Hannelie Groenewald and her family were missionaries in Afghanistan in 2014 when a targeted Taliban attack claimed the lives of her husband and two children. Today, despite her grief, Hannelie continues to share Jesus.
Hannelie and her husband Werner moved to Afghanistan from their native South Africa in 2003. A missions trip confirmed to them that they were to move their family to this war-torn country.
Over the years, Werner served with various humanitarian organisations, providing leadership training, community development education and English language courses.
“Fearless service to Christ became a theme for Werner, and something he spoke of often. In October 2014, Werner spoke at a conference on the subject of ‘Counting the Cost for Christ’. He ended it by saying, “We die only once. It might as well be for Christ”.
While Werner thrived in his work, Hannelie supported her husband and family.
“My main focus in Afghanistan was to support my husband and to be God’s hands and feet to the Afghan people, and also to shine my light and be salt”.
On 29 November 2014, Hannelie was on her way home when her driver received a text message warning her that the building where her family lived and worked had faced an attack.
As they arrived, police and armoured vehicles blocked the way and a crowd had gathered outside her building. No one would let her go inside and she was forced to wait, praying for her family the whole time.
That evening, she discovered that three men had stormed the building and her husband and two children were shot and killed.
She eventually moved back to South Africa to bury her family and mourn their loss.
Four years after the attack, Hannelie will tell you, “It is well with my soul”. Although it wasn’t easy for her to find this peace, she knows God has been with her.
Hannelie eventually wrote a book about her experience and today, she is remarried and continues to travel and speak alongside Afghan Christians both inside Afghanistan and around the world.
Hannelie said she is often asked if she was ever angry with God for the deaths of her family members, and her answer is “never”.
“We had a clear calling”, she said. “We had a mandate with this; we counted the cost. We knew that something like this could happen. God allowed that for a reason.
“I know that they are actually chasing me on to finish the race as well, to finish well”, she continued. “I believe one day Jean-Pierre will say, ‘Mum, what took you so long to get here?’ I believe they are where they are supposed to be, on Jesus’ lap, and I cannot wait to be there as well. But I have to finish this race for the Lord”.
We first told Hannelie’s story in October 2017; this is the most recent update
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