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Widow Mourns Loss of Family

December 15, 2014 by Open Doors in Middle East

Taliban insurgents killed three South African Christians during a four-hour attack on their guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan. Werner Groenewald (46), his son Jean-Pierre (17) and daughter Rode (15) were murdered in the November 29th assault. Werner’s wife, Dr. Hannelie Groenewald (45), was working in a local clinic when the attack took place.

According to Werner’s sister-in-law, Riana du Plessis, Werner was first shot in the leg, but still managed to get upstairs to try to protect the children. His efforts were to no avail; the assailants killed all three of them. “The house was overrun by three insurgents,” she told News24, a South African news website. “One of them was a suicide bomber, and the other two had guns in their hands. They took other staff members hostage. After they killed Werner and the children, the house was set on fire.”

One local Afghan was also killed during the attack. Seven other Afghans, who were taken hostage by the insurgents, escaped with no physical injuries.

According to an online biography, Werner had received a calling to cross-cultural work in Afghanistan in April 2002, following several years as a pastor of the Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church in Pretoria, South Africa. But Du Plessis denies allegations that he was a ‘secret missionary’. “They thought Werner was a missionary trying to convert Muslims to Christians, but Werner was not. He was an aid worker there to uplift Afghanistan. He did great work. They lost a great person in Afghanistan. I don’t know what legacy he will leave behind.”

Du Plessis said that she and her family were ‘praying earnestly’ for her sister Hannelie as she made the complicated necessary arrangements with local authorities in Kabul to be repatriated back to South Africa with the bodies as soon as possible. “We ask people everywhere to pray for the safety of everyone else who is working in Afghanistan in similar situations; that there won’t be more ‘copycat’ attacks mounted against those doing humanitarian work there.”

Afghanistan is often called the ‘most dangerous place in the world’ for aid workers because of the way in which Taliban and other extremist groups have intentionally targeted foreign aid workers. For local Christians, however, the situation is even graver because the Afghan constitution does not recognize the existence of Afghan Christians, leaving them completely unprotected.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Father, You are always at work on behalf of Your Church around the world. You hear the cries of Your people and Your Spirit dwells with them, empowering them to endure all that comes their way. Father, we are asking for You to comfort Hannelie, other family members, friends and colleagues, giving them glimpses of Your presence in their circumstances. Strengthen them today with all the courage, compassion and forbearance that they will need to live as Christ-ones in the midst of their sorrow. Father, we ask also that You protect other aid workers in Afghanistan; give them a vision of Your purpose for them, and wisdom to deal with the injustice around them. We pray for the day when the name of Christ is exalted in Afghanistan. In the name of Jesus, who is present even in our darkest moments, Amen.

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