During the month of May there is so much to celebrate: Workers Day, Pentecost and Aldersgate, but we cannot allow the morally indefensible Afro-xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the tragic loss of life of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe, the relative peaceful election in Africa’s largest democracy, the first anniversary of the more than 200 school girls abducted by Boko Haram, damaging floods in Chile, and the devastating earthquakes in Nepal to pass by without comment.
On the eve of celebrating the 21st Anniversary of democracy, the world watched in disgust and horror as xenophobic violence engulfed South Africa. Marauding mobs moved through townships with impunity, brutally attacking migrants, refugees, foreigners and asylum seekers, torching their houses and looting shops. These acts all seemed to undermine the gains of the apartheid struggle and shattered the vision of “a rainbow nation.” The government, to their credit, acted swiftly to condemn the violence and in the days following the attacks, many faith-based organisations, social movements and trade unions marched in solidarity with those affected by xenophobic violence. (See WMC statement)
In the United States, it was indeed a dark day in Baltimore, Maryland, after the death of another unarmed African American man, Freddie Gray on 19 April. This was followed by a night of rioting as the community expressed years of pent up anger while criminal elements seized the opportunity to plunder. The unrest has continued as news of Mr. Gray’s death has spread. Outrage and concern over the violent clashes with crowds and police have gripped the country, and only now has the violence diminished.
We were forced to ask, “what is happening to the global conscience of the world” when last month alone, in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean fleeing violence, poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East, tragedy struck more than 1,200 migrants in need of rescue, and 900 lives were lost. We applaud the efforts of faith based groups and civil society organisations and urge the European Union and the United Nations to do more to stem the tide of migrant trafficking and the loss of life.
Global migration is a reality. We need to remember that Jesus and his family were refugees in Egypt (Matt 2:13-15). Our faith calls us to treat all vulnerable people fairly (Ex 2:23-25, Lev 19:33-34, Lev 25, Duet 24:19-22) and to offer hospitality to strangers (Luke 14:12-13, Rom 12:13, 1 Pet 4: 9).
Last year the world rallied in support of the girls abducted by Boko Haram but to date little has been done to secure their release. We hope that President-elect Muhammadu Buharai will steer Nigeria to peace and prosperity and stop the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram.
A bright spot in the month of April came when we had the privilege to send well-wishes to two centenarians who contributed so much to the Methodist-Wesleyan family. Ralph Young, former Geneva Secretary for the World Methodist Council, celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in Switzerland on 29 April. On 10 May, Dr. Claude Cadogan, second Connexional President and the second Connexional Secretary of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA) will celebrate his 100th birthday and will be honored by the MCCA at a special celebration on 3 May.
As April drew to a close, Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. We call on our relief agencies and churches to respond to the appeals for help from the Nepalese people. (See WMC statement)
Despite witnessing so much heartache the past month, we are a people of hope who know that Good Friday is followed by Easter, a divine proclamation of a decisive victory over sin and death by our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ who accompanies us on our journey.
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