All animals belong to God (Psalm 50:10-11). God created all the animals (Genesis 1:24-25) and God cares for the animals. “Look at the birds flying around…your Father in heaven takes care of them.” Matthew 6:26.

He gives animals their food and feeds the young ravens when they call.” Psalm 147:9

In the light of the clear teaching of Scripture concerning creation and mankind’s responsibility for it, we must recognise that the welfare and protection of animals is an essential part of our Christian responsibility. We should treat animals with the love and concern of those who must give an account of our conduct to God. And that should include praying for animals.

PRAY FOR GOD’S CREATURES

Since my conversion to Christ 29 years ago, and during the last 24 years of fulltime missionary service, God has intensified my love for His creation. It is exhilarating to witness an African sunrise in an unspoilt corner of our continent. On mission trips, I have woken up to a hippo grazing near my sleeping bag, as a fish eagle swooped out of the sky and plucked a fish out of the mighty Zambezi River, right in front of me. I’ve walked pass a pride of lions feeding on a zebra, and swum with dolphins and penguins. I’ve stroked and fed orphaned elephants, cheetahs, giraffe and penguins – and accidentally stepped on sleeping crocodiles and snakes!

I believe it is pleasing in God’s sight when we do all we can to secure the wellbeing of His animals. All animals belong to God and they fulfil His creative joy and purpose. We need to take seriously the doctrine of Creation and man’s stewardship of God’s creation. We are answerable to God for how we treat His animals.

Having been born and brought up in Africa, many of my friends have been animals. Among my best friends when I was small were Vivian, a lioness, and Malcolm, a leopard. I spent many hours wrestling and cuddling with these magnificent creatures. As a young boy I used to go out to break poacher’s traps and free or care for injured animals. I’d been involved in rescuing penguins from oil slicks and saving cats, dogs and baboons from painful experiments in laboratories. In Sudan I’ve have the opportunity of rescuing monkeys being used in the marketplace for gambling and fights and rehabilitate and release them in the wild. I’ve also adopted abandoned or stray cats from slums or squatter camps and campaigned against fur fashion shops and ivory poaching.

HALT FOR HEDGEHOGS

On one occasion, while ministering in Eastern Europe, my wife and I were returning from a church service late at night, driving down the twisted and narrow country roads. The team from our host church were divided between two cars. I was driving the lead car when I spotted a little hedgehog crawling across the road. I could have swerved to avoid him, but then I knew that the car behind me might go straight over him. So, as the hedgehog was already in the middle of the road, I didn’t dare stop in my lane in case the car behind overtook and crushed this poor little creature. I applied the breaks sharply and came to a skidding halt just in front of the hedgehog – blocking the middle of the narrow road. Then I leapt out of the car and lay down on the ground to help the hedgehog out and across the road to safety. The Romanian Christians in the car right behind all jumped out and came running to the front of the car. They were very agitated, and were completely astounded when I explained why I had stopped so suddenly. “We thought you had knocked over a peasant!” one exclaimed. No, I explained that this hedgehog was in the middle of the road and I had no choice but to block the road to prevent them accidentally riding over him. They stood in open mouth amazement that I could have done all that just for a hedgehog. For my part I was quite surprised that fellow Christians could have felt that they could have done any less.

HIKING WITH HEDGEHOG IN HAND

On another occasion during a mission to the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan – an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam – we had flown hours behind enemy lines to smuggle in tonnes of Bibles, educational materials, agricultural tools and seed to these beleaguered Christians suffering some of the worst persecution in the world today. We walked in blistering heat up and down the Nuba Mountains. When I came across some of our escorts about to kill a hedgehog, I promptly rescued the hedgehog and gave the assailants some food instead. For the next five hours I hiked up and down the mountains with this little hedgehog curled up in the palm of my hand. Every time I tried to set him free some of the Nubans crowded around wanting to make meal of him. So I would carefully lift him up again and continue hiking with hedgehog in hand. It was only in the early hours of the morning that I was able to quietly and secretly release the hedgehog.

CHARGED BY LIONS

One of our Frontline Fellowship missionaries, Anthony Duncan, who died in the service of Christ, was also a serious animal lover. Before becoming a missionary, Anthony had often faced life-threatening situations. He’d been knocked down and trampled underfoot by a rhino, charged by elephants, and attacked by lions. On one occasion, Anthony warded off an attack by lions by throwing stones at them! He was armed, but he couldn’t bring himself to shoot such a magnificent lion – even when being threatened by them. Anthony testified that as prayer and stones were good enough for David, in the Bible, both he and the lions survived the encounter.

NON LETHAL FORCE

Once while camping out in the bush on a mission outreach I woke up to the foul stench of a hyena attempting to do CPR on my face (Hyenas are attracted to the smell of rotting meat between people’s teeth. Some people have woken up to hyenas biting off the front part of their face). I smacked the hyena on the side of the head with the flat side of a panga (machete). Even in that half asleep state of shock, realising that a hyena was about to bite my face, I could not bring myself to injure the scavenger – so I used the flat side. There was a sound of metal smacking against bone and the hyena bounded away chuckling in his eiery laughter.

PRAY BEFORE TRAVEL

I regularly pray before every mission trip that no animal will be hurt by my vehicle. I’ve had numerous close calls, but by God’s grace, the Lord has protected me from injuring any animals during the hundreds of thousands of kilometres driven by vehicle, and off road motorbike, over some of the worst roads in Africa.

Peter Hammond 
Web: 
www.frontline.org.za

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