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Meet the church in South Africa

   
 


Andrew and Karen Suderman, Mennonite Church Canada workers in South Africa, are hosting a South Africa Learning Tour Feb. 6-19, 2013. They have been in Pietermaritzburg since 2009.

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The word “Freedom" is painted near on a pedestrian bridge near Kliptown in the Soweto township. Kliptown is a poor, largely squatter camp situated close to Walter Sisulu Square, where the Freedom Charter was drawn back in 1955.

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Andrew and Karen Suderman, Mennonite Church Canada workers in South Africa, create safe places for conversation across racial and cultural divides through their ministry with Anabaptist Network in South Africa (ANiSA). This particular ANiSA Dialogue took place in Cape Town.

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Mennonite Church Canada
October 1, 2013
-Deborah Froese

Winnipeg, MAN. —Spectacular water falls. A sweeping, ruggedly beautiful coastline. Exotic wildlife, sophisticated cities and an endless variety of cultures. These are some of the treasures attracting visitors to South Africa from around the world.

But these treasures coexist with the long and painful history of South Africa’s people.

Few Canadians know that Canada’s current Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), designed to help bring healing to residential school survivors, is modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid TRC experience of the 1990s – a process that was heavily influenced by a Christian social-justice world view. It is also a country whose population professes to be 80% Christian – and where Andrew and Karen Suderman are working to make a difference.

The Sudermans have been in South Africa since 2009 as Mennonite Church Canada workers helping to build the Anabaptist Network in South Africa (ANiSA). From Feb 6-19, 2013, they will host a Mennonite Church Canada Learning Tour.  The Learning Tour is designed to bring participants face-to-face with the South Africa’s breathtaking landscape as well as the Suderman’s South Africa ministry.

In a social context shaped by apartheid, the Sudermans provide Anabaptist resources and work at creating safe spaces for people to meet and get to know each other across racial and cultural divides.
 
The Sudermans are excited about the prospect. “We get to show people why it is that we have grown to love this country so much; its people, its beauty, even its history as it challenges us how to live faithfully, participating in and witnessing to God's peaceable kingdom on earth.”

As Director of Partnership Development at Mennonite Church Canada, Daniel Horne is organizing the tour from the Canadian end. “Participants will be more than tourists,” he says. “We hope that they will learn about culture and worship, and grow a heart for the people.  It’s an opportunity for them to see the church at work, to see the profound difference the church, its gifts and participation, can make in the lives of people on the other side of the world.”

The Sudermans hope the tour will inspire everyone who participates. “They will learn how others around the world are encountering the Mennonite/Anabaptist faith tradition in ways that are new and revolutionary, coming to new ways of imagining what the church can be and how its unique mission and way of being can help in reconciling one with the other, even after such a history of unthinkable pain.

But more than that, those who visit will bring great encouragement to the church in South Africa, Andrew Suderman says.  “Our hope is that the church in South Africa will feel that there are others around the world who want to learn from them and their experiences, and who want to walk in solidarity with them as they continue the struggle to live rightly with one another as witnesses to God's shalom in South Africa.”

To find out how you can participate in the South Africa Learning Tour, see www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/1828