A friend of ours was murdered recently.

I still can’t believe it.  

He ran a metal recycling company and was down by a secluded river when a group of 20+ people approached.  The mob attacked him and his colleague and brutally beat the two men.  To death.  And then later burned their bodies.

I feel horrible even writing that paragraph.

But it happened.


Was it because our friend was Zimbabwean?

Was it because he had a successful business?  Jealousy?

Was it simply a case of “wrong place, wrong person?”

Whatever the motive, we will most likely never know.

What we do know is that he is gone and has left a young widow and two toddler children in the wake.

In South Africa, violence is commonplace.  We seem to have become immune to it.  We were having lunch with a friend from the UK the other day, and my children were talking about how  much they like to read the newspaper.  “And this week, there was only one murder in our newspaper,” they excitedly told her.  Our tiny little town’s paper often is full of violent crime to report and my kids “love” to read it (Not so much for the crime, but they like to look for pictures of their friends, teachers, etc.)  Usually I try to scan the weekly paper before they get their hands on it, in case there is something particularly gruesome – and then I can conveniently “lose” the paper before they read it.

Violence is normal.

In the community of Bhekulwandle, where Seed of Hope is located, there is an organisation called the Community Policing Forum (CPF.)    The South African Police Service has its own issues – which I won’t go into here – and the CPF is a grassroots community organisation that exists in most rural township areas to help deal with the crime.

If a criminal is caught, they are not taken to the police.  The CPF takes the situation into their own hands.  And in our community, it is common place for the CPF to physically beat a criminal.  This year they have beaten to death 4 criminals.

Violence is taught as the way to deal with problems.  Those 4 men were criminals.  They needed punishment, but it was exacted in a way that teaches “take the matter into your own hands.”

Seed of Hope is teaching different values.  Counter-cultural values.  Values that teach us to honour and respect all humanity.  We pray that as the children we teach and interact with daily grow up, we will see the violence decreasing and peace descend upon this nation.  And we are already getting glimpses of these changes happening in the children who attend our programs – children who are learning how to repair the broken relationships they have with humanity, with creation and with our Creator.

It is because of brokenness that atrocities such as this occur.

And we are heartbroken.

So for our friend who lost his life.  We pray for restoration.  We pray for something beautiful to come out of something horrible.   We pray for your wife and children.  And trust that your children will grow up in a world that they do not have to fear what is around the next corner, but rather know and understand true freedom.

Hope for the future…

10 Responses to Commonplace
  1. les henderson Reply

    you are doing wonderful things there. God bless you and keep up the good work.

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you so much!

  2. Daw Reply

    We found out this week, 3 friends of our neighbour had gone out for the evening (the neighbour was suppose to go but couldn’t) and had called a cab on the South side but he didn’t want to do a one way trip to the west end so they called Uber. A car drove up to the curb were they were and rolled down the window and when they asked if it was the Uber car, 4 Somali guys jumped out and beat them. They survived but one needs reconstructive face surgery around one eye from the stomping and kicking and another is quite bad. This happened a couple weeks ago. It is horrifying that people just doing their own thing, minding their own business and even taking someone along for safety can still be gone in an incident at the hands of other humans . So sorry for your loss. There is so much pain in this world and you are doing your share to balance the scales.

    • Michelle Reply

      Simply awful. We can all try to make a difference in the corner of the world where God has us. :-)

  3. Jess Reply

    This is heartbreaking. Violence and common place should not be in the same sentence. Seed of Hope is exactly where it needs to be. Thank you and your family not because of what you do for the community but because you have immersed yourselves into it, you are now apart of it. You feel as it feels. And I am sure they see that. So when you teach different values than what they have always known, they will look up hear you and listen. May God’s Love shine down on the widow and children and you and yours. XXX

    • Michelle Reply

      Dear Jess. Thank you sweet friend for your kind words and prayers.

  4. Gerry & Donna Reply

    Oh Michelle – what a price we pay for living in a world that suffers from the absence of God – you know that we love you so much for all you are willing to do for the people of SA – hard to hear that your role as a Mother includes screening your paper as you try to protect your children’s hearts!
    Please know that we are praying for you all daily. God bless – hope this is one of those wonderful days!

    • Michelle Reply

      Thank you so very much for your prayers. And for being a faithful supporter and reader on my blog. It means so much to know that people back “home” have not forgotten you and are tracking with you. So grateful… :-)

  5. Ruth Reply

    The scripture verse comes to my mind, “I would have lost heart but I DO believe that I WILL SEE the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
    So sorry for the unnecessary and senseless loss. Joining you in prayer that God will pour out His goodness on your “land”.

    • Michelle Reply

      What a special verse to claim for this land. Thank you, dear friend! Love you loads!!

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