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hikers and hijackers November 22, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church, Missional, South Africa.
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As I began driving long roads more and more these past two years, the question of handling hikers started bugging me. I saw these people beside the road, looking for a lift, and I knew in my heart that I couldn’t just ignore them. Reaching out to people that need to walk 20km mean giving them a lift for 20km. But the solution was not that easy. 

For the non-South African readers, I have to explain something. Maybe things are the same in your country, but in case there not, this is the problem we are faced with. For a number of years now we had a huge number of car hijacks. And it’s quite common that people would pose as hikers, and when the car stop then more people get out from behind the bushes, and you lose your car, and maybe more. Even acting hurt was used, someone lying in the road, pretending to have been hit by a car or something, and when you stop… 

So we have been conditioned that you don’t stop beside the road. And with good reason. But still, this has been bugging me. So I started out on my way back to Varsity on Sunday, it’s a 400km drive. At the end of my home town a hiker stood, but I passed him before really noticing, and drove on, wondering if I shouldn’t have helped the guy. Exiting the next town, there stood a number of people hiking, well, I didn’t have space for that many people, maybe they were waiting for a taxi, it seemed like a probable place to find a taxi. 

And then, on an empty piece of road a single guy stood with a suitcase. After being bugged by this question the whole trip, I stopped. Heart pounding, I knew very well what the dangers were of what I was doing. Especially when I noticed that he had a friend on the other side of the road. I kept the engine running, just in case. But in climbed Johnny and Eliot. They couldn’t understand that much Afrikaans, and even less English, and I don’t understand one word of their language, but we had some kind of conversation. They work on a farm, some 50km from where their wives and children live. They go home for weekends, and have to hike the piece of road. I don’t really think you will find a lot of taxi’s on that road. 

Anyway, it was a good experience. They got out, Johnny saying : “Die Here sal jou seën” (The Lord will bless you), and Eliot asking for my number. Maybe one day I will hear from them again. The story of the Samaritan and the traveller that was attacked (Luke 10:25-37) get new meaning from our context. How can we put ourselves in danger to help someone? But then again, didn’t a man in the first century helping someone who was attacked by robbers put himself in danger to be attacked as well? 

I won’t say I have the answer, and won’t even claim that next time I pass someone hiking I would necessarily stop. But we have to face the dangers and still figure out how to be followers in Christ in
South Africa.

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Comments»

1. TR Mofokeng - January 5, 2007

I know the nagging feeling you are describing. I travel between Johannesburg and Vereeniging almost every day. And most of the time, one encounters hikers on the road, particularly after seven in the evening. I also occasssionally take a 368 km drive to Northern Eastern Free State. Thus I come across a lot of people, looking poor and ordinary and others who look like they might take your car. I normally pass all of them with a tinge of bad feeling of course. But I justify my passing them in the following manner:
1) If it is a young woman, well I cannot give her a lift lest I get accused of rape without reason. Any way there might be a bunch of thugs hiding somewhere using her as a bait!
2) If it is a young man, well, this one might rob me or hijack the car!

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