South Africa: "The Rainbow Nation"

Name: Bantu Stephen Biko
AKA: Steve Biko
Occupation: Activist
Birth Date: December 18, 1946
Death Date: September 12, 1977

Steve Biko spearheaded the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. In August 1977, he was arrested and held in Port Elizabeth. The following month, on September 11th, Biko was found naked and shackled 700 miles away in Pretoria. He died the following day from a brain hemorrhage, which was later determined to be the result of injuries he had sustained while in police custody.


Name: Hector Pieterson
Occupation: Student
Birth Date: Unknown date, 1963
Death Date: June 16, 1976

Hector was one of the first casualties associated with the 1976 uprising against the sole use of the Afrikaans language (predominantly spoken by people of Dutch-descent) in schools. He was 12 at the time of his death and died by a shot fired directly at him by police officers responding to a protest. Approximately 566 schoolchildren were killed during the uprising. June 16th has been observed as a public holiday in South Africa (Youth Day) since 1994. 


Both of these individuals had a story. A story that has been told for years and will never be forgotten. A platform that enabled them to indirectly share with the world. But what about the stories that haven't been told? The forgotten ones.

The Rainbow Nation, as Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu coined it after the first democratic election in 1994, is my home. And today I am reminded of the people who fought with their lives for their individual freedom and for the freedom of their country—South Africa. Nelson Mandela said in his book Long Walk to Freedom, "Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me." 

With the blink of an eye, my short life has raced by. I've had the privilege of meeting and befriending hundreds of individuals that lived through the apartheid regime. People who now live freely in a country that was once identified by its strict division between white and black.

I look around now, some 20 years later, and literally feel the weight of shackles still draped over so many. A fraction of the weight of their shackles feels like it's become my own.

"Surely something can be done?", I ask the Lord. "God, this isn't enough!" I wrestle with Him as I give a warm piece of clothing to a homeless woman. "Surely there must be something more!" I struggle to wrap my head around the great need I see in this world—in my country, my city, my community. My energy is spent, and I lay in silence. It is then that God responds. 

He reminds me to be obedient with the small and fix my heart on Him. He is enough.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
— Isaiah 61:1-4, NIV

Does your heart hurt for the homeless, brokenhearted and oppressed? Or are you so overwhelmed by the world's evident need that your heart is hardened toward the people God puts in front of you to love? This is your mission field.

It's true that you don't have enough compassion for every person around you, but Jesus does. He didn't say it would be easy. He said it would be worth it.

Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.