What do you think some of the challenges are in building a more harmonious South Africa?
Anneke started off by saying, “In South Africa, like in the whole world actually, we want things to move too quickly.” Anneke says that after South Africa became a democratic state, people moved too fast, even in the church. We wanted people to heal overnight, says Anneke. It doesn’t work like that in practice, says Anneke. “We have to go back to the past and acknowledge, first of all, that there is pain,” she states. As a nation, Anneke believes that we should cry together, talk about the pain and ask for forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to come in and to heal.
How do you and your organisation engage in this process of change?
When moving to a place of hope, Anneke believes it all starts with a choice. She continues by saying, “Even if it takes my whole life, this is what I am going to do. I am going to serve, and I am going to love. Even if I am rejected, I am going to go to someone who looks different, and I am going to try and understand that person, as well as their past and that person’s pain.” Anneke believes that you should serve people with the love of the Lord and that you need to be intentional with that love. “It’s surprising how quickly people start to soften when you start loving and serving them,” Anneke says.
How do you see the way forward for yourself and South Africa?
Anneke explains the way forward by saying that forgiveness needs to be loved. She continues by stating that one cannot ask for forgiveness and then turn around and live a life completely lacking improvement or reconciliation. “What we pray needs to be how we are living.” When you ask someone for forgiveness and truly mean it, from then on out, what they decide to do with that forgiveness is their responsibility between them and the Lord. “As long as you ask for forgiveness and do it with love,” Anneke says.
“We need to lean on the Holy Spirit and trust in the Holy Spirit, that prayer will birth more prayer and ultimately birth action. When we start forgiving one another and start listening to one another’s stories, there is no way that you can’t get involved in helping one another. We need to become the face and the feet of Jesus and help people to start the process of forgiving each other.”
Anneke encourages people who felt like they have lost all hope by saying, “The Holy Spirit comes in and softens the heart and changes hearts.” Anneke breathes deeply and compassionately when saying that she understands the anger, specifically in the younger generation. People suffered immensely under the apartheid regime. However, the main thing Anneke emphasises and what we all need to understand is, “When we become Christians, we walk the path that Jesus walked. He said that if we do not forgive one another, He cannot forgive us.’’ It’s a choice to forgive, says Anneke, but also a process and it starts with a choice to forgive.
Anneke closes off by thinking about a question she gets asked frequently. “So, how many more times should we forgive? Anneke concludes by saying that she just wants to be obedient to God, and God says that if we know someone has something against us, go and make it right. If we are in Christ, He should live in us. “I don’t mind being the white face in South Africa 10 million times, as long as it makes a difference in one person’s life to say I’m sorry.”