Every Nation Xenophobic Attacks: Response
South Africa has once again been faced renewed xenophobic attacks. Xenophobia is a deep-rooted, irrational hatred or fear towards foreigners and in recent days this hatred has been expressed through violence in the streets of Durban, KwaMashu and Johannesburg. People who are not from South Africa are being criminally victimised and attacked, their shops looted, and their very lives threatened. Innocent people are being forced to stay at home, to miss work, miss school and to walk very carefully through the streets of our nation.
Xenophobia in South Africa has socioeconomic as well as sinful roots. We live in a society grappling with massive inequality, deep poverty and high unemployment. These are real issues touching millions of lives. Criminal elements then step in to piggy-back on these issues, using xenophobia as an excuse to steal from others.
So yes, there is a problem and this is a problem that we as the church need to help address. God calls us not only to see lives saved, but to see communities transformed as we bring God’s ways and will into all of society.
Lawlessness and violence is not the answer. Attacking the stranger in our midst is a terrible sin and we cannot simply ignore this crisis.
OUR BIBLICAL RESPONSE
God frames our response to the stranger in our midst in His Word:
“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21)
“… if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers for ever.” (Jeremiah 6:6-7)
“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34)
God very clearly commands us to not do wrong to the stranger or alien among us. Indeed we are exhorted to treat them as our “native-born”. As Christians we are also strangers here on earth as our home is in heaven. As a result, this should give us an even deeper understanding and heart for the other strangers among us.
In the New Testament Jesus very clearly exhorts us to “love our neighbours” as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Loving our neighbour includes protecting them, caring for them and seeing them succeed. Love means that we do not remain silent nor turn a blind eye. Love means that we stand up for what is right and true. Love means that we show God’s love into our communities and neighbourhoods and bring faith where there is fear, hope where there is despair and righteousness where unrighteousness prevails.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?
As we contemplate the events rippling through our nation, how should we respond?
- Pray for our nation
We are exhorted in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We need to pray for the leaders of our nation, for those who have been impacted by xenophobia and for those living in fear. We also need to pray for wisdom to ensure that the root causes of xenophobia can be dealt with in the right way and in the right context. This is a spiritual battle for the soul of our nation and we need to rise up in our hearts and intercede for our nation.
- Do something
Edmund Burke is known to have stated: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We need to do something. We need to trust God for ways to speak into this situation, to bring truth and righteousness, to speak truth and to fight the fears and the lies.
- Defend and care for the victims
As far as possible and as far as within our power, we need to defend and care for the victims of these events. We need to support the strangers among us during this time. We need to provide practical assistance where we can to support those displaced by these events.
- Be agents of reconciliation
God has reconciled us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. He calls us to similarly be agents of reconciliation – drawing people to Him and to each other and loving those around us no matter where they come from, or what their race, culture, ethnicity or gender is.
- Work harder to bring God’s will and way into our society
We need to work together and more proactively to bring God’s way and will into all of society. He has called us to bring His life giving power into our lives, into our communities and into our nation. We need to be speaking more and growing together through debate and dialogue rather than allowing fears and failures to draw us apart. As believers, we are called to take the lead in bringing societal transformation. We are called to positively impact our worlds.
We thus have every reason to stand up as believers against such wrong-doings in our nation.
We as a nation have often been described as a “rainbow nation”. Our rainbow is hurting right now. Nelson Mandela in his inaugural address on 9 May 1994 stated that: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…“.
Let’s rise up as a believers to be agents of change – let us STAND TOGETHER.
IN NEED OF HELP?
|As a Church we would like to express our condolences to the victims and families impacted by these events. We are committed to standing with those who have been impacted by these xenophobic attacks. If you are struggling and need assistance please contact your His People or Every Nation church office.|