We Are Not Afraid of God’s Face
In the wake of the horrific rape and murder of Anene Booysen, Nathalie Koenig chatted to the women at Sisters Incorporated to hear what they had to say about the abuse of women in this country.
I once asked God to show me His face. It was one of those repeated pleas – “Show me your face Lord. Showmeyourfaceshowmeyourface”. And He showed me the faces of some children I knew. Women I knew. Friends. Family members. Now looking at a snapped ID photo of Anene Booysen, I’m unsettled by the earnestness of her expression. And am asking again for God to show me His face. And I think that He is.
On 2 February, 17-Year old Anene Booysen was gang-raped and mutilated in Bredasdorp. She died later in hospital, after identifying one of her attackers. (For the full story, click here)
Upon reading or hearing of Anene’s story, many of us may have been shocked or saddened, but how many of us would have responded with the thought “It could have been me”?
This was one woman’s response at Sisters Incorporated. Sisters Incorporated, one of Common Good’s partner organisations, is a shelter in Kenilworth that provides a place of safety and healing to vulnerable women. The residents of Sisters all have stories, as do countless other women in our city, and our nation.
Anene’s story is not one that stands alone.
“It’s not just this story. There are young kids, babies… that are raped and killed,” said one woman.
“Even inside our homes, our children are raped. By our brothers. Our uncles. We don’t know where to run. We are scared even to go the police because they also rape us” said another.
How does one respond to these kinds of comments? Do we wring our hands in desperation? Do we call the justice system to question? Write to the papers?
Or do we shake our heads, sigh… and then carry on with life? Do we continue to allow ourselves to believe that we’re powerless?
Perhaps we should start taking this woman’s words to heart:
“Stop being ignorant and acknowledge the stuff that’s going on around us. These are our children. Who’s going to run the future? This is reality. Some people will say ‘Ag shame, did you hear that? Did you see that?’ But what if it was your child? I might not have that pain, but I know what it’s like to be in her shoes”
But what if this was your child. With Kingdom perspective, is this an ‘if’ scenario?
“This is happening because we’re not afraid of God’s face. How can you kill a human being? Even a dog? It’s been created by God. Your child is my child. Nowadays there’s no more love.”
We’re not afraid of God’s face. These words struck a chord in me. The perpetrators of these crimes are not afraid of God’s face. But are we afraid of God’s face? Reflected in the eyes of Anene Booysen? Or the eyes of every woman who has suffered similar injustices?
Have we taken these words to heart?
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Or even more challenging… these?
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:45)
“Your child is my child” – These could have been words spoken by Jesus himself. And I’m sure He would have reversed them too: My child is your child.
Are we afraid of God’s face?
We can’t allow women to feel that there is no more love nowadays.
We can’t allow stories like that of Anene Booysen to paralyse us.
We can’t remain ignorant of what’s going on around us.
We need to acknowledge the pleas of these voices. And the bigger call from our King to love Him, and love His people. To do for the least of these what we’d do for Him, and to remember that what we don’t do for the least of these, we don’t do for Him.
Here are some ways you can respond:
– March to Parliament. If you read this in time, join in here
– Be bold. Stand up. Speak up. Raise your voice. (Especially if you’re a man. We need to hear from the good and Godly men of this country!)
– Pray. The crisis of violence against women in this country needs supernatural intervention.
– Support organisations that support vulnerable women, such as Sisters Incorporated.
– Sign this Avaaz petition.