It was 1998 in a very turbulent South Africa.

As I opened the front door and shouted to our dog, Mandy, to keep quiet as she had been barking incessantly, a man grabbed me from behind and held a knife to my throat. As he swung me round I just remember pointing a finger in his face and saying “ Jesus Christ is Lord of this house!” which was greeted by quite a bit of aggression as he dragged me through the kitchen and threw me down in the scullery where Lena, the lady who worked for me, was already tied up. Then another man appeared and while he threatened me with a gun, the first guy tied me up.

Lena was hysterical at this point, as our captors proceeded to explain to her in Xhosa, her native language, just what they were going to do to me…including skinning the hair off my head, raping and ending me.  What they didn’t realize was that I spoke and understood a bit of Xhosa too. Having no words to say, I simply prayed in tongues and as I got louder it seemed to invoke more anger. I heard a third man enter and two of them proceeded to strip the house of all our belongings. They shouted, “Where is the safe, where are the guns!” I said we had neither.

As I observed my body, now shaking uncontrollably, peace began to course through me and I heard these words, “You can go through trouble without trouble going through you.” I knew, I had a choice – do I let fear in or do I let love reign? I remembered how Viktor Frankl, while in the ‘hell’ of the Nazi concentration camps, pictured himself standing in front of a crowd, testifying of how he had survived – he visualized it.

I still had no plan of how I was going to get out of this situation alive, but through Lena’s wailing and the very present chaos, I sensed a more tangible presence. The nearness of the One who said – my life is mine to lay down of my own accord, no one takes it from me. Who stood up in the midst of the storm and declared peace, be still. Who faced the unjust abuse and hatred that led him to the most violent death and with His last breath said Father forgive them, they know not what they do.

Two of the men now came through and started dragging me through to the room. In that moment, the words were there. I said, “hold on, you know the guns you were asking for? My husband is on his way back now, as you can see, I was in the middle of cooking his lunch. He has the gun with him. He should actually be back by now”

It was as if the men had seen a ghost. In that instant, they turned around, threw me back in the scullery and proceeded out the back door.

I managed to untie myself and Lena and phoned Andre…all I was able to get out before bursting into tears of relief was, “They broke in, tied us up….”

So many amazing things happened during this traumatic event, including my children being taken out for ice cream by my friend who was bringing them home from school, with no permission from me and so, arriving an hour late and being spared the whole ordeal. The guys, who had evaded the police for 6 months were caught that night. All had recently served prison sentences, murder, attempted murder and robbery.

I am so grateful to have come through this unharmed – so many have not been so fortunate.

To stand in front of your perpetrator and forgive them, is not just the best thing to do, it is the only way that you can fully experience the Father’s forgiveness.

Fear would try and prolong the terror and carry it into your future, but that is when love comes in and apprehends fear and demonstrates a force greater than violence. There is no fear in love. Let us look for opportunities to love, to rid the world of violence as we let the Prince of Peace rise with healing in His wings.

8 Responses to “Facing a Life-Threatening Attack.”

  1. Anne Medlow on

    MaryAnne this story is both shocking and amazing. You are a woman of amazing courage! I like the phrase ” You can go through trouble without trouble going through you.” You certainly proved that to be true for you. I’m so glad you got through this. How wonderful to see Papa’s working in keeping you safe and protecting your children from the ordeal. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. Patricia Pollock on

    Hi Mary-Anne, what an experience! You did very well!

    I wonder what it would be like to be one of those men who attacked you? I wonder if they felt afraid? You would have to have a desperately sad life to commit such acts of violence one would think

    It was so good the children were not at home. It seems doesn’t it that responding in love to violence opens up a way, not only to diffuse the situation, but more than that, it actually brings healing and positive growth. ( I am speaking generally)

    You and Andre are doing such a tremendously good job! Thank you.

  3. Sellappan on

    That must have been a terrible, terrible ordeal Mary-Anne. Thanks be to God for delivering you, your children and the helper. You chose to trust God and forgive them just as Jesus did.
    Thanks for sharing your heart-wrenching story.
    You and Andre are doing a great job educating us in the things of God. Much appreciated. Blessings.

  4. Penny Cooper on

    Wow, Mary-Anne, I did not know you had experienced this. What a testimony of God’s goodness and promise, especially when we focus on that at those fearful moments. We can never ever take for granted who is one with us always, the hope of glory! Love you!

  5. Camen on

    Oh wow!!! You have lived through a thing that so many of us in South Africa fear. I’m so glad I read this, because I now realize for the first time that my life is mine and no man shall take it from me. God has given me new eyes today.

  6. Thea Bezuidenhout on

    Hi Mary-Anne! Ek het nie geweet dat jy deur hierdie trauma gegaan het nie. Lees dit nou vir die eerste keer. Het nooit genoeg data om deur alles te gaan nie. Maar o wat ‘n getuienis! Dankie dat jy dit met ons gedeel het! Niemand weet wat nog vir ons wag nie, maar ons weet dat die Vredevors in ons woon! So lief vir jou en Andre!


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