Hannes Wessels,

Last week I interviewed Jan Stander as part of a YouTube series I am involved in covering the war in Rhodesia that ended in 1980. Their sad story gripped me.

His father Jan and his brother Ben came to Rhodesia after WW II. Ben had fought with the South African 6th Army against Rommel’s Afrika Korps in the pivotal battle at Tobruk, where he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW in Italy. 

Upon being demobbed, he and Ben made their way to the copper mines in Northern Rhodesia where they toiled in tough conditions, lived frugally and saved their pennies. Farming was in their blood, a ranch somewhere their dream, and mining was simply a step up the financial ladder they had to climb to secure some land.  

Two brothers, Ben left and John right. Two kids, Adrian left and Hennie right both killed in the war.

With limited resources to hand they knew they needed to look to the wild places where few were fearless enough to farm and they focused on the Mateke Hills of then Southern Rhodesia’s Lowveld. Remote, virgin land where lions lorded over the landscape, and Malaria and Sleeping Sickness bedevilled the health of interlopers. Taking it in turns to work on the mines and send money south, the two brothers battled adversity to carve a viable property out of the wilderness. Their dream became a reality; Battlefield Ranch was born, and the brothers set about growing their Brahman herd.

Even in times of peace their lot was never an easy one; distances were daunting, droughts ravaged the veld periodically, logistics were challenging, predators took a constant toll, elephant trampled fences, and buffalo-borne diseases were a blight upon the cattle, but the brothers never entertained failure; devout Christians, they had faith, and soldiered on with a smile. All the while they did what they could for their labour, their families, and the local community.

For Jan (Jr) the first time he became aware of trouble coming was in 1975 when, as a 15-year-old schoolboy, used to roaming freely on the ranch, he was warned by his uncle Ben, to be watchful and stay closer to home; armed gangs had moved into the area, and they were dangerous.

Young Jan did not know the details, but across the nearby border, in newly independent Mozambique a hostile Sino/Soviet presence was building under the new Frelimo administration led by Samora Machel. Machel had thrown his support behind a guerrilla army led by Robert Mugabe that sought the violent overthrow of the Rhodesian government. War clouds loomed large, a terror campaign that would impact on more innocent blacks than whites, was about to be unleashed. The Standers did not have to wait long to suffer their first blow.

April 1976, motoring on a remote ranch road with his wife Gerda, Ben was ambushed by a group of guerrillas just before sunset. Heavy automatic fire wounded Gerda and disabled the vehicle. Ben dragged his wife out the car and into the bush where he hid her from view. Then he walked through the night to get help. Alone in a wilderness, Gerda listened in dread to hyenas howling as they closed in on the smell of blood. She prayed, and in the early hours Ben returned with help.

No sooner had Gerda recovered from her injuries than the attacks intensified, and the homestead was attacked twice at night. On both occasions, the couple and their children fought off the gangs that were heavily armed with machine-guns, mortars and rockets.

April 1977, Jan (Jr’s) brother Archie, reacting to information of an enemy presence in a neighbouring tribal area, went to investigate. Along with a small group of Reservists they found the group, but they were outnumbered and outgunned. An incoming mortar exploded at Archies feet blowing both his legs off below the knee. Within months he was back in the fray on his stumps.

Early the following year, Jan’s brother Hennie, was ambushed and killed. By this time the roads were riddled with landmines and every trip was fraught with danger.  The Standers took to driving off the roads wherever possible.

Months later, Ben, in a two-vehicle convoy with his son Adrian, was ambushed by a group of 20. Adrian was killed outright, but Ben, although hit in the chest, fought on alone. Out of ammunition, he crawled to his son’s side, removed the magazines from his chest-webbing and held the position until help arrived. Against her will, Gerda left the ranch for relative safety in Salisbury, while Ben went back to work.

Ben in hospital with wife Gerda just after ambush and losing his son Adrian.

But his time was up; in June 1979, while travelling with an elderly Police Reservist for an escort, he was ambushed for the last time. Ben died quickly; the Reservist suffered a slow death.

The Stander story, tragic though it is, is just one of thousands more like it, in the sad saga of the purging of Europeans that has been ongoing now for over 50 years. The process has been successful in that the white population of the country has been reduced from a peak of near 300,000 in the early 70’s to approximately 15,000  today. On a global scale these numbers may appear minor, but statistics miss the point.

What is noteworthy, and with relevance to events unfolding today, is this onslaught was directed against white Christians and yet the victims garnered no support from any international quarter whatsoever. The Pope was silent, Archbishops of Canterbury were not; they came out in full support of the persecution as did their political leaders of the time.

When Prime Minister Ian Smith appealed to the world to understand he led a country that stood firm with Christian tenets and that if the country succumbed to communist inspired overthrow, it would be a watershed event of global significance with a domino effect that would impact the Western world. His appeals were heard with contempt, derided and dismissed.

Looking back and at subsequent events it seems he was right as this purge of Christians worldwide has since gathered pace and become a global phenomenon. Where once we looked to America to defend Christians this is no longer the case. Throughout the Islamic world, pressure is mounting on them, and numbers are dwindling. Hafez Assad of Syria, one of the few Arab leaders remaining, who protects Christians, is under an American-led siege. Pakistan, another American ally, is one of the most difficult countries in the world in which to practice Christianity. The number of blasphemy cases, which is punishable by death, continues to rise.

Astonishingly Christianity is also under homegrown attack in its Western heartland where it is becoming increasingly marginalised as other groups; notably LGBT, Islamic and secularists claim their rights while forcing religion out of the public domain. Those brave enough to stand up for their beliefs are incurring the wrath of the media with labels such as ‘Christian Right’ and ‘fundamentalist’ being attached in a move to have these people declared a threat to social stability.

Recently, US Attorney General Merrick Garland faced hostile questioning from Republican Senators over the arrest of Mark Houck, a Catholic pro-life activist. His wife told the press a heavily armed ‘SWAT Team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door.’ A spokesperson for the family declared the arrest to be, ‘clearly an attack on pro-life Christians’.  Soros-funded District Attorneys and other public officials throughout the country are hounding ‘patriotic Christians’ out of government service.

In the UK, the Church of England, under the feckless leadership of successive Archbishops, lacking the gumption to defend Christian dogma or traditional British values, has brought the church to the point of irrelevance in the country’s social fabric. Meanwhile, the Muslim population of the country is cohesive, aggressive and expansionist. Parishes are being made redundant and replaced by Mosques and Muslims are taking increasing control in the political arena. The reassuring sound of church bells ringing may soon be replaced by the high-pitched exhortations of the Mullahs.

While most of Europe follows a similar path, Poland and Hungary have incurred the wrath of Brussels for proclaiming their desire to maintain their Christian identity and values. They have been condemned as ‘illiberal democracies.’

In the developing political powerplay the only two highly influential politicians who have adopted a consistently pro-Christian approach are the two most vilified, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump. There is plenty of evidence suggesting had Trump won the last election, a rapprochement with Russia would have become a reality. He lost and the winners wanted war. The tragedy in Ukraine could have been avoided.

If poor old Ben Stander had made it through that last hail of bullets, I suspect he would have been a Trump supporter.

By Editor

27 thoughts on “Christians At War”
  1. Hi Hannes,

    I read your very interesting story of the Stander family with a mixture of pride, sadness and regret at what Rhodesia/Zimbabwe could have been had we all stood our ground, put aside our perceived differences, and knuckled down to make our new country work.

    As a young Section Officer in the BSAP (ZRP) stationed at Waterfalls, one of the saddest sights I have ever witnessed was the great chicken run, which began a couple of days before the election results were announced. Bumper to bumper vehicles, sometimes loaded with no more than suitcases on roof carriers, their headlights scything through the darkness made their way along Waterfalls Avenue, turning right towards Beatrice Road and an unknown future in South Africa.

    I felt gutted, as several of those vehicles contained friends, colleagues from the BSAP, white relatives, and solid people whose skills and experience the new country could have benefitted from. My Commanding Officer at CID Car Thefts Section, Chief Inspector Terry Keen had extended an invitation to me to join him and several other senior police officers in the Boputhatswana Police Force. I decided that I was going to stay try and make our fledgling country work.

    As I have stated in previous posts, our beautiful country could have truly been the jewel of Africa if we had put aside our differences, passed on knowledge, and accepted that the country had passed on to the majority. Im truly sorry that so many people decided to leave without the evidence that they would be summarily executed after the new government took over. We all know what did happen. Massive corruption, incompetence, patronage, kleptocracy. I contend that if more people had stayed, the checks and balances would have stopped all this is its tracks.

    I have lived in Southern California for 33 years. I miss home every day although I live in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet. Im sure everyone on this page feels the same gaping hole where our hearts once rested, as I do.

    Anyway, we are getting old. I have lived abroad for longer than I have in the country of my birth. I believe that there are hundreds of uplifting stories that people could share about their time at home. Let’s hear about those.

    And Hannes, I respect you and enjoy your writing. It is informative, educational, nostalgic and of great historical value.

    One thing I disagree with, is your characterization of Putin and Trump as good Christians. Being seen in Church is one thing. Actually believing in the Lord is another. QAnon has done a real number on several friends from home. We have had to sever lifelong relationships because of what this dangerous organization has implanted in their minds. Trump is by far the most dangerous person on the planet. He is a traitor to the United States of America. he believes in Trump and not this country.

    God Bless all who lived in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe. I lost my father in the war. Several thousands can identify with my loss. Take Care.

    1. Thanks for this Mr. Sinclair. I actually don’t think it would have made much difference if the white exodus had not taken place but I guess we will never know. I stand by my view that this war in Ukraine can be blamed on the Americans more than on the Russians. As I write, Trumps arrest looms; I remain of the view he is a threat to those who control the US from the shadows of the Deep State and the American justice system has been weaponised for political reasons just as it has in the failed, or failing states of Africa.

    2. Trump is a great American patriot, definitely not perfect but a lot better than Creepy Joe Biden and Nancy Pelousy and the deep state. Joe ND Nancy claim to be Catholics but are on the Godless woke abortion, euthanasia, kweer “marriage” bandwagon.
      The most dangerous people on the planet are WEF operatives like Soros, Trudeau, Ardern, war criminals Bush and Blair, Sunak, Macron etc.

  2. THESE were incredibly brave and good people, leaving a proud memory for what they believed in. Unfortunately for them, they landed in an unwinnable war for an unsustainable white “Western, Civilized” ideal in the middle of Africa.
    But to make it a ‘Christian’ war is missing the point on several counts. Firstly, the churches were ‘against’ because they judged Rhodesia to be doing the WRONG ethical thing, from a CHRISTIAN stand-point. I am not a religious person = if you are, go figure. And, Could ‘Smith et al’ have achieved a ‘christian’ independent nation without a war ? I believe so, had they been more truly ‘christian’, less arrogant, more realistic. Secondly, Zimbabwe now has a predominantly Christian population [and a flourishing Apostolic sect ! ]. Perhaps blame that for the politics? But that RF strategy lost us Whites the LAND! Whoops? Thirdly, are the christians in our world [only about 23% of the total mind you] free of war and conflict, and straight and fair on their ethics towards their fellow man/ woman? I wish !! Time to adjust your perspective I fear.

  3. Right with you until the last paragraph; Putin is as much a Christian as I am a moose.

    1. Putin is more of a Christian than Creepy Joe Biden or Nancy Pelousy who claim to be Catholics……

      Jan Markell has a discussion with author J.B. Hixson for the hour. They discuss the January Davos WEF meetings. The Antichrist kingdom won’t come out of thin air. It is being prepared now by global elite and will spring into action when the church vacates in the Rapture. But what do the global elite have in mind? How about eating bugs, slashing the population, and owning nothing?

      “Why God Laughs at the Global Elites (Part 1) – Olive Tree Ministries” https://olivetreeviews.org/radio-archives/why-god-laughs-at-the-global-elites-part-1/

    2. While I don’t think Putin is a believer, he’s chosen to behave as a believer, and to support the church, because he understands (and he’s said as much) that it is a pillar of western civilization. — It is well worth reading the “President of Russia” transcripts (in English) on kremlin.ru; one gets a very different picture from what is shown on the news.

      1. You don’t have to be a Christian as a national leader to support Christianity as the prime religion in your country and this is what Putin has done. While the west actively destroys the Christian Church, Putin is in support of it. Furthermore, he is wise enough to see the west’s woke agenda as anathema to true believers and therefore shuns that ideology as well. Good on him and I can assure you I do NOT support him in his political/expansionist vision.

      2. Putin’s mother is a believer, and I believe he is too. Russian Orthodox.

  4. Jan Markell has a discussion with author J.B. Hixson for the hour. They discuss the January Davos WEF meetings. The Antichrist kingdom won’t come out of thin air. It is being prepared now by global elite and will spring into action when the church vacates in the Rapture. But what do the global elite have in mind? How about eating bugs, slashing the population, and owning nothing?

    “Why God Laughs at the Global Elites (Part 1) – Olive Tree Ministries” https://olivetreeviews.org/radio-archives/why-god-laughs-at-the-global-elites-part-1/

  5. Outstanding!

    Very much on target.

    Would I could be with the incredible, and there are others in developed countries, fire force could go do the job.

    Thank you.

  6. They fought against Rommel, therein lies the problem. They sided with Britain the very country that carried out the Boer wars.
    Germany was forced into war WWI & WWII. They ought to have helped Rommel.
    Everyone should be opposed to communism.
    Was Ian Smith a plant? Stephen Mitford Goodson thought so. Was he murdered for his views?

  7. The events around Ben and Gerda Stander happened while I was in school. My education on this era of Rhodesia was non-existent. I’m learning now what a tragedy that was because they were heroes all.

  8. Another sad tale of our war HANNES. Sadly the west will only wake when it is too late… and it is. Christianity is indeed dying snd along with it will be every western civilization on earth. Whilst our generation sees it clearly, the politicians and the youth of today do not. What’s right is now wrong and what’s wrong is now right. The world has never been in a more sad state of affairs and it is only a question of time until the consequences of stupidity come into play. Western civilisation is indeed doomed in the long run.

    1. Agreed. Here in the U.S. it’s too late to work within the system and it’s too early to start shooting folks. But that times coming.

  9. Spot on. The Bible confirms what is happening today. The world is rapidly heading to a one world government run by a satanic leader. Oddly enough, Russia is the main flea in their ointment right now.

  10. As the new DC in Nuanetsi I heard of Ben’s death at an ACC meeting. Within a month we had recruited, trained and deployed ranch militia, four of whom were stationed in the Mateke hills with Toks van der Merwe, ex SAS and the sole remaining rancher in the Mateke Hills. No more ranchers perished, but I well remember the bravery of those who stayed, repelling continuing attacks. Ben Stander was a fine example of those men and women.
    It was a few months later that Toks was encircled by a large group of terrs, who attacked with small arms and mortars. The next morning a 360 (circumference check, for those non military) revealed the bodies of two terrs, which Toks radioed in on the Agri Alert. Congratulations flooded in from other ranchers to a sheepish Toks, who informed me over a pint at the club that the terrs had actually been killed by one of their own mortars lobbed from the opposite side of the perimeter.
    I realise that your post focuses on the tragic circumstances involving Ben but, like many of us at the time, we also enjoyed the occasions when there were positive outcomes, and I hope you won’t mind me including this anecdote.

  11. Great article again Hannes. We are living in the end times. People think there will be a revival, but a pastor I follow on TV, Dr David Jeremiah, looking at his Bible said “In the end times there will be a falling away of believers, including church leaders (marrying same sex could etc.)”. So, once again the prophesies are correct. Then there is the Great Reset and the rise of the anti-christ!

  12. An excellent article apart from one or two points. First, personally I would not call Putin a Christian. Second, you did not mention that Ukraine too is a very Christian country.

    The terrorist war in Rhodesia started well before 1975. My parents lived in Mangula and I remember coming home from University to spend a week-end with them in about 1970/71. We went to the sports club and curled up in an arm-chair in a corner in a virtually catatonic state was a woman I knew. My mother told me what had happened. She had five children, the oldest three at boarding school in Sinoia. The week-end before her husband had gone to collect them from school, but because his wife was helping a friend with her daughter’s wedding preparations he had taken the youngest two as well. They were ambushed on the road and all killed. She couldn’t bear to go home and died in an institution a couple of years later. Another story as tragic as the Stander’s and so many others. For some reason, possibly security, this story never made the papers.

    The World Council of Churches, including the Anglican and Catholic Churches did indeed support the terrorists and sent them money – for “medical supplies” apparently. My mother was a regular church-goer and when I was home I would go with her. One Sunday she told me that most, though not all, congregants no longer put money in the collection plate and why. She was among them and so, of course, neither did I. The Christian Churches have an awful lot to answer for and it was at that point I learned to separate God from many of His earthly messengers which is how I have held on to my Christian faith.

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