Growing up, I often heard the phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu,” meaning “I am because we are.” This concept instilled in me the importance of partnering and working together for the Gospel. As a young minister, I’ve seen firsthand how this principle is crucial for the church’s growth. Though rooted in African culture, “Ubuntu” echoes the early Christian ethos described in Acts 2:42–47, where believers (filled with the Spirit and rooted in the love of Jesus), passionately shared, cared, supported, and lived in fellowship. This interconnectedness underscores the value of community, compassion, and mutual support.

Today within the Church of Scotland, amidst change and as Presbytery Mission plans are implemented, we desire to embrace the principles outlined in Acts 2:42–47. This commitment involves being wonderfully united in Christ, caring for each other, sharing resources, and supporting those in need both within and beyond our church community. Just as the early Christians exemplified these values in Acts, the Church of Scotland should also aspire to embody them in our interactions with one another and in our outreach.

In the church, Ubuntu means we live our Christian lives for both ourselves and others, understanding that our actions affect everyone. The success of the group is above that of the individual. Practicing Ubuntu motivates us to engage in activities like planting churches, evangelism, discipleship, and helping the needy.

At the heart of our faith journey lies the unshakeable belief that God has not abandoned His people, but rather invites us to actively participate in His kingdom plans. As we explore deeper into our feature ‘Hope-filled living’, we are reminded that the essence of our faith is not mere attendance at church, but the call to be true disciples of Christ.

Ubuntu underscores humanity’s interconnectedness, urging all to embrace discipleship deeply. It teaches us that our humanity is intricately linked to the well- being of others and that we find our truest selves in community and relationship. As Christ’s disciples, we’re tasked with embodying Ubuntu in our interactions, both within our community and beyond.

The challenge is for us all, young and old, as we continue to be disciples of Christ. Whatever we do in taking part in God’s mission goes beyond just attendance on a Sunday or during the week. We take part, we love, we support, we share our testimonies, and this means actively seeking ways to live out our faith in tangible ways. Perhaps even more, we go beyond the walls of our churches to engage with the needs of our communities, to advocate for justice and equality, and to extend a hand of friendship to those who are marginalised or oppressed. It means being willing to challenge the status quo, to ask difficult questions, and to embrace a faith that is dynamic and ever evolving.

It is a calling, so let us embrace this calling with courage and conviction, knowing that we do not walk this path alone but in the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, “I am because we are.” May this edition of Ascend be a reminder to us all that we are called to be disciples, not just attendees – to embody the hope and love of Christ in all that we do, and to be agents of transformation and renewal in our world. Let us walk together in faith and solidarity, knowing that the best is yet to come, but today we share the gospel.

Rev Nigel Chikanya