By Lyonel Doherty
For Thandazani Mhlanga, nothing is more responsible for the ‘good old days’than a bad memory, and yet he often marvels at how good the 1980’s were.
The new pastor of Oliver Adventist Church was born in what was once called the “bread basket” of Africa.
“My memories of my birth country Zimbabwe certainly fall into the ‘good old days’category. The abundance of food, friends and family was a daily staple.”
Pastor Thaah, as he is affectionately known, considers himself a citizen of the world.
He noted that Baha’u’llah, the Persian religious leader, said it best when he commented: “The earth is but one country and mankind is its citizens.”
Speaking of religion, the greatest turning point in his life was Christianity.
“Though religion today has been viewed by many as an inconvenient, unsophisticated list of do’s and dont’s, it is to me as simple as loving God and loving people.”
And it is this love for God and people that drives him as a pastor.
“I believe it to be the most compelling answer to all existential questions for humankind.”
In his travels as citizen of the world, Pastor Thaah has seen many interesting things.
“I am always fascinated by how different our cultures are and yet how similar they all are. The truth of the matter is that we are all people trying to adapt to our sometimes hostile surroundings.”
More than great architectural structures, huge concrete jungles and seeing lions on a hunt, it is how people commune together around a common goal that the pastor finds amazing. Whenever people come together to do good for others, something miraculous happens, he pointed out.
He saw this happening in Apartheid-stricken South Africa and, on a different scale, during the wild fires that threatened many communities in B.C.
Pastor Thaah said the miracle of humanity never happens when people invest time and money in highlighting our differences.
“This is one of the things that troubles me about the world we live in today. Billions of dollars and countless hours have been spent in educating people on how different we all are.”
He said the “enemy” has become whoever doesn’t look like you, dress like you or think like you.
He said this culture of intolerance has a way of magnifying the worst of humanity, and it is a slippery slope to great human tragedies.
Remember the old bumper sticker that read: “Be the change you desire to see in the world?” Well, Pastor Thaah is trying to live that life by advocating love for people.
“Even though it looks like a losing battle against well-resourced systems, I am a prisoner of hope.”
At the end of it all, love will be victorious, he said emphatically.