18 years on, fam­ily find strength in faith

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MARVIN CHARLES

IT HAS BEEN 18 years since the dis­ap­pear­ance of four-year-old Re­nata Is­mail, who was asleep in the main bed­room of her mother’s house in Sarepta, Kuils River.

The pe­tite lit­tle girl with black hair dis­ap­peared in March 1999 af­ter her mother Heidi had left her in the main bed­room for five min­utes.

She then saw an un­known man at the win­dow and left in a hurry to tell her sis­ter in-law about the man.

It is be­lieved he abducted Re­nata.

It has been a heart­break­ing jour­ney for the Is­mail fam­ily.

Heidi is still ex­tremely emo­tional when she talks about what hap­pened on that day.

“The news was so dev­as­tat­ing and it has af­fected me deeply. I just pray con­tin­u­ously,” she said.

“I have eter­nal hope and I find great so­lace in the grace and prom­ise of God.

“And I know wher­ever she (Re­nata) finds her­self, she is cared for,” Heidi said.

She has been a teacher for many years and has taught at local schools around Kuils River. She said it had taken a very long time for her to ac­cept that her daugh­ter was not with her.

“She may not be with us, but God is al­ways with her,” she said.

She was re­luc­tant to talk to the me­dia at first.

“I used to do what the me­dia wanted, and then af­ter­wards I would have to pick my­self up again. That’s how painful it is for me,” she said.

Heidi said faith and prayer had kept her go­ing through­out the years, as had the sup­port and love of her fam­ily and friends.

“We’re so blessed, ir­re­spec­tive of what hap­pened, and we have many painful days still… as if it hap­pened yes­ter­day,” she added. “But we have the sup­port of fam­ily and friends, and that’s heart-warm­ing.

“God has been so good to me… And through all the mad­ness I will keep hold­ing on, be­cause noth­ing is in vain when you have faith,” she said.

“Suf­fer lit­tle chil­dren… to come unto me: for of such is the king­dom of heaven.”

Re­nata Is­mail, of Kuils River, has been miss­ing since March 28, 1999.

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