We spent 2.5 days in Pietermaritzburg talking to those “on the ground” trying to help with any small part of several huge issues: unemployment, education, HIV/AIDS, motivation to self responsibility. The new government has suffered from factions and continues to struggle to address the basic issue – whatever that is. The longer I am here the more I realize how little we know of what is needed.
After apartheid ended most of the Lutheran missions that had hospitals and schools were turned over to the government and the perception is that the church stepped back and moved on to other geographic areas. But is not clear what role we should play next. The German Lutherans are more active here than the ELCA as far as sending volunteers and supporting various projects. One has even established his own self contained community in the rural area that asks members to give up family and all possessions. That is the answer for that group, but the South African run church as a whole is still looking for its role and the ELCA is working to support them as they do so.