In an age of frequent terror attacks and school shootings – even church massacres like the one in Texas last year that resulted in 26 deaths – many Americans wonder what they would do if confronted with such an unthinkable scenario.
One man who experienced exactly such an attack – and who has striven ever since to share with others the unique lessons he learned – is Charl Van Wyk, who, 25 years ago today, single-handedly fought back against a terrorist gang armed with automatic weapons that broke into his church.
Van Wyk, who carried a concealed handgun into the St. James Anglican Church in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 25, 1993, shot back at those terrorists bent on mass slaughter and ultimately was credited with saving a great many lives.
Van Wyk later wrote a book and participated in a film documentary version, both titled, “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”
A devout Christian, Van Wyk urges politicians to rise above the “politically correct” and do the biblically correct thing with regard to protecting the lives of the innocent – and that doesn’t mean “gun control,” he says.
“In Israel, teachers and parents, serving as school aides, are armed at all times on school grounds, with semi-automatic weapons. Since this policy was adopted in the 1970s, attacks by gunmen at schools in Israel have ceased,” he said.
“In 2004, Thailand adopted a similar approach for safety of children. It may be politically incorrect, but it does have the advantage of saving the lives of innocent children and teachers. The policy? Encouraging teachers to carry firearms.” he continued. “Though Thailand’s government is extremely hostile to gun ownership in general, it has recognized that teachers ought to be able to safeguard their students and themselves,” he said.
“Maybe we can learn something from these countries,” he added.
Van Wyk’s own story of self-defense – and the defense of the innocent – dates to 25 years ago today, an event that would become known as the St. James Massacre. That was when terrorists in Cape Town invaded the St. James Church Anglican Church with automatic weapons. About a dozen members of the congregation were killed, with dozens more injured.
But incredibly, the terrorists fled when Van Wyk, who was carrying a handgun with him, returned fire, injuring one terrorist.
Van Wyk was recognized by authorities with a commendation for his actions, which likely saved dozens, if not hundreds, of lives of church congregants.
Van Wyk notes that the commander of the church attackers, Letlapa Mphahlele, later admitted, “There we thought that the church was a ‘gun free zone,’ but boy did he [Van Wyk] have a surprise for us!”
“U.S. school shooting incidents prove that proclaiming gun-free zones at learning institutions does not prohibit homicidal maniacs from entering these premises. In fact, expecting such an individual to honor a law prohibiting firearms is sheer utopian fantasy,” Van Wyk told WND.
“History and common sense prove that gun-free zones are dangerous,” he said. “Do mass shootings ever occur in police stations, on shooting ranges or at gun shows? Mass murderers select soft targets for their acts of violence.
“Declaring gun-free zones, risks leaving potential victims defenseless,” he said. “Gun-free zones merely make the working environment of the criminals safer.”
“We, as Christian gun owners, do not put our trust in our guns, but in God,” Van Wyk said. “A firearm is merely a tool that can be used for righteous purposes, like the protection of life,” or for negative and violent purposes. “‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God.’ Psalm 20:7,” Van Wyk said.
He noted Oliver Cromwell’s advice to troops at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642, “‘Put your trust in God, my boys, but mind to keep your powder dry.'”
Van Wyk said it is “by God’s grace” that he has survived two violent attacks with guns.
The first was the terror attack on the church, and the second an attempted car-jacking.
“In both cases, the gun in my hand was far more useful than a cop on the phone,” he said.
He said the suddenness of such attacks leaves only one option for protection.
“The only person who can make any difference when faced with a violent attacker is the person who is right there, right then,” he said.
That’s exactly what Stephen Willeford said after shooting the perpetrator in the worst church shooting in U.S. history, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last year. In a very poignant NRA commercial, Willeford recounted his encounter with the mass shooter, and ending by saying, “I’m not the bravest man in the world or anything, but I was here. I was here, and I could do something. And I had to do something.”
Watch Stephen Willeford in the NRA commercial about the 2017 Texas church massacre:
“Instant response to a life-threatening situation is always best – ‘the clean-up team’ are just that,” said Van Wyk – ‘the clean up team.’ The police cannot be everywhere, all the time, to protect you,” he said.
He also noted that self-defense is entirely biblical.
“Sometimes we also read into Scripture that which is not taught, e.g., ‘But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also’ (Matthew 5:39). This is dealing with our response to a personal insult. It should not be read to mean: ‘If someone murders your wife, let him murder your child too.’ The Bible clearly teaches, ‘A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well’ (Proverbs 25:26). Surely we would be ‘faltering before the wicked’ if we cannot protect worshipers in a church!”
“Besides the mother’s womb, gun-free zones are the most dangerous places on earth,” he added, arguing that strict gun control actually lead to more crime.
“At the end of the day, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves. The only person who can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun; nobody else will be of much help,” he said.
Get Charl Van Wyk’s acclaimed book and documentary, “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense.”
See Van Wyk describe his shooting experience and its aftermath: