Craig Stewart is both the CEO and a team leader at The Warehouse. Based in Wetton, Cape Town, the purpose of this inspiring organisation is to envision themselves as a church which is actively living out the peace and justice of God for the world. They strive to support local congregations by enabling dialogue, facilitating collaboration and inspiring hope-filled imagination towards justice-seeking action.
Before starting The Warehouse 15-years ago, Craig studied zoology and microbiology. And after that, he fulfilled his role as a high school teacher. During his younger years, Stewart was fortunate to experience several life-changing, cultural experiences that inspired him to be a part of a bigger purpose. Today, he is married with three children aged 14, 17 and 19. He also enjoys mountain biking and the outdoors.
What are some of the opportunities you had while growing up?
Craig says, “in the early 1980s, I had the opportunity to work at a children’s home in Lunga. It was the first time I experienced another side of our culture, and I became fully immersed in dedicating my time to helping previously disadvantaged children. At this time, I was able to listen to, and understand, others’ stories, which had a massive impact on my outlook in life.” He continues, “another blissful experience was when I spent one-year backpacking through South America. It was a beautiful, discovery period where I took the time to step away from the everyday hustle-and-bustle and truly find myself and my passion in life.” And lastly, my days spent at Scripture Union (SU) summer camps. When I was in high school, I recall many memories of learning (and embracing) the cross-cultural space in South Africa.”
Can you describe your experience with, and work for, In Harmonie?
“Great! I worked with In Harmonie at the Justice Conference in South Africa, and I’ve worked with Hanneli and other influential leaders on several Christian community projects. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time participating in their retreat opportunities and contributing to their purpose.”
What do you think some of the challenges are in building a more harmonious South Africa?
Craig believes that in order to move towards a harmonious life, you need to deal with disharmony. “The unwillingness to deal with problematic areas and create new solutions causes us to live in disequilibrium. We need to look deeper and own what has been done to your community. It is not until we’ve committed to this shift in mindset; that we will be able to live the enriched life we yearn for.”
He continues, “another concern is lack of good dialogue and listening. We need to develop the skills needed to deal with cross-cultural environments, and we need to be prepared to leave our silos. Be it in church, school or at the workplace. We need to stop fearing what we don’t know and approach it.”
How do you think a person moves from a state of disharmony to harmony?
“You need to acknowledge disharmony. You need to identify that situations and processes are out of alignment, and they need to be dealt with. If we want to progress as a community and as a country, we cannot accept what is happening around us and simply “live with it”. It’s time we turn and walk in the other direction. Work towards making right what has wronged us and learn to let go.” Craig believes that we need to learn how to live in harmony. “We need to stand up and make a difference together.”
How does The Warehouse engage in this process of change?
“We work with churches and communities to help people find peace and justice. We encourage people to pay attention to God talking. And we give people the skills and resources (for example, train them in dialogue) to be the change they want to see in their community and the world at large.”
What are your words of encouragement for those in need of hope?
“Do not run away from hopelessness. But rather move towards it. Take the time to recognise the ideology of optimism, as this will allow you to identify challenges and birth new opportunities. It’s important that you pay attention to what God is saying to you.” Craig continues, “at the end of the day, you need to be willing to sit through the pain. Lament can help us understand where God is.