You might wonder why it has taken me three weeks to write another blogpost on my five-week African trip. The answer is simple: When I left Lilongwe in Malawi late Sunday night on June the 30th to catch my flight for Nairobi, I was soundly unaware that I had left both my computer and phone chargers in my room at Madidi Lodge! What a shock to realize, having arrived at my new destination outside Nairobi in Kenya after a twelve-hours, that I could not charge my laptop or my phone. I gained new respect for my 19th-century missionary forebears (and so many others like them) who sailed far away into an unknown world, knowing they would only hear from home in eight months’ time perhaps.
Long story short, though I received the chargers through DHL yesterday, God’s abundant mercy provided a really nice Kenyan fellow who helped me to find just the right charger for my phone in his little electronics store. I was so happy that I could call Margherita again, for two days without any contact felt like a lifetime! Munching on some “biltong” and “beskuit” my parents gave me before saying goodbye to them in Pretoria, also helped me in the evenings to drive the intense longings away. For those of you who don’t know, these are the best delicacies you can find anywhere in the world!
An unforgettable conference for church leaders
We were here in Nairobi for a conference organized for African pastors and church leaders from all over the continent. It was sponsored by two organizations, the one based in South Africa and the other in the UK. There were almost 120 of us present, many coming from the frontier between Islam and Christianity in the Sahel, but also from the rest of Africa as far as Angola and Zimbabwe. It is hard to relate the impact their testimonies had on me. Many of them have experienced Islamist terror right where they live. In fact, even as we were meeting, we heard that hundreds of Christians were being slaughtered in the country of Mali in West Africa.
When you sit next to a pastor of Nigeria and he tells you how insurgents caused chaos and destruction in his village before his very eyes, killing many, you are left speechless. Asking him how they are coping in such circumstances, he simply went on to quote Bonhoeffer’s famous saying: “When Christ calls a man to follow him, he calls him to come and die”. Suddenly those words felt so incredibly real to me. Not all the stories dealt with persecution, but all spoke of intense love for our Saviour and a sincere desire to follow Him. A young brother from Uganda told me how richly God has blessed his work as an evangelist and how many have come to faith, so that they struggle to keep up with supplying Bibles to all.
There was one other conversation that I won’t forget as long as I live. During dinner, I sat next to a sweet soft-spoken Somali lady, covered in her colourful traditional veil. As she spoke I struggled repeatedly not to choke. She was telling me how she goes into her homeland to find and encourage Christians who can’t dare to make their identity known, let alone ever meet with anyone for worship, lest they are killed. As she related her experiences… and the longing of these believers to just have the slightest bit of fellowship, I realized how precious our Lord Jesus becomes to those whom He loved from eternity. Many of these Somali Christians have come to faith through dreams… and after that have very little to live by spiritually. I have seldom felt the presence of God so tangibly as when I prayed for her. We were in the presence of the Man of Sorrows who reigns in glory and who will soon appear as the King of kings to set his people free and to crush Satan under our feet.
A rare watchman on Zion’s walls
For four days we listened to a speaker who spoke to us about every possible aspect of Islam, the current political situation in the world, and why Africa has become the main battleground between Christianity and Islam since the turn of the century. Ever since 9/11 and especially since the Western attack on Moammar Ghaddafi’s Libya, the Muslim world has escalated its push into Africa with new intent and potency, targeting Christians in particular. The horrific attack on a University in Garissa, Kenya illustrated this fact very poignantly in 2015: they are going for Christians, not just anyone!
According to our speaker “we” are currently losing this war. Astronomic amounts of money continue to pour in from America’s close ally Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States to further the cause of the strictest form of Islam in Africa. Yet the church in Africa is too fragmented and unorganized to face what is coming. What’s more, she has been largely left orphaned by her “mother” in the West, who gave birth to her during the age of missions. That made me so thankful for the two organizations, inspired by believers from the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and some Evangelical Anglicans from England, to sponsor this event.
The church in Africa – said our speaker – must abandon her naivety to think that her “government” or Western intervention will protect her. Western governing elites seem way too much enamoured with the Muslim Brotherhood, and too much focussed on their own “national interests”, to really concern themselves about Africa. Our speaker knew what he was talking about, as he has been a consultant for anti-terrorist Western intelligence services for years and as he is on speaking terms with leading Middle Eastern politicians. He also went on to tell us how utterly unprepared we are for Islam’s quest and program for world domination, called dawa.
As I sat listening to him I could not but realize how our political correctness and fear to speak the truth, are paralyzing us to rise to the challenge, also back in my home country Canada. May God wake us all up before it is too late. Our speaker said that we are facing a crisis that is even greater than the rise of Fascism or Communism, because it is so deeply religiously driven and over 13 centuries old. This does not mean most of the Muslims living among us might not be peace-loving people. The problem is they are not determining the program and the future. That will be determined by organizations like the OIC (Organization for Islamic Cooperation), representing most of the 1,6 billion Muslims in the world. Thus far their aim is world domination plain and simple, and their means is dawa, of which militant jihad is simply an extension. Our speaker compared Islam in Muslim-minority countries to a cute little kitten you’d like to play with when it is small, but which will soon turn into a formidable tiger! The aim of dawa is nothing less than sharia for all. And sharia will impact every single aspect of life as we know it.
Listening to our brother who spoke on his feet for four days straight was not always easy since he worked on a pretty dark canvass. I often wondered how my African brothers and sisters must have felt. From what I learned they were only deeply thankful and motivated. I also had the deepest respect for this man (who must be deep into his sixties) that God saved him from Islam many years ago, and equipped him throughout years of scholarship and experience in counter-terrorism intelligence, to sound the clarion call to a sleeping world. I don’t think I could ever be the same after attending this conference. The organizers made sure of that by giving each conference-goer a stack of books written by our speaker. We will be guilty before our Maker, if we do not consider it our holy calling to raise awareness of what is busy happening in Africa, Europe and in many parts of the world (Proverbs 24:10-12).
A Biblical perspective
In my mind, Revelation 5-7 I provides the necessary context to digest what we were learning throughout this week. It tells us that the Lamb of God alone is worthy to open the scroll. And as He opens the first seal, four horsemen appear. The first one representing political power; the second war; the third economic scarcity; and the last one death on a massive scale. It is then that the souls of those martyred for the Saviour cry out from under the altar: “How long Lord?” The answer comes that they must wait just a little while longer, until their number is complete. The next scene is that of the mighty and the ordinary, of young and old, crying out to the rocks and the mountains to fall on them and protect them from the face of God and the Lamb… for His wrath has come!
And then in chapter seven we read about the complete number of the saints, sealed by God, gathered around his throne… a multitude that no one could number. They come from every tribe and tongue and nation and cry out: “Salvation belongs to our God and to the Lamb!” When someone then asked who these people were and where they came from, the answer was ever so wonderful: “They came out of the great tribulation and have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb”. Then we are told how they stood before the throne of God, serving Him day and night, and how God is sheltering them with his very presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more,
the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (ESV)
Meeting a dear brother and friend after 30 years.
And so one of the most memorable weeks of my life came to an end. One other highlight during the week was that I saw for the first time in thirty years a dear brother, Sas Conradie. He was a close friend and classmate when we studied for the ministry at the University of Pretoria in the late ’80s. He has been living with his family in the UK for years, where he is currently working for an organization supporting the church in Africa. It brings him to many different African countries on a regular basis.
Sas told me that he had visited the Rwandan Genocide Museum in Kigali. His chilling observation was that genocide against South Africa’s small white minority is a very real possibility. The signs are definitely there, as Genocide Watch also warned. When it happens – God forbid- it will happen very quickly, like in Rwanda in 1994, when close to a million Tutsi’s we slaughtered in a matter of months. (The grim reality of this horrific Rwandan event was brought home to me personally in August 2019, when we met with a surviving Tutsi in our home, who lost both his parents and several siblings during then genocide).
It only requires a minority of 10-15% radicalized people, believing another part of the population does not belong in the country, to trigger a tragedy of mega proportions. We are thankful that the South African president as well as the Minister of Agriculture spoke out clearly against farm murders recently… but the situation is far from safe yet.
We will not fear but trust the Lord who made heaven and earth. Christ said that we must work (and pray!) while it is day, for the night comes when no one can work. By God’s mercy, may that night not arrive for the beloved country, but rather a day full of hope.
In my next post, I hope to tell you about my visit to Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria. May God bless you all and be strong in the Lord.