We’re Not Going Anywhere

When I was in high school, my parents were considering emigrating to Australia. They filled in all the forms, took us for medical check-ups and blood tests, but in the end we didn’t go. I can’t remember why not, only that I was glad. I had protested every step of the process, even insisting that I would stay here if they left.

Everyone has an opinion on whether to stay in South Africa or emigrate to greener pastures. A commenter on a blog post I read recently said something like, “You [the writer] only want to stay because you can’t afford to leave. No one really wants to stay.”

Naturally, there was heated debate back and forth, and I stopped reading before I reached the end of the comments. While I agree that some people stay purely because they cannot afford to emigrate, I believe there are a lot of people who choose to stay because they want to be here.

Of course, my husband and I have concerns about raising our family here. South Africa has a shocking rate of murders, hijacking and rape, and we can’t ignore that. Yet, we don’t feel that there’s no hope for this country. Certainly we don’t think we can escape tragedy by moving elsewhere.

I have lived and worked in another country. I loved it there, but returning to South Africa was coming home. I love being South African, I love that in spite of all the nonsense South Africans still have a sense of humour and hope for our country.

Our government may be a circus, and our education system may be in shambles, but the past was not all sunshine and roses. I am free to marry across the colour line, something which used to be against the law. I am free to follow Jesus, something which could get me killed in other parts of the world. I am free to homeschool my children here.

I know my children won’t have the same kind of childhood I did. I remember riding my bike around the neighbourhood, streets which are now enclosed. I remember playing with the other children in our street until it got dark. There is no way I will let my children roam the streets or ride their bikes by themselves. But I don’t think that’s any different in other countries. Crime can – and does – happen anywhere.

Sometimes, I am afraid. Just last night there was a hijacking a few blocks away from where we live. When I pull into our driveway I always look around before opening the gate. I make sure I have a good grip on my bag when I go shopping. I always try to be alert and cautious. But I can’t let myself be consumed by fear.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

We love our country, and our hearts break for our country every time there are news stories of corruption, or incompetence, or crime, but we firmly believe that we are here now because God has placed us here. In our church, in our workplaces, in our extended families, and in our friendship circles, we are here because God is using us for his kingdom in ways that we may not be able to see. If we ever move to another country, it will be because God has called us there.

But right here, right now, South Africa is where we are and where we want to be. I don’t believe that God has abandoned South Africa. We should be praying for our country and its leaders instead of always complaining and spreading negativity.

I am tired of hearing people, particularly ex-pats, badmouthing our country. I’m not judging anyone’s choice to leave, because I believe you are doing what you feel is best for your family. So, please, won’t you stop judging my choice to stay?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5)

We're Not Going Anywhere
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What are your thoughts?

Comments 0

  • This is amazing. It’s exactly how I feel about my amazing country. I also once considered moving to Australia (for University and a different experience) and then again alter with my husband because he wanted to attend a university programme there but in the end we decided that we love South Africa way too much to leave. It may not be perfect but there are so many things to be thankful for and Australia isn’t all roses and peaches either. Every country has pro’s and cons but it’s a pleasure knowing that my children will be raised with so much colour and vivid experiences here. I love that I can proudly speak of the freedoms we have and the constitution that is one of the most forward thinking in the world. I love South Africa and if I ever had to move (which seems unlikely with a baby and four fur children), it would be towards something and not to get away from South Africa.

  • Home is where the heart is

  • I guess for me it’s a case of never say never, but I echo your feelings and would hate to leave this wonderful country which is our home

  • What gets me is the expats on my fb who do nothing but bad mouth the country…posting articles and stats and all kinds of, you
    see why I left things, it’s counter productive and disrespectful. I love this country and am not blind to it’s faults , but really now, some people are just unnecessarily smug about other countries

  • Hear Hear! There is no blanket right or wrong decision – there is only the decision YOU make for your family, depending on your circumstances and experiences. People that criticise other people’s decisions are obviously insecure about their choices.

  • Right here, with you. All the way

  • I really enjoyed this post. To be honest, I’m wrestling with the same issue but I’ve come to a different conclusion. But that’s my choice, and a difficult one it was. I certainly can’t fault your reasoning, and love the bible quotes too x

  • Some of my family members have moved out of the country and other family members are making plans to leave too. The sad part is when we get the feeling of being judged by outsiders for wanting to stay in South Africa. Why should we leave? We have everything we could need here, that includes the reminder of the need for Christ.

  • Love this. These debates always get so ugly. I actually had such a nice talk about this with a dad at moms and babes today. They are thinking about leaving but he was curious (genuinely) to hear my reasons for staying. It was such a lovely conversation and we debated a lot of issues and both left feeling heard and respected.

    I am also staying :))

  • Yip I’m getting tired of the negativity too.

  • Apologies up front, by Gods grace I write this.

    Difficult decisions, want to write a book about it. We are a family of four, two girls and in their young lifes they had to endure three hijacks at gun point, two house breakings, being robbed in the local SPAR, and Drug abuse. Then some drunk on the road put Dad out of action for most of their high school careers.

    But, thankyou Lord for a Godfearing spouse, thankyou for being In control, for that is why we serve in South Africa. Showing Your love to my radical muslim colleague, the 15 000 people gathering in the Sanmat temple on the West Rand.

    God is on every milimetre of this earth GOD. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. ” (Jeremiah 29:11-12) Even here in South Africa.

    Love your blog!

  • […] Africa at the moment. Several of my friends are considering or have already emigrated. I wrote here why we’re not going anywhere. I believe God placed us here, now, for a reason. He has a […]

  • God hasn’t abandoned His people no matter where they are, and His will is that not one should perish. Yes indeed, you may have been planted there for a time such as this.
    Many in this world cannot comprehend obeying God if it means choosing to be in a “dangerous” place instead of putting your family in a “safe” place. Obedience is an act of love to the Lord that will not go unrewarded one day.
    God bless you for living in obedience, and may He give you strength as others of this world may judge you harshly. May your days be brighter in the future and the Lord have a veil of protection over you and your family as you walk in obedience.
    Blessings,

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