"I’m a Recovering Racist"
Produced by Infinity Pictures
In partnership with Neighbours very own Nigel Branken
We are delighted to announce that "I am a recovering racist" came 5th in the Berlin Film Festival in the category - cultural impact! It was shortlisted in both the Cultural Impact and Unscripted categories.
We thank everyone at Infinity Pictures for putting it together so powerfully and hope it can be a helpfyul resource in conversations on the issue
For a number of years, the James 1:27 Trust has been administering our finances, supporting us in this incredibly empowering way. We believe that we now have the capacity to do this ourselves and so we have begun the process of transferring all of the registrations etc to our own systems. We have therefore opened a new bank account. Below are our new bank account details:
Account name: Neighbours NPO
Bank: Mercantile Bank
Account Number: 105 079 7388
Branch Code: 450105
Swift Code: LISAJJZA
Branch Address: 142 West Street, Merchantile Lisborn House, 4th floor, Sandton.
We have also listed with GivenGain so that our debit order systems can now be transferred to them and they will administer our monthly debit orders. If you would like to continue to support us, we encourage you to use the new bank account and this new debit order system.
We do intend to continue to partner with James 1:27 Trust in advancing the causes of justice in our city and around the world. We believe that the friendships we formed with and through them will be lifelong. We would like to express our sincere gratitude for all their support, integrity, kindness, and commitment that they have shown us through the years, often charging us very little to administer our finances. We really do commend them and encourage any of our givers looking for somewhere else to give towards, to consider supporting this worthy initiative.
To support the James127 Trust, please click the button below:
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only been challenging people with their health but also, the economic consequences have been quite severe. On the very first day of the lockdown, we said "today is the rainy day". This is the day we have all saved up for. For many people the pandemic became incredibly frightening as we saw unemployment rise and hard choices needed to be made to keep safe and housed and fed.
We saw the scourge of poverty impact directly on many of the people that we care for and love. As a result of this, we as neighbours have responded by putting those who have needs in touch with those who have resources and create linkages between the two whilst trying to remove ourselves from being in the middle. We have rather sought to be those who facilitate relational connections to one another.
We would like to thank all of those you have given so generously and those who have reached out in humility and offered to help. Just this last month we had some of the people that we assisted at the beginning of the lockdown who have now gotten on their feet begin to give to others who are now in need. What a beautiful expression of what community can look like.
There are also some people, especially those from outside of the country who wanted to give through Neighbours and we have tried to facilitate this. Thank you again to everybody who keeps on giving and we wish every one who has been though this difficult time with us the very best. lets keep staying connected and practicing neighbourliness.
Gugulethu has graduated from the African leadership Academy and obtained great results for her A levels. She was fortunate to receive a full scholarship that will cover her tuition, boarding, an annual return flight home, and a laptop to study for a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science in Mauritius at the prestigeous African Leadership College starting in January 2021.
She is currently living with the Branken family and is working on an internship with Neighbours and also her visa application to Mauritius.
She certainly is an inspiration to us all and we are extremely proud of her achievements!
If you would like to support Gugu with her needs at ALU, you can do so by emailing Nigel Branken and we will send you the details.
I have increasingly become convinced that the churches I have been part of in the past have predominantly held a weak soteriology focused on proclaiming exclusively how to get admission tickets to heaven while ignoring the full gospel demonstrated by Jesus in His birth, life, death, and resurrection. This has resulted in insipid country-club-like religion which has left structural injustice in place. I have become convinced that this is not the full gospel, and that our kerygma needs to include a proclamation and demonstration of God's shalom kingdom of righteousness, justice and peace.
NT Wright’s book, “Surprised by Hope” has been particularly helpful in helping me develop my understanding of eschatology and in response, our mission and understanding of the gospel. Central to the book is the message that exclusively hoping in life after death leaves Christian mission void of “change, rescue, transformation¸ (and) new possibilities within the world in the present”.
Wright argues that this limited understanding of Christian hope leaves Christians believing that the only thing that matters is evangelism. This kind of Christianity is why Karl Marl’s famously paraphrased quote: “religion is the opium of the masses” is so widely proclaimed. Marx argued that economic realities prevent the poor from finding true happiness in this life, so religion tells them to accept this as their lot because they will find true happiness in the next life. Is this the true full gospel, which leaves structural injustice in place?
I remember, as a child singing the hymn
“All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all…
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.”
As I reflect on this song, which shaped some of my early Christian theology, I have to declare - surely there is more to Christian hope than waiting until we die for our liberation. Surely it is not the job of the church to leave the rich and the poor in their assigned lot. God’s salvation plan of setting captives free has to be for this life.
NT Wright contends that “As long as we see ‘salvation’ in terms of ‘going to heaven when we die’, the main work of the church is bound to be seen in terms of saving souls for that future. But when we see ‘salvation’, as the New Testament sees it, in terms of God’s promised new heavens and new earth, and of our promised resurrection to share in that new, and gloriously embodied, reality – what I have called ‘life after life after death’ – then the main work of the church here and now demands to be rethought in consequence.”
So many of my homeless friends on the street talk about their desperation to be off the streets, free from their addictions, forgiven for all the things they have done and reconciled with their families. We have to believe with them that there is indeed “life before death” for these precious people. I may feel sad and at times helpless, perhaps even emotional, but I have to believe that God is surely able in this life to demonstrate resurrection as we build for the realm of God. Furthermore for my friends suffering under the multiple intersection oppressions of racism, sexism, islamaphobia, xenophobia and other forms of othering, I have to believe that the gospel is good news to liberate us even from these systems.
In the gospels “is the story of God’s kingdom being launched on earth as in heaven, generating a new state of affairs in which the power of evil has been decisively defeated, the new creation has been decisively launched, and Jesus’ followers have been commissioned and equipped to put that victory, and that inaugurated new world, into practice.”
“To hope for a better future in this world – for the poor, the sick, the lonely and depressed, for the slaves, the refugees, the hungry and homeless, for the abused, the paranoid, the downtrodden and despairing, and in fact for the whole wide, wonderful and wounded world – is not something else, something extra, something tacked on to ‘the gospel’ as an afterthought.”
In my experience, it seems the more our gospel proclamation is focused on getting people to heaven, the more content it is to leave people in many hells they find themselves in on earth.
“ Vox Victimarum vox dei: The cries of the victims are the voice of God. To the extent that these cries are not heard above the din of our political, cultural, economic, social and ecclesial celebrations or bickering, we have already begun a descent into hell”
(Bosch quoting Lamb)
What a profound statement! If we are not hearing the cries of the poor, perhaps we are not fully hearing the voice of God. Linked to this, if presence with the poor is presence with God then absence from the poor is also absence from God. Separation from God is the essence of hell. Perhaps a primary reason we have so many hells on earth is exactly because we have created homes, communities, cities and nations without the presence and guidance of God found in the voice of the marginalised.
The invitation has always been to lean into the voices of pain in both our history and the current reality shaped by that history. We have needed to listen deeply to the context for the invitation revealed in the wound in order to engage in the work of God in the world of brokenness.
It has followed then that an important question to ask was: “where is there pain?” Perhaps if we could find the pain and hear its cry, we could hear the whispering invitation of God to be involved in its salve.
The reality is that for many churches in the suburbs they have not heard the cries of the vulnerable among them. In South Africa’s unequal society, the rich and poor grow up alongside one another and the marginalised and vulnerable remain unseen.
A new question emerging is:
- How do we help the church in the suburbs see and hear the cries of the oppressed among them?
Lets then pray this prayer together