1897) Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Image result for south africa necklacing images

Posted May 25, 2018 in the Standing Strong Through the Storm devotional at:  http://www.opendoors.org

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(NOTE:  “Necklacing” was a form of executing political enemies in South Africa in the 1980’s by soaking a tire in oil, placing it around a person’s neck, and setting it on fire.)

     “Get dressed and come along, we have a traitor we are going to necklace.  We have a tire, a bottle of petrol and matches.”  The group of angry youths at the door did not even give their South African youth leader, Julia, a chance to protest.

     Julia’s parents were Christians who tried to raise her in the ways of the Lord.  She rebelled at an early age and mixed with bad friends, abused drink and drugs, and married a man who deserted her.  As a single parent she did her utmost to find a job, but work and food were scarce.

     Julia joined a political party and participated in every gathering in her neighborhood.  Violence, she thought, is the only solution to the country’s and her own problems.  She was soon chosen as leader of a large group of young people who made their presence known in the streets.

     Nevertheless, Julia’s problems were not solved.  Every day was one long struggle to stay alive, to find employment, and to care for her child.  One day, things became too much.  She realized that no person could help.  “Lord,” she prayed in the dark, “if You truly are there, as my parents maintain You are, You must help me now.”

     The Lord answered her prayer.  He laid His hand on this young woman and changed her life.  She would never again be alone without her Heavenly Father who cares for her by her side.  After her repentance she spent much time pondering and praying about her political aspirations and how she would handle her youth group.

     That morning with the youths at her door, Julia got dressed and accompanied them to the man they wanted to execute by necklacing.  Julia says, “I did not say anything.  All that I could do was to pray and ask the Lord, ‘What must I do now?’

     “Fortunately it wasn’t long before I got an answer from the Lord.  I scraped all my courage together, looked at my comrades and said, ‘If there is one of you who has never made a mistake, who is not a “sell-out,” let him fasten the tire around the man’s neck, let him set it on fire.’

   “Not a single one of the young people had an answer.  One by one they silently parted and left me with the man who was to have been executed.  I asked him to help me to carry away the tire and the rest of the things. I never saw him again.

     “I must admit, I was quite afraid that the young people would return to burn down my house.  However, God is great and wonderful because nothing happened.  I am still their leader.”

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John 8:2-11  —  At dawn Jesus appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.  They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

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Dear Lord, grant us your rich grace that the people with us and we with them shall be friendly, kind and gentle to one another, forgive each other from the heart, and endure each others faults and shortcomings in Christian love.  Thus, we may live in peace and unity, as this commandment teaches us and requires us to do.  Amen. 

–Martin Luther prayer to go with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

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