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. But these treasures coexist with the long and painful history of South Africa’s people.
Few Canadians know that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, designed to help bring healing to residential school survivors, is modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid 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 percent 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). 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.
From Feb 6-19, 2013, they will host a Mennonite Church Canada Learning Tour.
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.”
The Sudermans hope the tour will inspire everyone who participates and 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.