Pilgrimage of Grace reflection: Rev Martin Abrahams
“The ingredients for true reconciliation remain repentance and forgiveness,” says Rev Martin Abrahams, President of the Moravian Church of South Africa 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.
While reflecting and reminiscing on the 2022 Pilgrimage of Grace, Rev Abrahams was once again reminded that that we are mere instruments in the hands of God. The Pilgrimage of Grace afforded all participants and especially the Dutch Reformed Church and the Moravian Church to reflect on the past by revisiting and reviewing history.
“In reflecting on the sad history of both Church and State, I became aware that the path to reconciliation is never an easy one given the pain suffered, the injustices endured, the loss of life and the expropriation of property. It is within this whirlpool that it was expected of us to walk the road towards reconciliation.”
When asked whether the pilgrims achieved what they set out to do, Rev Abraham’s simple answer is an emphatic YES. “The Genadendal leg of the Pilgrimage, and I need to mention the Spirit-filled atmosphere during the service, is forever cemented in my heart. The participation of a vastly diverse congregation in the God-inspired service was overwhelming as the willingness and dedication to find each other was almost tangible.”
According to him, the ingredients for true reconciliation remain repentance and forgiveness. “These elements were clearly visible during the Pilgrimage and therefore I wholeheartedly believe that it is indeed possible for people to find each other irrespective of a painful past.”
The many lives touched by the openness and honesty displayed on the Pilgrimage will go into the world and witness on God’s grace. Through their own lives, own behaviour they will show to the world that it is indeed possible for people to be reconciled.
“It is possible for people to change! It is possible for people to confess! It is possible for people to forgive! As Christians we believe that reconciliation inspired by God is possible!”
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.