Hoop en opgewondenheid in gemeenskappe

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

Ek het die afgelope 3 weke al die NG gemeentes in die land gebel om uit te vind waar hulle betrokke is in die TUG proses.

Wat my opgeval het, is dat baie kleiner dorpe  as gemeenskappe (en kerke) saamwerk. Die organiseerders getuig dat dit nie vir hulle belangrik is aan watter kerk jy behoort nie. Almal werk met een gemeenskaplike doel: om te beïnvloed, lief te hê en die evangelie uit te dra. Daar is hoop en ‘n opgewondenheid in gemeenskappe waar daar al jare lank gesukkel word om al die kerke om een tafel te kry.

Wat my opgewonde maak, is dat baie van die gemeentes wat betrokke is, wil aangaan om te werk na buite toe. Hulle het ervaar wat dit is as die liggaam van Christus saamwerk. Hulle besef dat hierdie net die begin is en vra dat dit nie sal ophou nie. Hulle sal graag in die toekoms saam verder wil kerk wees daar buite.

Geskryf deur Marlene Marais (vrou van Ben Marais wat die kerk aangestel het as die sport bedienings koördineerder).  Marlene is aangestel om al die NG en VG gemeentes in die land te bel om te hoor wat hulle betrokkenheid is by die Wêreldbeker uitreike.

Uitreike Sokker 2010

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

2.     1000 ure 24/7 gebedsketting.

3.     Ons neem deel aan die uitreike  saam met klub 1000 na die Bellville Velodrome waar ons koffie en geestelike spreke en leesstof gaan uitdeel.

4.     Ons neem deel aan die uitreike na die stad Kaapstad waar twee kerke(NG kerk en Engelse Baptiste kerk) hulle sentrums beskikbaar gestel het vir klub 1000 om uitreike daar te doen.

5.     2 Alkoholvrye “Big Screen” uitsendings van 26 Junie en 3 Julie in Suider-Strand se kerk kompleks. Ons gaan ‘n gebedskamer en beradingskamer op die 2 dae hê. Daar gaan ook eetgoed en drinkgoed te koop wees.

6.     Uitreik saam met Stellenberg se jeug na Sir Lowrys  Pass village.

7.     Ons het ook ‘n ringsjeugprojek met “Holiday Clubs” wat ons vir die gemeenskap aanbied tussen 20 Junie en 3 Julie met  ‘n nagemaakte sokkerveld waar ons verskeie programme gaan aanbied oor sokker vaardighede, bybelvaardighede, lewensvaardighede, ens.

8.     Ons het elke Sondag 2 vlae op die kansel van die 32 lande wat SA besoek. Ons bid dan vir hulle op die spesifieke Sondag.

9.     Ons het ons mense uitgedaag om hulle geelhemde te dra en hande in hierdie tyd uit te steek na medeburgers in ons land.

{gallery}suiderstrand{/gallery}

Suiderstrand Gemeente kom in die Gees

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

Daar is ook tydens die erediens 1300 gebreide poppies aan Stellenberg Gemeente oorhandig. Die poppies vorm deel van ‘n projek wat deur die gemeente geloods word tydens die wêreldbeker. Die poppies word aan tiener meisies uitgedeel om hulle te herinner dat hul liggame spesiaal is en ‘n mens mag dit oppas.

Ds Carstens het met sy boodskap die belangrikheid van vaderskap onderstreep. Hy het ook die groot behoefte aan vaders in Afrika uitgelig. Hy het praktiese wenke wat elke vader in die opvoeding van sy kind kan help gegee nl:

1.      Skep sekuriteit vir jou kind. Sekuriteit van versorging, dissipline, waardes, rigting en emosionele stabiliteit.

2.      Bevestig jou kind se potensiaal. Prys jou kind.

3.      Oordrag van identiteit.

Wat ons vir die res van Afrika en Suid-Afrika kan doen:

1.      Demonstreer Vaderskap

2.      Skep werk

3.      “Adopt a family”

Wees ‘n pa van die woord!!

Ons benodig nog die volgende.

Daar is ‘n broodprinter gekry vir tydperk van Worldcup wat “Bybelteksverse” op brood snye print. Ons wil graag 6000 brode koop om dit te doen. Dit word verpak in 2 snye en dan in die pakette gesit wat ons in Kaapstad gaan uitdeel. Ons benodig geld om die brode te koop.

  • Die prize dvd(getuienisse van sokker helde – huidig) wil ons ook in pakette sit. Die dvd kos R15. Kort sponsors hiervoor.
  • Vir Kaapstad uitreike kort ons ook nog koffie en suiker, klein pakkies droe vrugte, klein botteltjies water en sap en enige kaarte van Kaapstad self, asook droeë koekies en aanmaak sap vir ons uitreike..

As ons oor Soweto verkeerd kan wees waaroor nog alles?

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

Êrens het iemand ‘n besluit geneem wat ingedruis het teen ‘n hele klomp van hierdie voorveronderstellings. Voorveronderstellings soos- dit is nie veilig in Soweto nie. Die gemeenskap van Soweto en die stoere Blou Bul ondersteuners sal nie lekker meng nie hier kom moeilikheid. Sowetose gemeenskap ondersteun togeintlik rugby nie- daar is soveel ander gemeenskappe wat baie graag die eidnstryd by hulle wil he. Dinge in die land is maar moeilik op hierdie staduim, die tyd is eenvoudig nie gereed hiervoor nie, dalk op ‘n later stadium, ens ens

So wat my interesseer is wat daar in die raadsaal gebeur het. Ek ken rade- in elk geval kerkrade en ek ken min of meer die retoriek om risiko’s so ver as moontlik te vermy. Hier het ons te make met ‘n ander soort leierskap wat bereid was om ‘n risiko te loop, ‘n baie groot risiko, omdat hulle visie gehad het en die potenisaal van ‘n groter prentjie raak gesien het. Die resultaat is verstommend en vir meeste verassend.

Wat my verder interesseer is dat die Blou Bul leiers van en op die veld nadat die besluit geneem is, net een deuntjie gehad- hierdie is ‘n geleentheid en ons gaan dit aangryp, kom mense ons gaan dit ‘n positiewe saak maak. Die bestuurder van die unie het dit gereeld gese, Fourie du Preez het dit gese, Matfield het dit oor en oor gese- nieand het eers op die ongerief of die moontlike probleme gefokus nie- in kort hulle het leierskap gegee en sodoende rugby, sport en ons Suid Afrikaanse gemeenskap onherroeplik verander. Wie van ons kan hierna nog se dat die swart en wit gemeenskappe van Suid Afrika op grondvlak eintlik nie met mekaar oor die weg wil kom nie!

Watter geleenheid sou nie verlore gewees het indien hulle dit nie aangegryp het nie en die wedstryd in Witbank gaan speel het? Dit is soos om ‘n Woensdagaand biduur te vergelyk met Mighty Men saamtrek!

So wat ek eintlik wonder is hoeveel geleenthede ons in gemeentes nie deur ons vingers laat glip omdat ons nie bereid is om risiko’s te loop nie. Omdat ons voorveronderstellings, wat terloops soos in hierdie geval dikwels verkeerd kan wees, ons blind maak vir die geleenthede wat hier reg vor ons gegee word?

…en ek wonder natuurlik hoe voel daardie ou wat die sms uitgestuur het oor waar in Soweto jy jou motor kan parkeer en waar jy die bus kan vang as jy na die wedstryd natuurlik gaan uitvind dat jou motor gesteel is?

…en natuurlik waaroor ons nog alles dit verkeerd het in hierdie wonderlike land van ons

…ja en hoe dit moontlik is dat ek so ‘n artikel kan skryf oor die Bulle?{jcomments on}

Our transformation challenge: The Blue Bulls show the way!

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

“And if they’d lost?” I innocently enquired.

“Ag, voetsek man!” he laughed.

But therein lies the rub. But for the change of venue 60 000 Bulls supporters would not have made it to the semi-final and the final in Soweto. They would have played at Loftus and their attitude would have stayed north of the curtain.

Transformation is about behaviour, it happens when behaviour changes, attitude then follows sometimes proudly, sometimes reflectively, and sometimes deeply.

“I want to share with you a life changing experience which my 15-year old son and I had this weekend,” says Matthew Grossett, CEO of Walk for Life.

“We were privileged enough to have attended the semi-final of the Super 14 held at the Orlando Stadium in deepest Soweto on Saturday night. For those of you who don’t know, the semi-final was between the Blue Bulls (from Pretoria) and the Crusaders (from New Zealand). As with all of us white supporters going to the game, we were filled with trepidation…Was it safe, would it be properly organised? Was it safe, how would the locals react to us arriving in Soweto? Was it safe, was it safe, was it safe, was it safe?!

On the way to the game we passed, and were passed by car after car full of Blou Bulle, most of them sporting the traditional Blue Bull hats with horns on, drinking brandy and coke. At the park-and-ride collection point (all supporters were transferred by bus to the stadium from the park and ride) the Blou Bulle were in full cry. I have never in one day seen so many people all wearing horns, drinking “spook and diesel” and – dare I say it – speaking Afrikaans (there were very few of us “souties” there). My initial thoughts were that the integration of the Bulle and the locals in Soweto was a recipe for trouble. I could not have been more wrong!

To say that the locals in Soweto came out and embraced the predominantly white Bulls supporters (and visa versa) is an understatement. Before and after the game, hundreds of light blue shirts (wearing their horns) could be seen in the local shebeens in the area around the stadium. We witnessed literally dozens of Bulls supporters hanging onto locals, eating “pap en vleis” and being taught the diski dance! After the game hundreds of us walked freely in the streets around the stadium, chatting to and interacting with the locals. I can honestly say that over the course of the entire day, I never once felt scared or nervous! Over the entire event I never witnessed one act of aggression. The goodwill and camaraderie that flowed on Saturday was an amazing advert for how far this country has come since 1994, and how much potential there is for the future. The vast majority of South Africans are truly amazing people, who can only but ensure that this country of ours just gets stronger and stronger, and better and better.

I went to bed on Saturday night very proud to be a South African, and full of confidence that, despite our well documented problems, this is a fantastic country with heaps of potential. We all just need to see the good in it and stop focusing on the negative.”

So, on a serious note, we are also celebrating (some of us anyway) a hundred years of the Union in South Africa and independence from Britain. Business Day has run a series of fascinating articles on this history with significant contributions from blacks and whites alike. They have been a compelling read and, in a way, show just how complicated our history is and therefore how complicated our transformation will be. Reading about this history has been most informative, and I guess for me has produced a number of paradoxical learnings.

•We have a shared history, but not a common history, a past in which communal-based African political traditions were repressed by liberal-based European political traditions under the guise of nationalism.
•Now we have a constitution that is as much our peace agreement as it is our supreme sanction.
•We have a national identity that is focused on common issues, but we don’t have a common identity that is focused on a national agenda.
•How we write about our history reflects our heterogeneity and our division, yet how we write about our destiny reflects our homogeneity and our union.
•Our media seems preoccupied with ahistorical opposition and otherness and seems disinterested with nation building and healing

So as we move forward faced with these complicated paradoxes , as we transform into our next centenary, will we preoccupy ourselves with more of the Bulls-in-Orlando type union and less with the Zapiro-denigrating-prophet type division?

As Peter Bruce (Business Day, 31 May) says “South Africans need to be careful not only of what we say to each other, but how we say it”.

That has to do with how we behave towards each other, and it has to do with the truth of our country.

It’s easy to find fault, talk up the negatives, say that Soweto is a dangerous place, say that “They” don’t respect life, say that this country is “Zimbabweanifying”. (I’d leave if I believed that!)

It’s harder to find the good, to talk up the positives, to go and visit Soweto or any other township, to put our arms around our fellow South Africans in a shebeen and say that our country is the best place to be.

But if we want to really transform…

That’s what we need to do!

By Steuart Pennington of www.sagoodnews.co.za

{jcomments on}

NAGMAAL IN SOWETO

Written by Frederick on . Posted in Wêreldbeker Sokker 2010

My eerste ontmoeting met Soweto was in 1982. ‘n Groep sosiologie studente het ‘n toer na Soweto gereël. ‘n Wit amptenaar van die destydse departement gemoeid met naturelle of lokasies (ek kan nie die departement se naam onthou nie, dit kon plurale sake gewees het) was ons toergids. My indruk was dat niemand in die bus bang was om in Soweto te ry nie, ons het in elk geval nie uitgeklim nie en klipgooiery was aan ons onbekend. Die toergids het ons na mooi huisies geneem en gesê hulle moedig die inwoners aan om hul huisies gereeld te verf en ‘n tuintjie te maak, so steek hulle mekaar aan. “Dis nie lank nie dan het ‘n straat klomp mooi huisies” het hy trots verduidelik. Daar was geensins na die onreg van apartheid verwys nie, maar na alles wat die NP regering vir die inwoners in Soweto doen. Op een stadium het ons verby ‘n begraafplaas gery. Ek sal die woorde van die amptenaar wat dít as die beste plek vir die inwoners beskou het, nooit vergeet nie. Dit was blatante rassisme/haatspraak. Niemand het hom daaroor aangevat nie. Apartheid was in ons gewortel en getak.

’n Paar jaar daarna aanvaar ek ‘n beroep na ‘n NGKA gemeente in Alexandra – ‘n township in die noorde van Johannesburg. Ek was gereeld in Soweto vir kerkbyeenkomste. Townships is glad nie vir my ‘n vreemde plek nie, maar verlede Saterdag se Orlando-ervaring was iets besonders. Dis asof ‘n nuwe wêreld vir my oop gegaan het.

Ek wonder hoeveel mense het oogklappe van vooroordeel en stereotipering op gehad en by Orlando het hul oë oopgegaan. Dit herinner aan Paulus. Hy moes op die bekeringspad na Damaskus tot stilstand gebring word. Drie dae lank het hy met oopoë nie gesien nie. Waarskynlik was dit nodig sodat hy kon transformeer en ‘n nuwe lewensoriëntasie aanneem. Hy laat sy boosheid teenoor die navolgers van Christus staan en skryf ‘n aantal verrykende briewe aan geloof gemeenskappe. Hy breek deur ras grense heen, skryf ‘n bekende gedig oor God se liefde en praat ‘n geloofstaal van eenheid, geregtigheid en versoening.

As ons rassisme in hierdie land wil doodmaak, sal almal dit moet doodleef of is dit nou doodblaas. Ons sal aan mekaar se wêrelde bloot gestel moet word, dit is veral witmense wat onbekend aan swartmense se leefwêrelde is. Ons ken mekaar nie en fokus te veel op mekaar se skadukolle. Die ooglopende goedgesindheid van die meerderheid Suid-Afrikaners word misgekyk. Ons sal mekaar nooit ken as ons nie bereid is om opofferings te maak nie.

Afrika se hartlikheid klop in die townships. Dié vriendelikheid behoort op grondvlak ervaar te word, soos die baie Blou Bul en Stormer ondersteuners vandag kan getuig. Duisende wit gesigte het kleur in die vaal township strate gegee. Die vuvuzela het die nie-amptelike nasionale blaasinstrument geword en het met groot lawaai klank aan die geleentheid verleen. Black Label bier, pap en vleis was op straat en ander gehuggies en gangetjies verkoop.

‘n Groepie van ons het na die wedstryd in die donker ‘n paar kilometer na Orlando se “Backpackers Inn” gestap. Die mense het op pad ons vriendelik gegroet en die paar kindertjies wat nog buite was het opgewonde ons met “Blue Bulls” verwelkom. In die tuin van die Backpackers brand die dongas langs tafeltjies gesellig met ‘n plaaslike musiekgroep wat die gaste met musiek en dans vermaak. Ek en my broer eet kerriehoender met rys en slaai en drink iets saam, ‘n Nagmaal in die kleine. Terwyl ons eet, dink ek aan die volgende dag se nagmaal wat ons gemeente met ‘n wit gemeente het. ‘n Ontspanne atmosfeer onder die Afrika hemel heers, op een stadium word die volkslied uit volle bors saam gesing, sommige gaste staan soos in my Voortrekkerdae op aandag. Die grense is oorgesteek, vrede en vreugde heers. Saam word fees gevier, wit en swart vier hul mensheid. Die land se probleme en uitdagings lyk sommer kleiner.

Die vreugde en vrese by mense is universeel, die andersheid normaal. Dit is bevrydend om die andersheid van jou mede-landsburger te erken en te weet jy hoef nie sy/haar kultuur deur joune te vervang nie. Niemand hoef die ander te oorheers nie. Dit kan mekaar verryk en mekaar dien. Ons mis baie om nie mekaar te ken nie. Nog erger, ons besef nie dat ons mekaar nodig het nie.

Daar bestaan disfunksionele kante in alle kulture. Daarom is dit belangrik om te weet kulture is nie staties nie, dit kan transformeer as dit die demokratiese gees verrinneweer, en vrede en voorspoed beduiwel. Kultuur kan volgens die teoloog Albert Nolan soos ‘n tweede natuur aangeleer, afgeleer, ontwikkel en verander word.

Paulus vergelyk die volgelinge van Jesus met ‘n boom wat goeie vrug dra. Hulle respekteer ander mense. Hul hart en hande is oop, hulle is geduldig en vriendelik en dink nie te veel van hulself nie. En hulle is ook in staat om hulself te beheer. Die goeie vrug sien jy by verskillende mense raak, mense wat in Jesus glo en ander wat nie in Hom glo.

Die invloed wat veral sport soos rugby op versoening onder Suid-Afrikaners en nasiebou het, behoort nie onderskat te word nie. Dit is goed dat mense gedwing word om grense oor te steek, soos wat met die Blou Bulle gebeur het, toe Loftus nie beskikbaar was nie. Dit is belangrik om te weet dat dit gewoonlik ‘n prys vra om aan ander Suid-Afrikaners se leefwêrelde te betree. Jy moet grense oorsteek, jou geriefsone prys gee en waag, maar dis belangrik vir nasie bou, ons is dit aan ons land en nageslag verskuldig.

Die nuwe mensheid waarvan Paulus praat, was in ‘n nie kerklike gedaante in Orlando sigbaar. Wie weet God gebruik dalk rugby en die komende sokker wêreldbeker om sy doel met Suid-Afrika te bereik en so sy koninkryk uit te brei.

Die kerk se werk gaan voort. Ons nagmaal met ‘n NG gemeente was Gees verrykend. Terloops daar was meer NG lidmate as VGK lidmate in die VGK-kerkie. My Orlando-ervaring vorm deel van die Nagmaal liturgie, daar was blydskap in my hart terwyl ek die brood breek. Daar was vrede in my gemoed toe ek die wyn uit die beker skink. Daar is hoop vir ons land, dis genoeg rede om fees te vier.

Pieter van Niekerk{jcomments on}

The Holy Spirit made the church grow by crossing boundaries

Written by webmeester on . Posted in Multikulturaliteit

The Gospel of Luke and Acts

1.  Luke tells the story about Jesus and the spreading of the gospel in two more or less equal parts, The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostels.  The Gospel focuses on the ministry of Jesus to the Jewish nation and Acts on the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the believers to the nation of the world.

The two parts of his story correspond to one another in an ingenious way:

  • Luke 1-9 tells about the spreading of the Gospel as does Acts 1-12 – the geography is just turned around: in the Gospel Jesus starts and works mainly in the rural areas of Galilee and Judea, whereas in Acts the Spirit leads the church from the city Jerusalem to the rural areas of Galilee and Judea.
  • Luke 10-19 tells a travel story as does Acts 13-20 – in the Gospel Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the consummation of his mission and in Acts Paul takes the gospel to Asia and Europe on three missionary travels.
  • Luke 20-24 tells the story of a hearing as does Acts 21-28 – Jesus and Paul appear before the same three tribunals, the Jewish Sanhedrin (Luke 22 – Acts 22), the Roman governor (Luke 23 – Acts 25) and one of the Herod kings (Luke 23 – Acts 25).

Luke’s Gospel thus focuses on the spreading of the gospel to Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish nation, and his Acts focuses on the spreading of the gospel to Rome, the heart of the Roman empire.

The implication for a missional theology, of this way the gospel spread in the first century, is that in its focus on the locality of people in the community, it must always also reckon with the communities across geographical boundaries, the Judea’s, Samaria’s and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  Going local should never stand against going global.

2.  Another interesting fact in comparing the two halves of Luke’s story, is that this spreading of the gospel across geographical boundaries, always went across sociological boundaries as well, which included language, economic, culture, ethnic, religious and  intellectual boundaries.

In Luke the gospel spreads in a vertical manner through every level of society and reached the rich and the poor, the men and the women, the healthy and the sick, the Jews and the (in the eyes of the Jews) half-breed Samaritans.  The Gospel invites all Jews into a living relationship with Jesus.

In Acts the gospel message does the same but spreads also horizontally across all national boundaries, Africa, Asia and Europe.  The Gospel invites all peoples and all cultures into a living relationship with Jesus through His Spirit.

This makes the different sociological boundaries that divide people in one nation and also in different nations almost irrelevant in terms of the gospel.  All people from whatever group or nation are welcome in the kingdom of God.

This is thus also a key element in the developing of a missional theology.  The spreading of the gospel and the inclusion of people into the kingdom across sociological boundaries are more important than the identity concerns of any specific sociological group, whether they are believers reaching out or not.

3.  This sociological crossing of boundaries also entails that the dominant space where the presence of God is encountered changes.  In Luke’s Gospel the temple is still quite important – it begins and ends with scenes in the temple.  In Acts this changes and at first alternates between temple and the houses of believers, but after Acts 3-4 and the opposition of the Jewish Council, the household of believers become the dominant space where the presence of God is encountered.  Acts ends with Paul  in a house, albeit under house arrest, but unhindered in spreading the gospel to those that visit him.

Elliot[i] shows how in Acts the tempel becomes “an alienating form of collective institutional life” while the household shows “a creative form of integrative group life”.  The temple takes life (Stephen) and the household gives life.  And this we find right through Paul’s ministry, where, although the synagogues stay the main starting point for his ministry in the different cities and towns, it is the households of believers that become the lifeblood of the congregations that begin to grow in the various locations across the world.

The implication of this for a missional theology is that the crossing of boundaries will always entail some form of institutional destabilising  that will ensure that deep relationships can be formed between a diversity of peoples and groups.

4.  This crossing of boundaries, although linked in the Gospel mainly to the work of Jesus  and to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, is always also Trinitarian in character.

The impression that one gets right through the book of Acts, is that the spreading of the gospel stands under the authority of the Trinity:

  • It is the Father that knows the times and dates that He sets by His own authority (chap. 1) and is linked with the Son to the gift of the Holy Spirit (chap. 2). In the rest of the book the He is not called by the name Father. The believers uses the name God and Lord in their prayers.
  • It is Jesus Christ that sets the agenda for the Great Outreach in chapter 1 and to whom is prayed with the choice of a 12th disciple (1:24) and receives the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father (2:33) and pours it out on the disciples. He also talks with Saul at various times and once with Peter and Ananias respectively.
  • It is the Holy Spirit that is the leader in the practical business of the crossing of boundaries, that gives the conviction and inspiration right through the story of Acts, which could be more fittingly named The Acts of the Holy Spirit. But then, He is not self-referential, giving the honour to Jesus and the apostels and spreading His gospel to all nations, even being named once the Spirit of Jesus.

The work of God is therefore done in a Trinitarian community.  And it is this God that works in the lives of individuals and groups to cross the boundaries to Him in faith and to the world in witness and calls us to also spread this community to all peoples and cultures.

Crossing boundaries in Acts

Acts can be divided into 6 broad movements that closes each time with a few summarizing redactional comments from Luke concerning the growth, spreading and eventual establishment of the Word of God in a certain area or group of people.

It is as if Luke creates a pause with those comments, before the story moves in a new direction, whether geographically or ethnic or ethically or culturally.

And each time these movements are linked to the work and witness of the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 1:1 – 6:7 – jewish boundaries

The good news of Jesus spreads to Jews in Jerusalem through the proclamation and ministry of Peter and John and the other apostles.

  • This includes a list of “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.” (2:5) Each one hears the apostles in his or her own language: “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs. (:9-11)
  • The news also spreads to the Jewish Council who vehemently opposes the spreading of the gospel by the apostles in two different sessions, but in the end decides to suffice only with threats and flogging.

Luke ends this movement with the remark in 6:7:

“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

The first internal Jewish boundary to the Jewish Council is thus breached by the church with at least some of the priests that enters into the faith.  The first external albeit still Jewish boundary is also breached alongside with the breaching of the language boundary with the proclamation on Pentecost by the apostles to all the God-fearing Jews from other nations.

And although God leads this movement also through the work of angels, the focus is on the Acts of the Holy Spirit who filled the believers on Pentecost and enabled them to proclaim the gospel (2:4).

  • We see it in Peter’s interpretation of the experience to link it to God’s promise to pour out His Spirit (2:17) and to the gift of Jesus: “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (2:33)
  • We see it in the response of Peter, accompanied by his quiet companion John, to the Jewish Council that is also linked to being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (4:8)
  • We also find this in the gathering of the believers after the hearing: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (4:31)
  • And when the apostles are questioned at the second session with the Jewish Council about their audacity to disregard the command not to speak about Jesus, they respond by saying that they cannot but witness, as indeed the Holy Spirit does: “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (5:32).
Chapter 6:8 – 9:31 – geographical boundaries

The good news about Jesus spread further geographically, after the persecution that started with Stephen’s martyr death, mainly by ordinary believers witnessing to other Jews in Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Assyrian-Jewish people) as well as Africa (Ethiopian official who could have been a God-fearing Jew).  “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (8:4)

Special mention is made in two boundary-crossing stories of the Greek-speaking Philip, one of the seven, that leads the way into Samaria and Africa.

Luke closes this geographical  movement with specific mention of the Holy Spirit in the remark in 9:31:

“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

The Horizontal growth of the gospel begins its advance although the boundaries crossed are still mainly to Jews or Samaritans in the cities and towns of Judea, Galilee and Samaria.  We are not told what happens in Ethiopia, although from church history we know that a church was established there very early with links to the church that eventually began in Alexandria. This is thus also an ethnic boundary that is crossed.

This movement is also intrinsically linked to the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • Luke tells us specifically that in the growing opposition, that arose from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen, who were Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia, that these men could not “stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.” (6:9)
  • Stephen also castigates the resultant hearing of the Jewish Council for resisting the Holy Spirit, as their fathers did also. (7:51)
  • And when he ends his speech by looking up to Jesus standing at the right hand of God, Luke describes him as full of the Holy Spirit (7:55).
  • The crossing of boundaries to Samaria also includes the specific prayer ministry of the apostles so that the believers there could receive the Holy Spirit (8:15).
  • And in the crossing of boundaries to the Ethiopian, it is the Spirit that tells Philip to go to the chariot and stay near it (8:29) and takes him away afterwards (8:39).
  • The movement closes with the observation that the church was encouraged by the Holy Spirit, as indeed Saul was in receiving the Holy Spirit by the ministry of Ananias (9:17-19).
Chapter 9:32 – 12:24 – gentile boundaries

The first intentional religious boundary crossing to gentiles – Cornelius was an Italian soldier – takes place in Caesarea through the ministry of Peter.  Just before his visionary paradigm shift he was working very effectively amongst Jews in Lydda, Sharon and Joppa: “ All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” (9:35)  But this movement of the Spirit to include gentiles from Caesarea in the kingdom changed the face of the church radically.  And in accepting Peter’s explanation of the events back in Jerusalem, the Jewish Christians had to let go of their exclusive understanding of who God includes in His kingdom.

This outreach to gentiles also occurred almost simultaneously in Antioch.  Those believers who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen spoke to Jews as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch.  But some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, began to speak to Greeks also when they came to Antioch and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. (11:19-21).  Thus the church in Jerusalem sent them Barnabas: “full of the Holy Spirit”. (11:24)

The movement to the gentiles in these chapters closes with the remark in 12:24-25:

“But the word of God continued to increase and spread. When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.”

The first religious boundary crossing to gentiles in these chapters changes the whole way the church operates and becomes the main theme for the rest of the story of Acts.

This movement is also intrinsically linked to the work of the Spirit.

  • When the three men arrive at Joppa, just after Peter’s vision, it is the Spirit that says to him to go with them.
  • And it is the outpouring of the Spirit that clinches the paradigm shift for Peter that gentiles are included into the body of Christ: “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” (10:47)
  • And in his explanation to the church in Jerusalem he links the gentile outpouring of the Spirit to the promise of Jesus: “‘As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?'” (11:17-19)
  • The Spirit is also seen at work in the life of Barnabas (11:24) and Agabus, the prophet (11:28).
Chapter 12:25 – 16:5 – Religious, Ethnic and ethical boundaries

The next movement of the Gospel is to Asia when Paul and Barnabas are sent out by the church in Antioch on the first of three missionary travels.  A wide range of peoples are reached including the governor Sergius Paulus in Cyprus (chap. 13), the priests of Zeus in Lystra (chap. 14), and a number of ordinary people in Lystra, Derbe and Iconium, although the Jews made it very hard for them at various points on this journey.

The most important outcome of this missionary outreach for crossing boundaries was the way ethical questions came to the fore that had to be settled by the church in Jerusalem (chap. 15) before the church in Antioch could extend their missionary endeavours.

On the one hand the questions were related to the identity of the Jews linked especially to the necessity of circumcision, and on the other hand related to the identity of the various gentile people, especially with regards to eating and sexual habits.  The church made the far-reaching decision to let go of circumcision as a necessary identity signature, and to only forbid the drinking of blood, the eating of strangled animals, the eating of food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.

With this decision the church crossed the ethical-religious boundary that not only affirmed their inclusivity but also guaranteed the sustainability of the further outreach of believers across other boundaries.  It also included the crossing of ethnic boundaries.

Luke closes this section with his remark in 16:4-5:

“As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey.  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”

The Holy Spirit is again the principal inspiration and motivation not only of the outreach as such but also of the church’s ethical-religious decision.

  • In Acts 13 it is He that tells the congregation in Antioch during prayer and fasting to set Barnabas and Saul apart for the work He has called them (13:2).
  • And when they obey this calling and set out for Cyprus, Luke again tells us that they were sent on their way by the Spirit (13:4).
  • Saul ministers in the witness to Sergius Paulus “filled with the Holy Spirit” (13:9).
  • Even when they encounter radical opposition, Luke tells us, that they were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit (13:52).
  • At the church’s meeting in Jerusalem to decide on the religious-ethical issues, one of the arguments raised for a lenient approach towards gentiles, is the fact of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on gentiles(15:8).
  • And when a decision is reached, and sent by letter to the church in Antioch, it is attributed firstly to the Holy Spirit (15:28) in combination with the church.
Chapter 16:6 – 19:20 – socio-economic, ethnic and intellectual boundaries

The good news spread even further into Europe through two subsequent missionary journeys by Paul that leads to the situation that the church have more and more gentile believers.

  • In Philippi (chap. 16) the church starts with people from different ethnic groups (Jewish, roman and a slave girl from an unknown group) and also from different socio-economic groups (Lydia, a business woman, a middle-class jailer and a slave girl from the bottom of the social ladder). This causes the authorities and magistrates to take notice of the spreading of the gospel to their city, resulting in a time in jail for Paul and his companions.
  • In Thessalonica a number of Jews, even Jason that came from Tarsus (Rom 16:21), as well as a number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women (chap. 17).
  • In Berea a number of Greeks, men as well as prominent women came to faith with even more eagerness than in Thessalonica.
  • In Athens Paul engages the philosophers, Epicureans and Stoics, at the Areopagus (chap. 17) that leads to one of their members, Dionysius, coming to faith, as well as a women Damaris and a few others.
  • And then in Corinth another Jew, Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his house comes to faith.
  • On the third missionary journey Luke tells the story of Ephesus, where a few believers receive the Holy Spirit, having previously only received the baptism of John (chap. 19). In the lecture hall of Tyranus Paul proclaimed the gospel so that Luke reports, so that “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (19:10)

This movement into Europe with the last bit back into Asia closes with the remark:

“In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (19:20)

On this wide-ranging journey a wide number of boundaries were crossed: religious, ethnic, economic-social and intellectual.

As was the case in all the other movements of the gospel, this movement into Europe is also linked to the work of the Holy Spirit.

  • It starts off with the report that the Holy Spirit made very sure that they crossed the boundary to Europe. Luke writes that Paul and his companions had to travel through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they thus came to the border of Mysia, and they tried to enter Bithynia, the “Spirit of Jesus” would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas where Paul had the vision of a man of Macedonia asking him to come over. Luke reports this in the first person: ” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
  • The movement into Ephesus was also accompanied by a few disciples of John receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.
Chapter 19:21 – 28:31 – political boundaries

The last movement starts while Paul is still busy with his third missionary journey, when he decides to go back to Jerusalem and departs from Ephesus.  When in Jerusalem, things went against him and he ended up in jail and were finally brought into contact with the political leaders of both the Romans and the Jews.  And the book of Acts ends with him in Rome, the capital of the empire, where he stayed for two years preaching the gospel.

This movement across political boundaries closes with the remark in 28:30-31:

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.  Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The boundary towards the political rulers of his time was thus crossed with ample time for witnessing, although it had happened a few sporadic times previously.

This movement towards the political leaders of his time is also linked to the work of the Spirit.

  • In Ephesus he explains this to the elders: “”And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. ” (20:22-23) He urges the elders to “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” (20:28)
  • In Tyre they stayed with a few disciples who “through the Spirit” urged Paul not to go to Jerusalem (21:4), presumably because of the hardships that Paul himself explained previously and Agabus also voiced: “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'” (21:11)
  • Interestingly enough the Lord Himself also appears to Paul at different times (9:5; 18:9; 23:11) as also to Peter (10:14).

Concluding remarks

I conclude this paper by making a few summary remarks in closing.

I think the way Luke tells the story of both his Gospel and Acts shows that the crossing of boundaries is a key element in understanding the way the gospel works.  In Acts it is one of the most important ways the Holy Spirit grows the church.

From Luke’s Gospel we learn that the salvation of Jesus Christ impacted all levels of Jewish society in a vertical manner and that this remains a foundational aspect of the way God works in any society.  All people are welcome in the kingdom of God and therefore in the church.

This is thus also a key element in the developing of a missional theology.  The spreading of the gospel and the inclusion of people into the kingdom across sociological boundaries are more important than the identity concerns of any specific sociological group, whether they are believers reaching out or not.

From the book of Acts we learn that the Holy Spirit inspired the believers in various ways to cross horizontal boundaries.  We read of the crossing of language, economical, sociological, geographical, cultural, ethnic, religious, intellectual and political boundaries.  And those terms are just a selection – the truth is, there is no boundary that the Spirit would not urge us to cross, if that could mean that the kingdom could come for a few more people unto the ends of the earth.  All cultures are welcome in the church.

From the point of view of Acts, this far-reaching horizontal boundary crossing forms an integral aspect of the dynamics of a missional understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit and indeed of the way the Trinity works.

The implication for a missional theology today, is that in its focus on the locality of people in the community, it must always also reckon with the communities across geographical boundaries, the Judea’s, Samaria’s and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  Going local should never stand against going global.

This also means, as was shown by Elliot in the sociological paradigm shift from temple to house, that the crossing of boundaries will always entail some form of institutional destabilising  that will ensure that deep relationships can be formed between a diversity of peoples and groups.

The promise that Acts gives us in encouragement, is that nobody can stand in the way of God crossing boundaries: not the Jewish leaders (5:39), not the unbelieving Jews (9:1 – Saul), not the church in Jerusalem (11:17), not the Jewish king (12:23 – Herod was consumed by worms), not the Jewish conservatives (15:10), not the religious and secular opposition of the Greeks (chap. 16; 19) not even shipwreck or poisonous snakes (chap. 27-28).

 

Chris van Wyk

acv.vanwyk@gmail.com



[i] Elliott, J. H. “Temple versus Household in Luke-Acts: A Contrast in Social Institutions”. Pages 211-40 in The Social World of Luke-Acts. Edited by J. H. Neyrey. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1991.