Find Hope

I pointed my rifle at the black people and prayed.

"Do I shoot innocent little kids or do I rebel?"


We were going through the townships and I had a loaded weapon in my hand because I was part of the Apartheid Regime to bring control over black people.

When I was growing up there were thirty-three million people in South Africa. Three million were white and thirty million were black. There were sixty guys in my platoon at the time, each with sixty live rounds of ammunition. As we were walking, as a troop, we were walking down the road, there was a school there. The kids came out of the school on mass. They started throwing stones and screaming at us. The lieutenant that was in charge of our troop told us to take aim, load our weapons, and take aim. I became cold because at this time I was already born again and I had given my life to Jesus. I loved these people and he told us to "take aim". I went through one of the most difficult experiences of my life. Do I shoot innocent little kids or do I rebel? What is it that you do? 

White people had their toilets in public spaces and black people had their toilets. White people had certain seats on buses. The way that the minority tried to control this majority was to teach them in a language that the kids could not understand. Kids were rebelling against the idea that they were being taught in another language. There was no reason for the school. Because they saw us as the oppressor they came out on mass and started doing their part by rebelling against the authority. So, what they did was pick up stones and sticks started throwing them all over the place. 

When I held that gun, my mind was that I was a Christian now. I had this incredible pain inside of my heart. I did not want to shoot anyone. The reason why was that I saw them as humans. I didn’t see them as something else. What do you do? The Bible tells us that we need to submit to our authorities. 

Right there I prayed and said, “Lord, please do something right now. I can’t shoot these people. It’s wrong. I raised my weapon slightly higher because I was going to rebel. I wasn’t going to shoot anyone. The Lord came down and answered that prayer right away. Those kids just dissipated and we got up and we walked again. When I prayed, they scattered and I was delivered. 

There was another time when I went into the township. This was after I finished being in the Army. I went into a township to go minister to a school. I went into that school and a white teacher had just been necklaced two weeks prior. They put a tire around their neck. Just a car tire, filled it with gasoline, and set it on fire. They called it necklacing. It was pretty gruesome. I saw a lot of that when I was in the Army. 

I did an evangelistic crusade at that particular school. The school auditorium was completely filled to capacity. There was a riot going on outside the school grounds. There were probably five or six hundred people all dancing with sticks. They call them knobkerries with the big head on the top which they bash your brains in with. They were picking up stones and all dancing. They started chanting, “We want the white man. We want the white man” because I happen to be white. The guy that was helping me set up the crusade said, “ You better get inside. We are actually very concerned that you are going to get killed today.”  I said, ‘No, I feel at peace. I feel like the Lord called me here to do this work and so I am going to do that. A little girl, twelve years old, came up to me, grabbed my Bible, and said, “Can I borrow your Bible?” I said, “Yes, of course.” (A little black girl.) She ran out to the fence. Right at the fence, she held up the Bible and she screamed at the top of her voice, “You want the white man? Here is the white man!” She held the Bible to these guys. As she screamed she said it over and over again. The crowd just went completely quiet. Down came the sticks. Down dropped the stones. They recognized that there was something bigger than race at play here. There was something more than just the color of our skin. That it was God. I think. 

The guy said to me, “Get in your car now and go. Now! Now is the time!” I got in my car very peacefully. As I drove out the people made a path and I just drove straight through the crowd that wanted to kill me. The little girl gave me my Bible as I passed her and I left the township. 

It was a very powerful and vivid experience of the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of people who want love to be the preeminent emotion inside of a society.

Mark - I pointed my rifle at the black people and prayed.

More videos by Mark Aitkenhead

More Stories view all 486