A snapshot of our city 10 years from now: Hope or Lamentation, the choice is yours.
Dr Michael Jarvis
History of Cape town
We are privileged to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
Cape Town has no written history before 1488 when it was mentioned by the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias, followed in 1497 by Vasco da Gama while searching for a sea route between Europe ad Asia.
In 1652 Jan van Reinbeck and other Dutch East India Company employees set up a base to serve as a half way station providing fresh water, vegetables and meat for passing ships.
Over following years Cape Town fell under control of the Dutch, the French and the British. This is not the time to go further into Cape Town history except to say that the oldest building is the Castle of Good Hope built in 1679.
Gateway to sub-Saharan Africa
In 1834 all slaves in the British Empire were freed and an estimated 39,000 set up communities in Cape Town. Then in 1836 about 10,000 Dutch families started leaving Cape Town for the north (the Great Trek) in search of new land, thereby opening up the interior of the country and opening routes as far north as Kenya.
These courageous pioneers turned Cape Town into the gateway to much of sub-Saharan Africa. Wellington, where I live, became an important wagon making town supplying travellers with the ox wagons they needed for the difficult journey northwards.
In this way Cape Town became the gateway into Africa.
Great Christian missionary outreaches
This gateway north was used for commerce but also gave early Christian missionaries a way to spread the Gospel message. A great boost to these missionary efforts was provided through the work and vision of Andrew Murray. In 1889 he was one of the founders of the South African Mission.
Andrew Murray wrote over 200 books and also was instrumental in establishing the Huguenot Seminary in Wellington in 1874 and the Institute for training of missionaries. This coincided with Andrew Murray being used by God in a spiritual revival and the training of many missionaries who went north into Africa.
Many missionaries moved out from Cape town into Africa and even into other continents
The dark days of racism
Andrew Murray died in January 1917 almost exactly 100 years ago. Towards the end of his life pressures arose to form racially distinct branches of churches. This was foreign to Andrew Murray but a combination of prejudices and fears led progressively to South Africa becoming a racially segregated Apartheid political regime. We can certainly refer to this period as the dark days of institutionalised racism.
Cape Town today
Today we have nearly four million people in greater Cape Town composed of a great mix of racial backgrounds. About 42 % coloured, 38% black, 16 % white, 1.5% Asian or Indian and 2 % other.
Since our first truly democratic elections in 1994 we have experienced a new South African Constitution that seeks to guarantee a non-racial society and we have witnessed many positive changes in relationships between different races. However we now also face major problems and challenges.
Cape town is blessed with outstanding natural beauty and it can benefit a lot financially from the tourist trade.
We are also blessed to be situated in the best run province in South Africa and to have many God fearing citizens.
Crime and murder capital of Africa?
A BBC report at the end of 2014, ranks Cape Town as the 20th most violent city in the world and probably the most violent in Africa. Cape Town has each year about 50 homicides per 100,000 citizens, totalling about 2,000 murders each year.
A third of the murders are due to domestic arguments and 18% are gang related. Most murders were in the townships of the Cape Flats, the worse areas being Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain.
Unemployment and poverty
In these areas unemployment is about 70%, education standards are low and belonging to a gang gives many youth a feeling of some security and status. There are an estimated 130 street and prison gangs totalling about 100,000 members.
Unemployment and poverty are major contributing factors to crime and violence.
HIV and related diseases
It is difficult to overstate the suffering that HIV/AIDS has caused in south Africa, both socially, economically and in pain and suffering of millions of those who have died from this pandemic.
Furthermore, measures taken to fight this disease are inadequate and from a Christian perspective wrongly directed.
The cost in human suffering is enormous and the country has reached the place where it cannot afford to pay for all the drugs needed to keep patients alive.
Recent statistics suggest nearly 30% of South Africans are HIV positive.
Alcohol and drug abuse
Surveys have suggested that 1 in 10 South Africans have addiction problems at some stage in their lives and their top drugs are dagga and alcohol.
In addition the use of highly addictive drugs such as Whonga (mixture of Heroin and dagga) and use of heroin and tik are increasing at an alarming rate.
Drug taking also has a direct effect on crime since addicts need to steal in order to satisfy their drug needs.
Orphans and street children
As a result of the HIV epidemic, poverty and the breakdown of traditional family structures, we have an enormous orphan problem and associated street children who largely miss out on basic education and are open to sexual and other forms of abuse.
Various reports give the number of orphans in South Africa at between 3.7 and 5 million.
Threats to family values from corrupted media
South Africans are bombarded with media that are dominated by violence and irresponsible sexual behaviour. Young people exposed to this on television and mobile phones grow up believing it is normal to be violent and to have reckless sexual behaviour.
This combined with drug abuse is fuelling the increasing numbers of new HIV sufferers.
Promotion of the Pink Capital
We have moved beyond merely accepting the existence of Gay or LGBT people in our society to now being increasingly exposed to media and events that actively promote this lifestyle. As a result many young people are being led into so-called Gay lifestyles who would not be so led if it were not for the very visual promotion by events and media.
We now face the situation where Cape Town is being promoted in various tourist brochures as the Pink Capital of South Africa.
Although as Christians we are called upon to love our neighbours, irrespective of their life styles, we also accept that these LGBT lifestyles are a further factor leading to breakdown of family structures and the breakdown in family structures is a major contributor to many other social ills.
Shortage of basic amenities
Because of the many demands on available finances, due to the HIV and related problems and due to corruption where large amounts of government money has gone missing, it has
become increasingly difficult to expand housing and basic amenities fast enough to keep pace with Cape Town’s growing population.
PROJECTIONS FOR NEXT 10 YEARS
The future looks bleak
By using our human logic, we conclude that we are heading for an escalation of our existing problems.
The HIV epidemic, alcohol and other drug addictions, unemployment, poverty, poor education, crime, the breakdown of family values and other negatives lead me to the conclusion that Cape Town is heading towards an overall major deterioration during the next 10 years.
We are heading towards more ‘lamentations’. This word means expressing grief, often with wailing or crying.
But God has an agenda for HOPE
We have historical examples of great movements of God that led to enormous social changes. One of the best examples is the dramatic change brought to England through God using the Wesley brothers and other great evangelists.
England at the start of the 18th century was in a moral quagmire. Rampant alcoholism, poverty, sickness, social injustices. Gambling was so common that one historian described England as “one vast casino”.
Newborns were exposed in the streets, 97% of the infant poor in workhouses died as children. These workhouses were like forced child labour where poor parents desperately needed extra income.
The slave trade was also still in operation.
Bishop Berkley wrote that morality and religion had collapsed to a “degree that was never known in any Christian country”
In fact England was ripe for a bloody revolution such as had just happened across the channel in France.
Then God raised up George Whitefield and John Wesley and others. They went to where the people were and preached largely in the open, not in churches.
Wesley travelled over 250,000 miles on horseback and vast numbers came to faith and changed lives. He often preached five times each day as he travelled from town to town preaching in halls, on the streets and at factories and mines.
One account of George Whitefield preaching as coal miners came off shift. White streaks on faces as tears came to their eyes.
A study of how the Wesleys operated will reveal many key principles, which I believe God wants us to look into.
This spiritual revival was empowered by the Holy Spirit and resulted within a short time to an amazing transformation of England.
Without any doubt I believe the HOPE for Cape Town is a God initiated revival and since Cape Town is historically and spiritually the gateway into much of Africa, we can be sure that a Cape Town transformed through a Holy Spirit inspired revival will be a powerful light for Africa and indeed for the world.
A Cape Town transformed by God, through Christians becoming the transforming salt and light in society, can become a powerful witness to the world. They will see a City transformed and where a racially polarised society finds a supernaturally created unity and where a crime and poverty capital of Africa can become a model of good governance and increasing prosperity.
The president of Tanzania John Magafuli has only been in office just over one year. He was teacher by profession but also a committed Christian. He has already initiated a remarkable transformation, fighting corruption. He even arrested over 200 witch doctors implicated in killing albinos for Muti.
The Bible says that when leaders turn wholeheartedly to God and his righteousness then the nation is blessed. Already we are seeing this in Tanzania. You can read about this as one of the free downloads from our www.ubuntuchristianity.co.za webpage.
I have written the book Ubuntu Christianity that outlines important aspects of traditional beliefs in Africa that are in direct conflict with progress. This book also led to my contact with Christian Ilunga and to us jointly developing the webpage.
IF MY PEOPLE
It is often a temptation to make our own plans on how to transform Cape Town. However, it is obviously most important to first prioritise co-operating with God’s best plans.
All great moves of God have been preceded by groups of Christians becoming motivated to cry out to God. In some cases it was only a small group of Christians who passionately cried out to God.
I once had a vivid picture in my mind were I was standing on mountains behind Wellington and looking out over Cape Town. I saw a very bright glow far out to sea and somehow knew this was God’s glory. I then asked myself why this glorious glow was staying out at sea. I sensed the answer was that God was waiting until he could find a group of Christians in Cape Town who were truly 100% sold out for God and were pleading with him to bring revival.
God is calling us to ‘stand in the gap’ He is a Holy God and has genuine anger against all things that harm individuals and society. Our prayer as we stand in the gap is that his mercy, love and grace will triumph over the judgment that is rightly due.
Are we motivated to intercede for our city and its people?
MEETING GOD”s CONDITIONS
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Chronicles 7:14 (NIV translation)
As Christians we hopefully are not hanging onto things that we know God speaks against. However, even if we have truly turned from wicked ways, we might consider whether we have truly humbled ourselves. Are we prepared to seek God’s solutions rather than our own plans.
Are we prepared to spend time in costly intercession for Cape Town?
The KEY to transforming our city is transformed lives. These transformed lives are then open to God’s leading, so that we become salt and light in the darkness around us.
Dr Michael Jarvis
Director: Fact and Faith Publications
PO Box 292, Wellington, 7654, South Africa
Telephone: (27) (21) 8641546
Web pages: www.factandfaith.co.za