Invitation in Southern Africa
It was described as historic. 1,400 Anglicans from Southern Africa met in Johannesburg. The largest gathering anyone can remember. They came from 14 countries speaking many different languages. It was described as historic because South Africa is really only just recovering from Apartheid. The Anglican Church were one of the main opponents with its leader Archbishop Tutu watched constantly be the regimes secret police. There would have been no chance of a gathering like this, during those years. The Southern African Anglican Province is now led by Archbishop Thabo, who looks like a young Harry Belafonte. The Archbishop is a very impressive figure and is adored by the church. In fact often when he appeared at the conference, many would sing a praise song about him. He however always then re-directed the attention by leading a hymn of praise to God immediately. So it was my utter privilege to be their keynote speaker on the second of the three day conference. I spoke on Evangelism that everyone can do. Reaching an audience made up of Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, and many other tribal groups is clearly a challenge. English humour does not translate. How was I to reach this conference? The answer came in a conversation with Cedric Buthelezi an Anglican Zulu. We discussed weddings and an idea formed in my mind. In Zulu culture if a young man wants to marry a young girl, the relatives of the young man must negotiate with the relatives of the young girl. There is a discussion about the bride price. In zulu culture the price is calculated in terms of cattle. I therefore began the conference by saying, “I am only able to be with you today because of my wife. In our culture we do not pay for our wives in cattle, but my wife’s value in cattle increases everyday. However my daughter Kirsty is currently in Mozambique and I have my mobile phone with me during this address, just in case a Mozambiquen boy’s relatives call to negotiate numbers of cattle. Now here is my problem, my daughter is also worth a lot of cattle. Where does an English man put the cattle when he has a small garden?” They rolled about laughing. I have found laughter opens the possibility of learning. After I finished the keynote address they lined up for over thirty minutes for anointing with oil. Invitation will now begin to be an even bigger part of evangelism across Africa, and that will mean more of God’s people will be able to participate in an activity that everyone can do!