World Challenge’s partners in this tiny African nation are living through social and political storm while keeping their eyes on God and trusting in his care.
Unrest has gripped Eswatini, as CNN in Johannesburg recently reported, “Military and police patrols are on the streets of the tiny African nation of eSwatini, and opposition leaders are in hiding, they told CNN Tuesday, as the continent’s last absolute monarchy tries to contain pro-democracy protests.”
Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, told reporters, “The government of Eswatini has launched a full-frontal assault on human rights in response to ongoing pro-democracy protests. Dozens of people have been killed for daring to demand that their government respects human rights.”
However, the daily reality for Challenge Ministries Swaziland in the midst of Eswatini’s uprisings has proved to be a little more complex than major news outlets would like to make it seem.
In the Eye of the Storm
The situation in the countryside has been incredibly tense, and a swarm of different parties’ agendas have come into play as protests and riots break out.
“Sadly, the marches have been extremely violent,” our partners wrote to us, “burning and looting every store in their path from small vendors to large shops. We have never seen looting and violence such as this. Initially, there was a hands-off approach to the protests by government security services. The violence, in the absence of a strong presence of security services, forced the security services to step in later to try to curb the violence...
“Our home is in a hot spot. Last Tuesday, we had rocks pelt the gate, and someone even tried to climb it while over 300 protestors gathered to join a large group that planned to burn shops down just a few hundred meters from our home. God protected us, and there was no breach. Amazingly, the gate wasn't even dented.
“Tires and logs were burned all along our road. Kevin [one of our partners] couldn't reach home on Tuesday due to all the violent ‘tolls' on the road. He had people jumping on the car hood, threatening to throw rocks at him. He carries neither money nor wears jewelry. The only way the car got through was because his passenger, a staff member from our worship team, paid the ‘toll’ with his own watch.
“Several of our staff were stuck at the church overnight because the roads were so unsafe to drive. The church and Women's Centre were threatened, but praise God for his protection. No attack came, other than rocks thrown at the Centre gate. The Men's Centre and Hawane Children's Home were on the route planned for the marches on Wednesday, but mercifully God diverted them.”
The fires from the riots have burned down over 1,000 hectares of sugar cane as well as forestland and countless shops, factories, health clinics, office buildings and emergency vehicles, to list only a fraction of the destruction.
Ongoing Prayers for Protection
Throughout all of these recent events, God has surrounded our partners with a hedge of protection. On one day when the protestors were approaching, rain and mist suddenly enveloped our partner’s center and prevented the riot from reaching them again that day. This and other events have been evidence of God’s care for his laborers caught in this ongoing unrest.
The prayers of their brothers and sisters around the world are more important than ever for our partners, as they emphasized in their letter to us.
“Again and again, we have seen God's mercy and protection. We are so, so grateful for all the prayers. We saw the Lord answer as you cried out to him on our behalf. It's been an exhausting week of warfare in the Spirit, and we could not have got through to today without the prayers and encouragement of the saints who lifted us up and held our arms up.
“Please continue to pray for God's will for Eswatini to prevail, for Eswatini to become the pulpit to Africa and beyond through a mighty revival brought through this challenge. May God's wisdom, mercy, peace and protection be poured out upon the leaders and the whole nation.”
Let’s join their prayers with ours and lift them up before the Lord today!