Churchnet July/August 2015 - Page 14

Rainbow Nation

by Brian Kaylor,

Generational Engagement Team Leader

During the welcome ceremony the first evening

of the Baptist World Congress in Durban, South

Africa, multiple South African Baptists called

their land “the rainbow nation.” Anglican

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of South Africa’s

heroes, coined the term, which he also phrased

as “the rainbow people of God.” He hoped to

embrace the colorful beauty of diversity as an

antidote to the deadly separation and isolation

the nation experienced under apartheid.

“You are the rainbow people of God,” Tutu

argued. “You remember the rainbow in the Bible

is a sign of peace. The rainbow is a sign of

prosperity. We want peace, prosperity, and justice

and we can have it when we, all the people of God, work together.”

During the Congress, we also heard numerous references to the southern African concept of Ubuntu. An older ideal popularized internationally by Tutu, Ubuntu helps explain how a diverse people could become a rainbow.

South African Paul Msiza, who was installed as president of the Baptist World Alliance during the Congress, explained the concept of Ubuntu as we chatted one night in Durban.

“Ubuntu talks about ‘I am because we are together as people,’” he told me. “What the Baptist World Alliance tries to say is we are the body of Christ affirming one another, we are the body of Christ recognizing and accepting that we do have diversity, but we're bound together.”

“And that's the very essence of Ubuntu,” he added. “Because when you talk about Ubuntu, you talk about welcoming, you talk about accepting, you talk about seeing the image of God in every person. And this is what the Baptist World Alliance is all about: the fellowship of believers from all over the world, from every background, from every language, from ethnic group and from every tribe. We are the people of God together.”

Msiza and Tutu both understand the beauty of Paul’s metaphor of the Body of Christ. We are one. Not despite diversity, but because of it. We cannot all be an

Brian Kaylor speaking during a Baptist World Congress session on church and technology.

(photo by an audience member)