In a guest editorial, South African evangelist Michael Cassidy calls for prayer and wisdom during this historic opportunity.

Recent events here in South Africa have left us (and you, no doubt) gasping. History has again landed in our laps with the quantum leaps of courage taken by President F. W. De Klerk and the momentous advent to center stage of the Nelson Mandela mystique. Our nation has done an overnight course change, the rules of the political book have been rewritten, and the shape of the future has been irrevocably changed. A curious amalgam of heady hope, high-wire political adventure, and mega-uncertainty has settled upon the very soul of South Africa. Never in the history of our land has such weighty responsibility devolved upon the shoulders of two such different men of destiny: the white President of Today and the black Prisoner of Yesterday. It is the stuff of which epics are born.

Indeed, it is the Mandela Moment, and in many ways a matchless moment. Yet it is also one fraught with political peril. If the church—especially the church of South Africa—does not live out Christian principles and pray them in to protect the process, then danger looms. Christians must pray with intense and earnest intercession that Jesus will have his way with us. Without such prayer, great and positive forward movements such as the one we are caught up in now can be derailed by the demonic powers.

This is not an indulgence in medieval fantasies or fairy tales. Rather, it is a call for us to take seriously the biblical view that our fight is not against “flesh and blood” but “principalities and powers, the world rulers of this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12). So let prayer from the church of Jesus Christ in South Africa and worldwide be the first order of the day. We don’t want anything to go wrong.

Our prayers need to focus on four areas. First, we must seek supernatural wisdom (see James 1:5ff.) for Mr. Mandela and his colleagues and for President De Klerk and his. There is nothing the Evil One would like more than to interfere with their efforts to bring healing, justice, and a new day to our land. Likewise, we must pray for physical, mental, and spiritual protection for both leaders and their advisers. The release of Mr. Mandela brings hope, but it also brings great risk.

Let us also ask God to pour the spirit of magnanimity upon South Africa. This is really the “Calvary spirit,” for the Cross requires self-giving and unselfishness from whites. It requires whites genuinely and deeply to repent for the iniquities and inequities of apartheid. The Cross also requires the supernatural spirit of forgiveness from blacks for all that has been inflicted upon them. An African proverb says: “He who forgives ends the quarrel.” Martin Luther King, Jr., put it this way: “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.… Forgiveness is not just an occasional act: it is a permanent attitude.”

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Finally, we must pray that in South Africa we may all be controlled by Christian principles. These would include dependence on God, love for enemy, humility, prayerfulness, mutual care, equality of dignity and opportunity, economic and structural justice (which is love built into laws, organizations, and institutions) along with national repentance (required from whites), national forgiveness (required from blacks), and reconciliation for and between all.

We in South Africa ask Christians in the United States to pray fervently for us along these lines. And as you do, may the Lord bring his own gentle and probing scrutiny into your hearts to challenge you about whether Christian principles and prayerfulness are controlling your own nation as well.

By Michael Cassidy, founder of African Enterprise.

Members of mainline churches have gotten used to their denominational conventions pronouncing on the righteousness of social and political causes with which they may or may not agree. The distance between the pew and the convention is legendary. Many have learned to shrug it off, putting more faith in the common sense of local congregations than the machinations of national structures.

Members of the American Bar Association (ABA), however, were not so sanguine earlier this year when the ABA House of Delegates adopted (by a vote of 238 to 106) a resolution opposing any legislation that tried to interfere with any woman’s access to an abortion. The resolution effectively gives the ABA the authority to file friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) briefs in key cases regarding abortion (CT News, March 19, 1990, p. 49). So much for professionalism.

ABA treasurer Joseph Nolan said he had heard from hundreds of lawyers who said they would resign if the resolution passed. And after the resolution passed (following two and one-half hours of bitter debate and parliamentary wrangling), Nolan himself resigned. ABA president Stanley Chauvin opposed the resolution, saying, “By no stretch of the imagination does this resolution come within the mission of the American Bar Association’s Constitution.” And president-elect John Curtin said he could not “in good conscience” sign any amicus brief supporting abortion rights and called the measure a “fundamental departure from the historic position [of the ABA] in protecting the rights of all.”

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Lawyers For Abortion?

Are Nolan and Chauvin overreacting? We think not. Resolutions such as this one give the unknowing public the impression that the law profession is entirely on the side of unrestricted abortion. That, of course, is hardly the case. A similar misapprehension was created some years ago when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The action was carefully orchestrated by pressure groups, and many in the helping professions are still smarting from that nonrepresentative action.

So how did the ABA’s House of Delegates pass something that much of both its leadership and its membership opposed? How could it pass a controversial resolution that had nothing to do with its basic purposes of maintaining high standards for the practice of law? The answer is that the resolution’s backers were well networked and had the affair thoroughly orchestrated well before the membership at large got wind of the attempt.

According to respected constitutional-law attorney William Bentley Ball, “So many conventions are badly attended. There is an inert mass of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals around the country, but zealous activists plan the policy of their organizations.”

The solution, says Ball, is neither to retreat nor to resign. Since a relatively small percentage of ABA membership attends the national convention, a well-organized effort on the part of any special-interest group can wreak havoc when it’s time to vote. The ABA has 365,000 member lawyers, and a convention open to its full membership is scheduled for August in Chicago. The resolution is bound to be reconsidered there. We urge all those members who were upset and disgruntled over the handling of the resolution to register for that convention and, if necessary, to show their strength.

All of us who belong to professional and learned societies—indeed, even those of us who belong to churches that are given to making pronouncements on controversial political and social issues—need to stay involved. And, occasionally, we need to raise a ruckus when our professional or organizational influence is manipulated by pressure groups and the public is given false impressions about important issues.

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By David Neff.

For some time now, “good works” have been thoroughly devalued as the currency used to buy us the heavenly good life—thanks mostly to the work of the apostle Paul and Martin Luther. But the city of Miami has come to our rescue, giving “market” value once again to acts that until recently were at the mercy of altruistic whims. Because of jurisdictional concerns, however, all rewards are this-worldly.

The brain child of law professor Edgar Cahn, who teaches at the District of Columbia School of Law, the “service-credit” system is based on classic market-capitalism principles. For every hour of volunteer work, a person gets a credit. That credit can then be redeemed.

Service credit seems to be working. According to a report in Newsweek, Miami has the largest system in operation—700 volunteers who perform 8,000 hours of service work a month—but similar systems are already in place in Washington, Boston, San Francisco, and in a few smaller cities in the Midwest. The pragmatic value is undeniable. Many social services report increased effectiveness—as much as 800 percent in one instance.

In a time when we are experiencing the rapid disintegration of families, neighborhoods, and other connective communities, this may be just what we need. If the Matthew injunction to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” or “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” won’t work, why not “Love your neighbor for yourself”?

But a funny thing happened in Miami: Only 1.1 percent of the credits earned have been “cashed,” a rate that is positively counterproductive. Heaven forbid that people get the impression good works are good in themselves. The basis for the whole system would crumble. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?

By Michael G. Maudlin.

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