Reflection on the Pilgrimage of Grace: Khumo Ntlha
“South Africa and the world depend on us as Christ-followers to demonstrate unity in the church and community. The Genadendal Pilgrimage of Grace intensified my resolve to intentionally work on reconciliation,” says Khumo Ntlha as she reflects on three-day journey towards repentance, reconciliation, restoration and prayer in the Genadendal community, the Moravian Church and South Africa as a whole.
For Khumo, the Pilgrimage started with an invitation to visit Anneke Rabe, co-organiser of the Pilgrimage of Grace, in Mkhondo a few years ago. “It was during an event where Anneke washed my feet and asked for forgiveness on behalf of white people for the sin of apartheid and racism, that the wall around my heart was broken. It was a very humbling and profound moment for me. I was confronted by my own arrogance in thinking that I had done enough reconciliation in the past.”
She felt justified to ignore the prayer by Jesus in John 17 for the church to be one. “In my experience white people were really not interested in reconciliation. For years I watched my husband Rev Moss Ntlha patiently working with white people on reconciliation and concluded that it was his calling, not mine. My own repentance culminated in my acceptance of the invitation to be on Pilgrimage with an amazing team of Christ-followers.”
Being a pilgrim on the journey was both exciting and challenging. “The amount of work that went into it left me feeling that I may be in the wrong job. For the first time I wished that I was in full-time ministry, since my day job was not allowing me to participate at the level that I wanted to. My heart was 100% in the process and whenever I could join in on the meetings and prayer, I found it meaningful and empowering.”
Khumo says the vulnerability of the group towards one another was a sign of hope and a source of encouragement. “The experience gave me hope again, that there are like minded people who do take Jesus seriously enough to work together outside our comfort zones. The process was also highly educational. So much history in a short space of time. Reconnecting with friends we had not seen for a long time was priceless.”
“I am truly grateful for the generosity of spirit and availability of fellow pilgrims. The whole pilgrimage was managed with gentleness and honesty, and along the way people really cared for one another while getting the job done.
Prayer was central to the Pilgrimage of Grace and the results were therefore not surprising. “Praying at Cape Agulhas with Africa as our focus has intensified my yearning for Africa to be truly free from bondage and despair.”
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.