Nancy and I would like to send you an Easter greeting and also update you on the unrest and riots that have been happening in our community this week. Thank you for praying! Many have written and our blog site spiked with the high number of visitors reading about the situation. Here is a brief update and a request for continued prayers.
The Riots Have Ceased…Praise God
Praise God, the riots have ceased, for now. Hermanus, the town where we live and are planting a church, has been gripped by protests that started late last week. It all came to a head on Monday as protests and riots broke out mostly in the township of Zwelihle. The demonstrations were devastating in many ways; a satellite police station was burned down, a library gutted, shops and home were looted. As a result, many people had to abandon their homes and find temporary shelter. The standoff was over a group of people who took up occupancy on vacant land that apparently belonged to the government (here it’s called a land grab). They marked out plots for themselves and then marched to the municipal manager’s office demanding utilities such as water and electricity.
How were we impacted? Although we’ve been safe, we have several families in our church who have not been. The school that we rent for our church services borders the township of Zwelihle and is close to where the unrest was located. As a result, their safety was at risk and many had to abandon their homes and move in with some of our church families for several days.
The good news is that after community meetings were held there seems to be peace, some kind of consensus reached, and order has returned to our community. The Mall, shops and restaurants and businesses are back in operation. We are grateful that our families were able to return home and resume work.
South Africa Has Made Progress, But…
Living through situations like this breaks our hearts – to see the fear and to feel the helplessness. In South Africa, years have passed since Apartheid was abolished (1994) and yet the remnants still exist. Thousands of people have been severely impacted and have suffered this week. I have mentally tried to put myself in the shoes of those forced to leave their homes, who feared for their children and worried about their belongings being stolen or burned. When they returned to their homes, they were uncertain what they would find. The good news is that none of our families suffered loss.
The other side of me looks at this situation and sees it as an amazing time for the church to shine. It’s an opportunity to be the light in the darkness and a people who don’t just talk about caring, but who give shelter and feed those in need. Some of the people in our church already had houseguests for the Easter holiday, but they still scattered mattresses and blankets were placed in every corner of their homes.
We had the joy of helping Wade and Tara lead the charge for our church, and to watch them was to see them in their element. A very generous financial gift came in that paid for most of the food that was served this week. Nancy and I were able to have all four of our grandkids bunked in my study as their rooms were used for others. They thought the idea of a slumber party with Papaw and Nana was pretty cool. And it was, that is, until little Maeve came to me early on Wednesday morning with some brown stuff all over her hands and a very stinky nappy (diaper). Not so cool!
Good Friday & Easter Services
Our focus now turns toward a Good Friday remembrance and Easter celebration services. I am excited for our little church to gather and rejoice over all God has done for us. I am excited to see if some of the people that were cared for this week will join us for church.
I am excited that my message for Easter Sunday is done and how God led me to redo what I had prepared, and instead bring a simple gospel message… a heartfelt expression of our need to personalize the Easter story. When you have weeks like this one, it’s a good reminder that the greatest need we each have is not shelter and protection (even though we long for that), but our greatest need is Jesus and His gift of salvation.
How Can You Continue To Pray?
As we pray for you, would you pray for our weekend of services at Mountain View, and for the message of why having a relationship with Jesus matters? Also, pray that the peace we are experiencing today will continue and the riots will not return. Nancy and I would also like to say, thank you! Thank you for caring and interceding for the events of the week. Have a wonderful and blessed Easter celebration!