KENTON EXTENDS COMPASSION TO KNYSNA
Sense of generosity and serving hearts
SPARKED by compassion for the people of Knysna who lost homes and possessions in the recent fire disaster, a group of Kenton residents collected goods and delivered them to a church in Knysna for distribution.
With prompting from Kenton resident Charles Southey last Thursday morning, Chester Wilmot’s home became a collection point for goods. Within hours, goods poured from the Kenton community and some from Port Alfred to the extent that Wilmot and Doug Swanson were able to leave at 3pm with a bakkie load full of clothing and other goods.
By that evening, Wilmot’s wife, Jean, phoned to say there was already a full second load being sorted in their lounge.
“We were amazed to find the Knysna Vineyard Church still open at 7.30pm, having been serving desperate people all day,” Wilmot said.
After the first fires, the church had become a hospital when Knysna Provincial Hospital came under fire threat. When the patients were moved out later, the whole building became a warehouse of food and clothes with hundreds of church members working.
“We met and encouraged the local pastor and his workers before leaving for home to return again, leaving Kenton at 4am the next morning. This time there was a ministry team of six,” Wilmot said.
“The sense of generosity of our community overwhelmed us, and then to witness the serving hearts from the church community there,” he said.
“The second impact that still lingers after the smell of smoke has left our nostrils was the devastation and loss. Driving through some of the 400 homes burnt to ash in the town and 200 shacks in the township above Knysna, a gut-wrenching nausea still grips us. Tears are still with us days later.
“Doug overheard a probably formerly wealthy young lady say to the helper in the church, ‘Just give me one toothbrush as we can share it’. There was a father with three children – recently divorced with nothing left. A 60-plus widowed estate agent with suddenly no home left and her three signed sales wiped out with the houses being destroyed before transfer, and so losing her income needed to live on. Another lady sitting in her car with nowhere to go.” But Wilmot said there were also miracles. “We stood on a ridge overlooking a valley with a raging inferno rolling towards buildings on the opposite ridge and moving towards an informal settlement to our left. We linked hands and prayed, perhaps with more authority than we had ever mustered before.
“We stood our ground in our hope in Jesus to save these buildings and so the shacks further on. We stood until we could no longer see the buildings in the dense smoke,” he said.
“We returned the next day to witness a true miracle. The old, dry wooden buildings were intact with not a mark, yet there was devastation up to the walls and all around.
“We believe in people, we believe that a nation comes together in a crisis and we have a deeper sense of the love of God inlaid in His children. The church we saw there will never be the same again as they have learnt to serve and they are going to be like foxes with their tails on fire setting Knysna ablaze with a different fire,” Wilmot concluded.
MIRACLE IN THE FIRE: Taking relief to Knysna while fires were still raging, Kenton residents prayed to God for the building behind them, and others beyond that to be spared. The fire reached within two metres around the untouched wooden building. Pictured are Kenton residents Charles Southey and Tess Cameron with two Knysna men who worked at the building