A Call to Prayer

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Although I’m not sure what is being reported in other countries, I expect most people are at least aware of the terrible atrocities that have been committed towards foreigners in South Africa in the last few weeks. Most recent statistics indicate that more than 56 people have been killed in the violence, and at least 80 000 people displaced from their homes. This afternoon, a group of OM leaders went to one of the makeshift refugee camps to assess how OM can be involved in relief work. The camp was designed for 200 people; there are at least 1300 people now living there.

I recieved this email the other day, and thought it would be of interest to people reading this blog:

It is with an aching heart and a sense of shock that we watched in the news media the terrible violence against foreigners in our communities these past two weeks. We have been ripped in our hearts and have slunk to God’s throne of grace with our corporate confession and repentance to plead with Him to stretch out His almighty hand to bring to an end this diabolic mass hysteria and cruel atrocities. We thank God for the relative calm that has returned after seeing burning bodies, homes and shelters scar our news images. However, the pain is not over for a long time. There are grieving and embittered strangers who have fled hastily across our borders to their own nearby countries, where they also will not be readily integrated. They need our sincere prayers. There are still thousands of uprooted people in church buildings, community centres, tents and temporary shelters who had to flee after they had lost everything. They have nowhere to go; no means of providing food themselves; in many cases no warm clothes and blankets – they are strangers among us and in need.

God taught his own people, Israel, never to oppress or wrong a stranger.(Ex 22:21 23:9,12 Lev 19:33,34 Deut 10:18,19 14:29 24:17-19 26:12,13 29:19 Ezek 22:7,29 Zac 7:9,10). The motivation was that Abraham and Moses, and indeed the whole nation in slavery, had been strangers at a time. (Gen 15:13 23:4 Ex 2:22) Even David saw himself as a stranger (1Chron 29:15) while Job chose to open his home to strangers. (31:32) God included the stranger, who lived among His people, in His paschal provision (Ex 12:19, 48, 49) and with the giving of the Law He included the stranger, alongside the orphaned, in His directions for justice to be exercised. (Ex 20:10 Deut 5:14 16:11-13) And when Jesus gave His message in Matthew 25 He identified Himself with the stranger and called on His disciples to love and care for such people. (Mat 25:35,43) From this overwhelming flood of revelational testimony the necessity of an open heart and hand toward the stranger in your gates is nothing short of an absolute truth that calls for our obedient response.

That is the basis of this call to prayer for traumatised and suffering strangers in our land. But even more than that: to also give in an organised manner towards the care and feeding of these people in your region. Find out where churches or communities are caring for these uprooted people and offer to help. Let our shepherds and ministers provide leadership. Find out where the need is, what the need entails, and how the need can be met.

Finally, the spiritual need of our own people, who have been demonised by this violence inside, need to be addressed. There are many in our communities who are sitting upon an acrid taste of guilt and reproach. Many others , especially the younger ones, have been badly traumatised by what they observed and by what they were passively drawn into. These are inner wounds than can stick with one for a lifetime. Pray for healing and restoration of our sick and wounded communities.

Do go to Daniel’s prayer (9:3-14) in which he identifies with the sins of his nation, and let us apply that prayer to our South African situation and do likewise.

Your brother in Christ

Reverend Richard M Verreynne

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