In the furore over the luring of popular lion Cecil, out of the Hwange Game Reserve to be shot by a bow hunter we have had numerous people ask us these questions. This is my response:
The Scripture is clear: "A good man is kind to his animals but the wicked are cruel to theirs." Proverbs 12:10. Cruelty to animals is by definition, wicked. Matthew Henry's Commentary on this verse reflects traditional Reformed Christian teaching.
Creation and Stewardship
First and foremost, all animals belong to God (Psalm 50:10-11). They are God's animals and we are accountable to our Creator, for how we treat them (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Doctrine of Creation requires us to prize and value God's creatures (Genesis 1:24-25). The Creation Mandate makes clear that we are accountable to God for how we improve and care for His Creation (Genesis 1:28).
Fighting for Life
Of course we should be, and are, outraged by abortion. Our Mission launched Africa Christian Action over 24 years ago. ACA has for all these years been the most prominent pro-life group in Southern Africa. We organise the annual Life Chains, the first Sunday of every October. The National Day of Repentance March for Life to parliament, 1 February, to mark the anniversary of the Legalisation of Abortion in the country and the annual Sanctity Life Sunday. We have organised and spoken at many hundreds of pro-life rallies and meetings, and on thousands of radio programmes and hundreds of TV programmes, we have made a bold and Biblical stand for the right to life of preborn babies.
Rescue the Perishing
Life begins at conception. Abortion is murder. We have made submissions to parliament, held pro-life prayer vigils outside abortuaries, parliament and the High Court. We have published Fight for Life and Make a Difference – A Christian Action Handbook for Southern Africa and printed hundreds of thousands of copies of pro-life leaflets. We have also organised pro-life conferences, brought in pro-life international speakers, sourced and imported pro-life DVDs, audio CDs, precious feet, bumper stickers, posters, banners and much more, to "speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves", to "rescue those being led away to death." Concern for the preborn does not preclude concern for all of God's Creation (Ephesians 1:10).
Our Greatest Priority
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Our greatest priority is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. To seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, to make disciples of all nations, teaching obedience to all things that He has commanded.
Caring for God's Creation
This includes teaching on the doctrine of Creation and stewardship. It is an essential part of our Christian witness to speak on these matters and to do all that we can to protect God's animals from exploitation and abuse. "How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished." Jeremiah 12:4
It is distressing when some trivialise any part of God's Creation by suggesting that only one issue is worthy of any media attention. We have enough time and energy to be vigorous in prayer, Evangelism, discipleship, social action, and conservation as well.
To see the breadth of our Mission's vision and activities, please visit www.frontline.org.za which is dedicated to serving the Persecuted Church and fulfilling the Great Commission throughout Africa, www.christianaction.org.za which deals with our pro-life, pro-family, moral social action, the www.ReformationSA,.org, which deals with history, Reformation and Revival, our www.thebibleandanimals.org which deals with Creation and conservation and www.livingstonefellowship.co.za which has sermon's Bible studies, including SermonAudio.com and Slideshare links.
You may also be interest in visiting our Wonderful Wildlife and We Love God's Animals Facebook pages and the Frontline Fellowship, Africa Christian Action and Reformation 500 Facebook pages.
Born in Africa
I have been born and brought up in Africa. Africa has always been my home. Some of my best friends are animals. Growing up, my very best friend was a lioness, Vivian, and a leopard, Malcolm. Those of us who have interacted, close-up with these magnificent wild animals are horrified that anyone can subject them to trophy hunting, let alone in a baited/canned/staged/caged/guaranteed kill environment.
Love for God's Creatures
Perhaps some of these concerns are not as clear to people who live in the cities, far from wildlife, but for those of us who see the looting of God's Creation, we are convinced that this is deeply offensive to God and destructive to His Creation.
May God continue to be your joy and strength.
Yours for the fulfilment of the Great Commission
Dr. Peter Hammond