June 19, 2020

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently declared, “Violence against women and children is another pandemic in South Africa.”  The past few months have seen a sharp increase in the abuse of women and children, some of these cases have resulted in death. There have also been a number of deaths related to police brutality while enforcing lock-down curfew.  It’s been a tough time for South Africa, with unemployment and malnutrition also reaching new limits.

Meanwhile, our hearts certainly go out to the #blacklivesmatter struggle in the U.S., which gained strength after George Floyd’s death.  The struggle against the systemic and institutionalized oppression of black people through policies, attitudes and behaviors has been going on for too long.  We pray that the long-overdue changes can start to be seen in policy and mindset.

In South Africa, apartheid is not a distant memory in people’s minds, where people were legally separated and differentiated according to the color of their skin.  The pain of injustice is a wound that is still raw here.

COVID, lock-down, hunger, police brutality, racial injustices, gender-based violence…it is all so much, and enough to make one feel helpless.  Except we serve a God who cares deeply about injustice, and He prompts us to action.  We can examine our own hearts, ask God and others for forgiveness, and ask God what we can do.

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

Micah 6:8

The one thing we can do during this trying time is to feed the hungry.  There are so many hungry people in South Africa.  Every time I go to the store, I am confronted by people asking for food or money.  We started making sandwiches and distributing them in the nearby township where basic amenities (water, food, plumbing) are limited and overcrowding is common.

A friend of mine then decided he would donate money to us to increase our food distribution efforts.  Alberto enlisted the help of a prison ministry partner.  Together they bought, bagged and distributed over 80 bags of groceries to needy prison families.  Prison families, families with a member in prison, are at high risk of going hungry because they are often ostracized by their communities, and employment is hard to come by.

I shared the above picture of Alberto and friend with the bags of groceries on facebook, and more people decided they wanted to donate.  We are embarking on a third round of grocery distribution to prison families.  Please contact me if you would like to contribute.

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During level 5 of lock-down, we could only leave the house for groceries or medical care.  Level 4 brought exercise time from 6-9 am.  Stores closed early and curfew was enforced (often brutally, as I mentioned).  Level 3 has allowed us to exercise at any time and our curfew has now ended.  We still cannot gather socially, but people are going stir-crazy so they do gather, often without masks.  It’s all very concerning since our peak is not expected until next month.  Cape Town is the epicenter for South Africa, and for the entire African continent!

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Prisons are still closed to visitors, but Alberto is able to maintain contact with ex-prisoners and their families through encouraging texts and food donations.

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Margaret in particular was having a very hard time in isolation away from her classmates and friends.  We finally invited Savannah to come and quarantine with us.  She has been with us for a few weeks already, and is a huge blessing.

Margaret finished 10th grade last Friday.  She is relieved!  The virtual classroom was challenging for her, but she did great academically.  Now she is just waiting for her AP Psychology grade.  She is also adjusting to a new ADHD medication.

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Phoebe seems to be thriving at home, surrounded by all of us.  (I’m also enjoying it!)  Her school closed their doors in March and have no plans to reopen this year.

Meanwhile, Phoebe and I both got very sick last week.  We both had terrible stomach aches that radiated throughout our bodies.  Phoebe also had a low-grade fever for a week, a resulting cold-sore infection in her mouth, and was generally weak.  I must say, the pain I endured was one of the worst in my life.  I would have taken us both to the ER if COVID weren’t such a risk.  But, praise God, we are on the mend.

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Ana is doing great in Australia, so that is a relief and blessing!  You can read her latest update here.

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Isaac finished his semester at Messiah College.  You may remember he was allowed to stay in the college dorms due to his international student status.  He thought it better to stay there, rather than with my parents, who are at high-risk for COVID due to their age.  At the end of the semester, he was hoping to be a camp counselor at Camp Brookwoods in NH.  As a back-up plan, he found work at Messiah College.

Through unavoidable situations, however, he now finds himself without either job.  On June 1, Camp Brookwoods said they were legally allowed to continue with camp.  Therefore, Isaac quit his Messiah job and bought a ticket to NH.  Shortly thereafter, Camp Brookwoods said that they would not be able to open camp after all, due to the restrictions placed on them by the state.  So, Isaac found himself jobless and homeless, because he had to leave the dorms as soon as his college employment ended.  He is now staying with a friend in the area until he can make a plan C.

Prayer Requests

*For people to turn to Jesus
*For us to be a light in the darkness
*For protection for the people of South Africa, especially those in tight quarters like the prisons
*For an end to gender-based violence in this country
*For healing and change to result from the unrest in the U.S.
*For COVID to end
*For protection of front-line workers, and all of you
*For Margaret’s school vacation
*For Phoebe’s protection during the pandemic
*For Ana in her various ministries
*For Isaac’s plan C for the summer