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Keeping our daughters safe

This blog by Pastor Gift is hard to read, it such a searing account, I had to tone it down some. My hope in sharing it is that the reality of what so many young Swazi women face will motivate us to action. Morgan also shared the story here. Teri Frana wrote the reflection at the end.   …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
This blog by Pastor Gift is hard to read, it such a searing account, I had to tone it down some. My hope in sharing it is that the reality of what so many young Swazi women face will motivate us to action. Morgan also shared the story here. Teri Frana wrote the reflection at the end.
Phumzile, a shop keeper from the small
grocery shop across the street comes running into the house as if
something is after her. “Pastor, they have sent me to call you. Maswane
is very sick and they need your help”, she announces.
We immediately stop playing and
rush for the Matsenjwa homestead. We find this 19 year-old girl writhing in
pain and her grandmother begins to tell us what is wrong with her. Maswane has a terrible skin
problem. Her skin looks like a rough snake or lizard skin and has sores
that are full of abscess all over the body. I gave her antibiotics and pain tablets. When she looked calm and
settled I talked to her.
“Tell me Maswane what happened to you when you were young?” I asked. 

“Pastor, I have been
meaning to talk to someone about this before I die. When I was almost
six years-old, in the year 2000, I was raped by my cousin. It
happened right here in this house. Everyone was away and I was not
schooling then. He came to the house early in the morning and he raped
me. The issue was reported to the police and I was taken to Saint
Philips clinic for examination. But to this day nothing has happened to
my cousin Zakhele. I hear he has done a similar thing to another five
year old. They even say he is now on the most
wanted police list because he raped an older woman.
Pastor, there is something
else I must tell you. Not only Zakhele raped me, but also my uncle. He died in December after a long illness.
I think I got HIV from my uncle. I have only one wish now, to see
Zakhele, my cousin, paying for his sins. My uncle is dead and I cannot
do anything about it now. However, can you help me pastor make sure the
police find Zakhele and put him in jail?”

It’s hard to stomach the reality that this is not an isolated incident.  This type of abuse happens more often than they can measure in Swaziland where the rapist is seldom prosecuted.  If HIV/Aids is contracted during the rape, the perpetrator may spend some time in prison, but it is often only a few years. 

Parents and grandparents often must leave young children alone while they go find out, food, or medical care.  Their children are left vulnerable to attack so the family can survive.  They know the risk of involved of contracting HIV/Aids, but must think of the immediate dangers of starvation and other disease.  It’s an awful choice for any parent to have to make. 

As I contemplate this, I’m struck with two distinct thoughts; first, I take so much for granted living in America where my biggest fear for my daughter is a skinned knee.  Forgive me, Lord.   Secondly, I’m speechless as I try to comprehend children living in that type of environment.  How could you possibly keep your daughters safe?  It’s unfathomable.

Where do you even begin to address all these issues? I really don’t know what to do, but maybe the first thing we need to do is to become aware of this tragedy. 

Secondly, we need to pray.  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18

Please pray for these children.  Pray for the perpetrators.  Pray for the families.  Pray for Pastor Gift.  Pray for a miracle.  Pray for the community.  Pray for healing, comfort, safety, and Christ to be glorified in the midst of the pain.  Pray for provision for the medical care needed for Grace ($70 per month).  And consider giving to help us protect these children.

Last night, I held my daughter a little tighter before she went to bed.  Then I prayed for God to show us all how to help hold these children a little tighter too. 

Comments (9)

  • Seth,

    The story of course is horrific and falls into the morass of sadness characterizing certain nations around the world–in this case Swaziland. One of the things that you may want to consider is that North Americans and Western Europeans are particularly prone to be victims of something called “psychological reactance theory”. In studies such as Buller, Borland & Burgoon 1998″, the principle is articulated through research that there exists a threshold where “appeals which are graphic in nature can actually create a boomerang effect” where an individual discounts the pain, sadness or consequence used in a call to action.

    This has been proven true in some of the research of anti smoking campaigns where individuals for example were shown pictures of cancerous lungs and the like. The net effect was to create a resistance to change or action. The graphic nature of the appeal can actually cause people to retreat and build higher walls for their citadel of indifference.

    So why do I mention this?

    In a world of suffering we need to make needs and opportunities known and then rest in the reality that ultimately God is the One who moves the hearts of people to give, pray and volunteer their gift of time.

    The battles to mobilize mind share and passionate pursuits are won and lost on the warring plains of the prayer lines.

    And it is in the clash of the titans (The Living God and the evil one) that change occurs, hearts are melted, purse strings are loosened and even corrupt legal systems create protection for young girls so savagely violated.

    I’m praying.

  • Oh my Lord, the poor girl. And the thousands like her. No wonder the sufferings of Christ were so extreme as He carried the weight of all of this, every event and sin throughout time. It’s unimaginable.

    Looking up above my desk as I write, my eyes rest on the painting of Charlie Mackeys’s The Prodigal Daughter. Check it out online if you have never seen it. I can see the tenderness of Jesus as He holds the girl and carries her home. And He’s always the same God, heartbroken and strong, able to save. May the arms He calls to give His embrace to these girls give it freely.

  • Psychological reactance has to do with perceived freedoms.

    In the case of smoking: imagine a good intentioned person telling his friend who is a smoker, “You CAN’T smoke because it will kill you, just look at this picture of this blackened lung!”

    Now, the psychological reactance the smoker may feel may run something like this, “You can’t tell me what I can and can’t do! It’s a free country, I’m a free man, I won’t be bossed around! I won’t be coerced to adhere to your narrow mindset! In fact, you’re insinuating that I’m dumb! Well, I’m not dumb, I have a college degree and a high paying job and…” you get the point.

    Of course, we can instantly see that the smokers’ thinking is silly. If he were WISE, he would heed the warning and ignore his feelings of resentment for being told what to do.

    Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

    Now, regarding the story posted today, what freedom was Seth challenging? On the surface, none. But the underlying message is that – in the face of such worldwide need – us Christians ought to be giving up our lives for a higher cause and sacrificing to help make a difference!

    In a sense you’re right Butch, I for one DO react to that message. I don’t want to go serve, I don’t want to give time, I don’t want to give resources, I don’t want to self-sacrifice, I really don’t want to do anything except what makes ME comfortable. That’s the sad state of my condition. 🙁

    Jesus says, “Take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow me” and “he that would save his life will lose it, but he that loses his life for my sake will find it.” When I read these statements I react! My psychological reactance is high! I want to be in charge!

    Similar to the example of the man being warned about smoking though, Jesus has our best interest in mind. Smoking isn’t near as serious as our sins are. It’s like they say, “Smoking won’t send you to hell, it’ll just make you smell like you’ve already been there.” But rejecting Jesus will have the consequence of hell with eternal separation from God.

    So all in all, I personally want people to “lay it on thick” regarding the needs out there. I need to know, to be reminded, to be jostled from my complacency, to be kicked in the seat of the pants. The feelings of resentment I may feel are just one more area God needs to deal with in me.

  • Just had this vision of praying a hedge of protection around those little huts in Swaziland, and for angels to guard their entrance…maybe we should try doing that in our minds eye each day – God knows which homes need to be covered with that prayer!!!

    I am guilty for not praying enough for Swaziland…Pastor Gifts blog always reminds me how much more I should be covering that country and those sweet children in prayer!

  • After reading this blog I got to thinking.. Especially after you sent out the mandate to pray.. What if things started turning around if we focused our prayer on the perps? It seems way more familiar to pray for safety for the victims, but in that we’re not really addressing the root! And until men and women are freed from perversions and lusts we will always have the issues of rape and other sexual crimes! Jesus told us to not only love those who love us back, but to love our enemies… So what if we started praying more for the men and women with sexual addictions and those who committ these crimes? Perhaps if we began praying into the root, we’d see some real change!?!

  • Amen Jenny & Ericka – prayer on behalf of both is in order. I have been shocked and appalled to see how prevalent sex/love abuse and addiction are – both here in the US and abroad. Oftentimes in the people right in our very midst. While it’s easy to point the finger, the truth of the matter is they (we) are just as well living out the abuse that happened to them (us) … men continuing to perpetrate it on women and/or children and women back on men/boys and oftentimes on same sex because we’ve never really been set free of the many lies this experience emblazoned on our hearts in childhood. Prevention is the best goal, of course – and by all means, give generously if there is a way to protect children from this terrible scourge . . . but for the millions (and I do mean, MILLIONS) of women like Maswane for whom that is no longer possible, I pray the ministry of Beauty For Ashes can help bring God’s healing freedom to their heart and mind.

  • I totally agree with Jenny, that we need to be praying more for God to transform the hearts of the perpetrators. It is heart-wrenching to read about Maswane, yet I know there are hundreds of women and girls in the same situation in Swaziland. I struggle with knowing that rape and incest is common in their culture, and seeing first hand so many who are dying of HIV because of it! I think I need to just trust God’s promise, Ps.22:24 “He has not hidden his face from them and he has listened to their cry for help”. I have been asking God to show us, how can we be more faithful to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy and deliver them from the hand of the wicked”? I just struggle with wondering if it is enough to give and pray?

  • I agree with you Wendy. I’m so glad that you are praying that prayer, “asking God to show us how can we be more faithful to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed,” etc. Keep praying that…and share what God is telling you!!! I want to know!

    So…let’s also be aware of the needs of our young friends in America. Alot of children here are experiencing the same wrong treatment.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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