When our family was in the States earlier this year, one of the most frequent questions we answered centered upon living in “crime-ridden, violent and chaotic South Africa.” It is unfortunate that when news of any country hits the newswires, sensational, damaging and unnerving information is what is most often broadcast to the world.
It is true. South Africa is besieged by crime, violence and chaos.
v 5900 crimes are reported by the SAPS (South African Police Service) everyday
v Murder in South Africa is 36.5 per 100 000. The world average is 7.6 per 100,000 people
v 40,000+ South African residents die every year in vehicle accidents; 8.5% of South African’s total population (retrieved from CrimeStatsSA)
I could go on. However, the point of my blog post is not to concern or worry you.
My point is to say that there is no safe place in the world. Whether living in the United States, South Africa, Japan, Switzerland, Peru, Australia, Canada or Iraq or Syria, terrible things happen everywhere; to all kinds of people.
Have we experienced crime in South Africa?
In fact, for our resident mission team of six families, we have experienced four crime-related incidents (three house robberies/burglaries and one stolen ministry vehicle) in less than a year. One of these burglary events happened last week. It is disheartening. It is discouraging. It is unnerving. However, there is no one….no one…that we know in South Africa who hasn’t experienced some kind of undeserved wrongdoing as well.
Some would say of our team that we must be doing something ‘right’ to be experiencing so many attacks. We respectfully disagree. We are no different than any other South African citizen or resident who has suffered the same kind of imposition, damage and loss. Bad things happen; to everybody.
Just because we are missionaries does not mean we will ever receive a proverbial “get out of jail” card in the game of life we live in South Africa. Seriously. Problems and difficulties come to us all. All we have to do is get in our cars and drive and we have almost a ten percent chance of being killed on the South African roadways.
So where are the hope, beauty and blessing in this?
I find it in my God Most High. I find my true residence in Him.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2 NIV
However difficult, unnerving, worrisome or dangerous our circumstances in life may be, we can have peace, security and rest as we draw near our God. When we choose to live in communion with our God, our hearts and minds are safe and secure.
Matthew Henry wrote, “It is the character of a true believer that dwells in the secret place of the Most High; he is at home in God, returns to God, and reposes in him as his rest.”
Friends, let’s be real. Life is hard. Really, really hard. If we are placing our trust and security in anything or anyone (even ourselves) other than God Most High, life is going to be even more difficult for us. Yes, we know of people who aren’t seeking God and seem to be doing just fine. Yet, self-sufficiency does not last forever. At some point, all of us are presented with a choice; God or self.
What I can say for myself is that I have chosen to seek my rest, my fellowship and my security and protection in my God. I have found Him to be all-sufficient in everything; yes, everything.
By focusing upon my God, I do not focus upon the dangers or worries of the country in which I live. Instead, I experience the love and warmth of the South African people and the glorious and diverse beauty of the South African landscape. Crime is bad here. But I will not forget, nor will I ignore the truth that God Almighty is here and reigns over this land with His power, His authority and His love. I love living here. My family and my team do too. We choose to trust in our God who is here.
As the psalmist wrote during a time of extreme danger, “I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
It is my prayer that wherever you are in the world, you will say with confidence, “My God is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust. My God is here, too.”
Photo by Null Value of Flickr