Orlando massacre – Learning from our hurt

charl's testimony 2.008“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Having survived a terrorist attack, my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones at the Orlando massacre of Monday morning. Such senseless terror hurts not only direct victims, but their families, friends and society at large. This is the aim of terrorism, to instill fear in the population, in the pursuit of political goals, by using violence and intimidation.

A missionary colleague asked the following in her Facebook post: “Question: how many people in that club were able to shoot back?”

None, legally. Because it served alcohol, the Pulse nightclub was a gun-free zone.

We need to understand that gun-free zones, whether instituted by your local or national government, are—unfortunately, other than a mother’s womb—among the most dangerous environments to find yourself in. Don’t live, work or even visit them. If you already do, fight to change these laws so that you can legally protect the lives of your innocent family and friends.

The attack

On July 25, 1993, I sat in a Sunday evening church service in Cape Town, South Africa. Suddenly, the front door swung open. Terrorists Sichumiso Nonxuba, Bassie Mkhumbuzi, Gcinikhaya Makoma and Tobela Mlambisa—strapped with automatic rifles—burst through, lobbing live hand grenades.

The deafening explosions splintered several rows of pews, shrapnel sprayed the congregation. The terrorists then opened fire; the whizzing bullets struck scores of unsuspecting and unarmed Christian men and women.

Thankfully, not everyone in attendance was defenseless – there were armed congregants.

Kneeling behind a pew, I drew my snub-nose revolver. Knowing from my former military training that gunfights are won with aimed fire, I targeted a terrorist and returned fire. Stunned at the existence of armed resistance, the cowardly attackers scrambled to flee. The now-infamous Saint James Church massacre left eleven churchgoers dead and more than 50 wounded. The police said that without intervention, the death count would have been much higher. One of the terrorist leaders later admitted his greatest desire was to see every Christian present, killed. They also planned to throw four petrol bombs into the church.

The reason I maintained composure, returned fire and thwarted greater carnage was because—by God’s grace and wisdom—I’d sat in the church many times before and pondered my possible responses should such an attack ever unfold. South Africa was then roiling in tensions over apartheid. The terrorists later claimed that all whites were legitimate targets (ignoring the inconvenient reality that the church was 40 percent black).

So, I knew that I needed to be prepared.

My friends, preparation is a requirement for responsible living—whether you live in Africa, or America. After all, how many mass shootings can we mourn and then, as the pain fades, push aside as though there’s no risk to us? Very likely the victims of the Pulse shooting thought themselves little risk for death by a sudden terrorist attack.

Gunning up

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America deals with gun control laws in the Foreword to my book: Shooting Back. He writes: “Any law that makes self-defense illegal or impractical is an illegitimate law, because such a law ultimately subjects people to the criminal element. When governments pass laws favoring criminals, then governments are on the wrong side and have lost their legitimacy.”

“I’m Gonna Die.” Was the last text from a victim of the Orlando nightclub massacre. You don’t want to shoot a text when you can rather shoot a gun. Carrying a gun for self-defense was illegal for those victims.

Possessing a firearm does not guarantee that you’ll escape unscathed from all violent encounters. But surely firearms play an important role in giving you and your family a better chance of survival.

The famous words of actor Christian Slater: “It’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it”, still rings true today.

So, sharpen your sword, which is the Word of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only means to effectively deal with wickedness and change the world. Disciple the nations!

Also, arm yourself, get training and ponder your possible responses to various forms of violence!

Charl van Wyk

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