This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
Christian evangelist and author Charl Van Wyk is recalling the night, exactly 30 years ago, when terrorists attacked his church in South Africa, and he shot back.
His response, which left the terrorists stunned, drove them off.
And his actions prevented the possibility that dozens or hundreds more could have been killed, following the terrorists' initial attack that killed 11 and wounded 58.
He subsequently wrote "Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense" about his experience, making the Christian case for individuals arming themselves. The e-book and DVD documentary are both available at the WND Superstore.
He recalled that night, July 25, 1993:
"Grenades were exploding in flashes of light. Pews shattered under the blasts, sending splinters flying through the air. 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!"
He explained, "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."
That Sunday event, terrorists from the Azanian People's Liberation Army fired AK-47s and lobbed grenades, killing 11 and wounding 58 immediately.
They fled when Van Wyk fired back.
He's now released a statement, and a video testimony, about that night, and what he learned.
"Having struggled with hatred and unforgiveness after the attack, an idea struck home: the Biblical idea of reconciliation," he said. "Reconciliation is the restoration of cordial relations. It involves a change in the relationship between God and man and between man and man. It assumes there has been a breakdown in a relationship, yet also that a change from a state of conflict to one of fellowship can take place."
He explained, "God has provided reconciliation for us with Him through Jesus Christ's death. It involves repentance, turning to God, so that our sins may be wiped out, and times of refreshing that come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19-20) The Bible contains many examples of people reconciling with one another after having experienced hurt, conflict due to sin, or misunderstanding.
"I’ve been blown away at the friendships that have been forged after the massacre. I was invited to speak at the homecoming celebrations of former APLA Commander Letlapa Mphahlele, where I met his family and party officials. Another meeting in Khayelitsha testified to the cordial relations we can have with one another despite our many differences."
He said, "Letlapa introduced me to Gcinikhaya Makoma—one of the attackers who had been injured during the exchange of fire. Incarcerated at the time, Makoma and I met before the TRC hearings. I visited him in prison many a time thereafter. Lindelekile Ngqisha, former APLA unit commander, invited me to engage with members of the APLA Military Veterans Association (APLAMVA). An introduction to his pastor brother led to a joint feeding ministry for children during Covid."
He said, "The past 30 years have been ones of discovery in our many meetings over coffee and meals. We’ve spent time getting to know each other, discussing the Gospel, religion, politics, worldviews, and many other topics not usually discussed in polite company. We didn’t come to blows. We didn’t reengage violently. We didn’t even try to cancel each other. Despite our differences, we communicated with each other respectfully."
The attack has since become known as the St. James Church massacre.