A new initiative in South Africa is gathering people, churches and other Christian organizations into a web of mutually beneficial relationships. The Anabaptist Network in South Africa (ANiSA) seeks to apply the teachings, experiences and perspectives of Anabaptism to contemporary issues of Christian faith and practice in Southern Africa.
To foster the personal network, organizers have developed a virtual network to promote conversation and relationships informed by Anabaptist convictions and values. The web site ( http://anisa.org.za/) includes personal stories, study resources, news items and links to similar networks around the world.
Pastor Benedict Macebo of the Hillbrow Brethren in Christ church is delighted to connect with churches and ministries that share Anabaptist values. “Our churches need support from each other to keep focussed on our values,” he said.
Allen Goddard is a South African whose discipleship and life direction have been shaped by Anabaptist theology for twenty-five years. He says “The radical hospitality and peace-making of the Anabaptists are what the South African Church needs to walk through the challenge of reconciliation with our past and truly make restitution with one another.”
Although Anabaptist theology and practice have influenced many South Africans’ lives and beliefs, Anabaptist churches are relatively new in South Africa. Brethren in Christ and Mennonite Brethren churches have emerged only in the last few years.
North American Mennonite agencies began working in South Africa in the 1970’s. They supported conscientious objectors to the military draft and those who were resisting the system of apartheid. They also started a Bible School in Mthatha to teach Bible and theology to pastors of African Initiated Churches. Since the end of apartheid, Mennonite agencies have worked with South African churches and agencies to strengthen Christian witness. They have also worked on agricultural, food and water issues, refugee support, HIV/AIDS support and reconciliation between various factions in South African society.
ANiSA receives support from a partnership a represented by Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Mission Network, Mennonite Central Committee and Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission.