Pilgrimage of Grace reflection: Bishop Augustine & Lettice Joemath
“If we want to work towards uniting God’s people, we must pass His love and grace to all – including those who have wronged us,” says Lettice Joemath as she and her husband, Bishop Augustine, reflect on their 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.
Thinking back on what was her first ever pilgrimage, Lettice realised that God has a plan for every person and wants unity among His people. “It added spiritual value to my faith. I felt His presence telling me, us, to persist in prayer and thanksgiving. This Pilgrimage of Grace was the result of praying in one accord as an amazing family, created in His image. Praying together with people coming from around the world felt like belonging, accepting, forgiving and reconciling.”
“The presence of the Holy Spirit was so real. When we saw the dove flying around at special moments during the Genadendal church service, it was a real confirmation of the presence of God,” Augustine says.
A highlight for Lettice was the fact that Oude Lena was acknowledged as the first evangelist in the history of the church, and that, together with Wilhelmina Stompjes, their spiritual legacy will now have a special place in Genadendal as a great inspiration to other women.
The journey has given the Joemaths a fuller understanding of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17. “We don’t need to doubt or fear. God is in control. In the past people have been frustrated about the unity that God has created and worked towards breaking it down. However, we have to hold hands and stand by God to let his Kingdom come all over the world,” Lettice says.
God’s love should be our message to the world, says Augustine. “If we want to work towards uniting God’s people, we must pass His love and grace to all – including those who have wronged us. Christ taught us to forgive as He has forgiven those who have nailed Him to the cross. Where Christ is, there is no darkness. His light must shine through us into the world. We must also forgive ourselves to be able to reconcile.”
Although there are still many other walls that need to be broken down towards achieving unity, it is possible to work together across whatever barriers there may be. “The Pilgrimage is evident of this. The reconciliation and relationships that flowed from the Pilgrimage was a true miracle and we should have faith and trust God to continue making these miracles possible through us. To Him be all the glory!” Lettice says.
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.