Namibia emerging from a traumatic past, and the process of rebuilding the nation is not going to be an easy one. The church in my opinion has a very important role to play in the whole process of reconstruction and development.
The programme of the church as I see it will have as its main thrust the communal and spiritual spheres of life. The church will have to undertake a programme of healing, by helping people to find one another and work towards reconciliation. It will have to help communities bridge divisions of the past and together work towards true unity and reconciliation.
The whole country is indeed talking of a non-racist, non-sexist and democratic society and these are the issues that the church will have to pick up. The problem for the church is that racism and sexism are very much part of its life. What this means is that the church will first have to fight these problems from within its own ranks before even trying to reach out. And I want to submit that if the church successfully fight racism and sexism within its own life then there will be hope for Namibia. In other words the church can transform society by example. The church will have to take seriously the example of Jesus’ human life which stands as a witness against oppressive cultural patterns and prejudice. He for example related to women as persons of intelligence and capabilities and his ministry was extended without prejudice and distinction. The church cannot help in the shaping of a non-sexist society if it continues by and large to reflect the world of male preference and dominance where women are viewed as being inferior to men and having few talents and contributions to make to the general well-being of society.
The church will have to be engaged in a process of continuous introspection. For example, if the church talks about democracy, the question must always be asked as to whether democracy is visible within its own life. The church can without any doubt expect its youth in particular to demand a total democratisation. One foresees a situation where a lot of young people who have been involved in the struggle for liberation will come back in their numbers and they might find the church to be the place where they can burn out energy that they have always burned out in the struggle. And I am afraid that the church is not so well prepared for that process.
The church will have an important part to play in development. However, the church will have to ensure that any development is people-centred and it must constantly remind those involved in development programmes that the economy is not an end in itself, but merely an instrument to ensure the needs of the people and to enhance life.
The church will have to support development programmes that seek to empower people to experience the full life that God is giving.
The church again will have to minister in a special way to those people in our country who are not willing to accept change. In a way, it will have to challenge them to also work for a society based on love, mutual respect and cordiality, a society that seeks a more human and integrated form of life.
In conclusion I want to say that the church in being involved with reconstitution and development should guard against developing a type of relationship with the state that will lead it to ultimately compromising its mandate to speak with a prophetic voice and to be the voice of the voiceless.