Sharing the good news of hope, peace, and justice in South Africa

Mennonite Church Canada
Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Karen Suderman, right, chats with Ladysmith women who are committed to feeding hundreds of South African children each day.

Hungry children are being fed, students of peace are learning nonviolent responses to conflict, and ordinary people are making extraordinary sacrifices to bring hope and justice to those on the margins.

These are the good news stories that do not enjoy the same attention in the mainstream media as other, more violent and sensational stories, claims Andrew Suderman, director of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa, located in Pietermaritzburg. January of this year marked one year of the network’s work in bringing alternative, good news stories to South Africans.

While peace and justice projects bring one kind of hope to the vulnerable, in sharing the news of these projects Suderman, an international ministry worker with Mennonite Church Canada Witness, shares a kind of prophetic hope and encouragement with an audience that is in a position to help empower change.

“There are amazing stories about amazing people all over South Africa who can inspire others toward peace and justice,” says Suderman. “There’s a small group of women in Ladysmith with very limited resources who feed hundreds of children every day. Others tirelessly walk with people who are marginalized. Yet others are educating children and adults in the ways of peace and conflict transformation. These are people who make sacrifices so that others can also work for peace and justice, so that all may have a hopeful future.”

The stories are available online at anisa.org.za/news.

Joe Sawatzky, a regular online columnist, writes, “I hope that someone will read these stories and columns, and that it will challenge them to think in a new way. . . . I hope that it can be a voice that offers a different perspective exposed through stories that might not be known or focused on. And I hope that readers will widely share these stories with others.”

Allen Goddard, director for theology and citizenship for A Rocha South Africa and an online columnist, says, “South Africa suffers from the psychological and spiritual drag of generational bad news. For decades the media has not highlighted good news nearly enough. Reading contributions by South Africans of all walks of life . . . or reflections of the more prominent personalities and international theologians from South Africa has encouraged me to catch a glimpse of God’s reign of peace coming into the world where I live.”

 “We receive a lot of support from the different online news sources as we gather stories of peace, hope and reconciliation from all over South Africa, and we are grateful for that,” says Suderman. “The unfortunate part is that news of this kind does not enjoy the same attention as other stories—stories that tend to be more violent and sensational. The news we read shapes our thoughts about the context in which we live and the imagination we have in exploring possible solutions in dealing with the violence, injustice, poverty and social ills that we face.”

The aim of the network of people, churches and organizations is to walk with, support and grow reconciling communities of peace and justice that are grounded in the life and witness of Jesus Christ. It encourages and supports South Africans to live lifestyles of peacebuilding and walk the way of peace on a daily basis. It also brings together those who draw inspiration from the history, teachings and experiences of the Anabaptist Christian faith movement.

Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker Karen Suderman, right, chats with Ladysmith women who are committed to feeding hundreds of South African children each day.

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