South Africa

South Africa is a large state on the tip of the continent that experienced decades of bloodshed and turmoil before apartheid was ended in 1994. At that time, a multi-party democracy was established. The country is resource-rich and is the wealthiest and most industrialized country in Africa. Even with the steady improvements since achieving a true democracy in 1994, there is still great disparity between the races, and unemployment among blacks is very high. The country is 80 percent Christian with the major denominations being Methodist, Pentecostal, and Reformed. The churches were actively engaged in the anti-apartheid movement and are presently working diligently at racial reconciliation.

The RCA has been in partnership with the black Reformed churches in South Africa throughout their long struggle against apartheid. Many RCA members were faithful advocates, pressuring legislators in the United States and Canada to take a strong anti-apartheid stance. As apartheid collapsed and a new denomination, the Uniting Reformed Church of Southern Africa (URCSA), was formed, the two denominations wanted to continue the partnership but with a new focus: addressing the "scars of apartheid" through development of a denomination-wide diaconal program. The focus of this program is economic development, housing, education, and AIDS intervention. In partnership with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, jointly sponsored mission personnel serve as consultants to the URCSA Diaconal Commission. The RCA has much to learn from the URCSA regarding racial reconciliation and church-based community development.

Denise Kingdom Grier

A young child whimpers, her eyes searching for the familiar face of her father or mother. She’s an orphan of HIV and AIDS. But because of Setshabelo Child and Family Services (SCFS) in Botshabelo, South Africa, she is not among the children crying in an institutional orphanage. Instead, she’s scooped up by her foster mother. She’s embraced, comforted, and ushered into a future of hope.