Keeping the Faith
Jon and Dawn Barnes – South Africa
Jon and Dawn Barnes – South Africa
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
This was the scripture that the Rev. Colin Jooste, an ordained minister with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) and a South African who was exiled during apartheid, used to challenge one of the UCCSA churches, Parkridge Congregational Church, for her 40th anniversary. Rev. Jooste said to the congregation on this day of celebration that as a church in South Africa, we fought against apartheid…we fought the good fight. And we finished that race, apartheid is behind us now. But through it all….we kept the faith…we kept the faith. And his challenge to the church was this: What is our role today as the church in South Africa? The churches united, strong and outspoken, during apartheid against the evil, the unfairness, and the injustice. But what do we as churches stand for today? Where do we put our faith? He challenged the church to be a prophetic voice in the world today, to be a church that fights for equality, for justice, to develop the country, to all do our part as Christians and as we are called to do as the church.
This was a moving sermon to those present for the anniversary of the church. But it moved us to ask more questions. What does the church in America stand for? Where do we as Disciples of Christ and as the United Church of Christ put our faith? What is our prophetic voice in 2007?
We are proud to be ordained in the Disciples of Christ and belong to the family of the United Church of Christ because we know that our denominations take prophetic stands on issues of poverty, injustice and are involved with people and partners around the world. But we have to ask the question…do we let our denominational leaders and bodies do our work for us? Where are the prophetic voices in our local churches? What are ways that we as a congregation can take a stand….to fight the good fight? And even more so, how can we as individuals live out our faith?
I was recently so moved by a film that I joined Amnesty International and I now get weekly updates from them as well as from the United Church of Christ on issues going on around the world and how we can make a difference in those crisis. It may be simply writing a letter or phoning your senator and/or the president or signing a petition but it is making a difference. When we work together we can make things happen. Teaching our children about global issues, making them aware of the need to conserve, recycle and be conscious that there are other people on our planet besides ourselves we are resounding God’s prophetic voice. These are just two personal ways of fighting the good fight and living out your faith. I challenge you to visit the website of Global Ministries and see where you can make a difference around the globe, but I also challenge you to look around your neighborhood and see how you can make a difference at home. Help someone else to have faith!
We can take heart from our fellow South African sisters and brothers that one can fight the fight, finish the race AND keep the faith. We can do this when we join together as brothers and sisters to fight the good fight. May God show us all ways that we can be involved individually, in our congregations and in our denominations to hear God still speaking and to share God’s prophetic voice from our door step to the ends of the earth.
Revs. Jon and Dawn Barnes
Jonathan and Dawn Barnes are missionaries with the Kei Regional Council of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa. They serve as development officers in the Kei region of the Eastern Cape of South Africa.