COVID 19, An Unexpected War Time Parable

There is a famous battlefield in South Africa called Isandlwana. It is the site of an attack by the shrewd Zulu army on unsuspecting British forces left vulnerable by a miscalculation. In that attack, the Zulu army — armed only with shields and spears —  successfully defeated the British infantrymen and cavalry. 

Lieutenants Meville and Coghill
make a last stand at Isandlwana.

Earlier this year, Dan and Kerry visited the battlefield which lies as a sombre memorial to that very bloody day in history. White rock piles stand over the graves of dead soldiers from both sides. 

In that visit to Isandlwana, the Wiens took note of the presence of some of the most degraded land they have seen in South Africa so far. Gullies of erosion scarred the surrounding communities everywhere they looked. It truly was heartbreaking that in this place where empires were fought for and lost, that such physical degradation could occur and that the land would be rendered so inhospitable for crops. 

The visit to Isandlwana followed a vibrant and exciting agricultural training in Newcastle, Kwazulu-Natal in February. Walking on the site of this historical battle, Dan and Kerry felt reminded of the wounds of the past and noticed that little progress was being made either in healing those wounds or in healing the land. The image of the dry, unproductive land in Isandlwana felt like an assault against the message of hope presented in the Newcastle training.

“The land almost mocked us in its rebellion. We encourage people to believe that restoration is possible, but in this place our ears were filled with the mocking silence of degradation.”  

Kerry Wiens

In that emotional experience at the Isandlwana battlefield, Dan and Kerry felt a renewed vision to be catalysts for bringing Kingdom renewal in all spheres of life. There is such a longing for the communities around Isandlwana to experience the overflow that is part of God’s heart for all people. For that overflow to occur, physical land must be restored, social community structures must reunify, mental capacities must be awakened, and emotional wounds healed — all this in the context of spiritual reconciliation and redemption.

Below is a gallery of photos from Northwestern KZN depicting the huge scars on the land from soil erosion and land degradation. The erosion you see is a result of water moving on ploughed soil. The soil that washes away first is the most fertile, and once that topsoil is gone, the subsoil washes away very quickly resulting in the gulleys you see. Our hearts should cry when we see soil, the inheritance of our children, disappearing in such catastrophic ways.

Stop the tape… press pause on life as we know it… Enter COVID 19.

Community members fetch water
at the communal well near Isandlwana.

Even more now, as the world faces the COVID 19 crisis, people find themselves called to a reevaluation of all that life stands for. We would have to be blind not to see that the vulnerable and poor are the ones most impacted by this pandemic. How are communities like those in Isandlwana, KwaZulu-Natal going to survive a modern-day battle bearing down on them like colonial armies? There is no safety net here to catch those who are falling!

We are finding ourselves as representatives of the Inundo vision trying to find words and vocabulary that speak truth and life in these unsettling times. We know it is possible for God’s abundance and overflow to be seen and felt even at this moment. Inundo means “overflow.” But how do we play a part in bringing the overflow? It certainly has been a clarifying season for us. We realise now, more than ever, that God is calling us to be advocates of holistic transformation that touches physical, social, mental/ emotional, and spiritual spheres. 

COVID 19 has shown us that the separations
we thought existed, actually
do not exist at all.

COVID 19 is no discriminator of race, class, education, or faith. The world requires a holistic response to COVID. In fact, COVID 19 has impacted every sector of life on a scale this generation has never experienced. Modern ways of thinking which separate body from soul and faith from science are proving inadequate. COVID 19 has mixed it all together. COVID 19 has shown us that the separations we thought existed actually do not exist at all!

COVID 19 has reminded us that we are interconnected..

This spotlight on the interconnectedness of life through COVID 19 is somewhat ironic considering that we are all experiencing disconnection from friends, families, communities and workplaces through imposed isolation. Yet it has reminded us that we are interconnected nevertheless. We can no longer stand as the North versus the South and the “haves” vs the “have-nots.” We have all been called to contribute what we can to the mitigation of this virus. In that call we have been given the unique opportunity to evaluate our lives and specifically our resilience in trying times.  We may find that our consumeristic mindsets have become dependent on what we can purchase, order or negotiate. Having those freedoms removed hits hard. Those who have instead cultivated a life of creative investment, where they have learned to create from local resources can continue to create even in times like this. It reminds us that, in the beginning, God placed a man and a woman in the garden of Eden to work and care for it. Everything they needed for life was in that garden. Where are we placed right now? And what has God given us that we can use to live right now?

COVID 19 is a virus that should continue to call us to be advocates
of holistic involvement in this world.

This is a virus that has taken us back to basics. It is a virus that has reminded us about the things that truly matter. COVID 19 has waged war on our physical, social, mental/emotional and spiritual lives. It has reminded us that we are holistic beings. And it is that virus that should continue to call us to be advocates of holistic involvement in this world. What a surprising parable COVID 19 has turned out to be. We are all at war, together. All our systems are connected. Let’s not let this battlefield stand deserted and become only a memorial of lives lost. Rather, let it motivate us all to step into the transformational calling that we have all been given. That calling is to bring restoration, renewal, and reconciliation to all the structures of this world: to the land, people, plants, animals, communities, social and political structures, education, health, faith systems of this world, to the glory of God. What will you do now?

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Flourishing Land, Flourishing People, Flourishing Communities.

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