Rwanda and Rhodesia - April 2004 Print

 Solemn Commemoration

This month marks the tenth commemoration of the horrendous holocaust in Rwanda. I remember my mission to Rwanda as one of the most traumatic and disturbing and when I was the sickest. I can still remember the blood curdling screams at night, the piles of skulls and wading knee deep in corpses inside shattered churches. My book, Holocaust In Rwanda, has since been translated into French, and has been re-printed due to ongoing demand.

Ian Smith of Rhodesia
I recently had the privilege of having lunch with Mr Ian Smith, the man who for 15 years was the Prime Minister of Rhodesia. Since 1986 I've had the privilege of meeting with Mr Smith fairly regularly. His daughter lives in Cape Town and he visits at least once a year. Although Mr Smith is in his eighties, and quite frail, his mind is still as sharp as ever and his wit and insights make him a delight to enjoy fellowship with.

I still remember as a young boy of 14 first seeing the Prime Minister outside the Bulawayo Club in Rhodesia. I had heard that the Prime Minister was coming. Expecting some impressive entourage, I was standing by the entrance with my cat, Tim. I can still remember my surprise as I saw a rather humble Peugeot 404 park in front of the Bulawayo Club and out stepped Mr Ian Smith. The Prime Minister was completely alone. There was no driver or adjutant, no bodyguards or policeman visible anywhere. The Prime Minister had driven himself alone to the club. He stroked my cat who was sitting on the wall, smiled at me and walked into the club!

Almost ten years later I was in Harare on Samora Machel Avenue, when Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe came past. The contrast with Mr Smith's arrival couldn't have been more acute. First came eight motorbike outriders, then some police cars, two armoured luxury Mercedes Benz's with tinted windows (so you wouldn't know which one Mugabe was in) followed by another police car and by a truckload of soldiers with heavy weaponry. Sirens blowing. All vehicles on both sides of the road had to come to a complete stop at the side. And this, I was informed, was how Mugabe travelled every day.

When I mentioned this to Mr Smith, he laughed and commented that he was a lifelong Presbyterian, believed in the sovereignty of God, and as he had survived the Second World War did not see what he had to be afraid of. In fact, even during the war years, as Prime Minister, he would frequently travel alone, without a convoy, down to his farm at Gwelo. He would also often give all the staff at Government House the weekend off so that there would be not so much as a cook in the kitchen or a policeman at the gate. He and his wife would be alone at Government House and that was the way that they wanted it.

Mr Ian Smith is a remarkable statesman. He is one of the very few politicians that I have ever met who I can say is a man of integrity. He says what he means and means what he says. He is an example of an honourable man of his word.

During the Second World War, Ian Smith was a fighter pilot, first flying Hurricanes and later Spitfires. He was shot down twice, once in the North African desert and once over Italy. In Italy he managed to evade capture and fight behind enemy lines for five months before being able to re-join his own forces. He has written his memoirs: The Great Betrayal, which is a fascinating read.

Mr Smith continues to exemplify courage and principle as he remains in Zimbabwe working painstakingly for the rights and freedoms of its people amidst the horrific oppression and national suicide of Mugabe's ZANU - PF regime.

The Cross Still Triumphs Over The Switchblade
When David Wilkerson (of Cross and the Switchblade fame) visited South Africa recently, I had the joy of attending one of his Pastors Seminars. His message was dynamic. He urged all of us who are in the ministry not to allow Satan to discourage us; nor prevent us from continuing in the ministry - despite attacks from fellow believers. David Wilkerson gave a strong call not to allow anyone or anything to interfere with our seeking the face of God, and to protect our devotional life against all distractions. To not allow works to crowd out our worship. To wait upon God, to listen to God, and to seek the presence of God. It was a strong call to holiness, and to expect attacks - even from our own brothers.

The Elections and The Passion
As we head into National Elections here in South Africa next week, our country is being impacted by Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In the newspapers, on radio, in the streets and shops, we have an unprecedented opportunity to discuss with neighbours and strangers the meaning of the sufferings of Christ. The film presents a powerful antidote to the easy believism and cheap grace message which all too often dominates. The interest of Muslims in this film, The Passion, is also remarkable. Having heard the film is "anti-Semitic" Muslims are pouring in to see this film - even in the Middle East! All of this is providing unprecedented opportunities to discuss the atonement of Christ Jesus with people who would not normally be so open.

We have had numerous letters to the editor published and radio programmes over these issues. Our staff have also been on the streets distributing tens of thousands of Biblical Issues Voters Guides at train stations, bus stations, taxi ranks and at shopping centres. Our website has received many visits and have led to numerous media interviews. In response to just one radio interview on The Passion we received over 50 phone calls from listeners requesting the Gospel booklet we offered.

Please pray for South Africa as we approach Easter weekend and the elections. Pray that God may have mercy on our country and that there may be a revival of repentance.

"When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan."
Proverbs 29: 2

Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission

Peter Hammond
P O Box 74
Newlands, 7725
Cape Town
South Africa
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