Today we commemorate Youth Day. We remember that in 1976 young people – children – paid a terrible price for seeking to be seen and heard, for being counted and acknowledged as valuable and worthy citizens of our nation. Today, we mourn and we remember the devastating truth that it is often the most vulnerable – the young, the widows, the orphans, the sick, the aged, that suffer the most from the injustices in our world. Youth Day is a stark reminder that we failed our children in 1976 and in many ways, we are failing them now.
A recent statistic from Oxfam indicated that 1 in 4 people in our nation is hungry. 1 in 4! Many children still, 40 years on from that terrible day in Soweto, do not have access to basic education and find themselves equally dispossessed and disempowered. Millions of children in our nation are orphaned by HIV and suffer under the scourge of poverty. Throughout the world, there seems to be a wave of hatred, violence and fear that is washing over people. Our children are being brought up in a world where, just this last week again, too many innocent people died because of hatred, ignorance and fear.
The day of the Soweto uprising was a turning point in our nation’s history, and today, as we reflect on that, it is my deepest prayer that we, the church, the people of God, will not stand idly by and allow things to degenerate to a catastrophe like that one before something is done about the children of today. We face many big problems and challenges, but we serve a bigger God. Each of us can and MUST do our part – do what we can with what we have – to build a better future.
In Scripture we read about how when Queen Esther was faced with the annihilation of her people and felt helpless and powerless to do anything about it, her uncle Mordecai reminded her of the truth that she was brought to her position in the empire, “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Each of us is here, in our sphere of influence, with our unique gifts, talents, resources, connections, experiences and abilities for such a time as this. Let us pray earnestly and work tirelessly to do all we can to let God’s Kingdom come, to honour the memory of the students of 1976 and to do right by the children of our nation.