Reconciliation is a word God has been putting on my heart and in my path a lot recently. Of course it is one of the main themes of the Bible, with many times of foreshadowing in the Old Testament (think Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Naomi and her kin). Maybe the most famous parable in the New Testament of reconciliation is that of the prodigal son. Reconciliation finds its source, its very essence, ultimately in the Trinity: the Father giving His only son so that we might be reconciled to Him, the Person of Jesus Christ and His perfect, sacrificial death on the cross, the Holy Spirit raising Jesus from the dead.
Nelson Mandela's death was an opportunity for many to reflect on the concept of reconciliation as his very life in later years exemplified forgiveness and restoration and unity.
I have a friend who just had to give the go-ahead for his mother to be taken off life-support. God has used this painful time in his life to reconcile his father and him after years of a broken relationship. Most of us can remember times when similar things have happened in our own lives or those of our families and friends.
One of the great joys of our mission work in Swaziland has been leading many to reconciliation with the Father as they accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. With the highest rate of both HIV/AIDS and TB in the world, there is no shortage of those excited to hear the Gospel.
We are thankful to be able to continue in this work, but God is calling us to a new and exciting work as well, just across the border in the country of South Africa (Mandela's homeland). SA proudly claims their title of the “Rainbow Nation” and indeed, great strides have been made for unity among the races. But a HUGE divide still exists—in many hearts and in physical reality. Only God can bring the necessary healing to hearts after years of racial ugliness. Only God can really enable those who are still living lives of extreme poverty and disease in the townships to begin to prosper and thrive as their white fellow South Africans do.
But God calls and uses people, and we are humbled that He has called us to be part of this work. We will be moving to SA in early 2014. Our work in Swaziland will continue through the locals with our oversight, but we will also be doing the same work in SA with the added component of allowing God to use us in new ways to bring about His work of reconciliation!