Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is it worth dying for?

Sunday started off a normal, calm, quiet Sunday but ended up quite different. I received a call after church that Anita's father had been shot. Here is their summary of what happened:

Last night after church, Anita’s father was shot. Dick Kelder, besides being my father-in-law, is an elder in our church. He and Mom K. live only a few blocks away from us and are very involved in our lives and the lives of our children.

After our evening service last night (August 13, 2006), most of our congregation stayed and had tea for about a half an hour, as usual. Mom K. (Marlene) had stayed home because she wasn’t feeling well and so Dick left at about 7:15 to go home – just minutes before we also left to put our kids in bed. On our way home, we gave Mom K. a call, she picked up the phone and said, “come over here quickly, your father’s just been shot.” Before we even reached our house, we turned around and went straight to the Kelder home.

When we arrived, amazingly, the police were already there and a number of neighbors were all standing in the street. We jumped out and were told that Dick had been shot in the face, hand and leg (we later found out that he was only beaten in the face and there were only gunshot wounds to his hand and leg). He was lying in the car and losing a lot of blood.

Up to that point, what had happened was that a mechanic friend of the Kelders stopped by to return one of their cars and pick up his vehicle. When Mrs. Kelder let him in the gate, two armed men held them up and tried to take the Kelder’s car. Mom K. ended up with a dislocated finger and some bumps on the head. Ian (the mechanic friend) was shot at, but they missed. Dick started to pull into the driveway while all this was going on. The two men, who had failed to start the car in the driveway, then ran to Dick and told him to get out of the car. When he refused, they evidently hit him in his face with the butt of the gun and then shot him (I later asked Dick why in the world didn’t he just get out of the car and give them the keys. He told me that though he knows he should have, that was just a natural reaction and he has no idea how he could have prepared for the incident).

Though the police had arrived and we were told that an ambulance was on its way, it was too much for us to wait while Dick was losing so much blood. We decided to pull the kids and car seats out of our car and leave them with Anita and Marlene. We then lifted Dick out of his car and put him in the back seat of ours and two police officers escorted us to the hospital. Once we got Dick into the Emergency Room, it was clear that there was no gunshot wound to the head and he was only bleeding from his face because of the bashing he took. The doctor and nurses were able to get to work right away on Dick’s wounds, so I headed back to the house to be with Anita, Marlene, and the kids. It took quite a while to sort out the police reports and phone calls. We also found most of the keys in a nearby storm drain. The robbers had obviously fled on foot and threw them down there as they ran by.

After we locked up the house, we headed down to the hospital where we were met by about a dozen of our friends from church. What a great blessing and encouragement to have our church family standing with us, praying for us, and other flooding us with phone calls and text messages. We can’t say enough times how grateful we are for the church family here in Johannesburg.

We were able to spend some time with Dick and see that he is doing fine. The x-rays revealed that the bullet had exited his leg and it had missed all major arteries and bones. He slept there last night and is due to have surgery on his hand today. His face is very black and blue (with one eye nearly swollen shut) – but he should heal up nicely.

On the way home, we stopped by the Kelder’s to meet a tow truck and we had to have Dick’s car (which was still in the street) towed into the drive way. That went pretty quickly and then Mom K. came home with us. We all got to bed at about 1:00 AM.

Please pray for Dick and his surgery today. Also pray for Marlene and Anita, myself and the kids. Anita is pretty shaken up as she has still been struggling with our hold-up four months ago. It has been difficult for us to sleep well at night – especially for Anita. We are very grateful that God has kept us all safe, and we are even grateful for these trials – which clearly draw us closer to Christ and help us to rely more on Him for true security. But please pray for us, our family, and our church.

Pray especially for wisdom. When trials come up like this, we inevitably face the question – should we move out of South Africa? On the one hand, we (unlike so many here) do have the option of moving elsewhere. Just about any place besides Baghdad or Beirut seems like it would be safer. On the other hand, God is sovereign everywhere and we know that the safest place we can be is following Him closely. It would be very difficult for us to leave the congregation and ministry that He has given us here – but if we stay here, we need to have the mindset that what we are doing here is worth dying for. It is not easy to keep that mindset when so many people around us are being affected on a daily basis from the high crime rate and lack of law enforcement.

In Christ,

Brian, Anita, Ami, and Bradley Biedebach

I have personally been challenged and encouraged by Dick's response to this. When I saw him on Sunday at the hospital, he told me that he had total peace the whole time because he knew God was in control of all of this. When he could have been self focused, he instead was asking others as they entered the room about specific situations in their lives and using his time in the hospital to share Christ with those he came in contact with.

I am often asked why I would choose to come to South Africa when so many are anxious to leave. I have to be honest and tell you that there are times when I am tired of thinking of security and safety but the answer is simple. Its because I believe that what I am doing is worth dying for.


Sam I am said...

incredible and inspiring!

petunia said...

Beth - The Lord is with you and the Lord bless you - "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." Psalm 34:7(KJV)