In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of murders in South Africa, for instance gang-related murders, murder of children, as well as horrific murders of (mostly white) farmers. All people groups are victims to the violence. These reports are often so emotionally overwhelming that we find it difficult to know how to pray, believing in the sovereignty of God. How should Christians react to the unimaginable pain and violence surrounding us?
…God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,
…has given us the ministry of reconciliation…
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2Co 5:17-20, NKJV)
Here are a few guidelines on how to pray about murder and specifically, the murder of farmers:
- We must never lose focus of the responsibility God has given us as the Church. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ on this earth, before we are citizens of our respective nations. As ambassadors for Christ, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation: reconciling all people to God, and reconciling with each other. Let us therefore take our position as ambassadors for Christ in this matter of murder, and first of all repent that we were not worthy ambassadors, portraying the love to God to all peoples and even loving our enemies. Let us take on the ministry of reconciliation even in this matter.
- The Church’s great commandment through the ages was to proclaim the gospel of repentance from Satan to God, and the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, before we begin to pray regarding this issue of murder, let us repent because of the neglect of this commandment which has caused many peoples in our world to behave in ungodly ways simply because we have not shared this Gospel with them, and many of us as Christians, find it hard to forgive other people for sins committed against us.
- The Church through the ages was the instrument that God used to right wrongs, to correct injustices, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked and to give shelter to the homeless. Let us confess that we have neglected the poor and needy, and have looked often only to our selfish needs and interests. Let us ready ourselves to once again become God’s hands and feet to minister healing to our nation.
- Let us pray for the protection of all farmers and their workers. Often the lives of farm workers are also in danger, especially when they also have something worth stealing.
- Many farmers fear for their lives and put in place ways to protect themselves. Pray that farmers will primarily put their trust in God regarding their protection.
- Many farm workers also live in fear for their lives, disgruntled workers often try to intimidate other workers that want to do their work and put them in difficult situations where they can lose their lives in the process. Pray for trust between farmers and workers to protect one another’s lives and interests.
- Keep praying for positive and effective action by the government to ensure protection for farmers and their workers.
- Pray especially for healing of traumatised farmers and workers who were victims of an attack or murder on the farm. Ask for the ability to forgive and that people won’t take the law into their own hands to avenge the crime. Pray for the physical and emotional healing of people who survived these attacks and for the families affected by it.
- Wherever people of different races live and work together, there is the danger of conflict, prejudice, misunderstanding and racism – especially where there is a history of friction. Pray for brokenness. Pressure groups and political rhetoric fan the flames of racism. It often leads to vengeance and retribution. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal all forms of racism, bitterness, humiliation, victimisation and fear and the way to handle it. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21).
- On certain farms where seasonal workers are employed, there are more often challenges and interpersonal conflict within relationships. Long-term farm workers are also facing pressures and challenges which leads to conflict with the farmers. Pray for God’s intervention that farmers and workers will better understand one another and be able to sort out their differences. Both parties usually feel that they are right and that makes dialogue more difficult. Pray that people will be able to have a meaningful discussion about their bitterness and grievances with one another. Ask that God will intervene and give both parties the ability to forgive and trust one another again.
- Governmental affirmative action continues to be a challenge and farm workers often have unrealistic expectations regarding salary increases. On the other hand, farmers at certain times, earn huge profits, and workers feel that they need to share in the profits. Pray for both farmers and workers to have insight and to look at these issues in a realistic way. Profit and loss in farming is a complex issue and needs to be handled with wisdom. Pray that workers will understand this and that farmers will act justly towards their workers.
- Pray continually for the salvation of farmers and their workers as well as mutual love and respect for one another. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33).
- Pray for Christian farmers to be free of any form of greed, and will not be involved in humiliating or demeaning actions regarding their workers. Pray that farm workers will receive fair compensation for their labour. Pray for Christian farmers to be generous with the resources that God has entrusted to them so that everyone on their farms will benefit from God’s blessings. Pray for workers to be diligent in their responsibilities and obligations and to do their work effectively and responsibly.
- Lastly, let us take a stand in the spirit against the spirit of death and destruction that is destroying our nation: In the Name of Jesus Christ, we as Christians from all ethnic groups, languages and tribes in South Africa, declare that we serve Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. Collectively, we confess that the spirit of death and destruction has invaded our nation through continual racial discrimination and hatred, through unholy traditions and covenants with spiritual forces disguised as cultural practices, and through the neglect of the Church to evangelize South Africa and all her peoples, as well as the foreigners living within our borders. Father God, please forgive us and remove the curse of bloodguilt that is active in our nation. Collectively, we now resist and rebuke the spirit of death and destruction, and command it to let go of those people who are trapped in darkness. Father God, we pray that the Holy Spirit will be poured out in South Africa, so that workers will be thrust into the harvest field, for the salvation of many millions of people, and for the grace of forgiveness to be demonstrated once again in the Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in South Africa. Let your kingdom come, let your will be done in South Africa.