year’s elections, people living in the township of Zwelihle are, even now, functionally segregated: “It’s been 25 years since liberation, but here we still have segregation. In the town is where you find the rich, while we are still stuck on the outskirts.”
Gospel Light and Hospitality
“As a church,” writes Wade, “we are working to reach into the diversity of South Africa and our smaller city of Hermanus in particular. In a country and town plagued by a long history of disunity and distrust, hospitality and the ready words of the gospel are the most effective tools we have been equipped with.”
Wade and Tara cite the following sobering statistics in a support video: 68% of South African homes are fatherless. Nearly 4 million children have been left behind due to HIV/AIDS. And as of 2018, there were about 55,000 children living in child-only households.
The McComas’s personal vision is to plant churches, build families, and develop communities that point to Jesus.
“Within the last several years,” they say, “our town has been hit with strife and tragedy. Whenever that strikes, people come ready to receive these simple things that our church has to offer, and each wave of new members leads to an increased willingness to see that good work continue.”
Praying for Unity
Anchored Baptist Church is always praying for deepening unity amidst their diversity. They’ve seen one answer to this prayer in the development of church leaders. Through this process “there has been a graciousness among all the people groups represented in our body.”
“There will always be gaps naturally present,” writes Wade, “as culturally different people learn about one another and how to best care for each other.” Please pray with our brothers and sisters in Hermanus that the attitude of graciousness will continue and grow among them.
In our sin-sick world, racism and its scars linger. But by God’s power, the light of Christ will continue to flood lost hearts with repentance and true brotherly love until Jesus comes back and banishes sin forever.
May we press on in the good work of planting local churches that, united in Christ, beam light into darkness as they proclaim God’s word in all the earth.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)