In this week’s episode Lydia shares a dramatic testimony from the Venter family’s early mission years during a time of turmoil in Kenya
The year was 2008. Life in Kenya – as we knew it – looked different, even after the post-election violence started to subside. More than a thousand people had died and about half a million people had been displaced.
The devastation was all around us. We opened our school to people who needed a place to stay, but we could only do so much. We tried to minister to the local people about forgiveness, but our words got lost in the wind of fear, bitterness, anger and resentment. One person challenged us openly, telling us that we’d not lost anything during that time, and therefore didn’t know what they’d gone through.
Then something very significant happened which changed this narrative. Something we never thought of or anticipated at the time, but which profoundly affected us and the Kenyan people we served. We were attacked — and now the people who had dismissed our words before had to listen again to how the God of the Bible demands forgiveness, no matter what.
Around the end of February, and beginning of March, there was still such an atmosphere of crime present. Many took advantage of the desperate situation and theft and violence were the order of the day. At 2am on the 12th of March we heard the dogs barking and, because our neighbours sometimes needed help at night with a sick child or a wife who was due to give birth, we thought nothing of it.
Wilco, with only his pyjama shorts on, had already opened the door leading to a small closed-in veranda, when I felt the need to look out of a corridor window. Five men — armed with pangas and “knobkieries” (called “marungu” in Kenya) – were approaching our home.
As I shouted to my husband not to open the veranda door, the men started banging on the window and door, demanding he open them or they would burn down our wooden house. He was still trying to negotiate, when they started breaking down the wooden door. By that time I had rang the alarm to notify our neighbours of our plight.
Everything happened so fast. Four of the men immediately started to attack Wilco, while one man, with a panga held up high, met me coming out of our room. “We want money!!!”, he shouted. With only a hundred Kenyan Shillings in the home (about R13), I replied that we had not money. He then slashed my face with his panga. I didn’t feel a thing and even after seeing blood dripping from my face, I thought that it was just a nosebleed.
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” –John 11:25. That night I experienced the practical application of this verse, because when that guy stood before me, I felt like laughing in his face. At that moment I knew — I mean I KNEW that he couldn’t hurt (the REAL) me and he MOST CERTAINLY couldn’t kill me. Yes, at that moment I saw Heaven — I had this strong inner knowledge that I indeed had already died with Christ (Gal 2:20) and that I was already sitting with Him in heavenly realms (Eph 2:6). What a liberating and profound moment that was.
In the meantime Wilco was fighting like a soldier to protect his family. He recalled afterwards that all he could think of was what he’d learned in the army, that a moving target was harder to hit.
At one point our children Joy and Timothy came out of their room, screaming as they saw Wilco standing in a pool of blood. “Shut up or we kill you!” one of the attackers yelled.
Afterwards Joy told me: “Mummy, we then just went and quietly prayed for you and daddy!” Can a parent’s heart not break into a million pieces because of wanting to have spared your kids such a trauma, while bursting with pride because of seeing their simple faith in Christ?!!
Getting back to the attack on us, at some point I was leaning, exhausted against a wall unit in the sitting room. One of the guys was still demanding money while beating me with his “knobkierie’/‘rungu”. Wilco was still fighting for his, and our lives. Suddenly I felt our copper Indian vase as my right hand brushed against it and I yelled: “I said we have no money!” as I hit him on the head with the vase.
I then ran for the kitchen, closed the door and pushed against it, knowing that if that guy got hold of me, I’d be dead meat. Wilco told me later that the man I had struck was sitting on the lounge floor with his panga between his legs, holding his head. For weeks afterwards I looked out for a man with a big bump on his forehead, LOL. Psalm 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever …”
At the end of the attack I ran outside and found about 15 of our Kalenjin neighbours armed with bows and arrows. Unfortunately, the thugs had somehow become aware of their arrival and had fled. We heard afterwards that one of our neighbours who had heard our siren, had jumped in a tree and started screaming but this had confused other neighbours who first rant to their houses before realising we were in trouble.
One of our dear neighbours took us to hospital. Wilco looked like a war zone, and apparently so did I. It was only in hospital that I saw that one of Wilco’s ears had been cut in half. I felt the Spirit of the Lord coming over me and started confessing the promises of God over his life.
I also remember that when it was my time to be stitched up – because the panga had cut right through my nose up to the bed of my face – I had a serious talk with the young nurse, saying: “Remember, I’m a woman. So you go and find the thinnest needle in this hospital and stitch me up nicely.” And so he did. Unfortunately, when I went back a few months later to thank him, he had already left. May God continue to bless his heart.
So many good things came from that bad experience as many local people started listening to our plea to forgive as Jesus had taught us. It was like suddenly we had gained a certain authority in the Spirit and our words carried much more weight.
However, later I had to work through some major trauma. In the next episode of this series I will share about that and how Abba Father healed and delivered me from depression.
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