At this critical time in South Africa we are mindful of the many challenges facing our beloved country now and in the months ahead: rising political and racial tension, increasing violence, killings, regular protests about poor service delivery in the critical areas of health and education and more evidence of state capture coming to light. And with all of this, the Government and political parties seem to be deadlocked in squabbles, legal actions and a clear lack of unity. This leaves the ordinary citizen with a sense of fear and uncertainty about the future. We seem to be at the crossroads between good and evil.

The prophet Amos faced a similar situation in his country and challenged the nation with these words “You turn justice to bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth. You trample on the poor. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice.”

Then he outlines God’s will which is valid for every generation “Hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy” (Amos 5.7- 15).

Christians across the nation are praying for God to have mercy and intervene to bring peace, calm, reconciliation and a change of heart before it is too late.

This is the time for there to be clear moral leadership with integrity in the nation – a leadership that seeks God’s will for our land. Where that is lacking, chaos ensues.

We, in solidarity with church leaders across our land, call on our national leaders to seek God’s will for South Africa and to abide by our constitution. We call on them to urgently address the current issues and challenges facing our nation – our economic decline, the high unemployment rate, poverty and the widening gap between rich and poor, the increase in violence and crime, murders, the continuing corruption and capture of our economy by unscrupulous parties and the burning issue of equitable land distribution.

We call on civil society to act with wisdom and restraint. Avoid inflammatory actions or comments and treat each other with love, kindness and respect regardless of race, religion or gender. Whatever lies ahead in the weeks and months before us, we urge individuals, organizations and political parties to act within the law. If there are protests or party conferences then violence, destruction of property, provocative actions, racist comments or threats are all unacceptable and can only lead to further escalation in an already volatile climate.

We call on the Church to stand up, like the prophets of old, and speak with a prophetic voice to those in power to act in a godly and righteous manner. Now is the time for us to be a voice for the voiceless. Now is the time to speak against the issues of injustice which we see before us. Now is the time to be ‘shock absorbers’ in a climate charged with tension and to reflect something of the love, peace, grace, understanding and forgiveness that our Lord modeled for us.

We all need to be aware of the fact that there are always those on the fringe who will seek to bring disunity, disruption and chaos as they undermine the rule of law for their own selfish purposes. Therefore we need much urgent prayer for our land and its people.

As we approach the Christmas Festive season, we remember the message given by God through the angels at the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill to all mankind” (Luke 2.14).

Only when we acknowledge God as sovereign and give Him the glory that is His due and only when we put our lives in the hands of His Son – a gift to humanity to save us all from the penalty of sin and its enslaving power – can we begin to see real peace in the human heart, peace in our society, love and an attitude by all of goodwill to others. It has to start with us.

We are reminded of Mordecai’s challenge to his niece, Queen Esther, when she was faced with the destruction of her own people in a foreign land:

“Who knows but that you have been raised up for such a time as this” (Esther 4.14).

May God bless you all as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the one and only Son of God and Saviour of the World.

NMB Church Leadership Group