Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another Theft

One visitor who came on a short term trip to Swaziland commented that “things are always happening in Swaziland.” We can comfortably say that his observation is true.

On Tuesday night I was robbed at gunpoint. I was on my way to pick up Mandi and three visitors from the airport in Johannesburg when I was a part of a well-planned car accident. The accident happened in Swaziland, a few miles from the South African border. When I stopped to exchange details, the two men held me at gun point, threatened me, and stole everything—truck keys, passport, money, wallet, phone, and all forms of identification. Once they left, I ran to the guard shack of a royal residence close by and the guard at the gate pulled a gun on me too! Thankfully, the guy believed my story and offered to help. I used the guard’s phone to call the only number I could remember—one of the New Life housemothers. Peter and Mary Jean Kopp (our trusted colleagues) left immediately to meet me. They arrived about two hours after the incident and the police still hadn’t arrived after multiple calls from the guards and the Kopps. The police finally arrived, but were soon called away to a similar incident involving the same suspects up the road.

Obviously, this was a scary and frustrating event. We know that we are called to serve God and we also know that he does not guarantee our physical safety when serving Him. That being said, events like this wear on the heart and mind and we are asking for prayers of comfort and strength. We all realize there is much to be thankful for—I was not physically hurt, they didn’t steal our vehicle, and the location was close to help. I was thankful Mandi was not with me. Two of the soldiers from the royal residence stood at the scene with me in the cold for nearly three hours, assuring me they would not leave me until someone came. We are so grateful to those two kind men. 

Of course, I couldn’t continue to Johannesburg without a passport. The Kopps and I came back to the farm late that night and Peter and I got up at 4 AM to head back to town. Peter used the spare keys to take the vehicle from the police station to Johannesburg to fetch Mandi and company. I worked with the police for about three hours and then began to sort out passport issues, banking details, and phone replacements. Needless to say, it was a huge relief to see my wife! 

Please continue to pray. This is both disheartening to us and has caused a significant amount of trauma. Please pray for everyone on the farm. Some of our Swazi friends have experienced trauma associated with violence, and this act has stirred many emotions. 

Please pray for justice. 

Please pray for me. My mind has been racing since this happened with regrets, fears, and frustrations.

Please pray that the details regarding the forms of identification and money will work themselves out.

Please pray that our hearts and minds are not hardened and that we can still be ready and willing to accomplish what God has planned here in Swaziland.


  1. Sending our love and prayers Tommy - I think of you and Mandy often, and know you are where God has called you. But also taking great comfort in knowing that He is with you wherever you are. He is in the midst of all this, the trauma, the details of replacing vistas, phones and identity items. Praying comfort and strength. So grateful you are physically alright and praying for all other things. Love the Chellsens

  2. Oh Tommy, I'm so sorry to hear this! I hope the team that is coming your way may serve as encouragement to you & Mandi (and maybe a fun distraction). Thank you for sharing this difficult experience so we know how to pray for you guys!! No easy answers, but just know we hurt with you guys...

  3. Remember this could happen in any part of the world and not just in Swaziland. People are the victims of gun crime daily in all parts of the States for instance. Rare in Swaziland.....God be with you.

  4. We are so sad to hear of your experience. My first thought similar to "anonymous". Be encouraged, our prayers are with you as you process and press into the Father's grace. We cannot fully know the extent of the trauma you are experiencing following, nor the questions you are asking yourselves at this moment. But, we are grateful to our Father who protects and comforts as only He can in these difficult days. Praying. (Sandi & Ron - Friends of the Kopps)

  5. We are so very thankful you were physically unharmed & we are praying for the after effects as you continue to serve & love those around you. God does not allow things like this to happen in vain - He will use it for His glory, we are sure of that! We are praying for peaceful sleep at night, that when anxieties arise you can deliver them directly to the feet of Jesus, that you will feel God's presence & peace throughout each day. We will pray the stress of all the details regarding the lost items will be minimal & that God will move mightily in restoring the physical things as well as the emotional & mental areas of your life.

  6. I was so sorry to hear this Tommy and Mandi. Praying for all these details to get worked out quickly and for you, Tommy, to feel more comfortable soon. I can't imagine how traumatic that must have been.