• May 20th, 2019
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The purpose of the Church in society


Rev. Jan. A. Scholtz

Where is the church when millions of people choose to seek a way out of their conditions? Is there something that the church can offer to this problem? The problem of suicide in Namibia is spreading fast as statistics now show that there were 452 recorded suicidal deaths in 2017, and 131 suicidal deaths recorded between April and July 2018. This means that on average there is one suicidal death committed every day in Namibia, making it the fourth highest rated country in Africa for suicide (NSA). 

 Suicide is a social enemy because it robs us of many young men and women who would have contributed positively towards our distressed economy. Suicide is an insult to the African Renaissance, in light of our present cry to give a new meaning to Africa. Therefore, it is important that we seek means to overcome this problem at whatever cost it will take. 

It is important that the religious institutions should begin to speak out against this mental health problem that is further pulling our society down the drain. It is time that the churches take this issue by the horns and address it by creating platforms for those in need of counselling and social support. The time has come for the church to take an active stance in policy making, so that these issues receive input from a theological point of view as an attempt to address this national issue. 

It is not going to be helpful if churches only make policy statements. But they should seek means to involve their entire membership across the society to seek a solution to the problem. Churches, which already have programmes that are currently running, should evaluate these and seek more useful ways to address the problem. They should also exchange their ideas and challenge other churches to follow their example through structures such as Ministers Fellowship Forums, etc.

Suicide is a major challenge that the society is facing today. There is thus an urgent need that the church should play an active role in this regard by assisting in restoring the full humanity of those who are prone to committing suicide as a result of depression, economic conditions, substance abuse and or psychosis. 

The church as a safe harbour must introduce and implement projects that will assist those that are in danger of committing suicide. In the same vein, favourable conditions need to be created to insure the rehabilitation (with a spiritual element) of these individuals. Projects that the church can introduce are to empower the affected individuals with skills so that they can create jobs for themselves. A mentorship and life skills programme can also be implemented to assist with youth prone to suicide as part of the rehabilitation programme. 

For the church to succeed, it is important that they supplement initiatives of government, and it is also important that society at large should be actively involved by learning how to identify and report early warnings of suicide to relevant authorities in the quickest possible time. A holistic approach against suicide is a necessary intervention and should include the church, family, society, schools and the government.

In conclusion, one of the world’s theologians, H. Richard Niebuhr, wrote a small book entitled: The purpose of the church and its ministry. He declared that the purpose of the church is “the increase of the love of God and the neighbour”. He concluded that when all was said and done, the increase of the love of God and neighbour remains the purpose and the hope of our preaching of the Gospel, of all our church organisations and activities.


New Era Reporter
2018-11-16 09:59:40 6 months ago

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