FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 2, January 12, 2017
“. . . I will restore your fortunes.” -Jeremiah 29:14
The Only Hope for South Africa
I just returned from eleven days in Cape Town, South Africa where I worked with Dr. Peter Hammond and his staff at the Frontline Fellowship Great Commission Camp to train young potential missionaries on Biblical and theological themes to make them effective missionaries in Africa and beyond. I love the nation of South Africa. I love the people and I love the scenery. Cape Town is the most beautiful city I have ever seen.
“How dark the gold has become,” (Lamentations 4:1). The once solid Christian consensus in South Africa has long departed, and in its place, to fill the vacuum, the western secularism of America and Europe has rushed in like a flood. In 1970, the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar (USD) and the South African Rand (ZAR) was .95 ZAR to 1 USD. In other words, the Rand was stronger than the dollar. While eating dinner at Table View one evening, I saw some very nice beach front condominiums for sale at R1.5 million. In other words, you could buy one for $100,000. South Africa was a first world leader in medical innovation. The first heart transplant in the world was performed at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town by Dr. Christiaan Barnard on December 3, 1967. Abortion was illegal. Anti-blasphemy laws were strictly enforced. For example, the blasphemous 1988 Martin Scorsese movie The Last Temptation of Christ was not allowed in the country. Homosexuality, while surely present, was not condoned or applauded. The written, stated objective of public education in the country was to make disciples of Christ. And while Apartheid was an unjust system and blacks and coloreds faced discrimination and were unable to get certain, well paying jobs, it is still undeniable that blacks and coloreds generally had far more money and a better standard of living than all the rest of the continent of Africa. More people of color owned automobiles in South Africa than the rest of the continent combined.
After the dismantling of Apartheid in 1994, abortion was legalized on February 1, 1997 during the presidency of Nelson Mandela. Mandela, when sworn in as President in 1994, had a witch doctor at the ceremony. The current president, Jacob Zuma, has four wives and at least twenty children. The exchange rate is now 14 ZAR to 1 USD. Due to a massive influx of illegal immigrants and a decaying infrastructure, there is a serious water problem in the country-a shortage and in some places the water is filthy. There is a palpable opposition to the gospel among many black and white people. One reason for the opposition is secularization but another is a coupling of Apartheid with the Dutch Reformed Church. Homosexuality is applauded in Cape Town. The gates are wide open for the importation of blasphemy and pornography. A massive “brain drain” has been occurring for the last twenty years. If you are a young white man, it is almost impossible to get a corporate job, and if one happens to have a job the tendency of the boss is to pour the work on the man, refusing to give him bonuses or pay raises, knowing that if one quits his job, there are forty more people ready to take his place. Many of the young, college educated white people are leaving South Africa. They simply have no future job prospects. Coloreds in the Cape Province, who once comprised eighty percent of the population, have seen their job prospects evaporate with the major influx of tribal blacks who are often given jobs over coloreds. There is growing resentment between blacks and coloreds and often in the Cape Province the whites and coloreds vote together against black interests. The once very pro Christianity government is now harassing Christian colleges and seminaries by requiring them to register with the government. When they refuse to do so, these colleges are being shut down. At least thirteen have closed in the last year. But there is always hope in Jesus. The Lord Jesus could turn South Africa around in an instant with a heaven sent revival, and this is the only thing which will save the country.
After centuries of gradually and progressively turning from devotion to Yahweh and running toward idolatry, God sent the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the nation of Judah. They had it coming for they were an idolatrous people. Jeremiah was prophesying to the nation of Judah from around 629 to 587 B.C., urging them to return to the Lord. This hardhearted, recalcitrant, stiff necked people would have nothing of Yahweh’s overtures of grace. Nonetheless, Yahweh promised through Jeremiah, “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope. . . I will restore your fortunes and gather you from the nations,” (Jeremiah 29:11,14). Within one hundred years Yahweh did in fact restore His covenant people to their land, bringing them back from exile, what Ezra calls a little reviving (Ezra 9:8). The big revival, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit about which Joel prophesied (Joel 2:28-32) and about which Jesus spoke (Luke 24:46-49, Acts 1:8) occurred on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2:4). Consequently God the Holy Spirit began to convert thousands of people, saving people daily, turning them from idols to serve the true and living God, resulting in a massive societal impact which rocked the world at that time, from Jerusalem to Athens to Rome.
I have often observed that our country, the United States, has similar problems to South Africa. We both have a long history of a strong, robust Christianity. We also have our own race problems, secularism, and statism. Just as in South Africa, the first people hurt by these issues are the poor.
Without a massive turning to Christ in South Africa, this once beautiful and great nation will sink further and further into ignominy. South Africa needs millions of true conversions. She needs revival of the believers to seek God earnestly. She needs Biblical reformation which affects every aspect of the society-race, politics, business, government.
And of course we need the same in America. Who knows, perhaps God will visit us and the people of South Africa and restore our fortunes. Pray for this beautiful country. Pray for Peter Hammond and the many faithful preachers and believers there, asking that the Holy Spirt will empower them to see millions of conversions, bringing true Biblical reformation, culminating in the transformation of the culture, where people may live together humbly, enjoying the beauty and resources of our gracious God.
1. The term “colored” is not considered a pejorative term in South Africa. It is used to designate people of mixed races as opposed to white people and tribal African people.