Author Charl Van Wyk, who shot back at terrorists attacking a church meeting, will be touring the U.S. with tales of his African ministry, including his first-hand experience with Christian churches that aren’t prepared to defend themselves.
Van Wyk’s story of shooting back on July 25, 1993, when terrorists attacked and killed 11 people and injured another five dozen at a South African church, has been chronicled in “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”
But police later told him the terrorists confessed their plan was to kill everyone in the church, possibly 1,000 people or more, and his armed response is credited with saving many lives that day.
Through his ministry with Frontline Fellowship, however, Van Wyk has been working in regions that could be called “war-torn” sections of Africa, except that in the Congo, for example, there is no one shooting back, no one armed like he was during the St. James Massacre to prevent further bloodshed. Rather than calling these places “war-torn zones,” Van Wyk contends, they should simply be called “murder zones.”
Van Wyk warns of the plight of Congolese churches he’s seen in a nation where outlaws carry guns, but the people have no right to bear arms. After interviewing a woman whose village was raped and terrorized by armed rebels and learning of a pastor who was buried alive, his congregation helpless to fight back, Van Wyk wrote a letter to the editor in the Congo:
“It is very difficult for armed thugs to perform such tyranny if the local population were armed and could defend themselves,” van Wyk writes. “This kind of thuggery can only take place in a gun-free zone.”
Van Wyk will be touring the nation April 24-May 12, with stops in at least seven states and several radio and television appearances. When he stops at churches, he’ll likely be discussing his ministry among the persecuted believers in Africa, but in media appearances, he’ll often be called upon to address gun rights in America.
“To create a safe nation, arm the population,” Van Wyk told WND. Referring to the recently much-publicized massacre of more than a dozen immigrants in New York, he added, “An armed citizen could have made a difference at Binghamton.”
Though Van Wyk admits that there are disadvantages to having firearms in a society, he says lawmakers should consider the advantages.
“When last did you hear of a multiple-victim shooting taking place on a firearm range, in a police station or at a gun show, or wherever many firearms are found anywhere in the world? You haven’t. That’s because criminals prefer unarmed victims, or soft targets,” Van Wyk says. “No wonder they love gun control – it makes their work so much easier and their working environment much safer.”
In Christian circles, Van Wyk concludes, there is an additional imperative to be armed for self-defense.
“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,’” noted van Wyk. “Provision includes providing security. In fact our Lord Jesus taught, ‘If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’”
Quoting Jesus again, Van Wyk added, “‘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?”
Van Wyk’s experience in regions of Africa where criminals are armed but the citizenry is not has seasoned his perspective, but he warns that Americans cannot fail to be diligent in protecting their Second Amendment rights.
“We are on the brink of global change,” Van Wyk said in an exclusive interview with WND marking the 15-year anniversary of what now is known as the St. James Massacre. “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 added, “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?”
As WND also reported last year, Van Wyk was compelled to draw his firearm a second time, when he encountered a gang of thugs apparently intent on robbery or hijacking 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 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.
“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. “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.”
Van Wyk’s story of how he fought off a terrorist attack on his church has been published in both book and DVD documentary form by WND, describing July 25, 1993, the day that would become known in South Africa as the St. James Massacre.
A gang of terrorists, armed to the teeth, attacked a church filled with defenseless Christians. But van Wyk was in the congregation and was carrying a handgun. He fired back. The terrorists, who fled when they realized there was an armed opponent, later explained their plans had been to kill every single person in the sanctuary.
In his book “Shooting Back” Van Wyk not only documents the notorious and bloody attack, but offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical case for armed self-defense.
That account now also has now been translated into a video documentary – the first ever produced by WND’s new film division.
| Shooting Back video: