Wednesday’s chapel speaker will be Craig Stewart, director of The Warehouse Ministry in Cape Town, South Africa.
Stewart brings with him not only a South African accent, but also the testimony of his ongoing work to reconcile a people and a country long divided by injustice. He grew up during a turbulent season of South Africa’s history when the National Party was enforcing apartheid, a system of racial segregation that oppressed black Africans.
“I was growing up in a prison state where I just happened to be on the right side of the bars,” said Stewart during a guest lecture for the Honors Community and the School of Social Work Monday afternoon. “I found myself as a high-schooler with a group of friends asking ‘what does it mean to pursue justice?”’
He joined the anti-apartheid fight in his teenage years amid the triumph of Nelson Mandela’s release and subsequent election as President, convinced change would soon come. Stewart soon discovered, however, that bringing justice to his people was much more complex than changing a few laws.
“The longer I’m in this game, this calling, this passion to act justly, the more I realize how complex it is and how we are all just a piece…I don’t think the struggle for justice ever comes to an end,” Stewart said.
Two decades after Mandela’s release, South Africa is still stuggling to make peace and equality a reality, and Stewart is still in the middle of the fight. His ministry, The Warehouse, engages and disciples local churches so that they are equipped to transform their communities.
The Warehouse began in 2003 as a result of a group of churches that came together seeking an answer to the question ‘What does it mean to act faithfully just in our post apartheid culture?’. Since then, the ministry has been “serving the South African church network as it responds to poverty, injustice, and division,” according to a handout Stewart distributed during the lecture.
This plays out in many ways across South Africa’s diverse communities, but for Stewart, it is “freeing to recognize there is not one single solution…too many of us who enter this ministry think it is a sprint, but it’s a marathon.”
Though his ministry is a catalyst for reconciliation, Stewart readily admits there is still much work to be done, as the spirit of apartheid is not easily uprooted.
“Justice is not simply a legal transaction, and peace is not simply an absence of violence,” Stewart said. “The shalom of Christ will only exist when He returns, but we must constantly work towards it.”