Afrika MhlopheA few weeks ago Gateway News carried a story of an interaction I had at the Karoo Mighty Men Conference with Everall, a man who harboured racist views towards black people. It was after I was finished with my ministry that a gentleman involved in security came to the speakers’ tent and asked if I was open to talk to a gentleman who wanted to apologise to me for his racist views. What transpired after I agreed to talk to this man is something I will always treasure.

When he was ushered to me he did not waste time or mince his words but went right ahead and declared that he was a racist person who had used the derogatory ‘k’ word to refer to black people. He said he had used this word every day for the last two years because he had convinced himself that black people were useless. He then uttered the words ‘please forgive me’ and I promptly did. But how does a person who has been a Christian for over 20 years harbour such prejudicial thinking?

The answer to me lies in understanding the complex issue of a person’s heart. Connecting to this is the devil’s unceasing work in trying to derail the future of this nation. In my experience, racism hinges on the deceptive idea that one race is superior to another. Not only is this unscientific but also diabolic. Everarll testifies that he previously never accepted that black people were on a par with whites.

This means that in his mind he saw black people as being inferior to whites and this is a type of thinking that offends a lot of black people. But this thinking is primarily not an attack against blacks but an attack against God who created them and if this is true then the source of this thinking is satan. This means that white people are not the originator of racism and neither are they inherently racist.

This also means that racism is not the preserve of whites because everyone can be influenced by satan.  Judging a person by the colour of his skin reveals a patently debased thinking that is in opposition to God’s ways. God never judges us by how we look on the outside but by how we are on the inside. He declared Himself as He who judges the hearts of men. The recently held elections showed us that we are still some distance away from realising the dream of non-racialism.

Voting patterns
When you look at the voting patterns of even those people who call themselves Christians it is clear that race is still foremost in many people in South Africa. Many South Africans are prisoners of the past and this I saw in many posts that appeared on Facebook in the period preceding the elections. Some people were unashamed in using race to sway others to vote in a certain way. All of a sudden I saw posts of speeches by former president PW Botha.

The purpose of these speeches was to bring fear into the minds of black people and to remind them of their obligation to vote for a ‘black party’. I had a person reminding me how to vote by telling me ‘do it for Chris Hani’. Unfortunately my level of nostalgia is not that high and besides I struggled to understand what the late Chris Hani had to do with the future of this country. I have no allegiance to any dead person except the One who died and rose again.

I am a black person but that demographic categorization is not the primary construct of my identity. I did not apply to be born black and therefore I am not bound by this incidental factor. The primary construct of my identity is God and it is His image that I bear. Being affirmed by others is good, being affirmed by your family is better but being affirmed by God is best. A racist person has an exaggerated sense of importance in that he thinks you need his affirmation and acceptance to feel good about yourself.

In my view the real victim in a racist altercation is the person spewing racist venom and not the one it is directed against. You see, the racist person is a broken individual with such a low esteem he needs to make others lower in order for him to feel superior. Depravity is the birthplace of racism, tribalism, xenophobia and all other deviances. We can’t deal with racism without addressing hearts that are alienated from God.

I once told a gentleman from the whites-only town of Orania that racism was a spiritual issue and so was the crime issue that has engulfed South Africa. I told him that we can’t deal with either of them in the carnal sphere. Our battle is spiritual and whether it manifests in racial conflict or financial mismanagement we must not lose sight of what it is all about. As for Everall he has completely been freed by the power of Jesus and this can be true for all of us.