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Gun Fighting African Christian Missionary Honored in America by Society Memorializing Catholic Saint

Contact: John M. Snyder, St. Gabriel Possenti Society, 703-212-9863, 321-385-9193


MEDIA ADVISORY, May 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- The St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc. presented Charl van Wyk of Cape Town, Republic of South Africa with its Medallion of Honor and accompanying certificate during ceremonies over the weekend in Potomac MD, Society Chairman John M. Snyder announced here today.

Photo: Charl van Wyk (left) and John M. Snyder, high-resolution version available upon request.

"Charl is a true, heroic proponent in both word and deed of the legitimate right to self-defense. He is a genuine, living exemplar of the principles upon which the international, interdenominational St. Gabriel Possenti Society is based. We are delighted that he is here with us in the United States to accept this presentation in person. Even his brief presence among us offers a strong counter to thoughtless calls for civilian disarmament emanating from the lips of some American churchmen."

In July 1993, Charl, relying on his faith and a .38 caliber special revolver, caused a gang of terrorists to flee a church in Cape Town in what became known as the St. James Massacre. The terrorists were part of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the military wing of the Pan African Congress, a Marxist-Leninist group.

The terrorists, armed with grenades and AK-47's, murdered 11 parishioners and wounded an additional 58 individuals. Charl, the only armed member of the congregation, fired five rounds with his handgun. He wounded one of the terrorists and the gang fled. His action apparently prevented the murder or injury of many more people.

The incident led Charl to become an even more ardent defender of the right to self-defense and of the right to keep and bear arms than he already had been. He recounted his experiences in his popular book, Shooting Back – The Right and Duty of Self-Defense, and founded Gun Owners of South Africa.

A member of the Anglican Church of South Africa, Charl is Assistant Director of Frontline Fellowship, which he describes as a trans-denominational missionary organization committed to spreading the message of Jesus Christ throughout Africa.

The patron of the Society, St. Gabriel Possenti, was a Catholic seminarian who saved villagers of Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy from a terrorizing gang of renegade soldiers in 1860 with a striking, one-shot, lizard-slaying demonstration of handgun marksmanship. He died of natural causes a couple of years after that. Pope Benedict XV canonized him in 1860. The Society seeks his official Vatican designation as Patron of Handgunners. It emphasizes the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the doctrine of legitimate self-defense.

The Society Medallion of Honor features a silhouette of Possenti on the obverse and, on the reverse, the following inscription: "Guide our aim to strike at the center. Protect us from the enemies of love, justice and liberty." The certificate verifies its conferral.