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Praying for South Africa

From the November 2001 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When you consider the rugged history of South Africa, it's hard not to think back to the deepest concern of the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu, one of the main characters in Alan Paton's internationally acclaimed novel Cry the Beloved Country. Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country (London: Jonathan Cape, 1948). Msimangu, who ran a mission house in Johannesburg, knew that the fear that had taken hold of the country "could not be cast out, but by love." Yet toward the end of the story, even this black preacher who "had no hate for any man" would retain one great fear in his heart: that "one day when they [the whites] turn to loving they will find we are turned to hating."

One imagines that Msimangu would have been delighted to hear—from the people with whom I spoke in South Africa earlier this year—that this has not happened.

"During the struggle, our prayers were for protection from the police and the security forces," recalls , thinking back to the tense days in the late 1970s when he had to balance his Christian commitment not to kill with his desperate efforts to avoid being killed. There were police informers behind every bush and bathroom wall.

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