South Africa

South Africa

The socio-economic and political context in Southern Africa region varies from country to country. South Africa, for example, is an emerging democracy with a very stable economy in the region.  The challenge in South Africa is to ensure that the country addresses the disparity between the poor and the rich.

The Lutheran family in South Africa has not yet recovered from the division and the effects of the apartheid system. It is still divided along racial and ethnic lines. A majority of the population is still very poor and therefore very vulnerable to HIV and AIDS and TB, placing South Africa among countries that have the highest number of people infected and affected by the virus. The voices of the global churches still need to be heard today on critical issues such as HIV and AIDS, TB, poverty, malaria, gender equity etc. that are affecting South Africa and the region as a whole.

Zimbabwe continues to face a socio-economic and political crisis and faces serious challenges related to governance, economy, health, education, brain drain, shortages of food, high unemployment rate, restriction of freedom of expression and access to information, HIV and AIDS, and a high inflation rate.  Swaziland, to a lesser degree, is also facing similar challenges. There are divisions, some of which, like in the case of Zimbabwe, are in the forefront. The church, as an integral part of the society, is caught up in this situation and needs to be empowered to respond appropriately.

Other countries like Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique and Lesotho may be politically stable, but because of lack of equity in resources distribution in some of these countries, a great majority still live in poverty. The Lutheran churches in some of these countries are still young and therefore require a great deal of accompaniment. Most of the churches have potential for mission and evangelism. In general, leadership development and capacity building are among the critical needs in the region.

ELCA Global Mission’s engagement throughout Southern Africa comprises malaria prevention and control, HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention programs, peace and reconciliation forum, health and hospital services, development and sustainable livelihood programs. ELCA Global Mission also supports the work of The Lutheran World Federation/Department for World Service in the region.

The ELCA companion synod program has created an opportunity for both ELCA synods and ELCA companion churches in Southern Africa to accompany one another in the service of the mission of the church of Jesus Christ.

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