Who will be brave enough to turn the tide of opinion by calling for divine help?
By Charles Gardner, Special to ASSIST News Service
DONCASTER, UK (ANS – July 3, 2017) — David Davis, who is being tipped by some as the next British Prime Minister, once sought my advice!
Strictly speaking, he wanted to pick my brains about South Africa, about which I had just written a feature, as he was keen to develop his interest in foreign affairs.
It happened 30 years ago, and I can’t remember what caused me to write that particular article on my native country. But I was sitting at my desk as editor of the Goole Times (Yorkshire), a weekly paid-for newspaper then with a circulation of around 5,000, when I got a call from the Conservative’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
Mr. Davis — now the “Rt. Hon” following the meteoric rise of his political career — suggested he take me out to lunch to talk it over and promised to get back to me with a date. I am still waiting for the invitation!
Never mind. I soon moved away from Goole, but have followed his career with great interest. He is still their local (Member of Parliament (MP), ran for the Tory (Conservative) leadership a while ago, and now appears to be in the frame again.1
However, I am glad to say that he is strongly urging his colleagues to avoid the temptation of jostling for position in the wake of Theresa May’s wobble at the polls.
As Brexit Secretary, he knows perhaps more than anyone that this is a time to steady the ship of state, or else we might end up in yet deeper waters, or even on the rocks.
I hope he is strong enough to pull the party together behind Mrs. May, because the alternative – in the words of a former South African leader in the apartheid days — is “too ghastly to comtemplate”.2
Since we didn’t have that lunch, here is some advice from my experience of South Africa that I can still offer, and which in fact brings us up to date.
Sadly, the legacy of Nelson Mandela is being trashed under the corrupt leadership of Jacob Zuma, and violence has spread through the land like a cancer — rather as it has in Europe, except that it wouldn’t strictly be classed as terrorism. The murder of white farmers, for example, was reaching epidemic proportions.
Then, one farmer — feeling that enough was enough (shades of Mrs. May?) — sent a message to Angus Buchan, a fellow farmer and evangelist who has become the father-figure, especially of Afrikaner Christians, in that land. “I think we should call the nation together to pray,” he suggested.
Oom Angus3 responded – and on April 22nd this year 1.7 million people travelled the length and breadth of the country to a farmer’s field just north of the central city of Bloemfontein, where they spent the day praying for God to intervene in their troubled nation.
They know that Christ, the “Prince of Peace”4, is their only hope for the future.
Mr. Davis was a soldier for a time, so he may well have realised that World War II, in which we fought a great battle against the evils of Nazism, was not just fought with Spitfires, bullets and bombs, but with the prayers of a nation who understood that only God could rescue us from such a threat. And I understand that the King called the nation to prayer no less than seven times! (The Israelites of old walked around the walls of Jericho seven times before it collapsed — Joshua 6.4).
Our plight today is in some senses worse, because the enemy can’t so clearly be seen. We face the twin threat of Islamic terrorism on the one hand, and moral decadence on the other after so carelessly discarding our rich Christian heritage.
The need for wise, astute politicians has never been greater – but as the Good Book says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1.7). We need to come together as a nation to pray, especially for our politicians!
In our politically-correct world where certain parliamentary candidates have been pilloried, pestered and persecuted for their Christian faith, it would take a very brave man (or woman) to say “enough is enough”, admit that the stormy seas we are sailing reflect lack of trust in God our creator, and call the nation to prayer.
When the disciples felt threatened by a furious storm on the Sea of Galilee, with the waves sweeping over their boat, they cried out to Jesus in panic. And after rebuking them for their lack of faith, he rebuked the wind and the waves, and all became calm. (Matthew 8.23-27)
It’s worth remembering that it was the calming of the sea, along with the descent of thick fog, which combined to allow for the miraculous evacuation of our troops from the beaches of Dunkirk – in answer to prayer of course!
And since we’re on the subject of MPs, I was heartened to see that Selby and Ainsty member Nigel Adams was leading the Lords and Commons cricket team in a match against the Lashings All-Stars to raise money for the victims of the Grenfell fire.
Scheduled to have been held in the shadow of the stricken tower, participants include former Test legends Brian Lara and Sir. Viv Richards along with Orpington MP Jo Johnson, brother of Boris who was said to be “too busy juggling balls in the Brexit talks”.5
I met Jo (a fine swing bowler, I recall) and his dad (a Boris lookalike) over a beer at Lord’s as Nigel’s guest in 2011 when the same team were playing the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club).
The highlight for me, on that occasion, was having a lively conversation over a sumptuous lunch with Lord David Hunt (former Coal Minister under Margaret Thatcher) about my aspirations as a Christian wanting to see the media influenced once more by the faith that has proved foundational to our Western democracy.
I have an abiding memory of his parting comment on leaving for another appointment: “It was wonderful to meet another born-again Christian!”
1He did in fact become a Foreign Office minister and has also served as Conservative Party chairman, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Home Secretary
2Prime Minister John Vorster
3He is known affectionately as “Oom Angus” –- Oom being Afrikaans for Uncle
5Daily Mail, June 26 2017
Photo captions: 1) Pictured with Selby MP Nigel Adams (right) during the Parliamentary team’s match at Lord’s cricket ground, is former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls (who gave a good account of himself behind the wicket) and women’s cricketing legend, Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint, who sadly passed away recently, aged 77. (Photo: Charles Gardner). 2) Angus Buchan. 3) The burned-out ruins of Grenfell Tower in London. 4) Charles Gardner, the cricketer.
About the writer: Charles Gardner is a veteran Cape Town-born British journalist working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective. With his South African forebears having had close links with the legendary devotional writer Andrew Murray, Charles is similarly determined to make an impact for Christ with his pen and has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 40 years. Part-Jewish, he is married to Linda, who takes the Christian message around many schools in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. Charles is also author of Israel the Chosen (Amazon) and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com. He has four children and nine grandchildren, and can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 1302 832987, or by e-mail at email@example.com
** You may republish this, and any of our ANS stories, with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please also tell your friends that they can receive a complimentary subscription to our news service by going to the ANS website (see above) and signing up there.