What a time we are going through in our beautiful province here in KZN, South Africa.

On Sunday afternoon I drove an hour north to have a braai with other missionary doctors and hang out. We swam in the pool, laughed, there was lots of meat on the braai and more than enough coke and juice for everyone. On Monday morning I wake up to a totally different world!

I’ll never forget sitting on my couch watching the news of the live events taking place in front of my eyes. I couldn’t pull myself away from the news, but I didn’t want to see anymore either. There were so many emotions involved. I am still struggling to process them all. There were a couple of times we just actually laughed together as a family as it was so unbelievable seeing all the looting going on with no police presence anywhere! But after a quick laugh, the fear would come back forcing us back to reality.

From our house, we could hear the gunshots going off just outside, and we could hear our local Ballito community trying to protect our community stores. The messages were coming through on my phone fast and furious. I was frozen on what to do.

That night I was gripped with fear. We packed our bags with our passports, birth certificates, and clothes for 2 days. We started making plans if we needed to evacuate, but then again how do we evacuate 15 children? Really what do we do? I absolutely hate violence and for the first time in my life as I watched the news, I was thinking why aren’t these cops just opening fire and shooting to stop it. It looked like it was never going to end. For the whole 15 hours on Monday, I didn’t see a police officer anywhere on site. Ballito was saved because of the private security companies we have to protect us above and beyond what the police do. 

Tuesday we woke up to much of the same. Troops were deployed but we didn’t see them at all for most of the morning. I remember walking into our bedroom with Lyndall laying on the bed in tears. “Kent I’m so scared. What do we do?”  There was nothing I could say that could calm her down. I was feeling much of the same but was also trying to get together a plan A, B, C, Y, Z.  I was so angry at the police force for not doing anything. By Tuesday night things looked like they were beginning to calm down a little. I went to my brother-in-law’s house and spent the night taking night watches with him as he lives on the border of a township and felt very vulnerable. I didn’t feel right having his wife and kids helping him protect his place so they came and stayed at our house and I stayed with him. That night it calmed down a lot.

Wednesday I felt so much better and started thinking more about God’s purpose for me in this situation. God seems to be seen a lot more when things aren’t easy. Please God, help me know what to do to be your light during this time I asked. I could see the racial tension was heating up. I didn’t want to just sit and protect our possessions. I’ve always wanted to be a voice for those that don’t have a voice. So I went outside our safe town outside our roadblocks to speak to the African community to see what their feelings were. It was an awesome day for me, while others were still living in fear. Fear has gripped our people’s hearts and something had to be done to change that. I even gave one African guy a lift on my scooter, he had run out of petrol so he had a container to fill up but was too scared to walk with it because people would think he was coming to burn down a shop and all he wanted to do was get home safe. 

Yesterday morning I left on my scooter in fear of what I had decided to do. I wanted to go into the community that we had feared wanted to loot our shops and burn them down. I prayed for about 30 min before I went for safety and protection and the wisdom to know what to do. As I rode the scooter I just kept praying. My heart was pounding as I had heard they had looted the whole township. It was the township that borders my brother-in-law’s house. On entering, I was so welcomed by the first person I met and then I just started listening to their feelings and hearing how we were all feeling the same. They are also gripped with fear and they also don’t understand what is happening. They were also scared to come out of their houses on Monday night, they were also fearful for their lives. They had no control over the situation.

There were thugs out there that wanted evil to prevail, but I fully believe God had different plans. On Thursday we saw the good people coming out again and I truly believe that our nation will be stronger together by the end of this. We will heal and we will heal together. Some people will move out of South Africa, some will stay. The ones that stay will all have a common goal- working together to heal and rebuild our country. 

One of the hardest things was sitting this morning around our breakfast table with my son in full-blown tears because we don’t have all the comforts we had on Sunday. He doesn’t understand why we aren’t getting all the food and drinks we had before. He just kept saying “why can’t we moved to America, It’s so much better there.” I just kept saying God didn’t call us to comfort and safety. He has called us as a family to the people of South Africa to be his ambassador of light during the dark times. These are the times He can be seen even more. I had to explain that to an 11-year-old. But after an hour of tears, he wants to be in this with us. It is so scary but such a great opportunity for us as Christians to give of ourselves as Christ gave of himself on the cross for the sins of the world and the sins of South Africa. NOW WE CAN HEAL IN JESUS NAME!!!

Please continue to pray for us here at Hearts that Hope as we deal with all the emotional stress of the last week. But more than that, please pray for the hearts of all the people here in our nation; pray that fear doesn’t make us turn on one another. Pray that we all find a way to work together to rebuild our beautiful home; not just for ourselves but for the generations that will walk behind us.