November 2007

A visit to South Africa


Visits in November 2007

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In Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, in the Gauteng Region; Pietermaritzburg and Durban in the Kwazulu Natal Region; Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and Cape Town in the Western Cape Region; the brothers received a tremendous welcome wherever they went in South Africa. It was if many people had been waiting for such a visit. Many reactions have come in. Here are just a few of them:

“On Tuesday, the brothers met youth in a township called Vosloorus. They were nicely welcomed by the parish priest, Fr Duncan Tsoke. The youth were ready and they had a very good discussion and sharing. Prayer in the parish church was very lovely. We then went to Rosebank Catholic Church in Johannesburg. There about 120 people gathered, many people in their 30’s. They are searching for spirituality. There was a long sharing after tea in the hall.
Yesterday, the brothers went to the Methodist Church in central Johannesburg. They met many Zimbabwean refugees and had midday prayer there. In the evening they traveled to Pretoria and were met by Rev Willem Nicol of the Dutch Reform Church. The prayer was held at the University of Pretoria Church. There were 350 people, a good number of students included.
Today, the brothers are with the Bishop of Pretoria at the Anglican Cathedral…”

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“At our church, a small group of us led prayers with the songs of Taizé, but we ourselves have not visited Taizé yet. Our prayers have been going for over three years now, and I had started to feel tired doing the music and the planning. Then the brothers visited and brought new energy and hope with them. I found comfort and encouragement in meeting others who pray in a similar way.”

“I have longed to have a regular meditative prayer close to where I live. Every month, I travel 30km to another city for the monthly Taizé prayer. During the brothers’ visit, I attended several prayers and met others who love this way of praying and who live close to me. So now I have hope that quite we shall have prayers with songs from Taizé close to my home.”

“In our cities, people speak many different languages and come from different cultures. Often, it is too easy to be friends just with people from one’s own culture. Singing a prayer in a language new to me, brings me a bit closer to the other people who speak that language, since we are praying together and the language is in me also while I am singing. Having a chat to people from other cultures after the prayers is a small step in me to be peaceful towards all people. This is very freeing, to start stepping out of the stereotypes in my head!”

When a pastor at Midrand was asked how he saw the future of South Africa, he replied: If I have to use a Biblical image to describe the present situation, I would say that South Africa has come out of captivity, and we are crossing the desert towards the promised land. Clearly there are difficulties of many kinds, but the people continue on their way to the promised land.

On 22 November, the brothers were taken to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet, to pray for all the 54 countries of Africa, one by one, from Angola to Zimbawe.

Last updated: 7 December 2007