The Restoration Of Shalom. Part 2.

I am finally getting a few moments to sit and focus on my writing. The past four weeks have been intense, to say the least. If you did not get chance to read part 1 of this post please scroll down and have a read, its the post before this one!

What does the restoration of Shalom look like right now for me and my family? Well right now it looks alot like 150 DRC and Burundi refugees!!

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A few months ago we had an uproar of xenophobic attacks around the Durban area. Foreign nationals from all over Africa were targeted by South Africans. Their homes burnt to the ground, their businesses looted and attacked, their bodies beaten and raped.

The Red Cross set up refugee camps and eventually most of the refugees were relocated back into their county of origin. Some were able to return to their SA communities with the aid of the SA government. After 4 months the camps closed one by one until there was only one left, its inhabitants from the DRC and Burundi. Unable to return to their home countries and not safe to go back in the Durban communities they had no where else to go. Eventually the government decided to close the camp and these families were kicked onto the street. They had no where to go, no way of supporting themselves and their families and so for that night they slept on the soccer field that we previously the refugee camp. The following morning the police turned up and arrested all of the adults and social welfare took the children to a government children’s home.

Insert us….. Andrew, Rae, Martin and Vashti… 4 people who decided that this is NOT acceptable. 4 people who are passionate about family and about the restoration of Shalom.

These people, who were now locked up in jail with actual criminals, had done nothing wrong. Nothing other than trying to protect their families and trying to fight for a better life, a life that they deserved.

I called my friend who is an advocate for human rights and a lawyer who fights for the rights of those who have no one to fight for them. She then made some calls and got a number of lawyer friends and mediators on board to help set these people free.

We had to wait the whole weekend with the refugees locked up, with criminals, not being fed, not knowing where their children were. It was an emotional weekend. On Monday morning Andrew and Rae went to the court with the lawyers and managed to talk them into dropping the ridiculous charges of “illegal camping” on the conditions that we provided somewhere for these people to live. So naturally Andrew and Rae said “YES” they can live with us!!!!!

So that night they came home with 150 new family members for us to love on and care for! We had no where for them to sleep, no mattresses, no food, nothing! And that’s how our journey to the restoration of Shalom started.

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The journey has been relatively smooth considering that our village consists of ex child soldiers, victims of rape and abuse, PTSD sufferers and the physically sick. The journey is going to be a long one. Our guests have had a harrowing life so far and now that they are starting to feel safe and loved the healing can begin.

Our village consists of 22 families and a number of singles. All are legal and all have permission to work and study in this country but due to the xenophobia they have lost their jobs. Plumbers, mechanics, brick layers, an aviation engineer, mothers, fathers, students, pastors, grandparents, orphans. We have them all.

They are beautiful amazingly humble and gracious people. Full of love, and as the time goes by, joy.

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We have a split down the middle of Christian and Muslim. Everyone living and working side by side in peace. As I pulled into the farm the other day they had a little church service going. Singing beautiful songs to heaven.

Part of the healing process and to enable us to know our people better we are letting them tell their stories. When we think of the word “refugees” we envision a group of people, starving and living in the middle of Africa in makeshift tents, we tend to forget that they are individuals each with their own stories and own experiences. As we spend time with our people, as we hear their stories, as we fall in love with them, we realize that the healing can only come directly from the throne room of Heaven! There is no way for me to bring healing to an ex child soldier. I don’t have it in me to counsel him to a place of healing, only our Father has the power. I feel so humbled that I get the opportunity to do life with our people. I am blessed daily by their love for me and my family. I would never have thought that I would be the one receiving the blessing and yet every day some how I am blessed.

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We are aiming to start home school with the children next week, we have 64 kiddies that need to be schooled asap. And that’s not even including the teenagers!!! Its a daunting task but we are up for it!

This week we started sending some of our most traumatized for art therapy and we also have one receiving rape trauma counselling, we have more that need the counselling but sadly their English is not good enough and we can not find a French or Swahili speaking counsellor. Please pray that we find an answer for this problem asap as our women desperately need this help.

At this point we are running purely on donations from a number of generous donors. If you would like to join in helping us you can donate to PayPal account downseyluff@aol.com

We do not know how long our people will be staying with us. We do not know what the answer for their situation will be. All we know is that He has called us to help in the restoration of Shalom in their lives. This is just the beginning.  And it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Please continue to lift us up and to lift up our people. As time goes on I will be sharing the stories of some of our people. As I do so please lift them up and pray over their lives.

We love and appreciate you all.

Downs Family. xxx

The Restoration of Shalom. Part 1.

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For the past couple of weeks Shalom has been something that God has been speaking to my heart on. Not just a simple peace that says “yeah it will be okay” but as deep sense of knowing and a physical doing.

What does Shalom mean to me? Peace, well-being, wholeness, community, right relationships, prosperity, safety, spiritual health. To name but a few. All of these things fall under SHALOM.

So if those things add up to Shalom what does it look like to be void of Shalom? What is life like in the absence of Shalom?

Bryant Myers says “Poverty is the absence of Shalom.”

Poverty, injustice, fear of man, fear of government, corruption, violence, broken heartedness, sickness, doubt… the list could go on and on.

These past two weeks we have embarked on a journey of restoration of Shalom. I am going to share the beginning of this journey with you in my next post. For now I want to unpack the revelation of Shalom that Father has shown me over the past weeks.

“Never grow weary in the fight to rescue the most forgotten.” Matthew Barnett.

Jesus tells a tale of restoration of Shalom in Luke 10. We all know the story so well, the tale of the Good Samaritan is known world wide,. Its a story of violence, indifference, compassion and healing. Its the story of how we should treat those in need. You can read the story for yourself in Luke 10 25-37. Go read it now if you don’t know it and then come back and continue reading this post.

What is JUSTICE? Breaking the cycle of brokenness and restoring Shalom. How do we do this? How do we help to bring Shalom to a hurting, broken land? There are 4 things that I have taken from this passage that helps us to be able to become conduits of Shalom.

1. PRAY. Pray that God would open your eyes and heart to the lost and broken. “He saw him” verse 33. This verse reminds me of the scene in Avatar when Jake says to Neytiri “I SEE you” The Na’vi way of saying “I love you”  The Samaritan SAW him. He loved him. He didn’t’ know him but he saw him, loved him.

Pray that you would see people the way that our Father sees them. Pray for compassion. Verse 33 “he had COMPASSION”. Living in an environment where poverty, brokenness and pain is in our faces daily it is easy for us to shut off to it. It is easy to pass the beggar or the prostitute without SEEING them, without giving them a second thought. Our hearts and minds become hardened to their plight. We need to daily seek compassion, gentleness, love. The Samaritan had compassion, he just had it, it was there in him. Its in us too, we just forget. Pray today for Father to reveal that compassion that He has placed in you. Stir it up so that you can then affectively do number 2….

2. DO. “he WENT to him.” Verse 34. His compassion caused him to care for the man in a physical way. Bandaging him, placing him on his mule, taking him to the inn. So many spend their lives waiting for the “CALLING” Waiting to hear the audible voice of God or for a prophetic word from the pastor. I lived for years under the leadership and teaching of Pastor Bill Wilson, seriously one of the greatest men alive! One thing that he taught me, and some of you will not agree with this, is THE NEED IS THE CALL. Pastor Matthew Barnett from the L.A Dream Centre also says “see a need and fill it”.

Has this turned your theology of “calling” on its head? As Nike says “Just do it”

You see someone in need, you hear about a cause, you are confronted by a need, JUST fix it. Just do what you can with what you have. Everyone can do something. Everyone has something to give, something to offer. Its not complicated. JUST DO IT. Buy your neighbour who is a struggling single mother some groceries or offer to babysit so she can go get her hair done (pay for the hair appointment), Visit the old age home and sit and do a puzzle with a resident, take one of the teens from your youth group out for a milkshake and encourage them and be an ear to listen to the things that they are battling with. Go to the homeless shelter and volunteer, go to the hospital and pray for people. There are a million ways that you can “DO”

3. UNDERSTAND. there is a cost. Always. There is a cost to stepping out in love and compassion. Living a life of injustice fighting, caring, bringing Shalom comes at a cost. This is something that prevents people from stepping into the calling/cause that has been placed on their life. Fear is a debilitating emotion. Millions of people have lived lives of mediocrity due to fear. I refuse to fall into that statistic, do you? Are you willing to pay the cost? Are you willing to fight for Shalom? Because the only way to bring the restoration of Shalom is through fighting for the justice of those who can not fight for themselves. Verse 35 “take care of him; and whatever more you spend I will repay you.”  The Samaritan was willing to do and pay what it took to care for this stranger, to bring Shalom to his life.

What are you willing to pay?

4. BE CONSISTENT. Verse 35 “I will come again” The Samaritan committed to the mission of restoring Shalom to the man’s life.  Consistency is the key in bringing justice and Shalom. In any ministry there needs to be a level of consistency. Fight for justice fulfilled. Another Pastor Bill gem ” people don’t care how much you know until the know how much you care.” In my 20 years of ministry I know this to be 100% true. Build relationship without agenda. Love without expectation. Be consistent, be there, all the time BE THERE!

So this is how my life is looking right now. Fighting for Shalom. I will be posting again later with the new adventure that we have been launched into this month….. stay tuned and be BLESSED!!!