Do Christians Care? (1 October 2004) PDF Print E-mail

 

Sunday Times 
P O Box 1742 
Saxonwold 
2132

1 October 2004

Dear Editor

DO CHRISTIANS CARE?

“It is hard to take pro-lifers seriously when they ignore the suffering of women and children in places like Sudan .” That’s the challenge from Barry Ronge in a prominent article in the Sunday Times
Barry Ronge throws down the gauntlet and challenges Christians in these words: “I will know that the war on international bigotry has turned the corner when I see a major international awareness and fundraising campaign in support of the mothers and children in Darfur , Sudan , and other similar trouble spots that is spearheaded and paid for by the anti-abortion groups. That would convince me that they have a genuine humanitarian and moral concern about children’s right to life…it would comfort me to know that they had some passion and some cash to spare for the living children who exist on what must seem like the brink of hell, if not hell itself. Such a campaign would dispel my anxious perception that they care a great deal about the rights and protection of an unborn foetus, but the moment that foetus becomes a child, it becomes someone else’s problem. Sought of like ‘Hi baby. Welcome to the world but from this point on, kid, your on your own’.”!
Christians in South Africa have become accustomed to hostility and prejudice in the media and the kind of sweeping generalisations and condemnation from secular humanists like Barry Ronge. However, this is a challenge which we need to answer. 

PRO-LIFERS IN SUDAN
The fact is that South African pro-lifers have been spearheading campaigns in support of mothers and children suffering in Sudan and other similar trouble spots. Since 1995 Frontline Fellowship has conducted over 70 missions into Sudan delivering many tons of medicines, agricultural tools and seeds, Bibles and books and school supplies to some of the most remote and neglected parts of that war torn country. Frontline Fellowship is a founder member of United Christian Action, now the Christian Action Network, which has co-ordinated many major pro-life events and initiatives in South Africa. Africa Christian Action, which since 1991 has organised pro-life prayer vigils and demonstrations, the Life Chains, Sanctity Life Sunday and the National Day of Repentance, is a ministry of Frontline Fellowship. 
The very same missionaries who have presented pro-life submissions to Parliament, organised and led the Sanctity Life Sunday, National Day of Repentance and Life Chain campaigns for the right to life of pre-born babies in South Africa , have delivered an ambulance and tons of medicines and agricultural tools and seed to the destitute in Sudan . 
SPEAKING UP FOR THE SUFFERING 
However, Barry Ronge’s challenge goes even further: “Would it not distinguish a pro-life organisation if, for just one week, they would use their religious TV networks, their numerous internet sites, their pulpits and media connections to motivate their supporters…apply whatever pressure they could to bring relief to the kids in Darfur and the other places of the world where suffering is great and the chances of survival are minimal…that’s why I wonder about the silence of these groups who are so vocal as the defenders of children’s rights and the protectors of new life from the very instant of inception.”
Perhaps Barry Ronge is not aware that those who produced “Fight For Life -A Pro-life Handbook for Southern Africa” and “Make A Difference -a Christian Action Handbook for Southern Africa”, who produce the pro-life stickers, import the precious feet lapel pins, and have conducted over a 1000 radio and TV programmes and public meetings in South Africa on the pro-life issues alone; are the very same people who since 1995 have lifted the virtual news blackout on the colossal conflict in Sudan. We are the ones who exposed the scorched earth tactics, the systematic terror bombing of civilian targets and the resurgence of the slave trade in Sudan . It was Frontline Fellowship’s book: Faith Under Fire In Sudan, and the Jeremiah Films documentaries Sudan the Hidden Holocaust and Terrorism and Persecution which Frontline helped produced which first alerted people to the plight of Christians suffering under the relentless Islamic Jihad in Sudan . 

I have personally, on over 1000 radio and TV programmes and probably as many public meetings over the last nine years exposed the horrific atrocities of the Islamic government and the inspiring stories of Christian faith under fire in Sudan . 
If Barry Ronge would visit the Africa Christian Action website: www.christianaction.org.za he would see that indeed this pro-life ministry is using its website to also speak up for those who are suffering in Sudan . For the last nine years, ACA’s weekly radio programme, Salt & Light, aside from frequently dealing with the right to life of pre-born babies, has also conducted numerous interviews with missionaries to restricted access areas such as Sudan and mobilised Box With Love projects to bring relief to suffering families, to support community schools in Sudan and recruit medical volunteers to establish hospitals and clinics to alleviate suffering in that troubled land. 
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS 
Barry Ronge questions whether we pro-lifers have “a genuine humanitarian and moral concern about children’s right to life…” When our missionaries drive up overland from Cape Town to Sudan to deliver desperately needed aid and to minister to the suffering in Sudan , that involves an 8000km journey by road – one way. 

We have also flown far behind enemy lines into the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan in no-fly zones where the government maintained a shoot-on-sight policy. The Nuba is an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam . For over a decade the Nuba Mountains were the target of the most vicious scorched earth campaign. Almost every village was burned down, most of the crops were razed. Most of the livestock were looted by government militia. Almost every church was destroyed. Hundreds of Christian men were crucified. A million Nubans were placed in concentration camps, where they were forcibly Islamised and Arabised. Children were separated from their parents, compelled to learn Arabic, beaten if they attempted to speak their own language, deprived of food and water if they failed to learn the Quran fast enough. Many of these children were later trained to go and fight their own people on behalf of the government of Sudan . 
Yet, 300 000 Free Nuba successfully resisted the Islamic Jihad, holding out in their mountain sanctuaries, eking out a precarious existence while the Sudan Air Force bombed and rocketed them, and government of Sudan forces sowed landmines in their areas. Despite raids by slave traders, aerial and artillery bombardments, and scorched earth tactics, these Free Nuba continued to stand fast. It was to these courageous Christians that we smuggled in many tons of agricultural tools and seed, school supplies and Bibles. We also had to take in landmine clearing equipment, metal detectors, to help these long-suffering people remove the tools of terror sown amongst their crops, on their paths and around their wells. 
FAITH UNDER FIRE 
While ministering in Sudan , our teams have been strafed by helicopter gun ships and bombed by the Sudan Air Force. I have personally come under artillery and aerial bombardment while preaching in church services in Sudan , including getting bombed on Sunday in church. The community which included the Frontline Fellowship mission base, school, chapel and clinic was bombed ten times by the Sudan Air Force, including by MIG-23 jets. 

WHAT AID HAVE YOU GIVEN? 
It is encouraging to read that Barry Ronge has developed a concern for those suffering in “ Sudan and other similar trouble spots”. What I would like to know is what he has actually done for these persecuted people? 

CHOICE IN CHINA
I accept Barry Ronge’s challenge. It is hard to take pro-lifers seriously if they ignore the suffering of women and children in places like Sudan . But, surely, it is just as true that it is very hard to take pro-choices seriously when they ignore the suffering of women and children in places like Sudan . In fact, what are pro-choices doing about the suffering of women in Red China who are not even allowed a choice? The one-child-policy in China has included forcible sterilisations, forcible abortions and infanticide. What have pro-choices done to oppose the absence of choice for parents in Red China? 
CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS 
What about the choices of doctors and nurses in South Africa who choose not to pervert their healing profession and be pressured into killing babies? Do pro-choices in South Africa respect the conscientious objections of the vast majority of medical professionals in South Africa to participate in the taking of life through abortion? 

Actually, NO, pro-life doctors and nurses in South Africa are finding themselves under increasing pressure to have no choice at all. Far from respecting the sincerely held religious and ethical convictions of these medical professionals, pro-choices are seeking to deprive such principled practitioners of positions in state hospitals and promotion prospects. They even attempt to force medical professionals against their will to kill babies through abortion. 
Barry Ronge’s Sunday Times article “Life After Birth” asks what Christians are doing for “unwanted”children after they are born. The answer is that pro-life Christians worldwide maintain and fund thousands of crisis pregnancy centres, unwed mothers homes and adoption agencies. Literally hundreds of thousands of Christians worldwide have adopted babies. No one is doing as much as pro-life Christians to care for street children, orphans and the destitute. 

Dr Peter Hammond 
P O Box 74 , 
Newlands, 772, 
Cape Town , 
South Africa 
Tel.:             +27 21 689 – 4480      , 
Fax: +27 21 685 – 5884, 
E-Mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.frontline.org.za

 
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