A pastoral marriage and family wholeness programme: a contextual cross-cultural contribution to enrichment, growth and healing through pastoral care and counselling in the South African context, with particular focus on Methodist families in the community of KwaNdengezi in KwaZulu-Natal.
Following decades of political struggle in South Africa, the 27 April elections in 1994 offered many people a long-awaited chapter in their lives as democracy was ushered in. The researcher has observed that the result of this political change has had a profound impact on the people of South Africa, especially for the Black constituency, in many ways. The political changes caused thousands to move from the rural areas to live in the peri-urban or township areas for economic reasons. The uprooting of families from their original rural homes has had a negative effect on the new generation with respect to principles and values about marriage and family. The researcher has further observed that in the area of research at KwaNdengezi, as well as surrounding areas, the social, political and economic changes have contributed to an increase in separation and divorces and a general weakening of the moral fibre of families. The marriage and family system is under a lot of strain. There is a critical need for enrichment, growth and healing. As an ordained Methodist minister, the researcher has been fortunate to witness the development of various milestones of the Methodist Church, which has been an instrument of change in the Southern African context in the past decades. In the context of transition into “a New Land” (Olivier 1996: 1), the mission statement of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa has created a relevant message. The vision in the mission statement as declared in the MCSA Year Conference book is “A Christ-healed Africa for the Healing of Nations” (2010: 2). This is achieved by fervently “proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ for healing and transformation” by both ministers and laity (L & D 2010: 3). This study seeks to align and broaden the above MCSA vision through pastoral care and counselling. The intention is to precipitate the work done by clergy training laity in basic Christian care giving and counselling skills. This will hopefully address the apparent brokenness in marriages and families in the various contexts in the communities and precipitate healing and transformation. ii The approach of this thesis, whilst predominantly pastoral, is ecclesiological as well as missiological. Elements of contextual theology bring forth the cultural perspective of the community in the area of research as hermeneutical tools of reading scriptures are applied. A cross-cultural dialogue between existing Western pastoral care and counselling models and African care giving and counselling practices plays an important role in this study. Through fieldwork, data was collected via questionnaires, interviews, recording, transcribing, participant observation and empathetic listening to the responses of the participants in the communities of KwaNdengezi. Valuable themes emerged from the process of assessment and analysis through theological reflection on the data. The various themes emerged through engagement with married couples, single parents and families. These include communication skills, scriptural values in marriage, Zulu cultural values and customs in a Christian household, the parent-child relationship, family health matters, family finance matters, teenager problems, resolving conflict, forgiveness and healing. Emanating from the themes, the study seeks to publish a contextual booklet or manual on “marriage and family wholeness”. In an effort to bring about enrichment, growth and healing to marriages and families, the new programme intends to use the lay team trained in basic Christian counselling as resource people when marriage and family retreats are offered by the local church. The programme also emphasizes partnership and interdisciplinary engagement with other disciplines through engaging with, for instance, social workers, clinical psychologists, medical doctors, local congregations, ethical theologians and financial accountants. This study presents the programme as a new tool or model relevant for a specific cultural context. The context encompasses the Methodist people of KwaNdengezi near Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal. However, because of its cross-cultural dialogue, the model can be adapted for use in any cultural context as an enrichment, growth and iii healing tool for all people of God as they struggle with the complexities of marriage and family life in a changing world.