Last week Revs. Babalwa Sifuba, Moses Baartman and Stephen Pedro (MSS) facilitated a follow-up workshop for 11 pastors at the Andrew Murray Centre for Spirituality in Wellington.
The first workshop (in November 2020) empowered these pastors to start facilitating a Contextual Bible Reading (CBR) on the congregational level and also helped with the development of CBR material for the training of CBR facilitators. Read more about CBR here.
During this follow-up workshop, they focused on the theme of substance abuse and the impact it has on communities. They chose Psalm 22 to start working on this identified theme, and Rev. Sifuba introduced the SEE part on Wednesday evening.
The next day the JUDGE part was facilitated by Revs. Baartman and Pedro, and on Friday the ACT part led to a highlight when the group had to propose restorative actions in order to address the identified challenge of substance abuse.
“It had been a special experience,” says Rev. Pedro, “and very helpful. The important role that our faith communities play was emphasized when we analyzed David’s struggle in Psalm 22 with the question of whether God has forsaken him. His faith community looked for answers in solidarity with him. They reminded one another about God’s presence with their ancestors and that they can still trust God – that David can deal with his trauma because of that.”
This insight helped the CBR-group last week to use this in order to remind their congregations that they have a very important role to play – to create a safe space for the youth and their addiction. Like David, they can enter these spaces of safety with their faith communities and be received there without judgement. That they have to be received with unconditional love and support. That they will be embraced in order to deal with their traumas together – in solidarity!
“We realised that the church has an advocacy role to play as well,” says Rev Pedro. “Congregations can engage with their local governments in order to act restoratively towards social problems such as substance abuse.”
These 11 pastors will now practice the CBR-method in their congregations, maybe with other Biblical texts, but they will focus on the same theme.