How do you look into the face of a tall, big, strong looking middle age African man whose eyes are welling up with tears and tell him that he has little or no hope of escaping South Africa to the safety of another country like England, the USA or Australia ?
How do you tell a scared mother of two children that there is no other country to run too after already leaving their original home land many years ago in fear for their lives only to be facing the same threats all over again ?
How do you explain to a man that western countries around the world will need to see more threats, more violence and many more deaths before they recognise the xenophobia as a genuine reason for political asylum from South Africa ?
These are the real faces of the real people now living in absolute fear here in Durban due to more out breaks of xenophobia. These are also the faces and hearts of our brethren and sisters in Durban. Mary shows me some horrible, ugly, graphic movies circulating amongst the Congolese and Rwandan people of Zulu’s stoning, burning and killing her fellow countrymen … all because they are not South African nationals !!!
After giving an afternoon bible class talk on Sunday, I was asked to come into an urgent meeting of a few of them who advised me that they are all looking at ways to leave South Africa and their new homes so they can escape the persecution before they too are targeted, persecuted or killed. Their urgent plea to me is to ask if there is anyway I can help or get help for them to get out. All these people have previously fled countries like the Congo and Rwanda because of genocide and made their way to the safe haven of South Africa. They can not go back ….. but now they fear for their life here.
For all of them, coming to South Africa was the start of a new life. For all of them, escaping to South Africa also brought them into Freedom in Christ in their new found faiths. This new faith is now being sorely tested. They can not comprehend how western countries and government officials can allow things to get so bad, so ugly, so devastating with so much loss of life, before they act. All they can ask is why ??? Why will they not take us ??? Why do they just stand by and watch what is happening without doing anything ??? Why will they not help us ???
I have no answers for them. I feel helpless. I feel right out of my depth. All I can do is to encourage each of them to think seriously and prayfully about whatever decisions they make. They all have jobs and homes that they will have to give up if they leave. I encourage each of them to make decisions that are best for them and their families individually, as these decisions will be life changing decisions. I can not tell them to stay and see if things improve, because what if they don’t and they are attacked. I can not tell them to go, because what if this all blows over in a few weeks and they give up everything, only to see things back to normal again in a few weeks !!!
The local South African brethren are in constant contact with them. Emergency meetings are being held to determine what if anything can be done to help these people. As a white volunteer, we are currently relatively safe, unless we wander into unsafe areas. We meet with them and comfort them as much as we can, but it all seems so little, so insignificant. Their hearts are breaking, their world is crumbling down around them and we can’t do or say anything to help them. Fear is a terrible and destructive thing. It seems so unfair that that these foreign nationals who have adopted South Africa as their home and worked so hard and contributed to the country in so many various and positive ways to their African Brotherhood, should be treated so poorly.
The tears of fear are spreading ….. and they are contagious. Come Lord Jesus.