The above statement sums up the last recorded prayer of Jesus, just before His betrayal and death – That they all may be one! This is the dream Jesus has for His church. Are our actions and words geared towards realizing this prayer? If we answer No, then we have indicted ourselves as those who are fighting against God. Fighting against God’s dream is a genuine night-mare, where one never wakes up.
We are now approaching 600 days (66 days short of 666) of rising hostility between TOC Alberton and TOC Orange Groove. How many more days, months, or years do we need to come to our senses and bring an end to this destructive mission? “Go and preach the gospel” has now turned to “Go and poke your brethren”. That has become our “Gospel Commission”. Our churches, which used to be a sanctuary for those who needed comfort, are increasingly becoming war zones. We are getting to a point where we are more likely to get hurt inside the church than outside. Pulpits, which used to lift up the trumpet, have become launching pads for missiles directed at our brothers and sisters (enemies) who do not see things the way we do. We have declared a truce with the Devil and have turned against each other, with malice baptized in a deadly demonic venom.
The Bible records an instance of one person by the name of Uzzah who sincerely did all he could to prevent the ark from falling so that God would not be “hurt.” Uzzah died but the Ark he died for was miraculously steadied by the unseen hand. Today we see two Uzzah’s; one in Orange Groove and the other in Alberton. Both are doing all they can to protect God’s ark from falling. Who gets hurt in this religious fanaticism? My enemy, of course! This is nothing but mutual destruction and annihilation. What are we doing to our children? What kind of church will they inherit, obviously not the one we inherited.
We had hoped that the civil courts would bring us together and help us resolve these nagging issues. To date these have only entrenched our animosity against each other and have driven us further from one another. The pending cases will achieve the same with probably more disastrous results. No earthly court can redeem us from the unrepentant attitude we have against each other.
Allow me to dream (and please remind me to wake up at the end of the dream!) or at least come with me on this imaginary journey. Imagine what might happen if leaders from Orange Groove and Alberton were to:
• Commit themselves to peace;
• Use the God-given platform they often occupy to talk of unity and reconciliation;
• Try to reach out to each other prayerful in the Spirit of Christ to find lasting and Biblical solutions;
• Allow no one from their members to speak disparagingly about members of the other group.
Imagine what might happen if pastors from Alberton and Orange Groove were to:
• Pray for one another;
• Lift up Christ and preach grace filled and Holy Spirit driven sermons;
• Encourage their members to reach out to their brothers and sisters on the other side;
• Inspire their members with the zeal to be involved in the preaching of the everlasting gospel.
Imagine what might happen if members from Orange Groove and Alberton were to:
• Listen to the leaders they have chosen (in striving for peace and reconciliation);
• Refuse to be turned against each other by the political rhetoric that has become the order of the day.
• Pray for their own souls, and for their families;
• Allow God to use them in reaching out to those who do not know His love and prepare them for the soon coming of Christ.
Imagine with me how God, the Creator of the Universe, the Holy Father who sent His son to die for us and gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to sustain us, would react? And imagine if you please with me how Satan, the enemy of our souls, the devil, that old serpent, who accuses us before God day and night, wrathful dragon, would react? I live that to your imagination.
Realizing that there can never be unity without the leadership creating a climate for it; I therefore as a member of the Adventist church submit my humble appeal to our dear Leaders, in Alberton, Orange Groove, SAU and the SID to:
• Make Christ’s dream of a united church, their dream.
• Put self aside, reach out to each other and find solutions to this rather very ‘simple’ matter.
• Realize that there is no one with clean hands in this saga – both have erred – Those who acted and those who reacted are both guilty of bringing God’s name and His church into disrepute.
• Realize that the majority of members both in Alberton and Orange Groove are crying for a united Adventist church.
I hope by God’s grace that this will happen sooner than later! I believe with all my heart that God’s church will triumph at last. That Christ’s dream of a united church will be realized. That Alberton and Orange Groove will one day unite and become one church. I am not sure where you and I will be when that happens. I pray that my words and my actions will not lead any soul purchased by Christ, astray. May this be your prayer too! And may God forgive all of us for the sins of omission as well as commission.