When my home country, South Africa, successfully and peacefully dismantled apartheid and elected Nelson Mandela as president, it was no accident that even the secular press used the word miracle to describe this breathtaking event. For behind the scenes of each careful step made by all parties, the church was on its knees or extending its arms to assist in any way.
The Christian church as a whole has long been an integral part of the process leading to our new day of democracy for all races. But since 1991, Christians have been particularly involved in laboring for peace and reconciliation, in monitoring and reporting violence, in tending to the injuries of those who were wounded, and in seeking to bring about an atmosphere in which the politicians could seek to negotiate a solution and move on to the elections.
By 1993, the church's role intensified. In addition to the ongoing work of individual churches as well as the South Africa Council of Churches, our own organization, African Enterprise, sponsored six weekend dialogues involving top national and provincial leaders from the Communist party on the far left to friends of Volkstaat advocate Gen. Constand Viljoen on the far Right. In fact, relations formed on these weekends helped lead to conditions that allowed Prof. Washington Okumu of Kenya to bring the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) back into the elections a scant six days before the polls opened.
Prayer, of course, played a huge part in what we have seen. As Tennyson said, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." We have seen that happen in South Africa. Since April 1993, more than 1,000 groups of people have been involved in a round-the-clock "Chain of Prayer." And just before the elections, nearly ...