Monday, April 21, 2008

Welcoming the stranger is not optional: WCC

South Africa, experience a disturbing and repulsive surge in crude xenophobic violence. It is reported that last week in Mamelodi-East, over 600 people were on the rampage, looting and destroying homes belonging to 'foreigners'. This is not unique and seemingly there are indications that the South African Polic services are also playing a role in fueling the flames.

It is in this respect that the World Council of Churches' (WCC), most recent consultation on Emigration and hospitality to the strangers is most relevant, if not urgent. In a report called, The Changing Ecclesial Context: The Impact of Migration on Living together, released by the WCC and the Middle East Council of Churches, it is stated: 'Migration is a fact of life. It is as much an instinct to survive as it is an inevitable consequence of globalisation. We can neither turn our backs on it, nor control it'.
Further, they conclude, 'Migrants are not commodities, illegal aliens or mere victims. They are human beings. Migrant rights are human rights. We must respect the human dignity of every migrant and give holistic consideration to their needs, their strengths and the economic, social and cultural contributions they make to society. Above all, we must stand in solidarity with migrants and migrant churches, accompany them and include them in the decision-making that effects and governs their lives'.

In our own context, it remains an indictment agains us as church, where we have failed our brothers and sisters, who fled their countries and now (again) have to flee South Africans, in fear of their lives. For us, as church of Belhar, welcoming and siding with the Zimbabweans, Congolese, Somalis and Sudanese remains at the heart of our witness. Indeed, welcoming the stranger is not optional.
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