Hands of Compassion was started in 1987, a time of great political turmoil and moral uncertainly in South Africa. It was the height of apartheid, and we were grappling with how to respond to this cruel and unbiblical social system. At the time, many Christians, particularly those in Charismatic churches, restricted the scope of biblical ethics to “personal” sins such as adultery and failed to understand that we sin when we oppress others. The Bible condemns both consciously willed individual acts like adultery and participation in evil social structures. God spoke clearly through His prophet Amos:
6 This is what the Lord says: “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I will not let them go unpunished! They sell honorable people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample helpless people in the dust and shove the oppressed out of the way. Both father and son sleep with the same woman, corrupting my holy name.
8 At their religious festivals, they lounge in clothing their debtors put up as security. In the house of their gods, they drink wine bought with unjust fines. (Amos 2:6-8)
And so we started Hands of Compassion in an attempt to be a visible witness of reconciliation in a deeply divided nation. We began living together in an intentional non-racial community, sharing our resources and coming to terms with the ways in which we had been complicit in apartheid and what we could do about it … we have been on a grace-filled journey ever since, and many of you have been with us. Thank you.
We are privileged to have made some contribution to the building of God’s Kingdom in our country and believe that Hands of Compassion will continue to bring hope to a desperate world.