Be on your Guard

Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.  Acts 20:28 

It’s amazing how quickly we can be caught off guard. Despite all our preparations and contingency plans we can be taken by surprise. No matter how careful we are disaster can strike.

A gang of criminals caught my mother off guard in 1984. My mother was the manageress of a shop that sold factory seconds from the clothing factory run by my father and brother. Both the factory and factory outlet store were in downtown Johannesburg. During a lull in business, seven drug intoxicated criminals burst into the shop. One grabbed Mum and pressed a knife smeared with poison to her throat. He dragged her to the back of the shop behind a wooden partition while his accomplices began to empty the till and ransack the stock.

Despite her shock Mum had the presence of mind to press a concealed alarm button. Unknown to the criminals it alerted my brother and father in the factory. My brother Frazer was the first to arrive as one of the criminals was desperately trying to close the shop door. Without breaking his stride Frazer kicked in the door while simultaneously levelling his revolver and demanding the surrender of the criminals.

He was immediately attacked. A man lunged forward wielding a machete. Frazer fired, but was barged to the ground as the man tried to escape through the door. A second man continued the attack slashing at Frazer with his knife but Frazer managed to squeeze off a second shot which smashed through the man’s knee cap and stopped him in his tracks. In the melee a third man ducked through the door and slammed pell-mell into my father who was just arriving on the scene. As Dad rolled onto the sidewalk he shouted after the man to stop but the man kept on running. Dad fired two shots from his revolver and both hit the man who continued for several metres before dropping stone dead with a bullet through the heart.

Meanwhile, the fight continued in the shop. One bullet from Frazer’s gun passed through the partition at the back of the shop and slammed into the wall alongside Mum who was still being held around the throat.

Another escaping criminal was purposefully run down by a motor mechanic from a garage up the road. When he heard the gunfire, he jumped into his truck and raced down the street to assist my brother and father. When he saw the man hightailing it down the road he swerved into him, knocked him off his feet, then jumped out and restrained him.

The remaining gang members gave up the fight and were held at gunpoint by my brother until the police arrived. Unknown to the criminals, Frazer had exhausted the bullets in his gun!

The outcome could have been very different. Mum could have had her throat slashed and Dad or Frazer could have been injured or killed. But all were preserved. Frazer’s training on the gun range and Dad’s experience as a retired British bobby and ex-Royal Military Policeman stood them in good stead. They had anticipated trouble and were ready for action.

Though most of you reading this account will probably never encounter a life and death gunfight you nonetheless need to be vigilant. You must “guard yourselves,” “be on your guard” Acts 20:28,31. Keep watch for things seen and things unseen that could cost you dearly. Guard your words. Guard your emotions. Guard your mind. Guard your actions. And guard your life in Christ.

As the gospel artist Steve Green sings:

“The human heart is easily swayed and often betrayed,

at the hand of emotion.

We dare not leave the outcome to chance.

We must choose in advance,

or live with the agony, such needless tragedy.

Guard your heart.

Guard your heart.

Don’t trade it for treasure.

Don’t give it away.

Guard your heart.

Guard your heart.

As a payment for pleasure it’s a high price to pay.

For a soul that remains sincere with a conscience clear.

Guard your heart.”



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