Sense of gen­eros­ity and serv­ing hearts

Talk of the Town - - Front Page -

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

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