Reflection on the Pilgrimage of Grace: Rev Moss Ntlha
“Reconciliation is a profoundly spiritual process. Jesus is the only credible answer to the problems we find in our society,” says Rev Moss Ntlha, general secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA) as he reflects on his participation in the Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace, a three-day journey towards repentance, reconciliation, restoration and prayer in the Genadendal community, the Moravian Church and South Africa as a whole.
“Being part of the Pilgrimage of Grace was a powerful spiritual moment for me. To see long-held tensions dissolve in the light of a genuine desire to be obedient to God’s call to reconciliation was a wonder to behold. This could only happen as a result of months of prayer for the pilgrimage.”
For Rev Moss, the Pilgrimage symbolised an important milestone in Christian obedience. “It saddens me that it took hundreds of years to right the wrong that happened so many years ago against the Moravian missionaries and their work in South Africa. So sad that human agency – or lack of it – can stall the purposes of God for generations.”
The Pilgrimage has set the wheels in motion to bring about lasting change in the individuals and communities involved, and practical steps have already been taken to continue the journey of relational healing and mission collaboration between the Dutch Reformed Church and the Moravians.
“Reconciliation is a profoundly spiritual process, and the only way to exorcise the demons of racism and prejudice from our society. It is for this reason that Jesus is the only credible answer, par excellence, to the problem of social alienation, gender-based violence, ethnic chauvinism, corruption and such pathologies as we find in our society. Legal and political instruments are not enough.”
One of Rev Moss’s highlights was the launch of the 54 Days of Prayer for Africa on the last day of the Pilgrimage at Cape Agulhas. “This massive prayer mobilisation is aimed at igniting similar processes of reconciliation and healing across the African continent that is known for its gaping wounds.”
BACKGROUND TO THE PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE
From 23 to 25 September 2022 a group of diverse individuals from South Africa and abroad participated in the Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace – a three-day journey towards repentance for past injustices in the Genadendal community, against the Moravian Church and in South Africa as a whole, along with reconciliation, restoration and prayer. The Pilgrimage formed part of prayer initiatives and actions from various groups across South Africa over the past few decades that centred on Jesus’ prayer in John 17: 20b – 22 (NIV): “I pray that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us.”
The Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace was organised by the South African Christian Leadership Initiative (SACLI Reconcile) and supported by Global Voice of Prayer, in Harmonie, the Moravian Church of South Africa, the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa and various other ministries, denominations and individuals. The three-day Pilgrimage included:
23 September: A service at the Dutch Reformed Church Groote Kerk in Cape Town
24 September: A public event at the Moravian Church in Genadendal with a focus on repentance
25 September: A prayer gathering at the Southernmost Tip of Africa (l’Agulhas) for healing of the African continent. This also kicked off a 54 days of Prayer for Africa movement.