this is not ok.

I don’t quite have the words to express how I’m feeling right now. I don’t have the words to explain what I just witnessed, but I feel compelled to write, compelled to communicate what is happening so close to home, for many of us.

Everyone knows there’s gang fight in Manenberg, there always has been, it’s almost boring, right? At least that’s how it seems. But there is a war going on in Manenberg that is SO evil, SO unfair…so destructive to an entire community, and yet no one is taking any notice.

I’m calling the church to pray.

I don’t normally like to write so openly about Manenberg’s messiness, but we need you. We need you to know what’s going on.

On Monday morning, I woke up to a message, “be careful coming in today, there’s been heavy shooting this morning”. Great, no better way to start your week than a backdrop of gunshots. I got into the office as shooting broke out. Two of our staff members pulled up in the middle of the shooting and had to make the decision whether it was safer to sit in their car or make a run. They ran…cars really aren’t that safe, and in that split second where a decision was made, the thought also passed by “‘shit, I haven’t written my will yet”.

All a bit shaken, we had a check-in and began to worship. Let me tell you, there’s nothing sweeter than God’s presence when there is gang fight, and God meets us, we need him, we know we do, and it’s in that place of utter dependence we find our reserve to make it through the day. Worship and shooting continued for about an hour, continuously, and as the gunshots finally petered out, so we allowed our worship to draw to a close – energised and ready for the day, and thankfully, the rest of the day was quiet.

where it's all going down-not so picturesque today

where it’s all going down-not so picturesque today

Today one of my colleagues got half way to work only to be told to go no further, a lady had just been shot. In between moments of shooting, she ran to work and got safely to the office. We’re learning to become more aware of trauma and what it can do to our bodies, so we did a body scan and released a bit of adrenaline through dance…

We began the set-up of our 24-7 prayer room which is kicking off on Sunday. Outside we see a bunch of women start to salvage all the metal and “steal-able” items from building site of one of the blocks of flats across the way from our office where refurbishments have been abandoned because of gang fight.

A couple of hours later I find myself alone at the office working on relatively boring stuff…

I hear a commotion from outside – I look out the window to see close to 100 people out on the street, most of whom are young, male gangsters facing off at one another, with the same bunch of women and a few more mums and aunties joining in. The press are there with cameras.

The noise turns into shots, the police are there, they have their weapons out, the gangsters normally don’t shoot when the police are present, but all of the normal “rules” seem to have gone out of the window… In all the gang fights I’ve witnessed, I’ve never actually seen the police have to use their weapons, they are now driving their vehicles with one gun-filled hand pointing out the window. For the next 20 minutes this chasing of young men continues, the community pointing the police in all directions – I’m not totally convinced they’re helping. The press stands on the road and takes photos – he doesn’t seem to be afraid.

While this is happening, aware that one of my colleagues is out visiting our girls, I call her to tell her to stay put, she can’t walk this side anymore, another colleague is trapped between two places of shooting and is having to reverse the car up and down roads to find safety. He finally arrives back, visibly shaken and frankly, we’re both over being there for now. We close up office and move our work elsewhere.

IMGP0160All of our prayer weeks have had gang fight connected to them, we’re used to that, but for the first time in the history of 24-7 in Manenberg, I find myself questioning whether we should cancel it, or move it. Maybe this is the weakness of my flesh crying out, well, it definitely is that…but it is also the fact that THIS IS NOT OK. We know and believe that our call is to pray, and we will pray, we will pray our way back to hope, back to the face of Jesus, back to a joy that sometimes looks like laughing at the devil but sometimes looks like weeping until we can find Jesus again, but what happens on earth? We can only hope.

Hope with us. Stand with us. Let’s get the worldwide church praying with us, for Shalom for this community, knowing that this is but one community in Cape Town with the same issue. Pray that the gangs not yet involved don’t join in, pray for revival. Pray that guns would jam, pray that the heavens would open and some sort of rain would come and cleanse evil away, pray for safety. Pray that we as a team would know peace, find joy, and learn what it means to be fearless…

The answer is Jesus, and a church willing to cross the lines and love and love and love

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8 responses to “this is not ok.

  • Linda Trevitt

    Thank you for this Clare, have just been praying for you, will pray for psalm 46 to feel esp certain xxx

  • Katy

    Wow – what an amazing place to be praising and worshipping God! I will be praying for you all as your prayers change the atmosphere in that city x

  • Naomi

    Standing with you in prayer.
    We are not fighting against flesh and blood but against powers of evil…
    Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT)
    ‘A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.’

  • Pete

    Amazing God given courage. I pray that Angels will surround you and that you will see them. I pray for wisdom to know when to move and when to stay no matter where our Heavenly Father sends us He pours out His love through us into buildings and on the street. Some things are for a season and I pray that He will show you how long this season is
    God bless you men and woman of God

  • Jackie Whyte

    We need to realise that ‘its not ok’ more often everywhere, so thank you Clare for such a stark awakening. This world can be (is) a heart breaking place to be in, and yet Jesus came to us in order to fix us and put his kingdom to work here through us. Praying that you will hear God’s directing regarding 24/7 this week, also that each of you will enter His rest as you continue to do His work in the power of His love.

  • wechoemangt

    Reblogged this on tsholofelo wechoemang and commented:
    I am a proud South African, but it is the plight of towns and communities like these that may make people outside of this country wonder why… but outside of all that is happening in this country I thank God that I live in a country where I still have the freedom to pray.

    Prayer changes everything. Stand in prayer and watch God change the violence. WATCH HIM exchange the hatred for love… He has done it with Apartheid, and I believe He can do it again with the ills that we face even within the sphere of our democracy.

    Pray for peace. Pray for love. Pray for God to be in our hearts.

  • lydieannehampson

    Strength and peace….Keep worshipping…xxx

  • Marvin

    We gave this church crap a chance to tackle gangsterism ,and its getting worst ,these pastors is all in business with these scum ,its time to bring back death penalty ,and discard this church crap

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