Sunday, May 25, 2008

Internal Refugees

And so they roll in…
People seeking refuge from the violence.
Violence against them because they are not like us. My church (along with many, many other churches throughout Cape Town, and South Africa), has opened its doors to provide shelter. We took an initial 4 young Zimbabwean men. They had been trapped on Cape Town station on Friday afternoon, being warned not to return home to Khayetlisha. Eventually there were hundreds like them who spent the night on the station platforms. They are now asleep in a room upstairs in my church hall.

Then they began to trickle in… word of mouth telling people that we have shelter. The church halls further up the road are all full to capacity. And in desperation the people are moving further down the Peninsula. They come, desperately tired, carrying their worldly possessions in a plastic bag. They have only the clothes they stand in. No toiletries, no possessions, no nothing. One tells how he was told by his (South African) neighbour: “Go. You came with nothing. Now leave with nothing”.

One is a school teacher, registered at a school in Khayaletsha. His pupils chased him out of his classroom – along with eight other “foreign” teachers. Another drove into Khayelitsha to fetch his family and was stoned. So he fled, and asked me to allow him to phone his family to see if they are safe. They are for the moment.

A touching moment – when Dave and Joe, the resident street people, offer to keep guard on the main door to the hall. They are making sandwiches, carrying tea, and putting out the bedding. “Welcome to my home” says Joe.

Pray for us.


Steve Hayes said...

And the sad thing is that many Zimbabwean teachers are better qualified than South African ones. We need them to improve our education system, wrecked by 40 years of Christian National Education. It's very sad that the kids are doing that.

Jen Tyler said...

What stands out most to me here is how amazing it is that Dave and Joe - often thought of as "the least of these" - are showing so well the love of Christ. They get it. My prayer is that their "Christian" neighbors will soon get it to, so that their services might not even be necessary.

Keep up the good work. I'm praying for you from afar.