Out of his strong Christian conviction William Wilberforce saw the need ,with the assistance of the Clapham sect, to alter the inhuman deeply entrenched vicious custom of slavery. Transformation took place. This change has had a vast and far reaching effect. The Augustine Research Fellowship (ARF) based in Cape Town on the southern end of the African continent has participants who worked and prayed for a peaceful transition from Apartheid. Christians throughout Southern Africa were eventually part of the accomplishment in the struggle for justice and the establishment of a constitutional democracy. The change was momentous.
The need for an ongoing vision of biblically based, continued transformation in our world, remains.
Jesus Christ has relevance and power in this process (.Acts 6v14).
The objective and vision.
The ARF convene Fellowship driven quarterly meetings (called The Kgotla) that focus prayer and debate on particular current controversial issues. E.g. Gender and Sexuality, Xenophobia, Racism, Indigenous Religious Traditions, A Divided Christian Church, Poverty, Genetic Engineering, Corruption and sometimes Capitalist based, wicked Governance, etc.
The word Kgotla has origins in the South African indigenous vocabulary. It is used to describe:
- A meeting place for village assemblies, court cases, and meetings of village leaders.
- A conference or business meeting.
Here Christians from all walks of life in Africa gather to discuss and ‘grapple with’ these issues so as to understand their pertinence in relation to immediate cultural contexts. Christian relevance in effecting transformation is the ultimate objective.
The ARF also undertake various research projects.
The way forward
John Stott, the renowned Anglican of recent times expressed concern that the Christian Church has the danger of being seen as becoming “out of tune with contemporary culture”. It could thus “face extinction” and could “become a relic”. The ARF identifies with these concerns. To avert such a prospect it is necessary for us to listen attentively and relationally react to what theologians, churches and the emerging churches are saying. This requires that we be more attentive and aware so as to show a greater mutual respect and openness.
It would be necessary therefore to explore prospects of establishing synergy with other Christian church organizations’ and their adherents across the continents. Through the outcome of our discussion and debate, coupled with the research projects, we hope to arrive at a greater realization as to how Christians can more ably contribute towards resolving the issues and problems facing humankind. It is hoped that such endeavor for gospel-based transformation will contribute towards a further strengthening of our credibility and capacity in witnessing for Jesus Christ. We recognize, at the same time, that the world has become increasingly secular and skeptical as to the ‘truth’ of the Christian gospel.
Website and Social Media
In order to spread the conversation beyond the Kgotla the ARF has undertaken to develop a Website to disseminate not only the research projects of the ARF, but to take the conversation online so as to globally engage the minds and hearts of Christians. It thereby seeks to challenge them to extend the dynamic of Christianity into the culture in which they find themselves. We therefore seek to develop and promote a more consolidated understanding of our Faith by engaging the hearts and minds of Christians within their particular tradition.
This work cannot be done alone. To meaningfully and relationally impact our world with the relevance of the gospel we need partners. This is where we are calling on the wider Christian community to get involved. This work can be accomplished by encouraging contributions to our conversation and establish opportunities for further work.