Youth and charismatic Christianity in the Dwars River Valley, Stellenbosch
Thesis (MA (Sociology and Social Anthropology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
The rise in social disorder in South Africa over the last decade and a half has contributed to the increase of non-government organizations moving to the forefront of social problem prevention. Encounter, a new Pentecostal church in the Dwars River Valley served as a beacon of hope to many people. With the developments in the valley that resulted in vast social changes it can be described as an anchor in a sea of instability and uncertainty. At the same time, however, Encounter served as a wave that rocked the boat of the traditional and church-centered village of Pniel. Encounter presented alternative methods of social problem prevention and alleviation for its members. For the purpose of this study, I placed specific emphasis on the intangible, faith-based actions and strategies of Encounter. These intangible methods characteristic of spiritual organizations had a unique influence on the community regarding their perceptions of- and meanings attached to- social problems, social cooperation and social identity. At the same time, conversion and the alternative „access‟ to spirituality (prophecies, healing, demonology etc.) affected individual identities and in many ways led to their social empowerment. Finally, in this study, intangible spiritual interpretations were not only receptive and re-active phenomena, but could also take on the form of intervention and pro-action. Through the use of ritual, intangible beliefs were turned into weapons of warfare. Encounter created a space for the training and use of these „weapons‟. People gathered there to be trained, to observe and to use these weapons with the belief that it would result in immediate change in their lives and in their communities.