We all know the famous story in Judges 7 where many Israelites rose to confront the Midianites. God said to Gideon that they were to many and Gideon had to send those that were afraid home. God then told Gideon that thy were still too many and Gideon had to send them down to drink water and only chose those that drank the water in a certain way. Gideon did that and a remnant remained, so that the victory and glory could go to God and not the Israelites.
The week prior to Senekal gathering, I experienced a heavy burden on my hart to go and support the ongoing action against farm murders in South Africa. The more I logically fought the burden it just got stronger. I am just recovering from an illness and barley walking normal again after a two-year struggle, I don’t own a weapon and I am not an aggressive type, so what do I want to go do in Senekal especially after the red barrettes has declared war.
Following social media, to try and find out what the arrangements were during the week, was a nightmare. All the overload of information took my emotions on a rollercoaster. Then I found myself going, then I found myself not. Thursday morning after spending many hours in prayer I felt the peace I was looking for. It sounded as if the police had a good plan separation the different groups and promised strong action against those that do not stay in their allocated areas, gave me peace of mind.
I just upgraded to a new adventure motor bike and I thought this is a long trip and good preparation for my planned December trip to Cape town. I search social media to see if there were any others with motorbikes planning to go. I saw there were two groups, which I was familiar with, that were planning to go as a group. The one was an adventure motorbike group, and the other a Christian motorbike group led by a Pastor.
Thursday night I could not sleep tossing and turning playing off the overload of information on social media: it’s a trap, it is going to be war, make sure you have food and fuel back home, we have intel that this is leading to anarchy, the police is going to take all our weapons, God is not with us, we had enough, we are going to war, the red barrettes have thousands of AK 47’s ……… I kept on saying to myself I have peace in my heart, and I am going in faith and trust in my God that I serve.
Friday morning 3h50 I was up and set off to Pretoria to the starting point. There were some people going on motorbikes and some in cars. After a short media interview the Pastor said a simple prayer and we were off to Windburg. The arrangements were to team up with others coming from Cape Town and some joining along the way. We all would come together at a set point just before Senekal and then be escorted into Senekal.
The briefing at the final gathering point was that the motorbikes had permission to park in the designated area for all the farmers but the cars had to go through town and park at the designated car park area just out of town and then walk about 700 meters down back to town to the designated gathering area. The planning for our group on the motorbikes were to show our support by gathering around the farmers on arrival and pray for them. We would then leave town and go the farm where the young farmer was murdered, pray there and then head back home, our support then was done.
Arriving in Senekal town we were escorted into the designated area. We parked our motorbikes, some cars followed, and others moved outside town to the designated parking area, to then walk down to where we were. There was a sound system set up, a few farmers and a few civilians and us. Some other motorbikes, not from our group, also came in and parked in the area. There were also journalist walking around interviewing people.
I was very pleased to see there was a bob-wire fence between us and the red barrettes singing and dancing about 400 meter in front of us. Scanning the area to make sure I am familiar with the territory in case there had to be a quick action to evacuate, I realised that we were not in an ideal spot, we were cornered in an area where there were a small mountain “koppie” behind us we could not go back or left or forward, the only way out is the street that we came in.
Someone took the mike and started welcoming us and the proceedings stared. Someone gave a short speech and then a South African musician played one of his gospel songs over the PA. Next up on the program was the pastor to pray. I looked around me and was surprised that there were so little of us, a few of us that came on the motorbikes, a few farmers and a few civilians, mainly white South Africans but there were a few of other colour too.
I was aware that some organised groups had their own area outside town and was not going to be part of the proceedings at this area. There were also many farmers along the way standing along the side of the road. I knew the cars had to park outside the town and the farmers had to walk down to the designated area. Looking down the street in front of me at the red barrettes singing and dancing I realised we were by far outnumbered. Aren’t we going to wait for the others I thought to myself as the proceedings continued? We were there about a half an hour when the pastor took the mike to start praying and read some scripture, as he took the mike I looked to my right, the way we came in, and the only way out, I saw masses of red barrettes singing and dancing coming towards us.
Why are thy not in their designated area, why are the police not stopping them, I said to myself. Singing and dancing they came closer and closer swinging their traditional weapons in the air, so much for disarming the protesters by the police I thought. I realise this was now a serious situation and this was the confrontation everybody was talking about, and I found myself in the middle of it. A part of our group moved towards the red barrettes to form a barricade to prevent them from coming into our area. Face to face with the red barrettes they stood their ground, although they were by far outnumbered. Facing screaming, swearing, cursing, spitting they just stood their ground and prevented the red barrettes from moving forward. No aggression just a firm stare and stance.
I could not help noticing the concern in the people’s eyes around me, I am sure they noticed it in my eyes, waiting for this to escalate into a nightmare. The other part of our group started to pray and sing hymns, kneeling calling on God to intervene and move this evil force back. Looking at the pastor on his knees praying with so much faith, encourage and strengthened me so much and I realised I still have so much to learn about faith, this is not a sermon on faith this is reality. This was going on for a while, not sure how long but it felt like an eternity, but then, in an instant the red barrettes calmed down and start to turn around and walk away. In an instant. My heart rejoiced, my God lives, my God indeed lives, He is intervening.
The red barrettes retreated to the main road and things calmed down in our mist. We started wrapping up and prepared to leave to go to the farm to pray, this standoff was clearly won, not by us but by God. I realised that the red barrettes were now not heading back to their designated area but was heading up the road to where the organised groups were having their meeting.
We got on our motorbikes and headed to the exit, but the red barrettes were blocking the road and preventing us to leave. They then started throwing bricks and stones at us. We retreated to our area while some chose to take the chance to drive out through the red barrettes, but most of us retreated. Stuck in our area in the sun waiting for this to play out was tough, we asked some of the locals if we could get some water, but this is South Africa, water was only available some days in this town, and this was unfortunately not one of those days.
We tried to leave on an exit on the other side of our designated area, against the “koppie”, but the police did not grant us a way out but suggested we stay where we are, they said we will be safe there, or we could go back to the designated exit that was blocked by the red barrettes. We then moved back to the designated area to see if we can exit. One of the guys somehow arranged with a homeowner to break his fence so that the guys on the motor bikes can exit and leave the area. What a relief when he came back for us and say “follow me there is a way out”. To use this option, we had to drive right up to the red barrettes, a few meters away from them and then drive through some property through a few ditches while the homeowners were lifting and moving the fence to give us an exit path.
What a relieve when we were final on tar road heading out of Senekal. By then our group were split and the plan to the go to the farm, where the young man was murdered, was off. Heading out of town I saw the organised group on my left and the parking area for the farmers on the right and many farmers standing around and as far as we rode out of town, I saw farmers parked along the side of the road.
Back home after a hard drive back and dehydrated, I felt in my pocket and there were three little stones. In the heat of the moment the pastor told us to pick up three small stones and put in in our pocket, I thought, are we now like David going to attack Goliath, but he said these three stones represent, faith, hope and love. I will always cherish that, and I put the stones into my jar of stones that I have collected over the years.
Going through social media and getting the bigger picture of what was going on around us, this peace came over me. Yes, God was at Senekal, God controlled Senekal. He made sure the organised group that are constantly facing the red barrettes was supporting outside town. They are the strong ones doing this daily in courts, media and internationally, if they had to be there it could have been a bloodbath.
God made sure that the extreme farmers that have a right to be upset and want to go to war were kept outside the designated area, if they had to be there where we were, it could have been a bloodbath, because they are the warriors the strong ones fighting this war of survival for all minority groups in South Africa daily. They also had a stand of with the red barrettes but there was a distance between them and police on both sides stopping them. God kept the farmers that were armed and parked around Senekal outside of town, if they were in our mist facing off the red barrettes it could have been a bloodbath. They too are the strong once facing these brutal farm killings daily.
I could not help thinking, was I one of the chosen ones to be part of Gideon’s army for this battle, one of the weak ones so that God can show His power and get all the glory. The standoff in my eyes was won at Senekal. Amen all glory to God. All those that stayed at home and prayed, and interceded, believe me your prayers were heard and you are also of the strong ones that God chose to pray at home for this battle. TJ, Henri what a day, I will any day go with you in battle again.
A corrupt dysfunctional government with its militant red barrettes is creating so much agony in this beautiful country of ours. But Friday at Senekal I realised our God is still in control. We must all keep on doing what we are doing to fight this evil. We all have a place in this fight although we may not all agree with the way it needs to be done in the flesh, just remember we all serve the same God, stay close to Him, stay humble, and if you are weak enough, He may choose you for the next battle to be part of Gideon’s Army.