Fifteen years ago, Christian missionary Charl van Wyk viewed it as his duty to pull a handgun and shoot back when terrorists who had made plans for a sanctuary massacre attacked worshippers in St. James Church in South Africa. He says it still is a Christian’s duty to defend the innocent.
“In Proverbs 25:26 we read: ‘A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.’ Certainly, I would be faltering before the wicked if I chose to be unarmed and unable to resist an assailant who threatened the lives of God’s people,” he told WND in an exclusive interview for the 15th commemoration of what now is known as the St. James Massacre.
Eleven people were killed and dozens injured in the terrorist attack July 25, 1993, but van Wyk, who later chronicled his experience in “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense,” is credited with saving many lives that day, since the terrorists later admitted in custody they had planned to kill everyone in the church.
“The Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to Timothy, ‘But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially of those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’ (1 Timothy 5:8) Provision includes providing security,” van Wyk said. “In fact our Lord Jesus taught: ‘… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’ Luke 22:36.
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbour as yourself,'” he said. “Are we loving our neighbor when we stand by and do nothing when he is being murdered or a woman is being raped?”
“Grenades were exploding in flashes of light. Pews shattered under the blasts, sending splinters flying through the air,” he recalled. “An automatic assault rifle was being fired and was fast ripping the pews – and whoever, whatever was in its trajectory – to pieces. We were being attacked!
“Instinctively, I knelt down behind the bench in front of me and pulled out my .38 special snub-nosed revolver, which I always carried with me,” he writes in “Shooting Back.” “I would have felt undressed without it. Many people could not understand why I would carry a firearm into a church service, but I argued that this was a particularly dangerous time in South Africa.”
Van Wyk said that “dangerous time” isn’t over yet.
“We are on the brink of global change. The United Nations has a disarmament program to remove private firearms from all nations. Hundreds of millions of people throughout the world suffer hideously through political systems, which have imposed a disarmament program based on oppression and lies,” he said.
“In South Africa, the communist-inspired African National Congress is imposing a politically motivated disarmament program that will leave law-abiding citizens defenseless. … There is a war of worldviews on gun control being fought right now across the world.
“We have no choice except action,” he said. “The results of gun control can indeed be catastrophic e.g. Rwanda was a gun-free zone and so too is Zimbabwe today. This period of our history is decisive. Are our children going to live as slaves or as a free people?”
Van Wyk says he’s seen some changed minds about self-defense.
“What was previously considered repulsive, i.e., carrying a firearm to church or protecting one’s life with lethal force, appears to have gained the upper moral ground – unfortunately, I must add that much of the ‘changed minds’ has been due to victims suffering at the hands of homicidal maniacs,” he said.
He cited specifically an attacker who shot and killed two Christian missionaries at a Youth With A Mission location in a Denver suburb in late 2007, and then hours later shot and killed two parishioners of a Colorado Springs church.
“If the liberal establishment had not forced their gun-free agenda, many lives might have been saved by armed citizens,” van Wyk said.
In fact, the Colorado attacker was stopped by an armed woman who was volunteering as a security guard at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs that day.
He said Christians need to be ready not only to take physical action should a danger present itself, but they need to prepare themselves mentally as well.
“It is so much easier just to give up and give in to the demands of those who are terrorizing others, but such compromise is not the way of the faithful servant of Jesus Christ. We must stand up for what we believe in, even to death,” he said. “And we must not allow people of other religions and political persuasions to enforce their ungodly views upon us in whatever manner they deem fit.
“We as Christians have not only a right but also a duty to protect the innocent and to look after those whom God as entrusted to us,” he said.
Society must deal with terrorists “extremely severely by law,” he advised, and he urged Christians to be knowledgeable.
“There is a war of worldviews going on in the world and people need to understand the threat and how they can make a difference,” he said.
“There is a lot to be done; I’m very excited about the future. If we all take responsibility and assume that dealing with issues is our personal responsibility until we find out otherwise; we can win this battle against worldwide disarmament. We must save lives and frustrate the New World Order of the U.N.,” he said.
Would he, personally, pull his gun again should he perceive danger to himself and others?
“I did,” he told WND,
He cited his actions just a few weeks ago when he encountered a gang of thugs apparently intent on robbery or hijacking while at a South African conference.
When the attackers’ attention was diverted from him briefly, he drew and cocked his handgun. He shouted at them to distract their attention from his passenger, then opened fire, apparently injuring one of the three assailants. Van Wyk and two other men intended as victims were unhurt, but the Frontline Fellowship has incurred significant expenses replacing paperwork such as passports taken by the attackers.
“I firmly believe that the most Biblical action I could take at the time was to protect the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ from the onslaught. In fact, if I did not try to protect them when I had the opportunity to do so, I would have broken the commands of Scripture,” he said.
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