TRC Reports on St James Church Massacre (video)

A terrorist attack on St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa left 11 people dead and 58 wounded.

At about 7:30pm, on Sunday 25th July, while the congregation of 1400 listened to a hymn of worship, a group of gunmen burst into the church and opened fire with automatic weapons.

"I noticed the handle of the side door facing the congregation turn and then the doors were kicked open. A black man wearing some kind of overall was standing in the doorway. He was carrying an assault rifle - it looked like an AK 47. As he stepped forward he raised the rifle, cocked it and fired it on full automatic directly into the congregation."

Another eye-witness described it this way: "I saw this man kick open the door next to the stage and holding his rifle from the hip he opened up on us spraying bullets across a wide arc into the packed congregation. But before he even opened fire, two other black men who seemed to be wearing some olive green uniforms lobbed two handgrenades into the centre of the church."

"There was this trail of smoke from the grenades and a few puffs of smoke from the first shots fired. The grenades were still in the air when he started firing."

"As I dived under the pew for cover I heard two grenades explode. I looked up and saw pews sticking up into the air. The firing went on for a while and then suddenly everything was quiet."

For over 11 years Frontline Fellowship has taken the Gospel to the war zones. On Sunday 25th July 1993 the war zones came to us. Our mission headquarters are a few metres from St. James on the same road. Several of our workers are members and both my father and my brother were converted at St. James.

I had just been singing with my daughter and was about to pray with her before putting her to bed when the phone rang. "It was the worst nightmare, Peter, St. James has been attacked by terrorists."

As I sped to the church my mind reeled with the implications. I thought of my many friends there and prayed that they would be safe. Vivid memories of blood splattered churches and scenes of massacres in Angola and Mozambique flooded my mind.

As if in sympathy with the storm in many hearts, lightning flashed across the sky and the heavens wept in a blinding downpour of torrential rain. Above the roar of the rain the air was filled with wailing sirens from convoys of ambulances, police vehicles and fire engines as they converged upon 3rd Avenue, Kenilworth. Flashing lights and flashing lightning lit up a scene of dazed survivors fleeing from the church, weeping church-goers praying in the rain and frantic relatives searching for loved ones.

I was soaked as I stumbled into the church. The tiles in the foyer were smeared with blood. Inside the church there were several bodies lying on the bloodstained carpets or on shrapnel scarred pews. Some wooden pews were overturned. There was a hole in the floor where one grenade had exploded. Prayer books, music sheets, welcome cards and Bibles were strewn amongst the pools of blood. The ceiling was pockmarked with shrapnel.

To read the rest of this article, please go to the following website: "Frontline Fellowship" at the following URL:

www.frontline.org.za/articles/christians_underfire.htm

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