With God in
the Crucible: Preaching Costly Discipleship is an Abingdon Press book that
contains sermons by Peter Storey, former President of the Methodist Church of
South Africa and Bishop of the Johannesburg/Soweto area for thirteen years.
The book contains sermons preached in the midst of a society crippled by apartheid
along with sermons reflecting the nation’s deliverance from that oppressive
system. (Storey is now on the faculty of Duke Divinity School.)

One of the sermons,
“When God Turns the Tide,” was preached just days after the 1990 announcement
of the abandonment of apartheid. Here is a powerful moment in that sermon.

“When President
DeKlerk made those dramatic announcements that opened the prison gates of despair,
I stood still for a long time, transfixed and emotionally overwhelmed. Then
I walked to our kitchen window. From there you can see a distant hill, and on
that hill there stands a church where, back in the 1950s, a young priest once
ministered to the people of a vibrant black township called Sophiatown. It was
there that he tried to stop the military trucks that came in the night to take
the people away and the bulldozers that smashed their houses down.

“I looked
out on the white suburb that rose on the ruins of Sophiatown. I remembered the
final insult in the naming of that suburb, Triomf. [The Afrikaans word
for “Triumph.”] I remembered the little book written by that priest
to expose apartheid’s evil to the world, called Naught for Your Comfort.

“The priest
was admonished by his bishop and sent home to England. But he took with him
his book to alert the world, and he left behind a young black teenager who had
been his altar boy and whom he had faithfully visited in the hospital when the
boy had tuberculosis. The priest’s name was Trevor Huddleston. The altar boy
was Desmond Tutu. Huddleston’s book may be dated now, but the altar boy is not.
Huddleston’s impact on South Africa through Desmond Tutu is immeasurable. There
is a direct line between his witness in Sophiatown and this moment.

“There have
been many, many others who have stood for the truth. They have been a minority,
but together, the convictions of that minority and their commitment to obey
God and stand for God’s truth have made it possible for this moment of God’s
intervention – God’s turning of the tide. Never underestimate the importance
of ordinary people standing for the truth, because they also enable others to
play their part.”

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