Out of Africa
I was introduced to Charl Van Wyk by a reader of my website a couple years back. Since then, Charl and I have had some continuing conversations and hope to do a joint conference someday – either in his country or here in mine.
I knew as I began to read his recent article, I wanted to share it with you. I made that decision long before I read where he encouraged reading my book towards the end of his piece.
Don’t think of Africa as that much different than America when it comes to dealing with sometimes idiotic mindsets of faith leaders. Though Charl serves in a land where terrorism and true persecution is common (and growing), he too still faces similar theological twaddle that we do right here in America.
So enjoy Charl’s response to those who say, “if the attack is persecution – don’t fight back”. If you’ve heard Charl Van Wyk’s story, you know he has earned the right to an opinion on such a comment.
Defending the persecuted
“Do you think that when I returned fire at the attackers of the St James Church that I was wrong?” I asked my friend.
“No!” he replied. “You were justified in that the attack wasn’t motivated by the idea of persecuting Christians, but rather because the church was a soft target!”
The conversation started over discussion of the belief that Christians must defend themselves when attacked—but only if the attack is motivated by any reason other than Christian persecution. If the motivation is persecution, then no defense is permitted.
On July 25, 1993, our church was attacked by terrorists—terrorists trained by radical Muslims. Eleven congregants were murdered and over 50 injured from bursts of automatic rifle fire and tossed hand grenades—leveled at Christians gathered for the Sunday evening service.
You will be persecuted
The Apostle Paul warns us: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” 2 Timothy 3:12
This scripture is so often overlooked or left out by those who prefer reading only sections of the Bible dealing with wealth and prosperity. Make no mistake; those who want to follow Jesus Christ are being persecuted right now! Some may contend with minor persecution like ridicule and embarrassment, whilst others contend with the giving of their very lives. Worse still, some are forced to watch the decapitation of their dear children!
It is very important that we, as the Church, know how to respond to the increasing threats and attacks on Christians worldwide.
Jesus encouraged his disciples: “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Matthew 10:23
Fleeing is a legitimate means of defending yourself and your loved ones. I don’t mean fleeing and leaving your loved ones behind to face persecution. This is pure cowardice and should not be tolerated by godly men.
My missionary friends and I have experienced ambushes, aerial bombardments, rocket and artillery fire, theft, terrorism, capture and imprisonment. Utilizing lessons learned through surviving in conflict areas, we offer training for African Christians to withstand and resist violent attacks and survive in adverse circumstances.
Scripture is filled with instructions for enduring times of terror.
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8
"Watch, stand fast in the Faith, be brave, be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13
"A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished." Proverbs 22:3
At this time of crime, violence, instability and increasing threats against Christians worldwide, it is necessary to prepare.
"...'Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'" Nehemiah 4:14
God’s Law is not dependent on situational ethics, meaning, the situation or motivation of the attacker does not dictate whether we should defend the innocent.
It is impossible to know what motivates someone to do evil; we need to rather be very concerned about what our motives are for living the way we do and doing the things we do.
We cannot possibly know the reason for every church attack.
Right now I’m working with missionary friends to develop comprehensive security strategies for churches and ministries and provide practical, hands-on training for farmers, families, congregations, Missions, ministries, Bible colleges and other communities in the Body of Christ susceptible to surprise attack.
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9
The most Biblical action for the Western Church right now is to do everything in our might to stand up for those who “call on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ” and are suffering persecution.
These practical ideas can help protect our brothers and sisters in Christ:
Organize prayer meetings for the persecuted, their leaders, churches and families. Pray for reformation of such societies and revival in the hearts of the population.
Letter writing campaigns to your government officials; they must stop financially supporting the persecutors. Letters to the Editor: This is an excellent way to focus public attention on issues of concern. You can personally correct unbalanced reports in your local or national newspapers and magazines.
Speak out publicly: Use every opportunity to speak out for the persecuted Church.
Literature distribution: Hand out informational materials to friends and family members to inspire them regarding the plight of the persecuted.
Stage a peaceful protest: A placard demonstration in front of government buildings where this issue is being addressed often gets media coverage and always dramatically informs the community of your concerns.
Advertise in the public media: Put up posters in public areas.
· Use videos, bumper stickers and T-shirts to get your message across.
Delegations and interviews with influential people: Request interviews with government officials or your local Congressman.
Research the enemy and expose them: Find out all you can about the persecutors of the Church and expose their agenda publicly and in the media.
Read these books by my friends: Bill Kumpe, “Deadly Minutes Versus Precious Seconds,” and Carl Chin, “Evil Invades Sanctuary.” You won’t be sorry and who knows? You might save many lives by putting into practice the ideas of these seasoned authors.
God’s servants do good
Some might protest that we are commanded to “make it (y)our ambition to lead a quiet life” 1 Thessalonians 4:11. And so we should. A quiet life is the desire of every soldier, but when at war, it is not the time to be quiet – “there is a time for everything”.
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
When we actively resist tyranny, we are saying in effect that there is only one legitimate Kingdom, and the wicked kingdoms of men are illegitimate. They are not God’s servants to do us good, but rather evil powers that need to be resisted.
Ministry partners and I are, Lord willing, going to visit and encourage the body of Christ in a country that is known not only for Ebola, but also for the government trying to close evangelical churches and Boko Haram fighters having shot and burned to death about 90 civilians and wounded 500.
Please pray for the Prince of Peace to bring His Peace!
Think About it:
Ø Perhaps my favorite line in his response to this form of passivism is, “It is impossible to know what motivates someone to do evil; we need to rather be very concerned about what our motives are for living the way we do and doing the things we do.”
Ø Pray for Charl and even consider supporting his missionary effort with your church’s mission outreaches. Charl is in the heart of the battle we only hear about and has served in that environment for many years. He is the voice for fighting back in Africa.
Ø Get familiar with his website. http://www.charlvanwyk.info