In a recent Breakpoint commentary about the transforming power of the gospel, John Stonestreet writes; “Between 1986 and 1991, Adriaan Vlok served as South Africa’s Apartheid-era Minister of Law and Order and also sat on South Africa’s State Security Council. Vlok was behind many of the regime’s most repressive and drastic measures: hit squads, bombings and assassinations of anti-apartheid activists. The regime was desperate to stay in power in the wake of growing unrest at home and near-universal condemnation abroad.

“All of which makes Vlok’s post-apartheid story all the more remarkable.

“On Aug. 1, 2006, he entered his old workplace in Pretoria and asked to see Frank Chikane, a minister and former anti-apartheid activist who was now serving in the government. As Eve Fairbanks tells readers in the New Republic, Vlok and Chikane had some history: Vlok tried to assassinate Chikane by lacing his underwear with paraoxon, a potent insecticide. As comical as that sounds, the effects were no joke: Chikane survived only after advanced medical treatment in the United States.

“Why did Vlok want to see Chikane that day? Well, to ask forgiveness. Quaking as he stood before the man he tried to kill, he read from something he’d written on the front of his Bible: ‘I have sinned against the Lord and against you! Will you forgive me?’

“He then pulled a bowl out of his briefcase and asked if he could wash Chikane’s feet.

“A startled Chikane said yes, and Vlok proceeded to wash his feet. As Fairbanks put it, ‘both men dissolved into tears.’

“It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Vlok had had a powerful conversion experience…Reading his story, what comes to mind is that it’s the kind of turnaround that only Christianity can produce. It’s a story about repentance, forgiveness, humbling oneself and ultimately restoration of what was broken. Yes, forgiveness figures in other religions, too, but Christianity uniquely marries forgiveness to restoration and newness of life…

“Fairbanks writes that Vlok’s ‘transformation has been so complete, it seems almost too good to be true,’ something I remember hearing about my mentor Chuck Colson. For those who know Jesus, it’s not too good to be true. It’s what His Gospel is all about.”

Michael Duduit

Share This On: