Month of Compassion

Focus on children during Month of Compassion

Child protection and the so called ‘statutary interventions’ are not necessarily only the operational environment of social development organisation Badisa. The focus of this year’s Month of Compassion assists congregations to explore the horisons of the diaconial calling and operations.

During August faith-based organisations traditionally place the focal point on the diaconial nature and being of the church of Christ on earth. Diaconia, the joint ministry of the Western Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the United Reformed Church Cape Synod, takes the lead to create the theological framework and focus for diaconate and to support congregations’ ministry practises.

Reverend Nioma Venter of Diaconia explains that these operations are based fundamentally on who God is and the fact that He invites us as collaborators, where He is already in action. When the most vulnerable, like children in need, are at risk, it causes internal turmoil for God. The Greek translation for the word ‘compassion’ literally means that Jesus experienced physical internal turmoil when He encountered people in need. The circumstances of the children of South Africa triggers turmoil in us! says Venter.

During the Month of Compassion, the church and specifically congregations need to question what their local ministries can do to address the shocking state of child neglect and abuse in this country. According to Basie van Wyk, chief executive officer of Badisa, the challenges are immense: “It is a proven fact that 42% of South African children are exposed to some form of abuse. The horrific living conditions of our children have been highlighted recently during Child Protection Month with such appalling statistics as the fact that 28 out of every thousand children will die before their fifth birthday.”

Diaconia in conjunction with Badisa are planning a compassion indaba on Wednesday 30 August at Stellenberg congregation to reflect on actual interventions. Congregations are encouraged to note the date and identify ministry leaders to become part of this discussion.

According to reverend Nioma Venter, statutory services do not mean that congregations are excluded. “During the indaba, children will be in the spotlight and we’ll discuss how congregations can join the service of love provided by local Badisa programmes in this very specific and often challenging work environment. For example, foster care and short term houses of safety within congregations can play a critically important role.”

Diaconia aims on creating a broader awareness and deeper understanding of diaconate. Practical solutions in our everyday lives include the empowerment and development of networks that can deliver a collective impact. The relationship with Badisa and similar deliberate interdisciplinary collaborations are vitally important. Diaconate has a definite evangelical component, which makes the involvement of the church so unique – it is not just charity, but a considered outreach to proclaim hope.

Venter further explains that their supportive role also includes building bridges between congregations and communities. “We don’t implement projects on behalf of congregations, but are there to support the local communities in their service and initiatives of charity and compassion. We challenge the imagination and creativity of congregations, similar to the decision the general synods reached in 2015 when they identified early childhood development (ECD) as the most effective, systematic intervention in poverty relief. In the Western Cape, they established the Little Seeds Unit for ECD and are currently working alongside congregations and Badisa programmes on this initiative. Although we are currently giving a lot of attention to the mobilisation of congregations to become involved with ECD, this is definitely not our sole priority. Although connected, this year’s focus on child protection does indeed find itself on another level of intervention as early childhood development.”

For the latest news, lithurgical guidelines for Compassion Sunday and short videos that can be used during services, visit or follow @diaconiaweskaap and @badisacharity on their various social platforms.

Issued by KAAPKERK
For more information, contact Ronelda Visser on 083 2733984.