A MISSIONARY who has experienced being bombed by warplanes while distributing Bibles in Sudan exhorted Christians to fulfil the Great Commission when he visited Port Alfred last week.
The experiences of Dr Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship sound similar to the persecution the apostle Paul faced when he went on his missionary journeys.
For over 33 years, Hammond has pioneered missionary outreaches, including into the war zones of Mozambique, Angola and Sudan. In the course of his missionary activities, he has been ambushed, come under aerial and artillery bombardments, been stabbed, shot at, beaten by mobs, arrested and imprisoned.
But nothing has dampened his spirit, his faith and his drive to fulfil the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20.
Showing slides of Frontline Fellowship’s mission work in various countries, Hammond said: “Nothing quite motivates you to pray when you’re driving past tanks that didn’t survive and you’re in a soft shell car.”
He encouraged believers to make their stand for Christ early, and to be salt and light in business, education, the arts, sports, medicine, the government and the judiciary.
“It is a battleground,” he said. “Secular humanists in power have declared war on Christians.”
As a young man in the South African army, he made a declaration of his faith and said to his fellow soldiers, “If anyone feels the same as me, see me afterward.”
The group that met was where Frontline Fellowship started.
“We prayed for our enemies, for the liberation movement, for those states we later entered as missionaries,” Hammond said.
He and his team are currently on a month-long mission around South Africa, with 38 different stops.
“Our vision is Africa for Christ,” he said.
He led the gathering at Word of Truth church in an a cappella rendition of the old missionary hymn, From Greenland’s Icy Mountains, which he said had motivated more people to missions than anything else.
“We’re called to far more than share the gospel,” he said. “It must be put into practice – we need to put feet to our faith. We are not only to make disciples of individuals and families, but entire nations. The Great Commission ought to be our supreme ambition.
“Nothing that God has commanded us to do is impossible. A handful of disciples in an upper room went out and changed the world.”
Illustrating the enormity of the task, Hammond said there are 12 000 ethno-linguistic people groups in the world, that 21% of the world’s population are Muslim and 13% are Hindu.
“The United Nations are not united and don’t represent nations. They’re just a bunch of gangsters with flags – the biggest group of criminals under one roof. Many are involved in human rights abuses and human trafficking,” Hammond said.
He said 66 countries restrict religious freedom and persecute Christians, and over 400-million Christians live under governments which persecute Christians.
“Are you praying for the Muslim world? Are you praying for persecuted Christians?” he asked the audience.
“In Sudan, churches of wood and thatch were bombed by supersonic jets. I ministered in Sudan. We’ve been in the middle of bombing raids,” he said.
“In Nigeria 17 000 Christians have been murdered and 1 000 churches attacked. We’re seeing Islamic terrorism increase – not because they’re winning, but because they’re losing. Muslims are turning to Christ.”
He said what was happening in Iraq was genocide. “Since the so-called liberation one-million Christians have fled. They were safer under Saddam Hussein than under the so-called Muslim democracy.
“Churches that have stood for a millennium have been destroyed. How would our people do with persecution? People who are willing to die for Christ are not doing it for popularity or convenience. Their message is – they may destroy our churches but they’ll never destroy our faith.”
He said Frontline Fellowship had shown the Jesus film in 100 languages and he had personally shown it in 30 languages.
Before it was divided into two countries, “we smuggled 9 000 Bibles into Sudan, the largest smuggling operation into a Muslim country,” he said.
“We move about 190 tons of Bibles and books a year.”