Thursday, January 17, 2019

And I will soar with you Part 1 January 2019


And I will soar with you Part 1 January 2019

And I will soar with you

Foreword                                                                                                                                            
1. On the go already from an early Age
2. My Teenage Years
3. Rosemarie’s Childhood and Youth
4. A Teenage Secondary School Teacher
5. An African Missionary in Germany?
6. Home sweet Home
7.  Run-up to an extraordinary Honeymoon
8. An Exile to all Intents and Purposes
9. Problems with Infant Christening
10. Home or Hearth?
11. Back in our “Jerusalem”
12. Flexing Missionary Muscles

Part 2
13. Called to serve Cape Muslims?
14. Back to ‘School’
15. The Backlash
16. New Initiatives
17. Under Attack
18. The Strong Wings at Work
19. A targeted Ministry to Foreigners
20. Isaac and Ishmael Reconciled?



Instead of a Foreword
Dear Lolita, our oldest grandchild
As you enter the teenage years, I would like to tell you a little bit of how we, Oupa and Oupa, experienced God’s mighty hand in so many wonderful ways. You have possibly already read What God joined together, our love story until our wedding in 1975 and the special aftermath. In this booklet I am now trying to fill in some gaps in the run-up to that, adding some facts about our childhood and youth. The bulk of this narration tries to take you through to what happened thereafter.
The title of the book alludes to a line from one of the ‘Eagle songs’ – printed on the next page - that you surely also know. How we had been carried on the divine eagle’s wings was the theme of our wedding sermon. The more complete story of our lives and ministry is told at On Eagle’s Wings.  You know where to find this, we trust.  I do want to stress that this is His wings that have been carrying us. To God all the glory for what could be achieved!!
We have sent the first rendition of this manuscript to you on your 12th birthday, realising that it may be still a touch too difficult for you to grasp fully, I hope that we can abridge it a little bit more in due course so that you could ‘devour’ it hopefully next year on your 13th birthday completely.  Do have a try with Part 1 in the meantime, which takes our story till we left for South Africa in 1992.
Blessings,
Oupa (and Ouma)
22 September 2018



Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I've found in You
Lord I've come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love
Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love






1. On the go already from an early Age
            When I was born in the St Monica’s Maternity Clinic in Cape Town on the 31st of December 1945, God evidently already had His hand on me, because just under 50 years later the Father used the institution in a grand mosaic of ‘co-incidence’.
         From an early age I was ‘on the go’.  Before I entered primary school in Cape Town's slum-like District Six, I could be found in places where I was not supposed to have been, in spite of a sound Christian home background.   

         (Photo: In front of our house in 30 Combrinck Street, District Six with some relatives, holding the hand of my favourite ‘Aunt’ Patsy Roman, our neighbour.)





Hunger for Justice impregnated
The Moravian Church tradition, from which both of my parents hailed, served as an effective foil to the immoral and filthy sur­roundings of my early childhood. It was logical that we as children would attend the Zinzendorf Primary School and the Sunday school at the same venue. Strangely, certain injustices did not cause immediate anger in the little street-wise four or five year old I was before that.
         This did happen at another incident when I was much older. At this occasion we were playing with our spinning tops in the street. Cars were seen in our area only very few and far between in those days. (We expected vehicles to hoot before we would get out of the way.)
         I received a brand new red blue and white spinning top from Aunty Dorie Ulster, the eldest sister of our mom. During our street game the spinning tops got mixed up. An older boy took mine, claiming that it was his. I did what any aggrieved boy would do - going to my mom to complain. She knew after all that I had received the toy, a new one at that! 
         I could not appreciate our mom’s application of Solomon’s wisdom when she came to the street, requesting both spinning tops. She kept them in her hands behind her back. The other boy and I had to make our pick. My opposite promptly picked the new spinning top. My passionate plea for justice – pointing out to my mom that she knew that I had just received the new tol from our aunt – got no reprieve from my Solomon.                                                                                                                              This incident somehow spawned a hunger for justice in my receptive juvenile soul. (Many decades later she vividly remembered the incident when I reminded her of it. She then explained that she knew that I was duped but she also deemed it important that we would learn to suffer injustice with grace from childhood.)
         At school I was in the combined Standard 1 and 2 (Grade 3 and 4) class with my cousin, ‘Aunty’ Helen Ulster. In this way I picked up quite a lot of the material of Grade 4. 
Living in a Brick House                                                                                                                                   At the end of 1954, we moved to the northern outskirts of the Cape Peninsula. There we now possessed a big property of 8 plots at 46 Northway Road in Tiervlei, as the Cape suburb Ravensmead was called in those days. (Our dad had far-sightedly entered a rotating scheme of the African People’s Organisation. He had been paying a small monthly fee until our chance came to buy property.)
         In our community we were regarded as ‘affluent’ because we were one of only a few families that were the proud owners of a brick house. That the outside walls did not even have a single layer of colour and that our kitchen looked horrible because of black soot – we had no electricity - was not relevant. Almost all the other people, who resided there, lived in shacks of some sort.
            Tiervlei was still quite rural at that time. There were many sandy roads. The school up the road that my siblings and I attended was linked to the Volkskerk. 


3. Rosemarie’s Childhood and Youth
In Southern Germany’s railway junction town of Mühlacker the two Göbel children witnessed their parents very often in conflict. Their father had been a refugee in the aftermath of the Second World War, having grown up in an environment where Adolf Hitler was held in high regard. He hailed from Sudetenland, a part of Germany that later became a part of Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. Rosemarie’s mother, Erika (néé Marte), came from the city of Stuttgart with a completely different upbringing. Erika Marte lost her mother when their house was bombed in the Second World War and her father died from cancer.  She had been one of the best in the class, privileged to attend school right up to Abitur,[3) but Erika was not allowed to proceed for further training to become a school teacher because her parents did not belong to Hitler’s Nazi party. Erika Marte was evangelisch, i.e. she was a member of the Lutheran State Church. Whereas her father, Franz Göbel, had been raised as a Roman Catholic - and very much influenced by the indoctrination of the Nazis - her family was critical of Adolf Hitler and his regime.
         In a general atmosphere of mutual distrust between the two big German ecclesiastic denominations, Rosemarie’s parents dared to get married, but vast differences would flare up again and again.  For Rosemarie and her sister Waltraud there was the nagging nightmare as children that their parents might one day get divorced. 
Rosemarie’s Home Situation                                               
Because accommodation was at a premium after the war, the young couple was very happy to find a solace at the monastery of Maulbronn, with the understanding that any children in the marriage would be raised evangelisch, not as Catholics. (Usually it was the other way round when one party is Roman Catholic.) Both of Rosemarie’s parents came from small families so that they have very few cousins.
                                                                                              
(Picture: Rosemarie as a child with her mother and sister Waltraud)
         In post war Western Germany that was supported by the US sponsored Marshall Plan, it was natural that both parents would work, making Rosemarie and her sister ‘key children’. Each one of them would have a key around their necks, with nobody at home to welcome them when they came from school. Both Waltraud and Rosemarie were determined not to do that to their children one day. Like so many other Southern Germans, the family was building their own house, in their case in Albert Schweitzer Street, Mühlacker.
The neighbourhood girl Waltraud Cless became the catalyst for the Göbel daughters to get into the environment of the Süddeutsche Gemeinschaft, an evangelical grouping within the Lutheran State Church. An invitation to a Christian camp to which they went as a family, proved to be decisive. There Rosemarie not only accepted the Lord as her personal Saviour, but there she also received a challenge to become a missionary one day.                       
Rosemarie as a Teenager                                                                                                                       
As she approached fourteen years, attending the confirmation classes belonged to normality for all teenagers of the Lutheran Landeskirche. The classes were in itself not very challenging. For the actual confirmation service the pastor requested them to pick a Bible verse from a box. That would become their respective Konfirmandenspruch (Confirmation verse) on the special day. Psalm 93:4 was the one she chose. This verse would become very meaningful to Rosemarie: ‘Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!  She was reminded of these words and comforted again and again when it seemed as if she would ‘drown’ in yet another wave of life’s storms.
With this background it was quite natural for her to join the Jugendbund für Entschiedenes Christentum (EC), the Christian Encounter youth group. However, some backsliding followed in the course of time when worldly attractions started to pull at the teenager.
Rosemarie’s secondary school teacher of Religious Studies seemed to attempt to double-cross any divine influence in her life. It was not easy for the teenager to stand firm in her faith when the teacher peppered them with Biblical criticism and the like. What he did achieve in her however, was a lot of sympathy for the Jews, countering any influence her father tried to exert, such as defending the Nazis and pointing to what he termed ‘the exaggerated numbers said to be killed’ in the gas chambers.
         Rosemarie wanted to study physiotherapy, but her father did not like the idea that she should go and study in Tübingen, because there were too many foreign students. He had his own ideas about a future son-in-law. Any foreigner would have been the worst in this regard. When Papa Göbel wanted her to promise that she would not marry a teacher or a pastor, she however would not oblige. It was of course very good for me that she did not promise on that issue!
         But also on another score the Lord had his hand on Rosemarie. Her second choice vocationally, the course for ‘Erzieherinnen’, would qualify her to become either a Kindergarten teacher or a tutor for a chil­dren’s home. This brought her to Stuttgart in 1967, the very city where I would spend much of 1969. There she and Elke Maier became good friends. Elke came from the village Gündelbach, not very far from Mühlacker. Unlike the latter town which was a main railway junction of Southern Germany at the time, Gündelbach had no easy commuting connections to the Schwabian capital. Thus Rosemarie commuted daily whereas Elke would only go home over week-ends. Elke was a regular at the Brenzhaus, the Christian Encounter youth group which I started attending in 1969 while I was studying Greek and Hebrew in Stuttgart.


3. My Teenage Years 
My grandfather, Oupa Joorst, living as a retired Moravian school principal and minister on the Elim Mission Station, asked my parents in January 1957 whether I could come and help them as a ‘stuurding’. As an errand boy I was required to fetch water, go to the shop for them and empty the toilet buckets. Although the idea did not really appeal to me to go to the country-side, I agreed fairly readily to join them on the Moravian mission station Elim as the ‘stuurding for him and Aunty Maggie, our mom’s sister.
Gospel Seed into my Heart
In the mission school quite an amount of Gospel seed was sown into my heart. The memorizing of Bible verses would come in good stead in later years. A special Scripture portion was the first verses of Isaiah 53. We had to memorise how the prophet wrote about an unknown suffering person who was compared with a lamb taken to be slaughtered. We were taught that this part of scripture was a prophecy about Jesus as the Lamb of God. He, the Lamb, did not open His mouth when He was falsely accused and thereafter innocently crucified.
            Towards the end of February 1958 ‘Oupa Joorst’ became very ill. The district doctor stated that he was not going to live very long. A clear impact transpired when I returned from school for the noon break on 8 March 1958. I went straight to Oupa’s bedroom, where the neighbour, Ta’ Stienie Daniels, tried to push me out of the room. But alas! Her effort was too late! She could not stop me experiencing something very special! I was privileged to see the radiant joy on the face of the aged saint going ‘home’. He had evidently seen something which no one at his bedside saw. He stretched out his arms expectantly, as if he was being fetched, with his face lighting up for a moment. And then it was all over... This left an indelible mark on me as I saw that oupa obviously rejoiced to be ‘taken’ home.                                                              I was however terrified because I was nowhere certain where I would go if I would die someday. How I detested the enforced Sunday midday nap which Auntie Maggie, who had come to Elim to look after oupa after the death of his wife - foisted on my younger brother Windsor and me. (He had later also joined me there in Elim.) But God used that circumstance to speak to me. The afternoon practice of the church brass band - while I was waiting for the church bell to toll for 2.30 p.m. so that I could go and play - frightened me. I had learned that a trumpet call would signal the return of the Lord. I was not yet ready to meet God if I would die or when the trumpet sound would usher in the return of Jesus at his second coming.
Changes in Tiervlei    
The situation back home in Tiervlei had changed significantly in the interim. Our Dad had been retrenched as a blocker at a milliner factory where they produced female hats. After Daddy had become unemployed, no factory in the clothing industrial union was inclined to employ a middle-aged worker on top wages. Our mom ultimately took employment as nanny of the children of Professor Beinart from the UCT Law Faculty to put bread on the table.
         Even when Daddy eventually did get work as a night porter at Mupine, the hostel for workers of the insurance company Old Mutual, the situation at home left Mom without peace. The financial situation at home continued to deteriorate. My parents saw no other way out than to take our sister Magdalene ultimately out of school as the eldest of the four siblings. Still a 14-year old teenager, she co-operated willingly to help augment the family budget.
Secondary School Challenges                                                                                                        
 For my secondary school training I had to return to the Cape Peninsula from the Elim Mission Station, attending Vasco High School, one of three in the northern suburbs designated for ‘Coloureds’.
         I felt myself inferior to my English-speaking learner colleagues, but yet challenged. In spite of not really working hard, I managed to do well enough to be among the top four learners at Vasco High School in Standard Seven (Grade Nine) after six months. That I was put in a class with Woodwork as a subject – without Mathematics - proved to be something of a handicap. (When I went to ask the principal at the beginning of 1959 whether I could do Latin and Maths, he chased me out of his office. I was too scared to push through my request to be put in a class with Maths as a subject
         Nicholas (Klaas) Dirks was my best friend, the only one in my class who resided fairly near to us. In the morning we would walk the few kilometres down Jopie Fourie Street to Tiervlei station, where we boarded the train to Elsies River. From there we walked another kilometre or two to the ‘Acres’, where our school was situated in Wiener Street.
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!                                                                                                         
Our school principal, Mr Braam, was a fervent Methodist lay preacher who challenged us time and again with the song ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.’ He would stress the certainty he had experienced when he accepted Jesus as his personal Saviour. This made me quite envious because I did not have that assurance.      
            Nicholas Dirks was a member of the Boys’ Brigade of his church. One day he invited me to an event staged by the Sendingkerk Boys’ Brigade at the Goodwood Showgrounds to be held on 17 September 1961. The preacher was a certain Dr Oswald Smith from Canada. The Lord used the Canadian evangelist to challenge me to consider seriously that Jesus did not only die for the sins of the world at large, but also for my sins. The first part was not new to me at all. How often we had been repeating in the church on a Sunday in one of the liturgies Lam van God wat die sonde van die wêreld wegneem…[1), I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour, without however receiving any spiritual discipling thereafter.
            For Standard Eight (Grade Ten) Richard Arendse had shifted into Nicholas Dirks’ place as the best friend in the class. (I had requested successfully to be put into the class that had Mathematics, dropping Woodwork as a subject in the beginning of that year).
Interest in Politics
The Sharpeville and Langa racial upheavals of 1960 made itself felt all over the Western Cape.  (The burning of the discriminatory ‘dompasses’  by ‘Blacks’ caused turmoil all around the country. Only ‘Blacks’ were required to have such an identity document in their possession at all times.)                             The indoctrination of Apartheid cemented a racially discriminatory society. An oppressive government created an all-pervasive climate of racial prejudice. Thus I was thoroughly influenced to look down upon ‘Blacks’, who were derogatorily called ‘kaffers’ in our community. I started hating apartheid but not ‘Whites’ as such.
            At the time of the Sharpeville shootings and the march of thousands of ‘Blacks’ from Langa to the Caledon Square Police Station in March 1960, I was one of the first to leave the Vasco High School premises when a rumour went around that the ‘kaffers’ were coming. With fear and trepidation we bangbroeke quickly left the building.
            I displayed more courage soon thereafter – still a 14 year old teenager - in writing a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Verwoerd. In my draft letter of protest I addressed the perceived inequalities and injustice of the political system. However, I did not post the letter immediately. When my father discovered the draft letter in my school blazer when it had to be sent for dry cleaning, a serious reprimand followed : “Do you also want to go and languish on Robben Island?”
            I was not really sad at his discovery, because I did not fancy that prospect at all. (It was well-known that Robben Island incarceration was the fate of people who got too involved in resistance politics.) I had no intention to join the league of Robben Islanders where I might have been joining the likes of Nelson Mandela. That prospect was not attractive at all, to say the least. I loved my freedom far too much.
Medical Studies at UCT?      
One of our high school teachers thought that I should apply for studies and for a bursary to the University of Cape Town (UCT) for medical studies. (My father also mentioned the possibility of a bursary. The news of my first class pass at Junior Certificate level (Grade 10) as the only learner from our school - that had inferior facilities and few qualified teachers - one of the residents of Mupine expressed interest in spon­soring me for medical studies at the prestigious UCT. Daddy was working there as a night porter.)
         But I never even considered that possibility. I felt myself much too inferior to attend a ‘White’ university. I was however also determined not to go and study at the apartheid-tainted 'Bush' University College that had just started for 'Coloureds' in Bellville South!
An improved financial Situation at Home                                                                                                
By this time our family had progressed materially somewhat. We were now for example the proud owners of two bicycles. Our sister Magdalene received a new one on her 16th birthday with which she cycled to the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics factory in Parow. (In the interim she had opened the door for our mother to get employment at Footmaster, the factory near to the Parow train station where they manufactured socks of all shapes and sizes Every day I used the same bicycle which Daddy had been using, after he had returned home from Mupine in the morning. I would then cycle to school.  
A Financial Crisis at Home yet again
At this time our mother was forced to stop working because of arthritis - aggravated by the factory work, where she had to be on her feet all day. In those days when only few people possessed a washing machine, Mom would also do some washing for relatives who took pity on us as a family.                                                I matriculated at the end of 1962, with the understanding that I could finish my teacher training after a year of any other employment that I could find. The financial situation at home was not such that all three boys could be kept in educational institutions. Kenneth, the oldest of the sons, had started studies that year at Hewat Teachers’ Training College.
God's higher Ways impacting me
After a few unsuccessful attempts at getting clerical work that was as a rule reserved for ‘Whites’ in those days, I settled for a menial job at Nasionale Boekhandel in nearby Parow, cleaning the machines. Returning to our Tiervlei home from the printing works in Parow in the late afternoon of early January 1963, I learned that I had been accepted to study at Hewat Teachers’ Training College in Crawford. This was already very special because annually only about 100 male applicants from the whole Cape Province and Namibia were accepted by Hewat.
         I was quite surprised when my parents disclosed that they felt that I should proceed to ‘Hewat’. Encouraged by the ‘Watchword’ from the Moravian textbook for the day, Isaiah 55:8: “My ways are not your ways ...”, my parents decided to send me to college by faith.
Holy Spirit Conviction          
In the first quarter of 1963 I was deeply challenged by the personal testimony of Dominee Piet Bester, the new minister of the local Sendingkerk congregation, which also used the name Moria. He came to Tiervlei in 1962 (later called Ravensmead). The testimony of Dominee Bester pierced my heart. He discerned that his love for folk dancing was idolatrous. I was challenged: Was I actually idolizing sport? I recommitted my life to the Lord, and broke all my ties to sports quite radically.
Preachers from different Denominations      
At this time there was also a lot of movement ecumenically in the circles in which we moved. Thus we had preachers from various denominations on the pulpit of our small church in Tiervlei. Our sister Magdalene invited Chris Wessels, a young Moravian assistant minister at that time. His sermon on Jeremiah 4:3 was very exceptional, making a deep impression on me. Only very seldom we heard a sermon from one of the ‘Old Testament’ prophets. The words 'Braak vir julle 'n braakland. Saai nie onder dorings nie' (Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns …'), were like seeds sown on the fertile soil of my heart. It germinated there, coming up many years later in my own exposition of the parable of the sower: 'Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things …' I gradually became very sensitive to the visible economic disparity of our society.
         Chris Wessels challenged me to take up theological studies. But I was adamant that the Lord should clearly call me personally to serve Him as a pastor.  The conviction had grown stronger within me that I should experience a divine calling from the Lord before engaging in such studies.
          (Photo: My ID card, which one could apply for at the age of 16)
         As I went into my second (in those days final) year of teacher training, I did not feel comfortable and capable at all to go and teach straight away the following year. I still looked like a school kid myself. I genuinely feared that the learners would run over me because of my youthful appearance. The ‘door’ did not open for me to proceed to the third year of teacher training. I was thus more or less forced to apply for a teaching post.
A Challenge to Mission Work                                                                                                            Ds. Ds. Piet Bester, who came to Tiervlei in 1962 was divinely used to get me not only interested in sharing the Gospel with others, but also interested in missionary work. Since I was racially classified and raised as a ‘Coloured’ in apartheid South Africa, I never considered in my wildest dreams that I would ever get to another country for missionary purposes. I served as a volunteer at a small open air Wayside Sunday School in someone’s backyard.
         The run-up to my involvement with the Wayside Mission was actually quite interesting. In the Sunday school of our congregation, I had led a few children to a personal faith in Jesus as their Saviour. I also encouraged the children to tell others about their decision to follow Jesus. One of the children from the Sonnenberg family did just this at their home. The staunch Moravian parents promptly complained to the church leadership about the 'un-Moravian' way in which I was conducting the Sunday School classes. To get ‘converted’ to faith in Jesus was regarded to be sectarian by the rank and file Moravian Church member at the Cape, also on the mission stations.
        Our minister who was also our Mom’s cousin, came to Tiervlei once a month. At the next opportunity I was called to book. I was however not prepared to budge, deciding to rather stop Sunday school teaching there. This typified the defiant, rebellious and arrogant spirit of that era of my life. I joined the above‑mentioned Wayside Mission instead.
        When a new Sunday School started in the township which started with people who had been forcibly removed from Parow North, I started there as a subsidiary Moravian institution with some simultaneous links to the Wayside movement. I thus simply continued attending denominational Sunday school conferences. At this time I was able to buy a small tape recorded with two reels. Recording the singing of the children and playing it back to them was of ever so thrilling, a novelty of the time. Machines that used small cassettes would soon thereafter replace that gadget.
An ecclesiastical Misfit
In the Moravian Church I was quite a misfit at this time. Along with two young Sunday School colleagues with the name Paul who had the typical Cape Moravian surnames Engel and Joemat, we would often launch out in an arrogant way to ‘get the Moravian Church back on track’ in evangelical terms. The two Pauls and I sometimes used unconventional means. Bible choruses were regarded as sectarian in those days, but we had the respected Chris Wessels on our side. (Chris had been in Holland and Germany before he returned to the church’s service. Thereafter he became travelling secretary of the Christian Students’ Association.)                                                                                                         
Teenage Preachers                                                                                                                                  
At our local youth services, I went a step further than my sister, inviting not only experienced (lay) preachers from other churches, but also teenagers like myself to come and preach in our fellowship.
            Thus Allan Boesak came to preach soon after he had started with his theological studies. Coming from what we regarded as far away Somerset West, Allan slept at our home the Saturday evening prior to the youth service the following day. This gave me a good opportunity for theological discussion. I eagerly grabbed the occasion to sound Allan out about the christening of infants.  (On the issue of believer’s baptism, a Pentecostal friend had been influencing me.)             
Allan couldn’t really convince me, but I was satisfied that he was honest, that he believed that infant christening is the sign of the new covenant, a substitute for the Jewish ritual of circumcision. (He explained that the latter is the visible sign of the old covenant of God with Israel.)
A major turning Point in my Life
Allan Boesak’s dedication to the Lord made a deep impression on me. When he spoke about the ‘stranddienste’, the beach gospel services of the Students Christian Association at Harmony Park, he sowed seed in my heart. This seed germinated when my Moravian soul mate Paul Engel joined us at Hewat Training College. Paul also spoke about that beach outreach. I was soon ready to join the Harmony Park beach evangelistic outreach.
         The Christmas of 1964 had me spiritually in tatters. I was getting ready for the Harmony Park the evangelistic ‘stranddienste’ (beaches services), but I was feeling spiritually completely barren. In desperation I called to the Lord to meet me anew. I had nothing to share with anybody, unless He would fill me with His Spirit. And that He did. The Harmony Park outreach of 1964/65 would change my life radically.
Impacted by other Followers of Jesus
For the other participants it might not have been so significant, but the unity of the Christians coming from different church backgrounds there at Harmony Park left an indelible mark on my mind. I did not know the divine statement yet that God commands his blessing where unity exists (Psalm 133:3). But I did see the Holy Spirit at work there as I had not experienced before.
         There a close friendship was forged with Jakes, a young pastor who came to join us after a long drive through the night from far-away Umtata in the Transkei (The town was renamed to Mthatha). Along with my new friends Jakes and David Savage from the City Mission, I started learning about the power of prayer there at Harmony Park. When Jakes came into the tent one night after an intense discussion with a Muslim, he quoted Jesus’ words about prayer and fasting. This was my introduction to spiritual warfare.
         In Harmony Park I was not only spiritually revived, but there I also received an urge to collaborate with other members of the body of Christ, with people from different denominational backgrounds.
            After my encounter with the Lord before my first Harmony Park beach outreach, I started to attend the early prayer meetings every Sunday morning at six o’clock at the Tiervlei Sendingkerk where Piet Bester, the new young Dutch Reformed dominee, became my mentor.
The missionary zeal of the Harmony Park outreach became very much part and parcel of my life. I displayed a lapel badge “Jesus Saves” on my jacket and I challenged people everywhere to accept Jesus as their Lord.
 Completely unbalanced                                                                                                                      
 I was very much a child of my surroundings and spiritually completely unbalanced. I initially frowned upon lengthy degree studies because I expected the Lord to return very soon. However, when I heard that extra-mural courses would be started at the University College of the Western Cape, I jumped at the opportunity to start degree studies, conveniently forgetting my earlier reservations to study at the ideologically apartheid-tainted ‘Bush’ college. Soon I was cycling to the school in the morning, and from there to the afternoon and evening classes. Not knowing that it would come in good stead at a later stage, I had included German Special in my degree curriculum.
            Being thoroughly materialistic at this time, I only had eyes for the opportunity to get in line for promo­tion as a teacher in later years, so that I would be able to earn more, perhaps even becoming a secondary school principal at a later stage. But there was also the academic field that beckoned. Posts at the new 'Coloured' University were waiting to be filled by people from our racial grouping. As one of the better students and also the youngest of the extra-mural alma mater, this was quite a tempting option.[2)
            Often I utilised the time on the bicycle with a book on the steering bar, e.g. while I memorised the various forms of the German strong and irregular verbs.


4. A Teenage Secondary School Teacher
There were surprisingly not enough applicants for the third year “academic” teachers’ course at Hewat Training College for 1965. Thus I had to try and get one of the rare teaching posts for ‘Coloured’ primary school teachers.                           
 A few days before the re-opening of schools in January 1965 my old high school principal, Mr Braam, who had just started a new secondary school in Bellville South the year before, ‘by chance’ discovered that I was still available to help him out. The increase in enrolment at his school required more teachers. In those days ‘Coloured’ academically qualified teaching personnel were just not available for the secondary educational institutions. I had just turned 19, but I still looked like a 14 or 15 year old. Thus I would now have to teach children almost my own age. The prospect of being only a few miles from home was however quite attractive.
         The missionary zeal of Harmony Park, where I participated in an evangelistic outreach just a few weeks before the reopening of schools, was still very much part and parcel of me. It was only natural that a branch of the Student Christian Associ­ation (SCA) would be established at the school where I commenced my teaching career.  
Activism as a Teacher                                                                                                                                                In 1966 I was subtly nudging my secondary school learners to boycott the celebrations for 'Coloureds' at the Goodwood Showgrounds. I also challenged my teacher colleagues - as a form of protest - that we as ‘Coloureds’ should request the lower salaries of the ‘Blacks’. That would have demonstrated our seriousness about racial equality. But no colleague was interested in such a proposal. Everybody was only eager to get parity salaries with the ‘Whites’.
A Significant Moravian Funeral                                                                                                    Next to my friend Jakes, the relatively young Reverend Ivan Wessels was my other hero at this time. At the beginning of 1968 he suddenly contracted leukaemia, only 43 year old. Ivan Wessels passed on after a few weeks in Groote Schuur Hospital. Instead of the usual Sunday School Conference at the Pella Mission Station that had been scheduled for the week-end following his death, almost the whole Moravian Church establishment gathered in Lansdowne for the funeral of one of its greatest sons.
         Bishop Schaberg challenged the funeral assembly: “Who is called to fill the gap caused by our deceased brother?” I felt supernaturally and personally addressed. Back home in Tiervlei after the funeral, it was not difficult at all for me to say‘Lord, I’m prepared to be used by you to help fill the void.’ I understood this to mean that I should take up theological studies.
A Bursary for Studies in Germany
The next day we went to Pella for our condensed Sunday School Conference. I was completely surprised when a member of our church board approached me with the question whether I would be interested in a bursary for theological studies in Germany.[4)
            I was very happy to tell Rev Habelgaarn that I saw this as clear confirmation of the call of the Lord the previous day. I was overawed by the perfect timing of the Lord! The temptation to study abroad would have been very attractive. I wanted to be absolutely sure that it was God calling me. My decision to obey God's call would change the course of my life. At that point I did not know that this would take me to Germany the following year and that it would put an end to my career and academic ambitions.
         After another few months of preparations, I had advanced significantly towards my leaving for Germany at the beginning of 1969. There things would happen that would ultimately lead to an exile of 20 years.
(Photo: Some of the people who came to see me off at the quayside of the Cape Town Docks: From left to right (front row): my friend Jakes, my Brother Kenneth, nephew Clarence on the arm of our dad, Brother-in-law Anthony Esau, Bishop Schaberg, Mommy, my sister Magdalene and sister-in-law Malie, Back Row: V.C.S. student camp friends John Tromp, Martin Dyers, Richard Stevens. John was also a local Tiervlei Calvinist church youth friend, Martin was a fellow student at Hewat, and Richard a class mate at Vasco High School)
            The Lord had been preparing Rosemarie and me for missionary service.


5. An African Missionary in Germany?

         Romances started to play a bigger role in my life. I had just turned 23 when I left South Africa All around me my peers were getting married. Just prior to my departure I almost got romantically befriended to a church worker who both my best friend Jakes and I felt could be ‘a candidate’.
         I was however determined from the outset not to marry a German girl because that would have prevented me from returning to South Africa due to of the laws of the country at the time. Rationally, I considered that I would be of more use inside South Africa than outside of the beloved country.
Studies at Tübingen University?       
I regarded the stay in Europe from January 1969 in the first place as an opportunity to study, but it was also combined with some missionary zeal. Fairly at the beginning of my stint in Germany, I opposed Marxist theological students, although I still could not yet express myself sufficiently in German, thus needing an interpreter. A German lady exclaimed quite shocked that their ‘Christian’ country now seemed to be in need of mission­aries from Africa!
         From the outset I regarded myself as a ‘short term missionary’. In those days this terminology was still fairly unknown. The possibility of a missionary coming from Africa to ‘Christian’ Europe was unheard of. But I was also determined to return to my home country to serve the Lord there. The almost two years in Germany, during which I learned much about youth work in the first year, were very enriching. The last of the two years was devoted to studies in Greek, Hebrew and Latin.[5) 
         I had to guard myself against falling in love if that were possible at all. I had to learn the hard way (well, really?) that also my emotions had to be brought under God’s rule! His ways were indeed higher, also with regard to my future marriage partner. I still had to learn that it was not right to prescribe to the Lord the race to which my future wife should belong. 
Stay clear of Politics! 
Before I left South Africa, Bishop Schaberg warned me to stay clear of politics, because agents from the apartheid government were also well represented overseas. As a speaker from Africa, I was something of a celebrity in certain quarters, notably on the German countryside. In my talks on South Africa, I spoke about the unique problems of the country. I defined them as the government policy of racial segregation, the disunity of the churches and alcoholism. They were not unique individually of course but in the way as they were blended.  As a solution to the problems, I suggested much prayer because I believed in the power of prayer, the result of the mentoring of Ds. Bester.
I heeded Bishop Schaberg’s warning initially, without however really making a conscious effort. A letter from my parents in June 1969 changed all this. It shocked me out of my wits to hear that our family had been served with a notice of the expropriation of our property in Tiervlei. Before I left South Africa we had heard a rumour that our property – the house plus 8 big vacant plots on which more houses could be built – was offered to a Bellville South businessman. Considering that our solid brick house nowhere resembled one of those that qualified for slum clearance, we had initially taken that to be an unfounded rumour.
What really enraged me there in Europe was that my mother mentioned in her letter something about ‘the will of the Lord.’ I could not perceive the move of the Parow Municipality as anything else than a new version of the jealousy of Naboth in respect of the vineyard of a poor man (1 King 21:1-15). In my anger I stopped just short of considering joining the armed struggle against the apartheid government. The wanton act of the Parow Municipality was to me just an extension of the racist government policies. From abroad I wrote a strong letter of protest to the Parow Municipality, with copies to some people in Tiervlei. But it was all of no avail.  A few months later, while I was still in Germany, my parents were moved to the Elim Mission Station.
Theological Studies in Germany?
Because Rev Rolf Scheffbuch, the leader of the Evangelisches Jungmannerwerk had studied at the Moravian Seminary in the US, he quite easily offered to assist me to study either in Germany or there in the USA. Our church leadership in South Africa opposed this however as they felt I could get estranged from my country if I stayed away too long. They did finally allow me however to stay on for another year to study biblical Hebrew and Greek, in preparation for further theological studies.
I became almost reckless
My protest letter to the Parow Municipality after the expropriation of our house in Tiervlei, didn’t have any effect one way or the other. My parents moved to Elim, with my father becoming a ‘migrant labourer’, going there one weekend per month. Health-wise it however became too much for him. It affected his heart. He had to go on early retirement at the age of 58.
Hereafter I became almost reckless in my opposition to the South African government policies. I was very critical of the regime, now also in public utterances. Much of my initial missionary zeal decreased substantially. Resentment towards the apartheid regime took hold of me. I thought that I had every reason to feel that way. 
The only constraint with regard to the content of my talks about South Africa was a moral and religious one. I wanted to act responsibly as if to God in everything I did. For the rest I couldn’t care less if the government wanted to withdraw my passport or not. In my letter to the Parow Municipality, I had almost invited the folk there to pass the information on to Pretoria.
   When my parents moved to the countryside - thus without visible reminders and news from me - the prayer support from the Tiervlei warriors diminished. Parallel to this move, also my initial missionary zeal diminished significantly.
         I had not yet met Rosemarie. In fact, for two months I actually resided at the Christian hostel from where I got in touch with the young people of the ‘E.C.’, the Jugendbund für Entschiedenes Christentum. I soon became a regular at the ‘Brenzhaus’ every Wednesday evening. Her student colleague and close friend Elke Maier, who rented a room in the city, had been attending regularly. Rosemarie however, commuted from Mühlacker every day to their training course, hoping to become an ‘educator’, a teaching qualification for Kindergarten and children’s homes.
Run-up to a special Relationship       
When Rosemarie entered the Jugendbund für Entschiedenes Christentum with her student colleague and friend Elke Maier in May 1970, I experienced something as close to a ‘love at first sight’ as ever there was one, especially after I had spoken to Rosemarie afterwards.
         I was quite disappointed when she stepped just as suddenly out of my surrounds as she had entered. We had no opportunity to exchange addresses or telephone numbers.
         Almost simultaneously with my examination in Greek - two weeks before my scheduled return to South Africa - Rosemarie re-entered my life.
         The most important moment for me during this time was probably Rosemarie’s reaction when I invited her telephonically to join me for an evening with the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Her response was: ‘already from childhood I wanted to become a missionary.’ To me this was the firm confirmation that I wanted nobody else as my future wife. But a few days later, a possible marriage seemed completely remote.
Opposition to our Friendship
When Rosemarie told her mother that she had fallen in love with an African student, Mrs Göbel immediately opposed the relationship. Fearing an even harsher reaction from her husband, Mrs Göbel disallowed Rosemarie to meet me again, but we could phone (and write to) each other. My darling agreed not to tell her father about the African boyfriend. He had told her clearly never to marry a teacher or a pastor! I had been practising as a teacher and I had started my training to become a pastor. This is apart from the indoctrination of Mr Göbel’s own upbringing. That had been an important reason for him to oppose her wish to study in Tübingen.
         Rosemarie was not allowed to attend my farewell at the Christian Encounter evening, but she later learned the chorus “My Lord can do anything ...” We made a recording of the proceedings via one of the recent technological advances, the audio cassette. At my farewell evening I taught the German young people this chorus as well as ‘By u is daar niks onmoontlik Heer,’ [13]without thinking much about the content. These two choruses would mean such a lot to us in the months hereafter.
         A foretaste of the miracle that was still to happen occurred just prior to my departure. When she went home the next weekend, Rosemarie’s mama allowed her to see me once more and then also to accompany me to the airport a few days later. I was so happy when she agreed to join me to a performance of Händel’s Messiah when I went to meet her at the train station. (Photo: ticket for the Messiah)    
         Everything seemed hopeless with regard to any future for our intense mutual love. We had no option but to stick to the content of the chorus: My Lord can do anything... We really trusted that our Lord could do anything and every­thing.
         We were thoroughly blessed, when we attended the Messiah performance. As we listened to the words from the prophet Isaiah: ‘Every valley shall be exalted...’, we looked at each other eagerly and lovingly, adapting the prom­ise to our personal circumstances! How we longed for the fulfillment of the application of the verse from Scripture!

                                    *                                  *                                  *
Love grows where my Rosemary goes
I returned to Cape Town in October 1970. The plan was initially that I would attend the Moravian Seminary as a full time student from the beginning of 1971. In the first few weeks after my return, letters flew to and fro between Cape Town and Stuttgart in quick succession. I wrote about every­thing I did, writing on railway stations, reading and re-reading her letters in all sorts of places.  At the Alexander Sinton High School where I taught for a term immediately after my return from Germany, I received letters from my darling. Mail was not yet being delivered in Sherwood Park (near the township Manenberg), where my sister resided with her family. Some of the learners would tease me with the pop song that was in vogue at the time ‘Love grows where my Rosemary goes’.
I had no doubt that Rosemarie Göbel was the girl I wanted to marry. My original resolve  ‑ not to get involved in a special relationship with someone from the opposite gender in Germany that could lead to marriage ‑ was thus effectively dashed. On the South African side of the ocean there was however the ominous ‘Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act’ that prevented any marital union between a ‘White’ and someone from another race.


    6. Home sweet Home

            My opposition to the government of my home country received a personal touch with my new resolve. A law was prohibiting me from getting married to Rosemarie Göbel. I could not accept that.
            I was terribly in love and was soon telling our wonderful love story to all and sundry. At one of these occasions I blurted out my feelings towards Rosemarie to my cousin, Rev. John Ulster. He was the minister of the Elim Mission Station and a member of the Moravian Church Board. He pointed out to me the obvious, that I had to choose between South Africa and Rosemarie.  But I wanted both. This must have looked really stupid and naive because a marriage to a (‘White’) German was just not a runner at that time. But I was too much in love to accept that. I was determined to marry Rosemarie, ready to fight to get her into South Africa. To everybody around me that idea sounded quite crazy.
Swept along by Race Politics
After my return to Cape Town in October 1970, I was soon swept along by the politics of the day. Thoroughly influence by books of Martin Luther King and the autobiography of Albert Luthuli during my stay in Germany - literature that was either unavailable or declared banned literature in South Africa - my interest in politics was more than merely aroused. I was hereafter ablaze in opposition to Apartheid, regarding this as my Christian duty. One of the first things after my return to the Cape was to join the Christian Institute (CI), an organisation founded by Dr Beyers Naudé.
            At the CI in Mowbray I linked up with Paul Joemat, my old rebel Moravian Church soul mate. There we teamed up with other young people who also had the vision that Christians should be actively engaged in opposing the unchristian apartheid policies.
            Paul and I were quite disappointed however when we discovered that the ‘White’ members of the CI were not prepared to fall foul of the immoral apartheid laws. I had suggested that we should board a train together and then walk through the different racially designated train coaches. All of us would then probably have been arrested for the infringement. Paul and I were quite prepared to embarrass the government in that way. However, the ‘White’ members hid behind the excuse that it was not CI policy to do illegal things. Paul and I stopped attending the CI young adult events thereafter. (Paul and his wife Rhoda subsequently got involved with other activities which incurred the displeasure of the government. Because of that he was imprisoned at Caledon Square and at Victor Verster (Later Nelson Mandela was incarcerated there just prior to his release.)
Part time Theological Studies                                                                                    
In January 1971, I bumped into my former Afrikaans teacher, Mr Adam Pick. He was now the principal of Elswood High School in Elsies River. He promptly asked me to come and teach at his school. This came as a bit of an unexpected temptation, as prior to this I had already made the decision to resign from the teaching profession to pursue theological studies. Being a Moravian Church member himself, however, Mr Pick knew that the seminary I was about to attend had just moved to Cape Town after the Group Areas expropriation of the church’s property in Port Elizabeth. He sowed seed into my heart, suggesting that I could also study theology part-time. This is exactly what I decided to do.
I soon took up a full-time teaching post at Elswood High School in Elsies River, making it clear though that I would only be teaching for a year.                                                          
My parents were now living on the Elim Mission Station and my sister and her family resided quite far from the school in Elsies River where I started teaching. I would not have been able to commute from there daily. I thus needed accommodation in the vicinity of Elsies River. There another Esau family owned a 3 by 3 metre outside room with one double bed that I shared with my brother Windsor. On the inside of the door I hung my most important possession, a photograph of my beloved Rosemarie. I especially made use of the picture for our regular Sunday 10 p.m. rendezvous. (We had set this time aside to pray for each other exclusively.) What special times we experienced in divine union although we were so many miles apart.
One major Snag
There was still one major snag ever since my departure from Germany: Rosemarie’s father still didn’t know about our friendship. She was at this time doing her qualifying year of teaching at the School for the Blind in Stuttgart, where she also lived. Thus we could correspond without her parents getting upset by it.. Rosemarie had to promise to keep the information as a secret from her father. She did share it with Waltraud, her only sister. But she knew beforehand that she could not expect any support from that quarter. Waltraud was engaged to her young man Dieter Braun, getting ready for their immanent wedding.
Rosemarie deemed it wise to go home less frequently. The secrecy of our relationship was starting to take its toll, particularly on her mother, who was deeply torn between her love for her husband and the allegiance to her daughter with her ‘wayward’ choice of a boyfriend. She however reckoned with the possibility that I would return to Europe in the future. In a letter to Rosemarie she wrote very wisely:
... I feel that if Ashley were to come to Europe one day, it would be the opportunity to get to know him should you still think about it as at present. Think about how many people have had to experience a time of parting. Sometimes God requires of us a time of testing.  In the meantime, you can learn some additional things for His service, should you serve Him together one day, He will surely make your way clear...
A deplorable Effort to ‘assist God’
A few months into 1971 Rosemarie’s mom had agreed that the two of us could continue corresponding but her father still did not know about our friendship. The secrecy took its toll on Mrs Göbel so that she landed in hospital with a serious gall ailment. Rosemarie had to face the fact that the tension because of our friendship was the cause of her mother’s hospitalisation. But she also knew that she could no longer keep the secret away from her dear father. The tension at home had become unbearable.                    Rosemarie splashed it out to her father when Mrs Göbel was in hospital, causing excessive pain to him. Subsequently she wrote to me about the quarrel she had with her father regarding our friendship.
            I deemed it appropriate to write a formal letter of apology to Mr Göbel. But rather than leaving it at expressing regret, I insensitively requested permission to correspond with his daughter. He replied equally formally, giving the reasons why I should terminate my friendship with his daughter. Ultimately it boiled down to this: He had nothing against me personally, but he didn’t want Rosemarie to marry someone from any nation other than Germany.
I should have left it at that. Instead, I stubbornly requested him to allow me to continue the correspondence with Rosemarie at festive occasions. Ethically, this was deplorable. I more or less attempted to twist Mr Göbel’s arm in this way. Mr Göbel was too angry to reply, instructing Rosemarie to write me one final letter terminating the friendship! As a result, the tension at the Göbel home in Mühlacker increased to breaking point. Rosemarie decided to stop going home over the weekends. She did not respond to her father’s request, leaving me with the hope of receiving a letter again at Easter.
I was not aware of this development, going ahead with the writing of a thick epistle. Via my Easter letter I wanted to make sure that my darling would have enough material to read and re-read until Pentecost!! Easter 1971 would have been the next occasion of our mutual exchange of letters in my manipulated reckoning.   Her letter didn’t arrive at the expected time. After some delay, a letter came that should have alarmed me. She had written about the overtures of a certain young man to whom she was quite sympathetic but she loved me too much to consider his suit seriously. I had however started the sad drama and intrigue myself by kissing a girl and confessing this in a letter.) I felt naively flattered instead of jealously alarmed by her confession.
            On the South African side of the ocean there was of course the ominous ‘Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act’ that curbed any marital bond between a ‘White’ and someone from another race. The circumstances were just not in our favour.
Getting Rosemarie racially reclassified?                                                                                         Instead of waiting on God’s intervention to enable our marital bond, I decided to ‘assist Him’. I had read in a local newspaper about someone who had been racially reclassified! This seemed to be my big chance. I would not accept the ‘realistic’ choice of either Rosemarie or South Africa that my cousin had put to me. Getting Rosemarie reclassified was a possible way out of the cul de sac. I wanted to marry Rosemarie, and I was willing to do whatever it might take.
Despite my active pursuit to bring her to South Africa, Rosemarie was still far from ready to make such a move. The inevitable objections of her family at the idea of releasing their daughter to go to the African continent were a big hindrance. In one of her letters she asked me to pray for inner freedom from the inhibitions she felt in this regard.
I had no problem with this request, trusting God to change her views in due course. Had she not told me that she had always dreamed of going to the mission field? I pushed ahead with my ideas in a rather headstrong way.
            I was immersed in the politics of the day at that time. The banned and other literature I had been reading overseas had already stimulated activism in me. My interest was more than merely aroused by the inequalities and injustices I was seeing all around us. When I returned from Germany, I actually xpected to land in jail because of non-violent protest.
         The Moravian Seminary already had a bad name with the government because people of all races were coming there. Even students from Stellenbosch University with their conspicuous maroon striped blazers visited us. In those days racial mixing was regarded as subversive. Clearly influenced by the emerging Black Theology, I was fond of wearing my ‘Black is Beautiful’ T-shirt defiantly, especially after I heard that its sale had been banned. With Koki chalk I wrote ‘Civil Rights’ at the back of another T-shirt and Reg en Geregtigheid - rights and justice - at the front. (This meant of course that I couldn’t wash this T-shirt for many months, but this didn’t trouble me much, as long as I could posture these sentiments, knowing full well that it could bring me into trouble.
v Also in church politics we gave the denominational leadership a rough time. From our perspective the older ministers emulated the government in their dealings with opposition to traditionalism in the church. In spite of my activism on more than one front, my heart was still aching that I couldn’t write to my Rosemarie directly. This was still foremost in my prayers.
        On my return to the seminary in Ashley Street in District Six from a political protest event with other tertiary students for equal education for all, there was a letter from Germany. It had come completely unexpectedly, directly from my darling! I could hardly believe what I saw there in black and white. Her mother had given us permission to resume our correspondence. Mrs Göbel had been challenged by the Old Testament ‘Losung’, the Watchword on her own birthday: “…love the stranger in your gates.” Ahead of Rosemarie’s 21st birthday, her mother was comforted and encouraged by another word from Scripture “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Rosemarie’s mother understood that to mean that she had to accept me as a prospective son-in-law. She reacted positively, giving Rosemarie permission to write to me again! This was very courageous of Mrs Göbel, knowing that she was actually opposing her husband. She had however also set out simultaneously to win him over to accept our relationship.
         We could now proceed to attempt bringing my bonny to South Africa, so that she could be racially ‘reclassified’. That was a condition for a possible marriage according to a government directive.                 I spent the last part of the June holidays of 1972 with my parents in Elim and there I had a frank discussion with them about my political activism. There I also discussed the issue of my love for Rosemarie at length. I spoke of my hope to get her racially reclassified. In response, they stated clearly that they would be prepared to sacrifice me if I went to Europe, rather than seeing me bring Rosemarie into the humiliations and injustices of an apartheid-permeated South Africa. I was too much in love to appreciate their generous gesture appropriately.
I disregarded the objections of my parents. At the same time, we were not aware that Rosemarie’s mother also attempted to get the consent and blessing of her husband to our union. She was trying to win Papa Göbel over, sharing this in correspondence with Anne Schlimm, the wife of our seminary director.
         Encouraged by this development, my mentor, Reverend Henning Schlimm, facilitated a teaching post for Rosemarie at the ‘Kindergarten’ (Pre-school) of St. Martini, the German Lutheran Church in Cape Town. I was unaware of the great courage the local German minister, Pastor Osterwald, had displayed to appoint her. Knowing on the one hand the background of the appointment, but on the other hand also aware of the racist attitude of some of his congregation members, he asked Rosemarie not to disclose anything about the appointment in her letters to me. Pastor Osterwald advised: ‘I want to tell you that your decision to start this daring venture will lead you into many a conscientious conflict...’
Spiritually Miles apart                                                                                                                                 
Hereafter we could start counting the days to the beginning of March 1973, when Rosemarie was due to arrive in Cape Town. Great was the disappointment when March came and went without any news of the work permit and her visa. We first thought that this would be a mere formality. I was therefore completely stunned when Rosemarie phoned me via the direct line from Germany. She had received a terse letter from the South African Consulate that she had been refused a work permit.                                                 We deemed it quite important that Rosemarie should at least get to know South Africa and my family. Therefore she applied again, this time for a tourist visa. For the second time a visa was refused. (Neither of us was aware that she had by now actually been blacklisted in respect of entry into the country.)
            As for me, I now had to face the fact that my resolve to have both Rosemarie and the country I loved and in which felt so strongly called to serve, was nothing more than an unrealistic dream. I had to choose.                                                                                                                                 
I wavered for some time, very unsure of what to do. However, our Church Board cooperated optimally. They suggested that I could go and work with the Moravian Church in Germany at the end of that year.                                                                                                                           
Looking back, we saw that the Lord was very gracious to us. Our brittle love would have been put under extreme pressure by the compulsory sphere of secrecy caused by apartheid laws. But also theologically and spiritually Rosemarie and I were miles apart at that moment. I had become rather liberal under the influence of activist ‘Black Theology’, a variant of ‘Liberation Theology’.
Interaction with the Jesus People     
The Lord was evidently also working in my life, chiselling away many a rough edge. My student colleague Fritz Faro had a lot of interaction with the Jesus People, a group of young men and women with close links to the hippy movement. That caused a mini revival at the Cape. Many of those young people who were converted from an anti-Christian life-style subsequently became leaders in Church and society at large. We appreciated their radicalism, but we seminarians had problems with their a-political stance.
         Spiritually, the radicalism of the Jesus People did rub off on us. It reminded me of the days with the VCS/SCA student movement of which I had become estranged, possibly because of the activist liberal theological phase through which I was going.  The Lord would still deal with this activist attitude.
Farewell South Africa!
Other things kept us busy at the seminary, such as preparations for a youth rally with the theme ‘Youth Power’ in the Old Drill Hall.[6) Dr Beyers Naudé, the leader of the Christian Institute, was our high-profiled speaker. The theological seminary played a major role in organizing this event. Apart from playing the trumpet in our small band, I was not fully involved in the run-up to the event because of the preparations for my pending departure for Germany.  Dr Naudé lodged with the Schlimm family, where he heard about the background of my departure. There were all sorts of other things to see to like bidding farewell to friends and relatives.
         There were all sorts of other things to see to like greeting many people prior to my departure. Fol­lowing in the footsteps of my cousin Hester Ulster, who married Tubby Lymphany, we expected this to become my final fare­well to South Africa, most probably never to return.
From yet another side, I was squeezed. In the months prior to the scheduled departure, various leaders of the Christian Institute (CI) had their passports confiscated just prior to their respective departures from Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg. Although I was only a very inconspicuous member of this organization, one could never know. The presence of Dr Beyers Naudé at our youth rally did not augur well for me. I wrote to Rosemarie that I would phone her from Johannesburg should the government prevent me from leaving the country.
Wasn’t I just running away
Yet, there was also the nagging uncertainty whether my decision was God’s will. Or was it my own way? Wasn’t I just running away like Jonah? I couldn’t muster the courage (or faith?) to apply for the extension of my passport in time! My passport would have expired soon. I bought a round-trip ticket, although I didn’t intend to return to my fatherland. I booked a ticket to leave fairly soon after the completion of my theological examinations in November 1973.









                                    


7.  Run-up to an extraordinary Honeymoon
         All the anxiety with regard to my getting out of the country proved to be unnecessary.  Rosemarie and I were soon enjoying every minute of being together after the years of involuntary separation. It was however not easy for my darling when I made no secret of the fact that I regarded my return to Germany as a sacrifice.
First Visit to Rosemarie’s parental Home   
I was due for my first visit to Rosemarie’s parental home in Mühlacker soon after my arrival and I now met her father for the first time. Besides his disapproving remark about the cheap wind breaker I was wearing, our encounter could not be described as a clash. He was courteous and polite in his dealings towards me. However, I had no clue of what was going on in his mind. Agreeing to meet me had been a big deal for him. And now, upon seeing me in person, he was confronted with the fact that I was serious about his daughter; serious to the point that I wanted to marry her. This thought must have plagued him deeply.     
Mr Göbel could not accept a foreigner as a possible future son-in-law. In the weeks that followed, there was once again much stress and debate in the home over my relationship with Rosemarie. The tension escalated to the point that my darling’s parents requested her to leave the home. Mama Göbel still treasured the command from Scripture, but her husband had such a lot of inculcated hang-ups around the matter that he could not accept any such guidance from God.
Coming from South Africa with all its racial prejudices, I could cope with these developments much better than Rosemarie. She really struggled with the fact that she had been requested to leave the parental home. Understandably, this was hurtful to her. She did, however, also know that she was not expelled because her parents didn’t love her any more.
Elke Maier’s parents in Gündelbach lovingly took care of her, taking them into their home and treating her like their own daughter.
Engaged for Marriage
Rosemarie and I became engaged for marriage in March 1974, albeit with no family from either side present. A week later I was all set to leave for West Berlin, where the main part of my vikariat (working as a curate) would take place.

Picture taken on the day of our engagement
On the 31st of March I was booked on the night train to far-away West Berlin, to serve as an assistant pastor in the Western part of the divided city. In the morning I delivered an unconventional sermon, putting an evangelical challenge to the congregation in the form of an advertisement.

With the Underdogs
With all my luggage packed, I went to the local soccer field in the afternoon where the local team was due to play against a team of ‘Gastarbeiter’, i.e. workers from southern European countries. While the visitors were waiting for more players to arrive, I joined in the fun, kicking the ball around. When the guests noticed that I possessed some ball skill, I was promptly picked to join them for the game. Well, after all, I was also a guest worker in Germany, albeit one with a difference.
Just after half time I heard a funny sound as I stepped into a hole on the uneven surface. I immediately stopped playing. I still cycled home, but noticed some pain. When my ankle got swollen, I still did not suspect that I had actually fractured my ankle. The local doctor immediately sent me to the hospital for an x-ray. They kept me there for quite a while. Instead of taking the train the same evening as scheduled to travel through the night, I thereafter spent quite a few more nighs thereafter in the hospital (At this time Germany was quite generous with their medical services.).
          In far-away West Berlin the members of the church brass band were getting ready to welcome the new African assistant pastor the next morning. When they received the news early in the morning that I had broken my ankle, everybody thought that it was an ‘April Scherz’. But it wasn’t April fool, it was the truth! A few hours before my scheduled departure, I had indeed fractured my ankle playing football. Neither Rosemarie nor I was really sad, because this meant that we would be much nearer to each other at least a little longer... A few weeks later the West Berlin Moravian congregation enjoyed the privilege of an inaugural sermon of a new pastor with a difference: I walked to the pulpit with my leg still in plaster of Paris!
          Looking back at that experience of almost 45 years ago, I see how God aligned me with the foreigners in another country, so to speak in support  of the underdogs.

Service in Transkei?
At a German Moravian pastors’ conference in May 1974, I shared the room a few months later with Eckhard Buchholz, a missionary from the Transkei in South Africa. Unlike so many other people, he was not sceptical at all about the fact that the South African government intended to grant independence to a ‘homeland’. Transkei was one of the enclaves by means of which the apartheid regime attempted to reduce the numbers of ‘Blacks’ in the so called ‘White South Africa’. Eckhard challenged me to come and work in the Transkei after the commencement of independence of the ‘homeland’, expected to follow in 1976. He was confident that Transkei would not take over the racist prohibition of mixed marriages. I gladly accepted the challenge, encouraging him to send me audio cassettes so that I could start learning Xhosa. And so I did.
Determined to return to the African Continent                                                                                
I was quite determined to return to the African continent as soon as possible. Taking for granted that Rosemarie wanted to be a missionary one day, I expected that she would join me as my wife, going to the Transkei. During her visit to West Berlin soon thereafter, I casually communicated my intention to return to Southern Africa. I was completely taken by surprise to hear that she was not at all ready to join me in returning to ‘Africa’!
Neither of us was prepared for this turn of events. What could we do now? On the issue of our future abode, we seemed to be miles apart - both figuratively as well as literally! In our utter despair, we cried to God for help! We loved each other so dearly. We didn’t want to part, yet this was a matter we had to agree upon. We knew that it had to be sorted out immediately. We loved each other far too much. In complete desperation we prayed together, asking God to guide us through His Word.
Divine Intervention needed                                                                                                        
Divine intervention seemed to be the only possibility for saving our union. Both of us knew that it would not be the ‘proper’ way to handle Scripture. In our desperation we sought God’s will by prayerfully opening the Bible at random, not knowing what else to do. When the Word of God fell open at the verse where Ruth said to Naomi, “I shall go where you go,” we were filled with awe and thankfulness. We were elated as we sensed that this was God’s special word for us. We could go into the unknown future together, and that’s what both of us dearly longed for!
Had we discussed the issue further, we would have encountered a big problem; both of us interpreted the Bible verse subjectively. I trusted that this meant that Rosemarie would join me in going back to Africa. She thought that I would now stay in Europe at least a couple of years. Thankfully, we didn’t pursue the matter further. For that moment, parting was not an issue any more. We were overjoyed at this confirmation that we would be serving the Lord together, wherever He would lead us!
In September 1974 I was back in southern Germany. In the tiny village of Bad Boll, at the headquarters of the European continental province of the Moravian Church, I joined the ‘Predigerseminar’ (preachers’ seminary) to be prepared for ordination. With three other ‘Vikare’ (curates) I was now studying there, in preparation for independent pastoral service.
I expected to work in Germany for three years or so at the maximum, and then return to South Africa – more specifically the Transkei – with my future wife Rosemarie. It became clear to Rosemarie and me that the time for living together in Southern Africa was not yet ripe for us as a married couple. We nevertheless wanted Rosemarie to get acquainted with my country and, if at all possible, that she would get to know my family. For the third time, but with increased hope, Rosemarie applied for a visa to enter South Africa. Along with the application she sent an explanatory letter, mentioning the fact that I was now living in Germany. We reasoned that a major obstacle to a visa should have been eliminated because of this. The Moravian Church Board in South Africa cooperated optimally once again.
Rosemarie was invited to come and work as a volunteer at the Elim Home for children with severe disabilities for a period of two months. She would thus be serving on the same mission station where my parents lived. Theoretically, my darling and my parents would thus be able to get to know each other well over this time.
Plans and Preparations to get married                                                                                            
At the same time, we also started to make plans and preparations to get married after Rosemarie’s return from South Africa in May the following year. We were quite encouraged when we were informed that the Special Branch (of the police) had left a message in Elim: Rosemarie and I could come to South Africa together, on condition that we would not alert the press. At that point in time we had no intention whatsoever of going to South Africa as a couple. Therefore it really took us by surprise when instead of the requested two months, Rosemarie received a visa for only two weeks. A ticket for two weeks would have been much more expensive, however.
            We were grateful nonetheless that she managed to get a visa at last! That was progress in our eyes. And hadn’t the Special Branch given us an idea? The thought of spending our honeymoon in South Africa was so enticing! We decided to bring forward our original wedding date, to be in South Africa for the Easter holidays.
      The activism which had taken hold of me ever since my return from Europe in 1970 and which had been substantially fed during my seminary days was fueled anew. I had no idea about the stress I caused for my darling when prompting her to write a letter to the Consulate.
Although the Consulate in Munich was notified fairly promptly by Pretoria to give Rosemarie a conditional visa to enter the country without me, the details were unclear. Plagued by the uncertainty of whether the visa would be extended or not, Rosemarie decided to phone the South African Consulate in Munich directly for clarificationThe lady on the other side of the telephone line was rather impolite in her dealings, deeming it necessary to point out to Rosemarie very rudely that her fiancé should know the South African laws.
    This phone call led to an adventurous but nerve-wrecking correspondence with the authorities in Pretoria. In the end we felt compelled to get clarity by undertaking the 200 kilometer drive to Munich to see if we could get the matter sorted out. We did this in February 1975, about a month before our proposed new wedding date. At the Consulate in Munich we discovered that Pretoria had already notified the Consulate in January that Rosemarie had been allocated a visa for four weeks, albeit under the condition that she would “not travel to South Africa accompanied by (her) future husband.” The lady at the Consulate warned us not to try and circumvent this condition. Unwittingly, she gave us an idea.
 Initially I didn’t see any problem with the condition. I was so elated that Rosemarie had received a visa at last to visit my home country! In her Renault R4 on our way back from Munich, my darling had an apt but vexing rhetorical question for me: “What sort of honeymoon is that?” She wasn’t prepared to go to my ‘heimat’ (fatherland) alone any more. All the arrangements for our wedding had more or less been finalized by this time. Rosemarie’s question hit me by surprise and I had no answer ready!
With a fearful heart I agreed to fly to South Africa separately. We would thus defy the warning of the Consulate official. We knew that I could be arrested. The prospect of spending my honeymoon in prison was not so enticing, but I agreed to take the risk.
I became untruthful                                                                                                                            
To ensure that our plans would not be wrecked at Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg, I became untruthful. I gave the impression in my correspondence to my parents and friends that Rosemarie would come alone. I felt that the risk would be too great to inform anybody of our intention to circumvent the condition of the visa. It would have been quite easy for the government to send one (or both) of us back with the next flight or to lock me up as I still possessed a South African passport.
We altered our traveling plans, booking instead on two separate flights to comply with the condition of the visa. Our friend and confidant from my seminary days, Reverend Henning Schlimm, had just returned from South Africa with his family. He was due to take up a post as minister of the Moravian Church in Königsfeld (Black Forest). It seemed almost obvious that we should marry there and ask Henning to perform the ceremony.                                                       
Unfortunately we could not consider marrying from Rosemarie’s parental home, although her mother had participated fully in all the preparations. I had not met her father again since that day soon after my arrival in November 1973, after which Rosemarie had to leave her parental home. Nevertheless, we kept on praying, hoping that a miracle might still happen and that Papa Göbel would change his mind to attend our wedding.
Rosemarie wrote a loving letter to her father, apologizing for the hurts caused by our relationship and pleading with him to attend our wedding. Sadly, he would not be swayed to come to Königsfeld. He did not see his way clear to attend the wedding. We were grateful that he gave his wife full freedom to act in line with her own convictions.
On Thursday the 20th March 1975 (two days before the church ceremony), we became husband and wife legally in Rosemarie’s home town, Mühlacker. We deemed it a special blessing that her mother agreed to serve as witness, along with Elke Maier, who had such a big part in the run-up to this moment. Nonetheless, a cloud was still hanging over the proceedings because my parents and family were not represented and Papa Göbel had no liberty as yet to participate.
On the Saturday, the stage was set for our church wedding ceremony. I was quite content with the simplicity which the German wedding custom allows. It does not prescribe bridesmaids and best men, or special clothing for the flower girl and page boy. That suited our pocket perfectly in the light of our honeymoon plans.
The wintry conditions in Königsfeld could not mar our joy. Virtually until the last minute we were busy with preparations and chores like removing ice from the windows of our wedding ‘limousine’, Rosemarie’s little Renault R4. I also assisted with the boiling of eggs for the reception.
The Königsfeld church choir rose to the occasion with a splendid performance of ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s desiring’, giving the service a festive touch. The highlight of the church ceremony was undoubtedly the sermon. Our friend and mentor Reverend Henning Schlimm understood magnificently to intertwine parts of the thorny road up to our marriage with the biblical verse that we had requested him to speak on, the Moravian watchword for that day: You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself (Exodus 19:4).
(The bride and bridegroom outside the Königsfeld church.)
Many a tear was shed; we were overawed by God’s goodness and grace. Hadn’t we experienced through the years clearly enough how He bore us ‘on Eagle wings’? Our hearts were filled with gratitude and joy towards the mighty God whom we would serve together, joined in marriage.
Despite the indescribable joy we experienced that day at finally uniting in marriage, and the sense of gratitude towards God for his favour on us, there were still unresolved issues. For one, Rosemarie’s father did not attend the joyous celebration and had not given our marriage his official blessing. And then, the laws in South Africa were still against us. What would happen during our honeymoon? What if I would get arrested? What would be the consequences if we would we be caught out together seeing that I was not supposed to have been in South Africa?

                                      


 8. An Exile to all Intents and Purposes

         Three days after our church wedding Rosemarie and I parted for the start of our honeymoon. I left with a Lufthansa flight a few days after our wedding ceremony and Rosemarie was ready to fly the following day with South African Airways.
Untruthfulness coming home to roost
My untruthful correspondence with family and friends was however coming home to roost soon. I had been misleading all and sundry that Rosemarie would be coming alone. From Johannesburg I phoned Wolfgang Schäfer, our Seminary lecturer, requesting him to pick me up me at the Cape Town airport.[24] My sister and her family were not at home when we arrived in Sherwood Park.[25] Thus I requested Wolfgang to drop me at my friend Jakes’ home. What deep sorrow I felt when I saw how my dear darkish-complexioned friend turned completely pale when he opened the door. He was so completely unprepared for this turn of events!
         Soon it was agreed that I would be sleeping at Jakes’ house the first night after Rosemarie’s arrival. I was quite happy with this arrangement because I could thus catch up on the latest church news at the Cape. Jakes had become quite an ecumenical figure since our days in the Student Christian Association through which we had met. He had been a member of the CI almost since its inception and later he did some spadework - along with Dr Beyers Naudé - for the erection of the Broederkring, an organization where ministers of the 'Black' (non-'White') Dutch Reformed Churches met informally for fellowship.
         There was however one big hurdle. My parents still did not know that I had come to South Africa as well. I thought of sending them a telegram, but in the end I didn’t do it. In a small village like Elim one had to be very careful, especially since the (police) Special Branch had been there with clear instructions for our stay.
         The next morning I utilized the opportunity to go to the Newlands Cricket Ground.[26] To see the likes of Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock in action was just too wonderful an oppor­tunity to miss. But I couldn’t stay there as long as I would have liked, because my darling was scheduled to arrive in the afternoon.
         On the spur of the moment I decided to go along to D.F.Malan Airport to welcome my bride on home territory. On her arrival at D.F.Malan airport, I was there to welcome her with:
         Das ist ein richtiger Hochzeitstrauß!” (This is a proper wedding bouquet.). She could however not really appreciate my gesture. She was too much shocked that I had come along and on top of it, kissing her there publicly! That was not a wise move on my part. Thankfully, there were no negative consequences.
                                    *                                  *                                  *                     
         Coming from a cold, wintry Europe with Königsfeld covered in snow at our wedding, we could not have given Rosemarie a better treat than to go to the beach the very same day. Here the problems could have started with all the racially segregated beaches, but the Esau’s – the family of my sister - had a good solution: a beach that had not (yet) been racially classified.

A “real” Welcome?   
On Good Friday, the 200-kilometre trip to Elim was on the programme. When we arrived there, I thought impulsively that Rosemarie should get a “real” welcome by my parents and not in my shadow.  After all, I was not supposed to be in the country. I instructed Rosemarie to go inside while I hid myself in the car. This idea was not good at all. A few minutes later I regretted my version of ‘surprise’ very much.
         From the car I could hear the warm welcome given to my wife, coupled with general relief with regard to Rosemarie’s ability to speak English. In jest, Jakes – who had also met her in Germany the previous year - had left almost everybody with the impression that she could hardly speak any English. Now it turned out - as the Esau’s have of course already discovered – that it was not such a big problem after all. The first few questions about the journey and so forth didn’t pose any problem, but then the crunch came:
         “How’s Ashley?”.... I had put Rosemarie in a real predicament. I salvaged the situation for a moment by appearing “from nowhere”, but this was too much for Mommy. Hysterically, our dear mum burst out in tears....
         This was to be expected. Not only had I misled them through my letters, but they also did not expected to see me ever again. That was apartheid reality. Now I was standing there in front of all of them, so unexpectedly.
         In this unforgettable - close to sacred moment - I could only embrace my parents and my newly wedded wife, also as a consolation. This treasured moment still belonged to our wedding cere­mony.

Traumatic End to a Pregnancy
Having fulfilled the condition of the visa - not to enter the country together as a couple, and after our honeymoon with a difference - we returned to Germany with thankful hearts that nothing happened that could have spoilt the memorable trip. However, the honeymoon did bear a stamp of finality regarding my new status: I was an exile to all intents and purposes.
Rosemarie’s first pregnancy, a sequel of our trip to South Africa, was not normal at all. The gynaecologist in the Schwabian village Boll, where I was finishing theological studies, should have monitored the pregnancy better.  We were not only completely inexperienced, but also very unwise. Soon after the pastoral ordination in September 1975, we travelled in an inconvenient truck to Berlin with our meagre possessions. There I was returning to the same congregation where I had been assistant to the pastor the year before.
An extremely emotional experience followed soon after our move to Berlin. The very first time Rosemarie went to the gynaecologist there, he discovered problems. He diagnosed placental insufficiency. She was sent to hospi­tal, but the baby couldn’t be saved. Even though we had not ‘planned’ to get a baby in the first year of our marriage, we had really looked forward to the birth of our first child. Our little David came stillborn into the world.
Even more traumatic for Rosemarie was that she was alone in her grief. I had to preach on the Sunday when the hospital gynaecologist decided to ‘fetch’ the lifeless foetus. The staff of the institution, the ‘Neuköllner Krankenhaus’, was hardly interested in her as a person once it was known that the baby had died. I should have asked someone else to preach in my place to be with my wife in her distress to help share the pain. Only the Turkish lady cleaner showed any compassion to a young mother who had lost her first born!
The Stewardship Issue
As a teacher I had already battled with the discriminatory racial income disparity of South Africa. Having been on the receiving end of injustice was in fact some consolation because I knew that we as ‘Coloured’ teachers were earning almost double that of our ‘Black’ counterparts. And we had much smaller classes to cope with to boot!  But I also felt uncomfortable that I was earning so much more as a single young man –  being a graduate - than breadwinners who had to make do with so much less and with whole families to feed.
         Before I left the South African shores in 1973, I had been influenced indelibly at the theological institution in Ashley Street in the heart of District Six in yet another way. The Moravian Seminary not only increased my awareness of political justice, but during the three years from 1971-1973 I also became very sensitive to structures that perpetuate economic inequality.    From 1 December 1973 I had become an unmarried assistant minister of the Moravian Church in Germany, earning a salary that was a multiple of what my colleagues with families and with many years of experience were earning in my home country.
         It was crystal clear to me that the annual salary increases in Germany were only possible because of the disparity between rich and poor countries. This bugged me. Suddenly I started seeing ‘White’ South Africans in a different light. I discovered that they were similarly enslaved and imprisoned by a system of injustice.
         Come January 1974, my guilt syndrome was driving me nuts when our salaries were increased by almost 10%. During the first months of our marriage from March 1975, I felt very much alone in this regard. I could not even speak freely about this with my wife. Our very first Christmas in Berlin as a couple highlighted my dilemma. We received a fat bonus – in many parts of the world it is called a 13th monthly salary - in a spiritual climate where the birth of Jesus Christ almost disappeared in the wake of the commercialized atmosphere all around us. (Of course, in Cape Town it had not been that much different. Already there I had my problems with the abusive commercialism at Christmas time, but there in Berlin I was really sad.) At first, Rosemarie couldn’t understand my emotions, but gradually she became more sensitive to my feelings in this regard.
The Christmas of 1976 changed things when the extreme ‘Weihnachtsrummel’ (Christmas commercial hype) of Berlin was in such sharp contrast to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Transkei. (I had kept up correspondence contact with Reverend Willy Mbalana, who was the Moravian minister in Sada. The latter village was an apartheid creation, a ‘resettlement area’ where redundant people were dumped - such as those who returned with diseases from the goldmines.) Rosemarie came to the party brilliantly by making a house out of ginger bread and all sorts of sweets like smarties. The house was accumulatively auctioned, thus harvesting quite a few Deutsche Mark. All the proceeds went to the struggling Moravian church of Sada.

Special Guests
A major strain of our marriage occurred after we had taken a young drug addict into our home. Rather inexperienced about the challenge such a step would involve, we had little hesitation when asked to accommodate him. In the end Rosemarie threatened to move out unless I send the young man away. Nevertheless, the Lord started to birth compassion in our hearts for drug addicts.
         Mona Godefroy from Swaziland was the first of another category of guests who stayed with us for some length of time. She approached us after ANC guys had expected special favours from her in exchange for a study bursary. Over the years we would give accommodation to many a person who becme destitute because of dire circumstances. 

Low-key Protest against Church Tradition                                                                                   
My personal protest against senseless church tradition was fairly low-key. The West Berlin congregation was notorious for its conservatism. I had been ministering there from 1974 as an assistant minister, returning there in September 1975 after our ordination.
           I did not deem it important enough to stick to my guns on what I regarded peripheral issues, finding compromise the loving and wise thing to do. I was thankful to have been fairly successful in breaking down barriers of tradition and prejudice, such as against foreigners at that time, notably through our attitude to the Turkish youth who came to play on the grass at the church. I also helped paving the way for a female as my successor the Easter week-end of 1977, by highlighting in my sermon that Mary Magdalene, a formerly demon possessed female, was the first one to share the good news of the resurrection of the Master according to the Gospel of John.
Towards a non-racial Set-up in South Africa!
Various anti-apartheid groups started pulling at me after my return to Berlin after our marriage and. They seemed to enjoy having a 'real' apartheid victim who was fluent in German! I was however determined to retain my independence, definitely not prepared to be put in front of the cart of any group.                                                                                                                                                      
In the city of Berlin itself I straddled the Christian world. Because of my socialist stance, some really leftist pastors invited me. On the other hand, I worked alongside the organizers of an evangelical campaign with Ulrich Par­zany, who was up and coming as an evangelist. In those days it was rather unusual to be evangelical and at the same time radical in one’s opposition to apartheid. Not everybody had understanding that this was perfectly possible, so some people probably regarded me as a misfit. Some might have experienced a fit if they knew that I also attended the odd Pentecostal service with Pastor Volker Spitzer at Nollendorfplatz.

The fear of a serious backlash after a takeover by a ‘Black’ government in the 1970s and 1980s was quite pervasive among ‘White’ communities of South Africa and very understandable. There had been warning voices from the side of individual ‘White’ South African clergymen because of the country’s oppressive race policy, but these went unheeded. The role of ‘Black’ spokesmen like Bishop Desmond Tutu was even less appreciated in the 1970s, especially when they referred to the bondage of ‘Whites’ by racial prejudice.
          Yet, valuable seed was sown towards racial reconciliation by ‘Black’ clergy who had a good track record. One of them was Bishop Alpheus Zulu, who hopefully opened the eye of many a ‘White’ person when he stated: ‘… Some black people... refuse consciously and deliberately to retaliate…
         He however also warned: ‘At the same time it would be a grave mistake to presume to think that such attitudes will survive callous white discrimination.’ 
Every week I still received the airmail edition of the Interna­tional Star. Thus I remained informed about developments in South Africa. I had been reading how trouble was brooding in Soweto, with learners demonstrating against the enforced learning of Afrikaans. But the uprising of the 16th of June still took us all by surprise. The deaths of Soweto in 1976 threw me into an inner turmoil, into trepidation that the expected eruption of civil war in my home country was now dawning.
With Pastor Uwe Holm, a local leader of the Lutheran State Church, I got spontaneously involved in organizing a protest meeting in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in central Berlin. The 16th of June 1976 catastrophe made even more of an activist out of me. I feared an escalation of violence that could lead to the widely expected bloodbath of cataclysmic proportions in my beloved South Africa.
An Attempt to apply my Stewardship Conviction                                                                        
 My fight against apartheid got a new direction. I hereafter challenged various leaders of the apartheid state with letters to set the example to the rest of the world through a voluntary sharing of resources with the poor of the country. My role models at this time were Bishop Jan Amos Comenius and Count Zinzendorf, who took their cues from the Bible. That Bishop Comenius had stated that we can erect signs pointing to the reign of the coming King, inspired me. Thus it is not so important if one does not see any immediate fruit of one’s actions. Similarly, the example of Count Zinzendorf - including his ‘Umgang mit dem Heiland’, his day-to-day intimate relationship with the Lord and his high view of the Jews - challenged me in a deep way.
 An Africa-styled Wedding in Berlin  
The congregation had no qualms however when Eckhard Buchholz, a missionary from Transkei, wanted me to marry him and Cathy Ncongo. The authorities in Pretoria would surely have fainted if they had attended the Africa-styled wedding in Berlin in October 1976. Not only was it very special to see the beautiful black bride narrate the African customs with great self-consciousness, but also to hear a racially mixed group of South Africans - including a few of them exiles - singing Nkosi sikelel i’Afrika. In those days that anthem was regarded as subversive inside the beloved country. The West Berlin Moravian congregation soon discovered that Africa also had a lot to give. With Cathy’s Roman Catholic background, it was fitting that Alan Boyles, a ‘Coloured’ Natalian who studied for the priesthood when he met his German-background wife Helga, translated my sermon into English for the sake of the bride.  The church people had no inkling how meaningful it was for the South African contingent to sing ‘Nkosi Sikelel I’Afrika together as a racially mixed choir. But they did enjoy the ‘bring and share’ church celebration, a community occasion which was unknown over there at that time. This was a completely new experience for the German congregation, but thoroughly enjoyable.
         The Moravian European continental church authorities needed someone in the city of Utrecht who could learn Dutch quickly. Because Afrikaans is my native language, they approached us. We had earlier indicated that we were open for a call to work among the Surinamese people in Holland. Before this we had been planning to go to South Africa in February 1978 to show our Danny to my parents. We had to postpone these plans when we accepted the call.

Birth of Danny
Great was the joy when we my set in. She was therefore closely monitored in the highly rated Steglitz Hospital. All the more we were happy parents visited us in Berlin. Soon thereafter, Rosemarie was pregnant once again. Tension arose when a complication when Rosemarie gave birth to Danny on 4 February, 1977. However, she had to deliver by way of a caesarean in far-away Spandau - in the opposite corner to Neukölln in the metropolis of Berlin. In the end it was touch and go or we could have lost our baby son as well. The umbilical cord around his neck prevented him entering the world in the normal way.
        Rachel Balie, a distant relative (my grandmother’s maiden name was Balie) who came to study in Berlin. She soon became a friend of the family. She and Elke Maier were logical choices to be the godmothers along with Waltraud, Rosemarie’s sister. We still had a battle with the local church council when we wanted to dedicate our son.
Rosemarie got involved with various aspects of the church life like the children’s club and the church choir. At home our little Danny kept her quite busy enough although I helped to give him the bottle and cleaning him. I never got to relish the latter chore though!

Difficulties encountered       
In our own church I also encountered difficulties. Because of our clear stand on moral issues and through my preaching, during which I also challenged the quite traditional Berlin-Neukölln Moravians to submit completely to the claims of Christ, the younger generation especially couldn’t appreciate Rosemarie and me anymore. The lack of compatibility of my voice with the microphone in the church also created some tension. Older people with hearing problems had difficulty understanding me.
The Moravian Church Order allowed for infant dedication, so that a child could be baptized at an age when he/she could understand what was done. The problem was that we were upsetting the applecart when we wanted this done with Danny, because dedication of infants turned out to be only a theoretical possibility. This caused quite a furor, with someone in the church council putting it quite bluntly: ‘How can the son of the minister walk around as a heathen?’ Normally I would have fought the issue to the hilt, but at that point in time we didn’t want to blow up the matter out of proportion. When another couple wanted to have their infant christened over the same Easter weekend as we had planned, we decided to budge instead. Our colleague, Albert Schönleber, was prepared to accommodate two separate ceremonies with the different modes. I did not want to force the issue.         

Called to Holland                                                                                                                             We received a phone call from our church head office in Bad Boll (Germany) with the question whether we would consider pastoring the Moravian congregation of Utrecht in Holland.The church authorities needed someone there who could learn Dutch quickly. We had no hesitation to accept the call after we had visited there on orientation.
Mediator in a Dispute
Reading the books of Martin Luther King in Germany in 1960/70 helped to make me a radical activist.
After my ‘Soweto’ speech in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in Central Berlin, I was catapulted into the role of mediator in a dispute between foreign African students and the local authorities. After listening to my effort of mediation, Heinz Krieg, who was connected to Moral Re-armament, made an appointment with me. A friendship started with him and his wife Gisela. When we left for Holland in September 1977, he gave me a challenging book as a parting gift with the title: South Africa, what kind of change? I was challenged once again to become even more of an activist for racial reconciliation in my home country. This was also the start of a stint with the Moral Re-armament movement.

Advocacy on Behalf of Friends                                                                                                                     In September 1977 we moved to Broederplein in the historical town of Zeist in Holland. From there Rosemarie and I would serve the Moravian congregation of Utrecht of which the bulk of the congregants had origins in Surinam (Dutch Guyana, South America).                                                                                Soon after our arrival in Holland we received a letter from our friend Rachel Balie, who had returned to South Africa after the completion of her studies. She wrote that Chris Wessels, a minister colleague and long-time friend in whose home Rosemarie and I had been on our honeymoon journey, had been imprisoned. Nobody from his family knew where he was incarcerated. He was never formally accused or brought before a court of law. Later we understood that his main 'offences' were his involvement and role in the formulation of a hard hitting statement at the conference of the South African Council of Churches and that he helped to care for the families of political prisoners on behalf of that body.
         Shortly before this, on 12 September 1977, Steve Biko died while in police custody. We feared that the same thing could happen to Chris Wessels.
         Egged on by Rosemarie, my activist spirit was aroused. I moved into action mode, attempting to nudge the Moravian Church leaders into action on behalf of our brother in detention. Initially it involved something of a battle to get our church authorities in Bad Boll (Germany) on board, but they subsequently also urged Moravian church leaders in other countries to write to the respective S.A. Embassies. We heard later that this move possibly saved Chris’s life.
         We were still settling down in Zeist when all of us were shocked by more bad news from South Africa soon thereafter. Dr Beyers Naude was banned along with the Christian Institute and a few organisations. He had been our high-profiled speaker in a public rally on ‘Youth Power’ in the Old Drill Hall just before my exile-related departure for Gemany in November 1973 to marry Rosemarie. (Our theological seminary had played a major role in organizing that event).
Difficulties in Holland
In Holland itself my radicalism also harvested difficulties. Soon after our arrival in 1977, a local Moravian church member who was responsible for organising lay theological training, heard me mentioning stewardship. Promptly he deemed it fit to invite the young minister of Utrecht to give teaching on the subject to his students. Hardly anybody was possibly fully happy that I also included church traditions for scrutiny and possible eradication.
That I invited folk from Moral Rearmament to use a slide show on Christmas 1977 instead of a normal traditional sermon was not a wise move. Yet, in the beginning of 1978 I was not even remotely contemplating christening of infants as one of the traditions to scrutinize. With only a few lay people attending the Saturday lay training classes, nobody seemed to take offence at the radical[]statements which I derived from my private biblical studies. Hereafter however the water heated up. I challenged the church practices on every level, suggesting that we should scrutinize all the traditions of the Church with the Bible as measuring stick. No Broederraad meeting would pass hereafter without fierce criticism aimed at me. Rosemarie initially attended these meetings in our home also, but soon we relocated it to the church building which of course gave her a good excuse not to attend them. This saved her the unfair attacks on her husband.
A terrible Fright                                                                                                                            
We had started making preparations for a second visit to South Africa when we got the fright of our lives. Rosemarie went to our home doctor in Zeist, because she noticed a lump at her throat. Dr Wittkampf suspected a tumour!
I hurt Rosemarie immensely when I was so insensitive to clearly verbalize her possible passing on as an opportunity to return to my home country. What a strain this brought to our marriage, the first really serious disagreement in our blissful marriage because I dared to express this so indiscreetly. After the traumatic experiences in the run-up and aftermath of our honeymoon, she was not yet ready to return with me to my home country, resisting this idea fiercely. She did not want to raise children in such a racist environment. Her prayers thus went along the line of “Lord, I’m prepared to serve you anywhere in the world, but not in South Africa!
Reprieve from a very unexpected Source                                                                                        
In our utter despair we turned to the Lord in prayer. A Bible verse,  John 16:20, comforted us wonderfully: “Your grief will turn to joy!”
What I did not know was that Rosemarie vowed at that time that she was prepared to go to my native country if the Lord would heal her. Though we had few problems there during our honeymoon, the experiences had frightened her terribly. She did not want to live there permanently.
          A positive element of the detection of a tumour in Rosemarie’s throat was that we were given some reprieve from the malice and accusations in our Utrecht church council, which was called Broederraad.  Suddenly it seemed as if everybody rallied around us. In those days having cancer was like awaiting death. The Lord somehow spoke to Rosemarie through this experience. She now became prepared to serve the Lord in South Africa if He would spare her life. But she did not share this with me.
A few weeks later the tumour was removed in an operation. The laboratory examination showed that the tumour was benign! Indeed, our grief turned to exceeding joy!
Life as a Couple                                                                                                  
 How we rejoiced at the new lease of life together as a couple! Our next newsletter, in which we testified of the blessings of Rosemarie’s recovery, caused ripples in many a quarter. I had written the letter in two parts. The first part was written before it was discovered that the tumour was benign and the last part reflected the joy we experienced. Amongst others, a copy of the newsletter landed up at the ANC head­quarters in Lusaka. However, I was still not prepared to climb onto any political bandwagon. Instead, I challenged the ANC leaders there on some issues.                                                                                                  Our personal newsletter had also found its way to the Anti-apartheid movement in England. The newsletter was possibly forwarded to them via folk from the Moral Rearmament ranks. But I was not interested in scoring political points. Instead of supporting the Anti-Apartheid Movement, I wrote to them a critical letter. Referring to the root of the word protest in Latin, viz pro testare - to testify positively for something - I wrote to them that I prefer to fight for justice, rather than protest against something bad.
Hunger after Justice                                                                                                                                         As a radical activist I had started collating the documents and correspondence pertaining to our struggle with the authorities in South Africa, giving the manuscript the title Honger na Geregtigheid [[i]8) (Hunger for Justice). As a matter of ethical principle I hoped the work to be published in Afrikaans first.
         I received special permission to visit my home country from September 1978 with my wife and our one and a half year old son. I saw this visit as a victory for quiet diplomacy. It was possible after we had written an accompanying letter to the government. I still hoped that we could bring the Cabinet to change petty apartheid laws gradually so that I could return from exile sooner rather than later. My pragmatic approach would change substantially in due course.
         In correspondence with the Moravian Church leadership back home and with the government, I still tried to fight my way back into the country, initially with the intention of serving in the Transkei. My hope in this regard - which were not fully shared by Rosemarie – was interrupted when we were called to serve in Holland. It never became relevant again because the continuation of our service in the Moravian Church got very much in the balance hereafter.
General Indifference to Injustice                                                                                                      
In September 1978 we left for South Africa on a six-week visit. During this trip experiences with the Moravian Church leaders and with the folk of Moral Rearmament were quite traumatic.  We moved to and fro between the township and shack surroundings of Sherwood Park, Manenberg and Crossroads on the one hand and the posh residential areas like Glenhaven and Fish Hoek on the other hand. The stark differences were hitting us like never before.
And then there was the general indifference to the injustices of South African that seemed all-pervading, along with the rationalizing of it by people from whom I least expected it. I was very disappointed in my church leaders and their reaction to the imprisonment and restriction of Chris Wessels, our friend who had been detained without trial.                                                                                                                                                     At a meeting of the Moravian Church Board that I was privileged to attend partially, I challenged the advocacy of the denominational leaders on behalf of our friend Chris Wessels when he was detained the previous year. It was not wise. I merely got the Church Board members in opposition. When I furthermore also suggested to come and work in South Africa for three years and thus cause another crack in the apartheid wall, I was put in my place in no uncertain terms. My activism was possibly too much for the Moravian Church Board. My subsequent disappointment and anger thereafter was misplaced. It was caused for a great deal by my provocative arrogance.
My activism led to estrangement from my church authorities. My conclusion may have been overdrawn that I was thus not welcome to return to my home church. But wasn’t our Lord also rejected by his own people time and again? Looking back, my suggestions must have sounded unrealistic to at least some of them. At that time however, I was furious!
Apartheid had the Beating of me
With our cash running out towards the end of our stay, we decided to go and enquire at the central train station when we noticed an advertisement for cheap train fares. Our pride was still very much of a deterrent to approach our family for money to fly back to Johannesburg. Going into the ‘White’ part of the train station to enquire – and thus trespassing one of the prevalent petty apartheid laws - was much less of a hindrance. We were not really sorry when the young Afrikaner was so embarrassed by our request to travel to Johannesburg by train as a family. “We discriminate here you know!’’, was his honest answer. “I have to ask my boss.” After a few minutes the station master himself came to explain that he had to ask the System Manager of the Railways. We should phone back the following day.
         When we phoned to hear whether we would be allowed to travel together in the same train compartment, we heard that the matter had to be dealt with at Cabinet level.
         A few days later, we drove from Grabouw as fast as possible, where we had celebrated Daddy’s birthday on 30 October, to be in town before 16.30h, the closing time of the office.  I decided to go to the station without phoning again. If they would have had no news yet from Pretoria, we would then just have travelled third class. (For third class travel no booking was required.)
         We got caught in the traffic and therefore delayed. ‘Alas, oh dear!’ We arrived just after 16.30h! But we had been noticed. Excitedly, some employee came to us. ‘Are you Mr Cloete?’ Interestingly he was so elated to share the good news that our request has been approved. We could travel together in the same compartment! Perhaps the Prime Minister and his colleagues wanted to appease us in this way and at the same time prevent us telling bad tales about South Africa overseas.
         It however harvested the opposite effect in me. I did not feel honoured to be treated as a VIP at all. I fumed in anger! When we finally heard that the required permission had been issued at Cabinet level, I had already made up my mind never to return to South Africa again!
Apartheid Bureaucracy adding Insult to Injury                                                                                    
Petty apartheid bureaucracy added insult to injury. A Cabinet decision was necessary to give clarity whether we could travel in the same compartment as a family. I had thus become an ‘honorary White’ for the duration of that train trip! Incidents of blatant racism on the long train trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg rubbed more salt into the wounds of my bleeding soul.
Terribly angered by the Moravian Church Board meeting a few days earlier and thereafter the government handling of what I regarded as a trivial matter, I was determined never to put my foot on South African soil again. I was rather unfair in my judgment.
         Howard Grace, a British Moral Rearmament (MRA)[9]full-time worker, fetched us from Park Station in Johannesburg. He had to bear the brunt of my anger. When I was still fuming, Howard shared on the car trip to Umdeni (the villa of the movement, where we were scheduled to stay in the rondavel - a hut outside the house - for the next few days) that he wanted to introduce me to the influential Professor Johan Heyns. The moment of his kind gesture was the worst one the MRA man could have chosen. At that point in time I was definitely not prepared and interested to meet the chairman of the Broederbond, the apartheid think tank!
Extreme Disappointment and Anger
Apartheid had knocked me out to all intents and purposes. I had simply resolved to throw in the towel, to give up the fight. There was only one thing that I still wanted to do before departing from South Africa! I yearned to worship with Dr Beyers Naudé, the banned leader of the Christian Institute.
              On that November Saturday the MRA people of Johannesburg were definitely not encountering a happy Christian. I relished whipping an old lady who clearly had her sympathies with the government as I shared forcefully how the various agents of the apartheid government maltreated me and our family. There was little wonder that Howard and others suspected later that evening that I was after sensation when I phoned Dr Beyers Naudé to find out where he was worshipping. There was ample reason for them to surmise that I was not sincere in my wish to worship with Dr Naudé as one my last actions in the country I loved so passionately, but that I was about to leave - never to return to again! I was very determined about this. Rosemarie was not discouraging me whatsoever. (I was unaware of the secret vow she had made when she had the tumour that turned out to be benign.)
A Farewell Gesture of Solidarity                                                                                                        I intended the visit to Dr Naudé’s congregation to be my farewell gesture of solidarity with the politically oppressed of the country. Rosemarie and I, along with a few believers linked to Moral Rearmament, were privileged to visit the congregation that the Naudé couple attended regularly. (Dr Beyers Naudé entered there as the last person just before the church bell would toll. In those days the minister and his church council would then step out of the vestry in procession. Dr Naudé was required – indirectly by government decree - to leave the building as the first congregant at the end of the service because he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time.
         What a welcome we received at the church! Dr Naudé had phoned his pastor, Dr van Rooyen. The latter asked Ds Cloete uit Duitsland after the formal welcome to introduce the rest of our group. (Dr Naudé obviously merely remembered that I had left for Germany in 1973. He surmised that Rosemarie and I had come from there.) The courageous sermon of Dr van Rooyen, critical of government policy, was almost unforgettable.
         Tannie Ilse, the wife of Dr Naudé, came to us after the service, having arranged that we could follow Dr Naudé in his car to their home while she was still teaching at the Sunday School. Someone - or perhaps even more than one person - must have been praying for me.
         The Father hereafter used the well-known Oom Bey Naudé - who was loved by many who were not ‘White’ and hated by those who supported apartheid. While I was alone with him in his office, a miracle happened that Sunday.
Changed from within 
I was changed supernaturally from within through the visit to the Naudé home. The secret meeting with   Beyers Naudé, in combination with the visit in the evening to the Dutch family of Ds. Joop Lensink, changed my attitude completely. I returned to Holland with a new resolve to work towards racial reconciliation in my home country.
            God used the banned Dr Beyers Naudé and the congregation where he worshipped to bring me to my senses. Without him even knowing it, God used them to cure me of my intense bitterness and anger towards the country that I was loving - paradoxically - so dearly. A miracle happened that day.
         In fact, after the red-letter Sunday I desperately wanted to make amends for my racist bias. Hereafter, I set out to work quietly for the lifting of the ban of the Dutch Reformed Minister who had meant so much to me.[10]
 An Overdose of Medicine?
On our return to Holland after the six‑week visit to South Africa I regarded a ministry of reconciliation even more as my duty to the country of my birth. I had already started collating personal documents and letters, hoping to get it published under the title ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’. In this manuscript I included and commented my correspondence with the regime of the day.
                                                                                                                            
Hein Postma was the principal of the local Moravian primary school, whom I got to know when he addressed the congregation at a love least. We met soon hereafter and got befriended. Rosemarie and his wife Wieneke struck a close friendship. I sensed that Hein Postma had a kindred spirit, radiating the real servant attitude and spirit of the 19th century Herrnhut Moravians. When he invited us to a weekly Bible study with other local Christians that he was leading with Wim Zoutewelle, a biology teacher at the local Christian high school, I accepted without any ado. Through this influence I regained my evangelistic zeal that I had lost in the course of my anti-apartheid activism. Rosemarie and I were very happy to find real soul mates in Hein and Wieneke when the tension in our church council became almost unbearable.
            God had to humble me at this time as I was still very much an anti-apartheid activist exile who longed to return to my beloved South Africa. I wrote many letters to the government of the day, collating and commented them as Honger na GeregtigheidHein Postma, the principal of the local Moravian primary school, blew my bubble with his loving but honest assessment. In his view Honger na Geregtigheid was too critical, not loving enough. Hein compared it to an overdose of medication to a sick patient. I toned the manuscript down, planning three smaller booklets, of which the first one would concentrate on issues around a South African law namely The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. I gave it the title ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het.’[11] (‘What God joined together’).
Determined to fight the demonic Apartheid Ideology                                                                                                In His sovereign way God used the events of that Sunday to make me more determined than ever to fight the demonic apartheid ideology from abroad. The Moral Rearmament practice of writing down thoughts fueled my activist spirit. As part of this effort in a ministry of reconciliation in the country of my birth, I continued to collate personal documents and letters with more verve. I hoped to win the government over, rather than expose their practices abroad. As a means to this end, I targeted the Dutch Reformed theologians whom I believed could play a pivotal role.
Resolve for racial Reconciliation                                                                                                                               After reading in Trouw, a Dutch newspaper, that a church delegation from the influential (‘White’) Dutch Reformed Church - including the Professors Johan Heyns and Willie Jonker - would attend some church synod in Lunteren (Holland), I took the initiative to meet them. I saw this as a possibility to make amends for my headstrong refusal to meet Professor Heyns the previous year when Howard Grace wanted to introduce me to him. At that time I was not ready and interested to meet the chairman of the Broederbond.
 In my resolve to help forge some racial reconciliation, I now went out of my way to meet Professor Johan Heyns and a delegation of Dutch Reformed minis­ters that attended a church synod in Lunteren when the group visited Holland in 1979. The delegation furthermore included Dr O’Brien Geldenhuys and Professor Willie Jonker from Stellenbosch whom I knew from my seminary days. I arranged to meet them again at the Amsterdam airport Schiphol on their return to South Africa. (These three clergymen would be quite instrumental to bring about significant changes in the Dutch Reformed Church in the years hereafter.)
An attempt to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted          
I made the DRC church leaders evidently very uncomfortable by referring almost at the outset to Dr Beyers Naudé. I stated quite bluntly that I thought it would be great if they could assist to get his ban lifted. I had brought with me the draft manuscript of ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ in a big open envelope. Taking for granted that Naudé’s mail was being fiddled with, I naively requested one of them to take the envelope along with them and hand it over personally.  Just as naively I expected that theologians of that stature should be play a role in repentance of the apartheid practices. Somehow God used my feeble injudicious attempts.
I was elated to read later that the one or other of the DRC leaders had responded positively, that they were attempting - albeit without initial success - to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted.  An inter­esting sequel to my meeting with the Dutch Reformed minis­ters was that Mr van Tonder, a top official of the South African Embassy in The Hague, who was also at the airport, visited us in Zeist shortly hereafter. (Only a few weeks before, Mr Reg Septem­ber, who was at that time an influential ANC offi­cial in Lusaka, pitched up in our humble abode on the Broederplein of Zeist.)
The Love for my Home Country cemented
Our two visits to the ‘heimat’ in 1975 and 1978 cemented my love for my home country. A direct result of the 1978 visit was that I had a new determination to work towards racial reconciliation back home. This was not completely without risk.  I for example refused to take sides when a group of South African ‘Blacks’ who visited us in Zeist, threatened me. I managed to stand my ground saying: “I am neither solely ‘for White’ nor ‘for Black’, I stand for justice.” Cathy Buchholz, a Zulu, who was visiting us at the time with her German husband Eckhardt and their daughter Irene Nomsa, cou­rageously supported me. (I had married the couple in Berlin in 1976).
That was however only the start. In typical activist fashion, I proceeded from here to campaign for ‘signs of the coming Kingdom of the Messiah’ globally. I was impacted by this tenet through my study of the teaching of the old Moravian Bishop Amos Comenius. I furthermore thought quite firmly that the small Moravian Church - as a micro-cosmos of the global economic disparity - could start to do something to rectify the global economic imbalances. I went much too fast, suggesting naively and unrealistically for example a voluntary lowering of salaries. In addition, I proposed a fund to be established that would enable Moravians missionaries from the third world to come and serve in Europe. That I noted that the Europeans were underdeveloped in certain areas such as hospitality, was obviously too arrogant and not appreciated, much too radical.
   In due course I also got involved in the drafting of synod resolu­tions and reports. Thus I also actively participated in a small lobby to formulate a Moravian synod decision for a boycott of Shell, a Dutch-based multi-national petrol company, because of its perceived role in supporting apartheid structures and practice. I aimed much too high. The church was not ready for such revol­ution­ary stuff. It was no surprise that I was now regarded by many in the church as an infante terrible, although hardly anybody openly showed their dislike. However, strange things happened like the disappearance of the radical proposals that we had prepared for the 1979 synod in nearby Driebergen.
A tragic Misunderstanding
A tragic misunderstanding occurred shortly hereafter when I mentioned casually to one of my Broederraad members, that I would like to teach Mathematics again - even if it would be only for a few hours per week. He thought that I hoped to augment my salary in that way. The aspect of an extra earning had however never even entered my head. I was just longing to teach my favourite subject again.
         When I shortly hereafter stated that I was prepared to take a lower salary to be able to have more time available for my fight against apartheid, I had gone too far with my activism. The rift between me and the Broederraad became almost unbridgeable. The temporary reprieve when Rosemarie’s tumour was detected, was blown out of the window!
An untenable Situation                                                                                                                                      
When we heard of a vacancy at the headquarters of the Dutch Scripture Union in the town Noordwijkerhout, I promptly applied, seeing this as a possibility to get away from the untenable situation at our church. I was sick and tired of the bickering in my church council, frustrated at the fighting over what I regarded as peripheral issues.
On a wintry Saturday at the end of January 1979, I was about to leave for Noordwijkerhout for an interview with the Bijbelbond (Scripture Union), when a freak slippery condition on the roads set in. Ice started to pour down - a very rare phenomenon. We never experienced something like this before or after that day. I was already in our car when the road became increasingly slippery and hazardous. It would have been suicidal to attempt to drive in these conditions. I decided to leave the car at the train station a few kilometres away and travel by rail instead. When I phoned the Scripture Union folk, they suggested that we should postpone the interview because there were similar climatic and road conditions in Noordwijkerhout.
                The interview never took place. I knew that it was a Jonah experi­ence par excellence. I was trying to run away from the difficult church situation!              
Attempts at Mediation                                                                                                                                    Rather ironically, Henk Esajas who was a member of my congregation but simultaneously a member of the national Centrale Raad of the denomination, was appointed as mediator between me and my Broederraad. 
As a part of my perceived ministry of reconciliation I also aimed at trying to heal rifts where I discerned them. A round of correspondence followed with different role players on the South African scene.
            In the international weekly edition of the ‘Star’ I read one day about a major rift between my friend Dr Allan Boesak and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The Boesak camp was angry that the likes of Tutu were still prepared to talk to President Botha. I promptly attempted to reconcile (the later Arch)bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak.  In letters to both church leaders, I appealed to them to get their act together because it was absolutely counter-productive in the opposition to the abhorrent race policies. I was happy to read later that they were on speaking terms again. In fact, in due course they were seen sharing the same platform.
            The issue at stake however also affected me personally when my correspondence with the government estranged me to some extent from my close friend Jakes.
         I knew from our common student days how Allan Boesak had been raving about Dr Johan Heyns, his lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University College of the Western Cape.  My effort to bring Boesak and Heyns together was however unsuccessful. I continued corresponding with Dr Heyns.
            Dr Heyns would become one of the instruments of change in the country, leading the Dutch Reformed Church gradually from their heretical position. (It is generally accepted that a right wing extremist, who could not come to terms with Heyns’ role in the dramatic turn-around of the denomination, was responsible for his assassination in November 1994.)



9. Problems with Infant Christening                                   
A pleasant ‘aftermath’ of our second visit to South Africa in 1978 was that Rosemarie was pregnant once again. It was fitting that the addition to the family was conceived just before our return to Holland, after I had been reconciled to my home country. However, the pregnancy proceeded with many a tear and quite a lot of anxiety.
Tears and Anxiety
A few months after our return to Holland, Rosemarie was diagnosed with Hepatitis. Both she and Danny had contracted it in South Africa. In January 1979 both of them had (yellow) jaundice. We were not overjoyed at all when the doctor felt compelled to suggest an abortion, intimating that this was advisable because of the great risk to the foetus. The possibility was great that we would have to cope with a deformed or handicapped baby. But we would not have anything of that. As a matter of principle we decided that we would accept the baby in whatever state it would come into the world as God’s gift to us.  For the next six months we had to live with the real possibility of a misformed or handicapped child to be born in August 1979.
Renewed Commitment to work towards Reconciliation      
The crowning of my renewed commitment to work towards reconciliation in my home country was the birth of our second son, 9 months after our visit to S.A.! On August the 4th our second son was born healthy - against the prognosis of the doctor. Fittingly, we gave him the name Rafael. This means God, the healer. With my brother Windsor about to visit us with his wife Ray and their baby Kevin shortly hereafter, an infant christening service was scheduled for a September Sunday. Rosemarie’s sister Waltraud with her family also visited us for that occasion.
Scrutiny of Church Traditions                                                                                                                                      Two other infants were due to be christened the same day. A serious problem arose when one couple took exception at my asking questions about their relationship to Christ. The dis­cussion at the home of the couple was not cordial at all. The husband argued that they paid their church dues, expecting me to simply perform my ‘duty’ as a pastor, to christen their baby without asking any questions. I was nowhere willing to oblige.                                                                                                                                 
 Nevertheless, the idea of a quarrelling couple pitching up at the church service, at which our son Rafael was due to have been christened, literally haunted me. Although I had my church council supporting me on the issue, it gave me a sleepless night. The possibility of a scene at the church in the presence of our family from South Africa and Germany was not pleasant, to say the least!
I experienced a genuine sigh of relief when the ‘difficult’ couple with their baby stayed away that Sunday. But the issue of infant christening would flare up soon hereafter.  I suppose that the occurrence at our church made me very sensi­tive to issue. Shortly hereafter I was seriously challenged from Scripture about this church practice. This was happening at the very time when I had been suggesting that steward-ship should include the scriptural scrutiny of all church traditions. 
(Photo: The Brauns of Lienzingen and the Cloetes from Grabouw visit us)
A Substitute for Circumcision?                        
On Thursday evening Rosemarie and I attended the Bible Studies with other local believers of Zeist fairly regularly. During a Bible Study with Hein Postma, Colossians 2:11,12 was read: “In him you were also circumcised... with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith...” Although baptism was not discussed at all that evening, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart.
I was deeply moved, noting that ‘circumcision of the heart’ - conversion to faith in Jesus Christ - was the actual basis of baptism according to the context of the above-mentioned Bible verse. My own rationalization for practicing the tradition of christening of infants was pulled from under me. Subconsciously I was still somehow influenced by a Calvinist argument for the christening of infants. According to this view, this ‘sign of the new covenant’ was a substitute for circumcision, which is the visible ‘sign of the old covenant’ of God with Israel. Now I was reading there in Colossians about the circumcision of the heart. The seed was sown in my heart for opposition to so-called Replacement Theology, whereby the Church is said to have taken the place of the nation of Israel.
In the preceding years and following in the footsteps of the great Count Zinzendorf, I got to love Israel and the Jews. As I considered the matter more intensely, the lack of biblical support for infant christening struck home. How could the Church substitute circumcision, a practice so sacred to the Jews?
In the course of my participation in a liturgical commission of the denomination, I had already been deeply troubled by the formulation in the Moravian (infant) christening liturgy whereby eternal life is apportioned to babies when they are christened. As I studied the liturgy used at the christening of babies, I knew that I couldn’t continue with a practice which had indeed become a tradition that nullifies the power of God (Mark 7:13].
The last Straw                                                                 
This was now really the last straw to me. How could I carry on with the practice with a good conscience? I promptly put the problem to members. It was decided that we would organize a weekend to discuss the issue in depth with the various church councils in the Netherlands because also in other congregations there were similar problemsmy church council. They were very sympathetic, especially after our common experience only a few weeks prior to this. They suggested that I should discuss it with my minister colleagues.
Also here I initially received much understanding because the colleagues likewise encountered irresponsible fatherhood among the Surinamese church.
Taken to Task                                                                                                                                     
My objection to infant christening was maliciously conveyed to the church board in Germany. I was taken to task and eventually referred to the bishop for counselling. This transpired nevertheless in a very cordial spirit. I was impressed that Bishop Reichel – walking in the footsteps of Zinzendorf on the issue - was convinced of the matter for himself as he highlighted the grace of God operating ahead of us. But it didn’t solve my problem. I was not convinced at all.                                                                                                       In the end we found a compro­mise: I could continue as a minister without having to christen infants. We also agreed that I could terminate my services in the Church at the end of 1980. This was no rebellious stint. It was the result of months of soul searching, another inner tussle of mind and heart.
Opposition and Ostracism                                                                                                           
Rosemarie and I now experienced the opposition and ostracism in the church quite intensely. But the Lord encouraged us supernaturally. We thus received a telegram from South Africa from our dear friend Kathy Schulze, who was working with Scripture Union in Cape Town at the time. She had no idea what we were going through. Kathy felt an inner urge to send us the telegraphic message: ‘I pray for you!’ What an encouragement that was to us!
Heaviness in our Congregation                                                                                                                     I still sensed a strange heaviness whenever I preached in Utrecht. It was as if I was speaking against an unseen wall of dark opposition. Someone warned me to be careful what I eat when I was attending the various celebrations in the homes of the congregants. (There were many ‘verjarings’, where Surinamese congregants expected me to start their special birthday celebrations with a short devotional message. We knew that this danger was real, because poisoning was some­thing that did happen in the cul­ture in which we were moving. (In fact, the warning came from an old Surinamese widow whose husband had been poisoned.) But I decided that I would not allow fear to govern my life, disregarding the warning and just carried on with the ministry. We never heard whether someone did try to poison me.          
More Special Guests
On the Broederplein we had a surplus of accommodation in the big parsonage with our only child Danny at the beginning. This was for Holland a very special situation.       
We had therefore no problems to react positively at the request of our pastoral predecessors to allow their two children to continue living there to finish their schooling and training. In the case of the son, he even stayed on after finishing school. His involvement and abuse with drugs would end tragically when news reached us that he had died in India under strange circumstances.
We continued to rent at least one of the upstairs rooms of the parsonage for the rest of our stay in Zeist. Over the years we furthermore had so many personal guests that we were later even surprised when people would tell us that they had stayed with us there.                                                                                            Among the very special guests there was the Frick family from Ruit near Stuttgart in Southern Germany. I had attended the wedding of Hermann and Mechthild in 1970. Rosemarie and I would pop in or lodge in Ruit with our family many a time thereafter. The Frick family - with eventually seven children - would also happily stay with us in Zeist more than once. Whenever we were in Germany on home assignment or visits as missionaries after 1995, Ruit would belong to one of our obligatory stops, quite often also with lodging included.
Nerve-wrecking Weeks                                                                                                                     In mid-1980 Rommel Roberts, whom we had originally met at Caux, the main centre of Moral Rearmament in Switzerland in 1977, had just fled the country.[13] The S.A. police was hunting him because of his involvement with the bus and school boycotts at the Cape earlier that year (1980). After Rommel’s studies to become a Catholic priest, he sensed a calling to engage himself in social work with the Modderdam ‘squatter camp’ (informal settlement) community. In the course of this involvement he and Celeste Santos, a ‘White’ nun met and fell in love with each other. Rommel and Celeste got married, flouting all local customs and the law that prohibited marriage between a ‘White’ and someone from one of the disadvantaged races. Yet, unlike other couples in the same predicament, they did not go and marry outside the country. (Such couples would thereafter either live in exile or in a double life of secrecy).   
Their marriage was thus of course ‘illegal’ in terms of the prevalent law. Rommel and Celeste were very courageous, defying many South African mores while they continued their ministry as a racially mixed couple, thus defying the apartheid government. When Rommel was imprisoned in the course of the ‘struggle’, Celeste would just go and visit her husband at the Victor Verster prison in Paarl as if this was the most normal thing to do (this is the same prison from which Nelson Mandela was released in 1990).
Celeste came close to losing her Life                                                                                       
Celeste was pregnant at this time. While they were with us, she became seriously ill. A complica­tion in the pregnancy not only extended their stay in Zeist, but Celeste also came close to losing her life because of it.                                                         
 Because of her illness and hospitalization, Celeste stayed with us much longer than they had originally intended. That was the factual situation in August 1980 when we received sad news from South Africa. My sister Magdalene had contracted leukaemia.          
Celeste ‘sowed seed’ into our hearts so that we started enquiring after the cheapest possibility to go to South Africa as a family.  (We had initially thought that I could go to South Africa alone to be there at the same time for my mother’s pending 70th birthday on 28 December).                                       
 We decided finally to attempt going as a family. The special circumstances around my sister’s condition changed matters so much that the Broederraad released me compassionately from duties at Christmas time. We booked in faith with little left in terms of savings.
Remaining in our Jerusalem?
By October 1980 we still had no new position and nowhere to go after the termination of our minstry in the church. It was understood that we would vacate the parsonage at the end of the year.
   At this stage we called to the Lord for a word, for guidance. We were surprised when Luke 24:47 spoke to us strongly. The verse mentioned ‘…beginning in Jerusalem’. We immediately understood that Zeist was meant with this word. But this seemed impossible!
From two different groups we had firm promises that we could join them if we would have no place to go to. This would be ministry with accommodation included. But nothing was forthcoming when it came to the push.
Our friends who prayed with us stood firmly in support. To us this was very much of an encouragement. They knew that my decision to resign as pastor was not done glibly. It was a step of faith for us all the way.
Another Visa Application       
Rosemarie was much more realistic with her suggestion that we should write another accompanying letter with her visa application. She thought that my sister’s disease in such a letter would surely have been reason enough to expect a positive reply.
         My stubbornness - not to write an accompanying letter - however helped us to get clarity whether we should venture to go to South Africa as a family or not. Financially it amounted to a major risk. We also considered that the granting (or refusal of the visas) could be a test whether it was right to start on this risky venture at all.
Agonizing Days         
 Together with Celeste we experienced the agonizing days of waiting in vain for news about the visas. We were so thankful that the travelling agency finally gave us an extension of an extra day to get the visas.
I couldn’t phone my relatives of course, because we didn’t want to cause any more anxiety because of our problem with the visas. But we were happy that it was a Thursday. Now we could share our burden in the evening with our Bible Study and prayer group in Zeist.
My friend Jakes (Ds Jacobs), whom I had phoned, used a method with which I would not have been happy if I had known it. On the other hand, I had only myself to blame because I was the cause that the accom­panying letter with the visa application was not written. His phone call to Pretoria went along the following lines:
I am a friend of Reverend Ashley Cloete in Holland. I want to contact the press straight away, but I just want to check out whether it is true that you don’t want to allow him and his family to come and visit his sister who has cancer in terminal stage...”
Of course, the government could not allow such an embar­rassment without any ado, especially since we were still abroad. Therefore it was not surprising when the answer came promptly:
“Sir, I will investigate the matter straight away. I’m sure it will come in order.”
                           *                      *                      *                      *
         On Friday, the 28th of November. We had to phone the travelling agency before 4 p.m. We agreed that if we didn’t get positive notification from the South African Embassy by then, we would have to cancel our bookings. Finally, four o’clock arrived without any phone call from The Hague. I had given up hope but Rosemarie prodded me to phone the Embassy once more before cancelling our seats. I dialled the now so familiar telephone number in The Hague, while Rosemarie prayed that God’s will might become evident:
Visas granted
A friendly voice greeted me from the other side of the line:  “I have good news for you. The visas have been granted...
         We needed this fillip because not everybody was happy with our intention of venturing into a six-week trip to South Africa with nothing to fall back employment-wise on our return to the Netherlands. We could understand the reasoning of those who were concerned so well. In so many words, the spokesman of the Church Board wrote to me that it was very careless to do this. “It has nothing to do with faith...”  I had given the dear brother, the church board member who wrote these lines, such a hard time through my activism when he tried very hard to mediate between me and my Broederraad. I knew his viewpoint was well meant out of concern. In the same letter, our brother affirmed that I would remain a minister of the denomination and that he would love me to come back and take up a church post in the field of representation.
The stage was set for our next trip. In the following three weeks the big priority was to get a job. I hoped to take up teaching again after our return from South Africa. Some posts for Relig­ious Instruction seemed fitted to my previous experiences, but the expanding unemployment was also taking its toll in Hol­land. When we left for South Africa, my hopes were pinned onto one single application where I had survived the first round of nineteen applicants.
   


10. Home or Hearth?

         We experienced a few nerve-wrecking few weeks until we finally received the visas for Rosemarie and our two boys literally on the last minute. We could thus finalize our travelling plans. Unfortunately, all seats on the connecting flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town were already booked by that time – a week before Christmas.
We had no option than to sleep over in Johannesburg. The conditions under which the visit to the Cape would took place, were nevertheless stressful in the extreme. We were basically visiting my dying sister. We had no idea what would happen on our return to Holland because we had more or less used our last savings for the air fares and I had resigned as pastor and there was no other employment in the offing.
From the manse of Martin October, my seminary colleague in the Johannesburg suburb of Bosmont, I made a few phone calls. When I heard from Dr Naudé that he had never received the manuscript that I had sent with the delegation of DRC theologians the previous year, I was somewhat disappointed. All the more I was keen to meet him and Bishop Tutu.
A sad Welcome
After our arrival at D.F. Malan Airport in Cape Town we heard that my dear sister had passed away the previous evening. She had played such an important part towards the education of us, her three younger brothers. That we had arrived in time for the funeral was some consolation.
Mom’s 70th jubilee celebration on Sunday the 28th of December was clearly over-shadowed by the loss of their only daughter. Ever since the terminal situation of Magdalene became known, our mother’s health deteriorated rapidly. After my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary on the 5th of January 1981, the nervous strain of the preceding months took its toll on both our parents.
Should I stay on in South Africa?                                                                                                      
In a series of subsequent events, we discerned God’s hand clearly. At a visit to Genadendal en route to the mission station Elim I had a long chat with my friend Chris Wessels until deep in the night. Quite emphatically, Chris tried to convince me that I should stay on in South Africa with my family, advising me to consider taking a teaching post in Mathematics. Rosemarie’s visa could however still have become a hindrance.
         The Holy Spirit ministered to me very clearly the next day during the evening devotion of 19 January 1981 in Elim. From the daily Moravian textbook Daddy was reading the scriptural Macedonian injunction: ‘Kom oor en help ons.
         Our mother was quite ill. Her passing away seemed to be imminent. In addition to that, there was Daddy’s heart condition, which caused him to take early retirement in 1971. Just prior to our return to Holland – with a week scheduled to be in Johannesburg - it was a big question whether I would see one or both of them alive again. 
         On the way back to the city from Elim, Rosemarie and I spoke about how we were touched by the words from scripture the previous evening. Rosemarie appealed to me to change my planning, to cancel the week we had planned to spend on the Reef prior to our return to Holland. Couldn’t we rather stay in the Cape? However, remembering the wonderful time on our last visit - where my intention not to visit South Africa again was changed so dramatically in Johannesburg into a resolve to work for peaceful change in my home country - I was not inclined to miss this planned week at all.
Pride in my Way
By this time I had become even more committed to fight apartheid. The only constraint I had was that I waged my opposition from a religious platform. I thought to have discerned that the unity of believers was all-important, linking the notion to opposition to the apartheid-related theology. (We were very much encouraged by a multi-racial group of believers from different denominations in Stellenbosch that had been started by Professor Nico Smith and a few pastors. This was a sequel to the SACLA event in Pretoria of 1979. We had been blessed and encouraged when we attended one of their meetings in Stellenbosch.)
Rosemarie was also deeply moved when she saw how our brother‑in‑law Anthony was struggling after the death of his beloved wife. She could not understand why I insisted to go to Johannesburg in the remaining week before our departure for Holland.
The anti-Apartheid Activist Spirit made me hard                                                                                      The anti-apartheid activist spirit had made me hard and uncompassionate. When people heard that I had no employment in Holland on our return there, some of them naturally asked me why we didn’t try to stay longer. According to certain trusted people to whom we turned for advice,  it was confirmed that I could easily get a post with my good reputation as a Mathematics teacher and the dearth of qualified colleagues in ‘Coloured’ schools for that subject. This was duly confirmed. But I was not yet ready to stay longer in Cape Town. I wanted to proceed to Johannesburg. Not even the possibility of my mother passing on soon - and that I might not see any of my parents again - could touch me significantly.
Divinely Cornered
On the afternoon that had been scheduled for our final time together, my special friend Jakes was at hand, ready to take us to the Strandfontein beach. A strong wind was blowing there. In the evening we were due to take the train to Johannesburg. (This time we had received government permission to travel in the same compartment as a family without any ado, albeit that it bugged me that one still had to ask for permission.)
When we arrived in Sherwood Park at the home of the Esau family, the train tickets were however nowhere to be found. I had possibly lost them in Strandfontein. With the strong wind there, it would have been futile to go back and try and find the small tickets. It was clear that I was divinely cornered.
Softened up by the Holy Spirit                                                                                                                
The Holy Spirit had thankfully softened me up by now. Reticently I agreed to stay in Cape Town for another week. My parents were pleasantly surprised when we pitched up in Elim once again. This time we had interesting news for them. We had decided to extend our stay in South Africa, unless I would get the Religious Instruction teaching post in Holland for which I was still in the running.
After the extra week in Cape Town, everything was cut and dried. Via a phone call to the Netherlands it was confirmed that we would try and stay for another six months. The Moravian Church in Holland graciously agreed that we could leave our furniture in the parsonage in Zeist and the rent could be paid at a later stage.
Trying to fill a Void
The first weeks in the Esau home was not easy at all. We could see so clearly how the loss of the wife and mother was impacting the family, most of all by our borther-in-law. We attempted to support the bereaved Esau family through practical assistance. Rosemarie assisted especially with the cooking but there was also a domestic help for other chores.
Richard Arendse, my classmate of high school days and a later teacher colleague, immediately obliged by allowing us to use their caravan. Thus we could now sleep in the caravan in the backyard of the Esau home. My brother Windsor and his wife Ray from Grabouw generously put the use of one of their two cars at our disposal so that we could frequently visit my sickly and ageing parents in Elim, 200 Km away. I did my bit by telling stories in the evening in the form of a serial. Thus I tried to let the episodes of the biblical Joseph or from the life of Count Zinzendorf also end on a note where they were curious how it would continue.
It was very special to see our ailing mother recovering slowly. The diminishing strain was evidently also doing our Daddy a lot of good.
Teaching in Hanover Park
I took up a teaching post at Mount View High School in Hanover Park. I knew that this was one of the two schools where the boycotts had started the year before. I felt a little bit uneasy when the relevant person in authority in the Wynberg regional office of the Department of Coloured Affairs expressed his satisfaction to have a clergyman to take over at the school where a colleague had been dismissed for ‘unprofessional conduct.’
         The suspicion was almost tangible at the school that I was a government informer. The reason was clear. My predecessor also had the surname Cloete. In addition, my story would have been quite strange to them - having come from Holland and a sister who had passed away. All this must have sounded very suspect. On top of it, the widely read tabloid-styled newspaper of the ‘Coloured’ Community, The Cape Herald, reported shortly after I started teaching in Hanover Park that Matthew Cloete, my predecessor, had been sacked for disseminating ANC pamphlets. The powers that be had been very successful to label the ANC as a sinister ungodly force amongst almost all South Africans. It was possibly logical for the Mount View school fraternity in Hanover Park to regard this as confirmation that I was an informer, a collaborator with the hated regime. Fortunately for me, the practice of ‘necklacing’[14] was not yet in vogue.
Involvement in ‘political’ Matters     
We had to request the extension of the visas of Rosemarie and the children that could still be turned down. With my track record of opposition to the government, the granting of visas for them could not be taken for granted.
Celeste Santos, who had stayed with us in Zeist, approached Rosemarie to assist a ‘Black’ teacher with the teaching of retarded children as a volunteer in a Catholic school in Nyanga. In those days it was illegal for a ‘Coloured’ or a ‘White’ to go into the ‘Black’ residential areas without a permit. Expecting that it would have been refused any way, we never even considered asking for one. Rosemarie obliged without any ado, but every day she was shadowed intimidatingly by a red car.
            At this time I attended one of the Broederkring meetings at the home of my friend Jakes home in Penlyn Estate, the parsonage of the local Sendingkerk congregation. I was not aware that I was followed and that my movements were closely monitored. 
Soon thereafter – it could have been the very next day – the car would not start. Antony, my brother-in-law dropped me at Mount View before dropping off our son Danny and his children at their respective educational institutions. (Anthony was lecturing at Hewat Training College). Rosemarie noticed a strange car with a driver waiting at their home at the time I would have arrived. The sinister driver finally drove off. When I took the car to be checked out later the same afternoon the car mechanic could not find anything amiss. We wondered what would have happened if I had arrived at the normal time. We knew we had entered a time where we possibly needed some more divine protection than before!
Accommodation Challenges                                                                                                               
As the nights became colder, it became imperative to move out of the caravan, that was lovingly put at our disposal by my dear friend and former classmate and Bellville South High School teacher colleague Richard Arendse. Our one-and a half-year-old Rafael was suffering from a constant cold. Everybody that we had approached for accommodation  seemed to fall foul of the racist customs and laws. 
         We initially declined the repeated invitation of Rommel and Celeste to come and live with them. They were not only known as political activists but just like us they were a racially mixed couple. To accept their offer would have meant inviting trouble with the police. We finally had no other excuse available to turn down their generous offer after various attempts to get accommodation. Very hesitantly we moved into the three-bedroom Cape Flats cottage in Haywood Road, Crawford with our two small boys to join Rommel, Celeste and two brothers of Rommel.
I bought a second-hand bicycle with which I travelled to Hanover Park so that Rosemarie could use the car for the children and her service in Nyanga.
Tense weeks                                                                                                                                       
In a newsletter Bishop Tutu called on churches to make August the month of compassion,[15] giving special attention to forced removals. The newsletter called on the government to stop hunting ‘Blacks’ like animals. He also suggested special prayer and fasting during that month. The spiritual dimension of Bishop Tutu’s letter encouraged me greatly.
         Because of my own involvement in ‘political’ matters at school or our supporting Rommel, Celeste and Alan Roberts in the volatile Crossroads community with harassed ‘illegal’ ‘Black’ women,[16] there was the real fear that anyone of us could be imprisoned. Of course, we were basically working towards racial reconciliation. But there was also a price to pay for it – tension and fear!
         Rosemarie and our children valiantly joined me during dangerous ventures, such as joining me one Sunday afternoon to Crossroads on Ascension Day as part of a church delegation. Military ‘Caspirs’ (vehicles that were transporting soldiers) were driving along Lansdowne Road at this occasion. They reminded us that a massacre at our open-air meeting with these women and others in Crossroads, in which we could lose our lives, was not out of the question. The presence of a British TV crew probably saved the day for many of us.
Evangelical Pastors shunning social Action
Yet, it was sad that I could not get evangelical pastors interested. Generally they seemed to shun social action and community work, which was regarded as ‘political’ and ‘unspiritual’. For us it was special that we could phone our friend Kathi Schulze to pray for this situation, as well as for what was happening in Hanover Park at Mount View High School, where I was now teaching. She would relay our requests to believers at Scripture Union, those at the Claremont Methodist Church to which she had connections and to the Anglican Church in Factreton where she was an elder in the congregation of Rev Clive McBride and his dear wife Maria. In this way we at least got believers to pray for the situation which looked so hopeless.
Almost knocked out and then encouraged
We had to reckon all the time with the possibility that any one of us residing in Haywood Road, Crawford could be arrested or clandestinely killed. During the preceding months the going was rather tough as we had to struggle through all sorts of apartheid red tape..
Yet, we still had high hopes that our intervention on behalf of the Crossroads women would lead to some change in government policy. The threats of the ‘Bantu Administration Board’  put all of us who were living under the same roof in Haywood Road in Crawford under severe pressure. Even more so this was the case with the ‘Black’ women of Crossroads.
Spadework for the Battle of Nyanga                                                                                            
The separation of ‘Black’ families developed into a strange tradition in South African society because of government policy. We got involved with the spadework that prepared ‘the battle of Nyanga’. Alan Roberts, the brother of Rommel, interviewed the Xhosa ladies who had been taken out of their shack homes forcibly.  They were thereafter housed compassionately in the Langa Roman Catholic Church through the intervention of Celeste and her friend Nomangezi. There these hapless homeless ladies lived for more or less a week. I was deeply moved as I typed the stories of these suffering people whom the government was trying to remove forcibly to the Transkei. It was strategic that I had copies of these stories after the originals had mysteriously disappeared at the court hearings.                                 But also producing these copies did not help. One after the other the women were found guilty of being in the city illegally, due to be ‘deported’ to the Ciskei - a region where some of them had never been before. By government decree that was regarded as their ‘homeland’. These women had been ‘illegally born’ at the Cape. The bulk of them had never been to the Eastern Cape. They were born and bred in the Mother City.
         The life stories of the women were not the only material that disappeared. A manuscript that I had written at this time about false political alternatives was also nowhere to be found. (I had left it at the school in Hanover Park during the boycott crisis around June 16/17.)       
A crisis followed when the women returned to the Cape with a hired bus through secret compassionate assistance of the South African Council of Churches under the leadership of Bishop Tutu. This sort of defiant opposition was happening of course very much against the wishes of the government.
Bitter once again                                                                                                                           
In the meantime I had become quite bitter once again. Celeste mentioned that someone wanted to organize an interview with the Prime Minister. But I was not interested any more. Our involvement with the ‘Blacks’ created in me a resistance of another sort. As I saw how ‘Black’ families were forcibly separated, I was not interested any more to go to the government begging for the ‘privilege’ to live in my home country with my wife and children. Why should I get a special privilege to live in South Africa when thousands of other families were being ripped apart?
         Rosemarie had only one prayer left at this time: ‘Lord, I am prepared to serve you anywhere in the world as long as it is not South Africa’. The tension of the preceding months was more than what she could take. Her vow of 1978 when a tumour was detected near to her thyroid gland – to join me to go to Africa if God would spare her - seemed to have become irrelevant.
         Yet, I still had to learn that God was more interested in my relationship with Him than in my activism. I regarded my political activism as a part of my service for the Master, part and parcel of an effort to get the races in South Africa reconciled to each other.
Negotiations with the ‘Bantu Administration Board’
It was quite strategic that we could enlist the services of the ‘White‘ DRC Sendingkerk minister of Wynberg, Ds Jan de Waal, to be part of a clergy delegation for ongoing negotiations with the ‘Bantu Administration Board’.  On a Friday morning a few weeks before we returned to Holland, a group of pastors met the responsible official of the ‘Bantu Administration Board’. The official who had been bullying Celeste and Nomangezi started off very apologetically saying that he had to see that the laws of the country were being obeyed. This prompted one of the colleagues to interject that God’s law should get greater priority.                   
          Temporary reprieve for the hapless women was nevertheless achieved. The Anglican archbishop would get an audience with Mr Piet Koornhof, the responsible Cabinet Minister.
Indeed, after the audience of Archbishop Bill Burnett with Mr Koornhof, our friends Celeste and Nomangezi received ‘confidential concessions’ from the government on June 15, 1981 - allowing the Crossroads women to remain at the Cape. At least this skirmish seemed to have been won. 
An old Wound opened
Towards the end of our stay Rosemarie had more than enough of the turmoil and uncertainty.  This was a scar that caused tension in our marriage.
As we got ready to return to Holland, Rosemarie and I were quite divided on the issue of where we should reside - an old wound had been opened: I still yearned to return to my fatherland despite the stressful months. I longed to return permanently although I knew that it was well-neigh impossible.  But we knew that God had brought us together and that we had to be called as a couple and as a family to whatever country the Father would choose. Both of us were nevertheless relieved that we could get out of the threatening hearth more or less unscathed.
One problem we took along with us. Four year old Danny had been attending the Salvation Army pre-school in Lansdowne where he picked up a mixture of English and Afrikaans. We had been trying to keep German intact in the family, but already in Holland the Dutch at the crèche and the environment made it too difficult to uphold. One and a half year old Rafael apparently had no problems, clicking away at the sounds of the unrelated Xhosa which he had picked up when he joined Rosemarie to Nyanga every day.
When Danny would use four languages in one sentence – obviously confused – we felt that we had to get to an environment where he would have only one language to learn properly. Germany or the part of Switzerland where German is spoken came into contention as possibilities to relocate to. However, after a few interviews no ‘door’ opened. All efforts to get employment in Germany or Switzerland were unsuccessful. As we shared our experiences in South Africa, we completely forgot the divine injunction to ‘remain in our Jerusalem’, Zeist in Holland.

Church Defiance of Apartheid
We returned to Europe, unaware of the effect that our involvement in Crossroads and Nyanga would continue to have. The homeless people of Nyanga and Crossroads would score one moral victory after the other after our departure, encouraging many ‘Blacks’ to resist the oppressive race policies. The compassion and concern of individual Christians like Celeste Santos and her friend Nomangezi, whose shack was subsequently burnt down by hate-filled ‘Blacks’ who could not palate her friendship to a ‘White’, were major catalysts to this end.
            Thankfully the ‘Battle of Nyanga’ and the subsequent first major defeat inflicted on the apartheid government’ shortly thereafter got into the international media headlines anyway.[17]
Churches started to take a clearer Stand
The plight and determination of the women of KTC, Nyanga and Crossroads probably played a significant role in another sense. Churches now started to take a clearer stand in opposition to apartheid laws. Thus Rev. Rob Robertson and our friend Rev. Douglas Bax played a crucial role in the political stand of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa as a denomination (PCSA).[18]  Soon thereafter newspaper posters lined the streets with massive black letters: CHURCH TO DEFY MARRIAGE LAW. A few Presbyterian ministers married a number of racially mixed couples. The marriages were registered and kept in the central office of the PCSA. When other Churches also supported the I had left at the school in Hanover Park during the boycott crisis around June 16/17 Presbyterian Assembly’s decision on the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, this sparked a political debate that even­tually led in 1985 to the abolition of this keystone of apartheid legislation.
         We are very thankful that we could contribute in a small but significant way towards the repeal of this law, as well as the one against influx control that prohibited ‘Black’ women to be with their husbands in the cities of South Africa. It gave me great satisfaction to hear that Church opposition to apartheid increased also in other parts of the country.        


11. Back in our “Jerusalem”       
          A return to Southern Africa was still high on my list of priorities. ‘Doors’ never seemed to open. My South African passport constituted an important obstacle to get into any African country. South Africa was the skunk of the world, especially for African and Asian countries.
           Back in Holland, a very difficult period in our lives started. We very much wanted another child - preferably a daughter - but the timing of another pregnancy was very inconvenient indeed. Furthermore, I was still unemployed with little prospect of anything coming up.
         Time was running out because my work permit was due to expire soon. Yet, the word from Scripture to stay in our “Jerusalem” did not enter our minds again.
         And then it happened. Virtually on the last minute, I got a temporary teaching post in nearby Utrecht.
We had no intention of joining another church when we left Zeist for South Africa at the end of 1980. When we returned in July 1981, we found that a few believers had decided in our absence to start a new fellowship. Our friends Hein Postma and Wim Zoutewelle had been having talks with other evangelical church leaders in an attempt to start a new non-denominational evangelical fellowship in Zeist. I was not opposed to the idea of joining a Bijbelgetrouwe (true to the Bible) fellowship, but I was not very happy that they decided to have the meetings also on Sunday mornings. I did not like the idea at all of competing with other Christian groups.
The Tragedy of Church Disunity                                                                                                      
Yet, it was still a long way off before I learned that church disunity and a competitive spirit among the various fellowships were actually strongholds of the arch enemy. My preference was to have a fellowship on a Saturday evening so that everybody could still attend a church of their choice on Sundays if they wanted to do so. I also had not discerned yet how 4th century Emperor Constantine had high-jacked the Church, estranging us from our Jewish roots, by making Sunday a compulsory day of rest. If we had taken note of this consciously at that time, our decision to join the new group might have followed a different course.
The tragedy of denominational division really hit home to us on Sunday mornings when we set out for the new fellowship where I had been asked to join the leadership team. With some hesitation I agreed to serve on the Broederraad and also lead the young people’s group along with Tom, the son of Wim Zoutewelle. The minute evangelical fellowship moved to a new location at Panweg from where it significantly impacted the region in the 1980s. In due course the church adopted the name of Ichtus. It became the base from which we recruited many a worker for the Goed Nieuws Karavaan ministry that Rosemarie and I subsequently started and led.
The Start of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan                                                                                           While he was still at high school Rens Schalkwijk returned with his parents from Jamaica in 1978. The teenager joined the Moravian weekly prayer group. This was the one link to the denomination that I kept intact throughout our period of ministry in Zeist.
         With Rens I felt spiritually very much on the same wave length. In mid-1982 he suggested that the two of us should come together for early morning intercession. This we put into practice, soon joined by Peter van Veldhuyzen, a member of the Ichthus fellowship of Panweg in Zeist. Before Peter left for his work, we prayed in the nearby forest.
            On one of our youth evenings we heard that the organizers of the ‘Kinderkaravaan’ - a local outreach to children - were looking for a leader. This culminated in the setting up of a new evangelical agency, the ‘Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’.
Three board members of the Kinderkaravaan agreed immediately to join in this venture. In Alie Kreulen, Joop Mook and Wout de Raad I could not have hoped for more devout believers who had evangelism at heart. Coming from different local fellowships including one who was a member of the mainline Hervormde Kerk, the composition of the Board already depicted the message we wanted to convey. Within a matter of months we had workers from a diversity of denominations that was unique for Holland, even a children’s worker from the Roman Catholic Church that I had led to the Lord.    
A special Vehicle
At the inaugural meeting of the Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’towards the end of 1982, we had the old 80 year old Sister Kooy present. (In earlier years she was actively involved in the support of the persecuted Jews.) After I had given an overview of the various facets of evangelism like weekly conversational participation in the Huis van Bewaring of Utrecht (a sort of prison where criminals with less serious crimes were detained) and outreach to foreigners and the unemployed, sister Kooy, who lived near to us on Broederplein, reacted dryly: I have been listening to you folk. I can’t participate in the children’s work or the like. I want to offer my home for a weekly bidstond (hour of prayer). That weekly time of prayer turned out to become the mainstay of the activities of Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan until the Lord took her home when she was in her nineties.
            In one of the first circular letters that I wrote on behalf of the new evangelistic agency, I referred to the intention of purchasing a vehicle with which we could evangelise in the various parts of Zeist. We especially hoped to reach out to Moroccan children and youth. We had already linked up with Herman Takken and his group Gospel for Guests that targeted Moroccan young people.                                      At one of our first meetings Wout de Raad announced that someone had donated 25 guilders towards the purchase. This was so special to me, seeing this as a seal of faith. Soon thereafter we heard of a ‘SRV wagen’, one of those unique Dutch mobile grocer vehicles, that was for sale. We announced this at one of our meetings. What another special moment it was when Wout phoned me shortly thereafter that an anonymous  amount has been donated to enable the purchasing of the vehicle that was soon converted into the Goed Nieuws Karavaan where so many lives would be touched in the years thereafter. The identity of the giver was carefully kept as a secret . When he retired years later on account of ill health as treasurer, we discovered that he meticulously covered that transaction that that we could only guess who that could have been.
Next to the outreach to children which remained the core of the ministry, we included various other facets of evangelistic outreach. A children’s choir turned out to be a speciality that would serve the community for decades thereafter, uplifting senior residents in many an old age home.
A Period of great Uncertainty           
After ceasing to function as a minister of the Moravian Church, a period of great uncertainty followed for us as a couple. This coincided with the practical need to feed the family. It was not easy at all to get employment as a teacher of Religious Instruction and it turned out furthermore that the Dutch Education department did not recognise my South African Bachelor of Arts degree and teacher’s diploma. I decided to resume studies in Mathematics, not only as a way of getting a post more easily, but also as a vehicle with which I could return to Africa doing ‘tent-making’ missionary work. We really wanted to get involved with missions but no door seemed to open.
         In the mid-1980s a speaker from OM (Operation Mobilisation) pitched up at our Ichthus church meeting. I sensed a challenge to venture into one of the Middle East countries as a missionary. A simple comparison of the number of missionaries in Islamic countries brought home to us the dire need to share the gospel there. It was clear that I could not go into one of the closed countries as a Christian minister of religion. I was highly motivated to get an updated Mathematics teaching qualification for this purpose.
After a ‘Joseph experience’ during personal devotions the Lord had by now thoroughly dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. Like Joseph who was exiled to Egypt, I was in the meantime prepared to serve the Lord anywhere in the world if that was the confirmed divine guidance - ready never to return to South Africa. However, the African continent was still my silent preference.
Baptismal Consequences                                                                                                                 
Rens Schalkwijk invited me to a meeting in a local church by a certain Reverend Bennett, a British evangelist, who preached a series on the prophet Jonah. Without the speaker mentioning it as such, I was convicted one evening that Jonah actually requested to be thrown into the sea. I saw in this move a pristine form of believer’s baptism. (Earlier I had immersed myself in our bathtub after being challenged by the story of Bilquis Sheikh, a Pakistani believer.) I knew already that Jesus also requested John to baptise him.                                                                                                                            
Soon thereafter I requested to be immersed during a church service. Hein Postma baptised me at the fellowship led by his father-in-law in Baarn, a few kilometres away. I knew that this step could cut me off completely from the Moravian Church, but I wanted to be obedient to the Lord primarily.
Support for evangelistic and missionary Work
Our diminutive evangelical fellowship at the Panweg in Zeist maintained a great interest in missions in general.  From the word go the fellowship supported various missionaries. Liesbeth Walvaart and Bart Berkheij had been linked to the group before they went to England where they studied at All Nations Bible College. In the loving low-key missionary outreach of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan team that Rosemarie and I were leading, we now started to work with many Moroccan and Turkish children and the youth of Zeist. Friday evening was special to our children when ‘Tante’ Hilda le Poutre would always come to us first, before joining the Goed Nieuws Karavaan coffee bar team. Although she was already about 60 years old at the time the young folk apparently had no problems to relate to her quite easily.
We had a fairly close friendship to Bart Berkheij, praying with him through many obstacles before he was finally accepted as a missionary. How elatedly he introduced us to his British fiancée Ruth! A special bond developed between Ruth and Rosemarie after their marriage. The two were pregnant almost at the same time when we expected our three youngest children. How we empathised with the Berkheij family as they struggled for many years to go through all sorts of preparations and red tape until they could finally go to Mali with the Red Sea Mission! They knew how I yearned to return to Africa and how no door seemed to open for us.
Spiritual Warfare highlighted                  
 When we came to Holland in 1977 we were fairly ignorant with regard to unseen things happening in the spiritual realm. However, we should have known better in the mid-1980s because we had learnt of occult realities through reading material of Kurt Koch, a German theologian.
We were so thankful when we were spared a severe calamity at this time. Someone rang the bell of our home to ask if I knew anything about a baby left on the street in front of our house. Just a few minutes prior to this I had placed the baby basket with our daughter Magdalena behind the car, finding the boot door of our 5-door vehicle locked. I trusted that Rosemarie would see it there.
It was Rosemarie’s habit to first reverse our car from where we used to park it. I did not think about this when I put the baby basket at the back of the car. When she came to the car, she thought the baby was already in the vehicle. She drove off, without looking, and without first reversing as she was used to do. Only at the destination, the woman’s group of the Ichthus fellowship, she discovered that there was no Magdalena. In the case of the habitual custom she could have driven over the basket with the precious content.
Also in other ways we soon knew that we were back on the battlefront. In the run-up to the birth of our son Samuel in July 1984 we were clearly confronted with occult forces. We hoped to have four children from the outset. (In fact, at a conference of the Offensive Junger Christen in 1978 in Germany the participants were asked to come up with their vision for the future 10 years hence. I envisaged having four children and being back in my home country. In Germany it was regarded as a-social and crazy at that time to have more than two children). Ultimately we even surpassed the first part of my ‘dream’ with one child extra. (The second part of my vision was realized in January 1992 - to be back in South Africa.)
            Around this time there was a Mozart festival in the Moravian Church on Zusterplein. We sensed some occult activity going on at this time. We woke up one night with some noise coming from the loft sounded like as if someone was pulling a chain. I was about to phone the police, suspecting that an intruder had entered our house. I decided however to go and have a look myself. There was nobody.  We became more sensitive for the unseen, that some evil forces had been unleashed to drive us to the cleft of the rock of ages, to find refuge there.
Special Provision
Financially we were just about making ends meet at this time. Rosemarie was troubled for some time by black and white blocks linoleum on a passage after entering our home. Rosemarie thought that it would be great if we could cover that with a green carpet. We definitely had no money for a carpet but someone suggested that one can also be very concrete with prayer requests, that God even gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). I was not aware that she had been praying along these lines.
Shortly hereafter Alie Kreulen, one of our Goed Nieuws Karavaan workers, said that they had replaced their carpet and now had the old one in their shed. I was the regular driver of the vehicle at this time, probably unemployed once again. When I picked it up and brought it to our home Rosemarie was not excited at all at the prospect of perhaps getting some inferior and worn carpet. What was her surprise great when she saw the carpet – it was still of good quality and the colour green!
At this time our new neighbours living below us after the old Rapparlie couple went to an old age home had been complaining of the noise created by us just above their bedroom. The old lady had a nervous condition. Even the slightest sound by a falling spoon on the wooden floor above them could give her a fright.                                                                                                      Gert Noorlander, a dear friend from the Ichthus fellowship worked for a furnishing shop. One day he informed us that they had a redundant piece of green carpet. It turned out to be of the very same texture as that which we now had on our passage next to the dining room.
A few years later, when Martje van Dam, our dear friend who had been coming to pray with us every Saturday evening was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer, she designated a green cupboard to come to that fairly empty room after her death. That happened in February 1989.  
A Battle in Rosemarie's Womb                                         
Rosemarie had excruciating pains in her back during the pregnancy with our Samuel. She feared that the arch enemy was trying to kill the foetus. We had learnt about generational curses and influences in the meantime. Rosemarie heard from her father why he never wanted a son. Over generations some curse had rested on their family coming via the sons.[19]One night when she had this heaviness and fears again, she woke me. When she told me this, we immediately prayed, breaking the curse in Jesus name! That was the last time that Rosemarie had these problems, albeit that the actual birth of Samuel was not plain sailing at all.
Also at the time of his birth a battle raged. Rosemarie was well overdue. Mama Göbel had already arrived from Germany to come and assist the family, but the baby apparently decided to keep us in suspense. Rosemarie decided to join the summer holiday fun when our Goed Nieuws Karavaan friends decided to pick blue berries in the forest. As was the custom, we cycled as a group. The exercise was especially good for the mother in spe. While we were engaged in the blue berry picking activity, our Sammy gave the early indication that he wanted to leave the safety of her womb. We stopped our activity in the field immediately. When we landed at the maternity ward of the Zeister Ziekenhuis, Rosemarie had harvested a nickname - the blueberry mom!
Samuel’s birth brought Brigitte Röser, a Dutch friend who has been visiting us from Germany from time to time, closer into the family frame. We asked her to become his godmother. In later years she would become our contact person for the distribution of our newsletters in Germany.
Sammy almost drowned                                                                                                           Little Samuel was playing in Henschotermeer, where we often went with our children. Danny was swimming when he suddenly saw black hair on the water near to him. He quickly grabbed the baby, only to discover that it was no less than Sammy, his baby brother.
Knowing that we were now in the front-line of missionary outreach, we were not surprised any more at these attacks. Yet, we still had not discerned mutual links between Communism, Islam and other anti-Christ forces. 
Relishing Dutch Customs               
Around this time Rosemarie was deeply impressed when she read a book about natural birth control. We were initially quite happy when it seemed to work very well. But then it happened. The frightening suspicion turned to be true. Rosemarie was pregnant yet again. We had some difficulty accepting this but even more difficult was the clear rejection from other people. After a while we started to look forward to the birth.
Once little Tabitha was there, she proved to be such a blessing. For one, she helped Magdalena to accept her role as a girl. Growing up with her two older brothers, Maggie was a real tomboy. Before Tabitha’s birth Magdalena objected stubbornly when required to wear a dress. This changed hereafter when she saw the cute little dresses that her little sister received as gifts.
         From her own German background where their father would go on hikes with them on Sundays, Rosemarie was rather disappointed with me. I could never get excited to go on walks. On the other hand, I enjoyed playing football with our boys. Also I enjoyed going cycling with the whole family to some playground, especially when we did it together with another family or when we visited friends.
         We relished the Dutch custom of celebrating all sorts of occasions. Thus the twelve-and-a-half year wedding anniversary - it being the half of 25 years - was unforgettable for children and parents. Two and a half years prior to this we had been blessed when our Goed Nieuws Karavaan workers took care of our children to send us for a marriage enrichment weekend in the Dutch province of Zealand. And then there were the indelible memories of the unique annual Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations where the children would be busy for weeks before 5 December in some secretive corners of our big house to make ‘surprises’, artifacts that had to match the poems specially fitted to the person for whom the humorously wrapped gift is meant. Rosemarie would add her special touch to make every celebration extremely festive.
Going to a Muslim country? 
My studies in Mathematics caused a lot of frustration at home because I had so little time available for Rosemarie and our children. One evening per week every fortnight there was the Broederraad (church council) meeting. I was also leading the city-wide evangelistic work of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan that we had started at the end of 1982. From 1985 I attended lectures in Mathematics on two evenings per week and often thereafter I still studied or worked after coming home. (I was also teaching simultaneously.)
         Rosemarie was however not at all impressed by my idea of going to a country like Egypt. But she agreed - initially patiently but surely not enthusiastically - that I could continue with my studies in Mathematics, in order to use that as an entrance into one of the countries that were closed for Christian missionaries. I had just turned 40 when our fifth child Tabitha was born on 25 April 1986. The information in one of the Operation Mobilization leaflets effectively nailed the 'door' to me to proceed with any procedure for that mission agency: ‘Don’t wait until you are 40 or when you have five children.’  This was quite a disappointment.
Testing the Waters back Home
I sensed great satisfaction when the law in my home country that prohibited people from disadvantaged races to get married to those classified as ‘Whites’, was finally repealed in 1985. Our visit there in 1981 had played a significant role in the run-up to it. This caused me to test the waters back home with regard to take up a teaching post in South Africa. The Group Areas Act, which prescribed where the respective races were required to reside, was however still operating as a major hurdle.                         
My participation in the politics of 1981, notably my supportive role in a school boycott while teaching at Mount View High School, surfaced as a big hindrance. I was required to commit myself to non-involvement in all political issues. I could not agree to anything of that nature. I wanted to be free to operate with a clear conscience, without apartheid constraints.
   I was always highly motivated to meet people who had some link to South Africa. Various missionaries who worked in South Africa would visit us when they were on home assignment. Thus we got to know Dick and Rie van Stelten, a missionary couple from the small Northern Natal town of Josini.               
Sending Clothing for the needy                                        
A visit to our Panweg fellowship by Shadrach Maloka, a well-known ‘Black’ evangelist from South Africa, spawned the sending of clothing to needy evangelists who were linked to his ministry. Rosemarie was sensitive to a divine nudge. Financially we were just making ends meet at this time, but we had a surplus of clothing because we received used clothing from different people. This became the spawn to start distributing clothing to missionaries, evangelists and other needy people. In our spacious home, the former parsonage, we almost always sub-rented at least one room or assisted someone with accommodation - and yet we had space to spare. A part of a big upstairs room that was only used as a guest facility was changed into a little clothing ‘boutique’. Missionaries from overseas could come and make their pick there. Salou and Annelies,[20] a befriended YWAM missionary couple, even filled a vehicle that they had received as a gift. The vehicle was shipped to Cameroun with clothes and all.
Supporting the persecuted Christians        
The next chapter of my involvement with the fight against the Communist wall started in Holland. That country had played a big role in support of persecuted people down the centuries. Especially at the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi’s Dutch Christians played a leading role in support of the persecuted Jews.  I got to know a few of these Dutch Christians personally because the Moravian congregation of Zeist had been a hub of this support for persecuted Jews. We had our weekly prayer meeting at the home of one of them, the dear old sister Kooy on Broederplein.                                                                          Anne van der Bijl, who had his Bible School training at the WEC missionary training College in Scotland has been the most prominent pioneer for the persecuted Christians in recent decades. (Outside of Holland he is called Brother Andrew who founded Open Doors). He had a long relationship with Brother and Sister Heijnk, the founders of the Full Gospel ‘Figi’ fellowship of Zeist, preaching there at least once a year. This was the church we started attending in 1988.
         The seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union from 1984 were integrated in our family prayers while we were praying for God to lead us into overseas missions. It was always a thrill to remove the one or other person from the little Kruistochten/Open Doors card box. Each card had the name and photograph of some persecuted Christian for whom we had been praying. The removal of a card from the little box indicated that the believer had been released from prison. We would praise God who had answered the prayers for these people.
          In the children’s clubs of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan that we had started in the little town of Zeist with Christians from different church backgrounds in 1983, the children learnt a song about the persecution of Christians in Russia and China.
Run-up to a mini Romania Fever in Zeist         
The German village of Tieringen would become the beginning of the next chapter of our low-key struggle against the atheist Communist regimes. In 1987 we had ventured out in faith with the prayer that the Lord would use the period of holiday for His purposes. (This camping facility was heavily subsidized by the German government to enable big families to go on holiday once per year.) The holiday in Tieringen led to compassionate outreach to Romanian Christians. There we met Erwin and Sina Klein and their children, who had just come out of Romania legally because of his German ancestry. Through them we not only received valuable inside information, but we also got addresses from Christians in that socialist country.
         After September 1987 we extended our charity service, also sending clothing to Romania. The Holy Spirit was evidently orchestrating things. From the little Dutch town of Zeist almost a mini Romania fever broke out in support of the persecuted Christians. Of course, this made the regime of the dictator Čeauçescu quite nervous because their nationals were officially not allowed to have contact with foreigners. Parcels with clothing and articles that were scarce in that country were sent to different addresses supplied to us by Sina Klein, Erwin’s wife. Clandestine visits to Romania followed hereafter from different parts of Holland. Various organizations that brought aid to the Communist world intensified their aid to Romania although this was apparently not formally agreed upon. The Dutch town of Zeist would become quite pivotal in this process. This was seemingly part of God’s master plan to break down the Communist stronghold.
Involvement in the International Prayer Movement
While we were in Germany an international conference took place in Zeist around Christianity and Islam. In the spiritual realm this was quite significant. Islam would take over from Communism as the next ideological force opposing biblical faith.
Our family friend Rens Schalkwijk had been entering and leaving our home often - so much so that he was a natural choice to become the godfather of our youngest daughter Tabitha in 1986. One day he came along with the suggestion that we should resume our times of prayer, but perhaps in a different way.  In January 1988 we started a Sunday evening prayer meeting at our home. Rens brought along another couple, students at the local Pentecostal Bible School.
            Out of these prayer times Rens was ‘delegated’ to attend a meeting with David Bryant, an international speaker who had come to challenge Dutch Christians with regard to Concerts of Prayer. In August 1988 - through the active urge of Rens Schalkwijk and his contacts with Pieter Bos, a YWAM leader, the prayer movement in Holland got a significant push. Rens and I were soon leading the first unit of the ‘Regiogebed’ of the Netherlands - that of Driebergen-Zeist. Via the Regiogebed we got linked to the international prayer movement that ultimately influenced my home country significantly.
            A visit to Singapore in 1988 by Gerda Leithgöb, at that stage a virtually unknown prayer warrior from Pretoria, became a spur for worldwide prayer for South Africa. With her prayer team Leithgöb had been involved with spiritual warfare, amongst other things with confession at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. In South Africa itself she became a pioneer for spiritual mapping, using the results of research for informed prayer.
            When Michail Gorbachov took over as the leader in the Kremlin, God had evidently put the right man in place for the season. It was fitting that the avalanche towards the removal of the Berlin wall in November 1989 started with Anne van der Bijl of Open Doors. He offered one million Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church on the occasion of their 1000 year Jubilee commemoration. David Hathaway from Britian and a few less known faith heroes – many of them in East Europe – were divine instruments to usher in the ideological demise of Communism with the smuggling of Bibles and other Christian literature.
            The battle was however far from over with the Orthodox Church’s acceptance of the gift of Bibles to which Gorbachov and his government surprisingly agreed. The praying Christians around the world knew of course that this had been painstakingly prepared, bathed in prayer. George Otis (The Last of the Giants, 1991:49) described the cause of the miracle of Eastern Europe in 1989-90 aptly: ‘With so many intercessors having petitioned God faithfully with respect to the burden of Communism, the circumstances were reminiscent of the Israelites’ crying to Jehovah during the Egyptian captivity.’            At the prayer meetings of the ‘Regiogebed’, with Christian participants from different church backgrounds we prayed for local issues, for missionaries who left from our area, but also for countries. In 1989 we prayed especially for Communist countries, notably for the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Romania. We were greatly encouraged by the news that came through from East Germany. Christians there seemed to be at the forefront of the surge towards democracy.
Suffering from spiritual Suffocation                                                                                           
 Locally I got involved in another ecclesiastic skirmish. I ran into problems with a few members of our Ichthus fellowship because Roman Catholic nuns had participated in the ‘Regiogebed’. Some believers had obviously been so brainwashed by anti-Catholic indoctrination that they could not accept that there were born-again people in the ‘Church of the Pope’. The unity of the body of our Lord was an issue on which Rosemarie and I felt that we could not compromise. Other simultaneous tensions in the Ichthus fellowship brought matters to a head. We soon suffered from spiritual suffocation.
         It was very special when we received a letter from Dick van Stelten, our missionary friend in Josini (South Africa), which confirmed to us that we should consider moving on. Dick had no clue what we were experiencing. He just sensed a divine nudge to write to us.
         To all intents and purposes a split occurred in the Ichthus fellowship. We were slandered and unfairly criticised, but we nevertheless hoped that matters could be resolved and that reconciliation could be achieved.
         We decided to attend the nearby ‘Figi’ congregation - the Full Gospel fellowship, initially temporarily. Reconciliation with the folk of the Ichthus fellowship did not come about until much later, when the children were already settled in the new church environment of ‘Figi’. It took some time for me personally to get warm in the much bigger new congregation, but once we joined a home cell, things improved considerably. We nevertheless yearned to return to the fellowship with which we had so many happy memories over the previous seven years.
         We had proved a point in the meantime with the ministry of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’. This local evangelistic ministry was going well with around 30 workers from different local church fellowships and Bible schools in the area, involved in a wide range of evangelistic activities. We had demonstrated to Dutch Christians that it was indeed possible for people from different church backgrounds to work together if doctrinal tussles were not allowed to cause quarrels, if theworkers would only concentrate on the uniting person of Jesus.
         Other families were also ‘suffocating spiritually’ for different reasons at their respective fellowships. Harmen and Fenny Pos, our faithful ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’co-workers were among those. In due course quite a few of us found ourselves together at the fellowship that was congregating in the ‘Zinzendorf Mavo’, the Moravian Secondary School.
Movement on the Mission Front
As a couple Rosemarie and I kept praying for a ‘door’ to open to some African country.  But nothing happened.  We had been attending the annual mission day of the Evangelical Alliance regularly. Year after year we went there, hoping that the door to foreign missions would open up. When we went to Amsterdam in 1988 we had more or less given up the possibility to enter missionary work. Our eldest son Danny was about to enter secondary school and there were four more to follow. When Tabitha, our youngest, would be finished with her education I would be almost at pension age. On top of it, it seemed as if hardly any mission agency was prepared to accept a family with five children.
            In Amsterdam I nevertheless took along a leaflet from Africa Inland Mission (AIM) that struck me. The mission agency was looking for teachers at their boarding school for the children of missionaries in Kenya. When we spoke to the representatives of AIM, they encouraged us, even seeing other possibilities for us with my training and background. In their view the only problem was my South African passport. But seeing that I had been in Holland so long, they suggested that I should apply for a Dutch passport. The “door” suddenly opened for the first time.
         The visit of the Dutch AIM leaders was the catalyst to start using Patrick Johnstone’s book Operation World to pray with our children through all the African countries at meal times. In this way we hoped to discern in which country the Lord wanted to use us. The effect of these prayers was initially not positive at all, if not counter-productive. Our children did not seem excited at all at the prospect of having to leave Europe for what they perceived as primitive Africa. But they now noticed that we meant business in respect of missionary involvement.
Pulling out my own Roots?   
The suggestion of the AIM leader to apply for Dutch citizenship was easier said than done. My main problem was the feeling of despair at the prospect of having to pulling out my own roots as a South African. Would I now also have to lose citizenship of the country I loved so intensely? (The possibility of dual citizenship was fairly unknown at that time.)
         I nevertheless buried my pride, sensing that a step of obedience was now required. We had been praying all the years for the opportunity to return to Africa for missionary work. How could I opt out now?  Didn’t I repeat in my prayers that I was willing to serve God anywhere in the world?
            The problem that I would have to apply for a visa to visit my parents and my home country did not even enter my mind at that stage. My main problem was the feeling of having to cut off my own roots. It had been traumatic already that not only our home and school church in District Six had been razed to the ground, that my high school in Vasco suffered the same fate because of the Group Areas Act and that our home in Tiervlei/Ravensmead had to be vacated under the guise of apartheid-related slum clearance. Would I now also have to lose citizenship of the beloved country?
            A few months later God had the opportunity to confirm the move in a sovereign way. It all started when our black and white TV set that we had bought in Berlin in 1975, packed up just prior to the Olympic Games of 1988. When the set started giving trouble, we decided not to replace it. The pending Olympic Games were something we thought that could also have some educational value for our children. Our quest to get a second-hand model  -followi ng a newspaper advert  - caused us agreeing to take one on loan via a befriended family from their aged mother who was not using it much in the old age home. We agreed that we would keep the TV set only for the duration of the Olympic Games.
Dutch Citizenship?    
When a letter arrived from The Hague regarding my application for Dutch citizenship, it also mentioned an administration fee of 400 guilders, (the Dutch currency that preceded the Euro). This was occurring at a time - the only occasion during our 14 years in Holland - when our banking account was in the red, although we had been scraping the barrel financially for the bulk of our time there.
            Rosemarie and I went to the Lord with the letter. I still had turmoil in my heart, still struggling with the prospect of losing my South African citizenship. 
            God intervened in a clear way via a befriended family that was struggling themselves financially. When Piet Heemsbergen came to collect it, he announced that he and his wife wanted to bless us with 800 guilders to buy a new TV set. I was overawed that God sent in double the amount we needed! It turned out that the husband, who brought the money, was actually using it as a test on the evangelical Christians. He came to fetch the TV of his mother, but he and his wife decided to give us money so that we could buy a new set. He did not know that we had been praying for confirmation with regard to the money for my Dutch citizenship. He was just as surprised when I showed him the letter of the Ministry of the Interior. He agreed that we could use the money for that purpose and other more urgent needs instead of the TV set.[21] I was reassured at the same time that God was in the move when I had to return my passport to the S.A. Embassy. However, I did this still rather reticently. Our application for Dutch citizenship could start – to be followed by a two-year waiting period.                                        
         The summer of 1988 also brought a terrible shock when we heard that Bart Berkheij had lost Ruth his wife and his children their young mother in a car accident. They had been in Mali only for a very short time! We had been feeling ourselves so close to that family.
A Dispute turning into a Blessing
As we drove from Lienzingen back to Holland - after having spent a few days with our family in the European summer of 1988 - Rosemarie and I were involved once again in a subdued dispute that had been a cause of anxiety and tension in the family – namely my studies. I now possessed a Mathematics qualification for Dutch schools, but I also considered adding another year of studies to upgrade my teaching diploma so that would have more options for getting permanent employment.
         We agreed that I would only do that extra year of study if God would give us a worker who would take responsibility for the driving of the vehicle to the various Goed Nieuws Karavaan children’s clubs of Zeist. For the very same evening our Friday ‘coffee bar’ outreach was scheduled. Harmen Pos came of his own accord to tell me that God had laid on his heart to take over the driving of the vehicle that gave its name to the organisation. He became not only the chauffeur of the vehicle, but also the maintenance man. Harmen cared for the missionary truck like his baby until we sold the blessed evangelistic tool in 1991, just prior to our entry into full-time missionary work.



12. Flexing Missionary Muscles

         1988 ended full of hope. I finally got a teaching position in Huizen, a post that could become permanent after a three month probation period. After filling many temporary teaching posts in Holland, I yearned to settle down. I now had an updated secondary Maths teaching certificate and I was on the verge of getting an even higher qualification. I had no intention of continuing academic studies as such, but the idea of venturing into missions was somehow blocked out of my mind by November 1988.               After all the dark years of employment uncertainty and scores of applications, light seemed to break through at last. The prospect of having a rented home of our own soon in the picturesque little town Huizen - with a permanent teaching post in the offing - was rather attractive. It all but nullified my vision for missionary involvement.
Struggle and Turmoil…
The year 1989 started with turmoil. We had been praying regularly with our neighbours, the old brother and sister Rapparlié until they went to an old age home once a week. Thereafter our friend Martje van Dam had been coming to us every Saturday evening with another believer from the Ichthus fellowship for a time of prayer. But Martje, who had survived the death sentence of breast cancer for almost 11 years, was now terminally ill. Her cancer had recurred.
The news that breast cancer was detected with Els van Wingerden came completely out of the blue. We were very close to the van Wingerden family. Hans and Els had children around the same age as our children. As the recipients of clothing from loving benefactors for the children, we often had exchanges and on many a Sunday we would do things together as families linked to Ichthus fellowship. Like us they were suffering spiritual suffocation there and Hans was one of the regulars of the Regiogebed.  
A Day not to forget   
We treasured a family tradition to wake the birthday boy or girl early in the morning by singing the prayer of Martin Luther “Führe ihn (sie) O Herr und leite...” (Guide o Lord and lead him/her). When we performed the meaningful ritual for our eldest son Danny on the 4th of February, we had no clue of the multiple blows that would hit our family that day. First of all the news reached us that Martje van Dam passed away. But we knew that this could happen any day.
As I travelled home on the 4th of February1989 from the secondary school in Huizen in the car with a teacher colleague, I heard that my teacher predecessor intended to return to the school in the post that I had hoped to get. It was exactly the time when the decision on my probationary three months was due.   We were also not prepared for a phone call from Mühlacker, informing us that Papa Göbel died in his car after a heart attack.
Running away from my Calling?                                                                                                          
The Lord used the disappointment regarding the promising teaching position to throw us back into exploring a possible involvement in missions. I had almost forgotten that I had applied for Dutch citizenship in order to get to Africa as a missionary. The possibility of getting some financial stability had become so tempting.
Information that we received during the funeral of our father (-in-law) in Germany comforted us. For years we had prayed that he would come back to the Lord. (At a Christian camp the whole family committed their lives to Jesus, but thereafter Papa Göbel gradually got back-slidden because he had no spiritual nourishment.) It was very special when our dear Mama Göbel told us that he carried the letter in his wallet that was found in his pocket at his death. Rosemarie wrote that letter to him just before our wedding. (In it she apologised for the trauma she had caused them as parents through her friendship to me.) She also pleaded with Papa Göbel in that letter to attend our wedding. Although he did not oblige on that score, he evidently treasured the letter.
An impactful Family Camp                                                                                                            After we had read about a family camp to be held in the little town of Braunfels in the German WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christperiodical Weltweit, we decided to book in faith. We had no money for such luxuries as holidays at that stage, but we definitely needed a break. The Lord provided the finances for us as a family miraculously.
We had hardly arrived there, when the news reached us that Rosemarie’s mother had contracted a stroke, that she had been committed to hospital. This was only a few months after her father had passed on. Rosemarie left by train for Mühlacker, starting a period in our life that would require more visits to her mom. The family camp at Braunfels brought WEC  International into focus as a possible mission agency with which we could work, although we still had AIM (Africa Inland Mission) as a back burner when I expected to get my Dutch passport the next year, i.e. 1990. At our application for Dutch citizenship the accompanying letter stated that we had to reckon with a two-year waiting period.
Africa, here I come!                                                                                                                 
 October 1989 would become a very special month in our lives. From 1989 the annual Dutch national mission day of the Evangelical Alliance was held in the small town of Barneveld. We were challenged when Marry Schotte of WEC International shared there about a mission school in Vavoua (Ivory Coast) where the agency needed teachers. We soon arranged for her to come and visit us in Zeist. 
            Marry Schotte brought along a video presentation of the mission school in Côte d’Ivoire. (The big video cassettes were still something special in those days.) The attitude of our children in respect of Africa changed drastically when they saw the video. Suddenly the children caught the vision to go with us to the African continent, that they had previously regarded despisingly as primitive and backward.   
         The needs of the WEC school in Vavoua seemed geared to what I could offer, viz. teaching Mathematics via the three language media of Dutch, English and German. We were required to do the WEC candidates’ orientation course that was not yet offered in Holland. At our extended weekly family devotions on Sunday evening even the little ones now started to pray fervently for a teacher to accompany us to England.                                                                                                                       
Declining special Invitations                                                                                                           
I hardly had opportunity to digest this challenge when along came our friend Wil Heemsbergen. She relayed an invitation of the mission agency The Underground Church,[22]” that wanted me to join a touring bus trip to Romania to assist on the pastoral side to the Communist stronghold.
Very soon thereafter our friend Bart Berkheij, who had lost his wife in a car accident the previous year, phoned us with a special request. He wanted me to join him on a trip to Mali at the end of January 1990. Someone had generously offered to pay all expenses for him and a friend, to go and wind up things in Mali. They left after the funeral, leaving many personal belongings behind. He also wanted to dig a grave there in memory of his late wife.
         I declined Bart’s initial invitation to join him because I was still unemployed. It sounded very attractive to get a feeling of West Africa in the light of our own preparations to go to Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). However, I found it ethically incorrect to plan this while I was still hoping to get a teaching post. Everything looked cut and dried when I heard that someone else was due to join him on his trip to Mali.
            It was now already well into October. I had just heard that all my most recent applications for teaching posts were unsuccessful. Thus I would theoretically be free to join the group to the communist stronghold Romania. But there was still another hurdle - my possession of a South African passport. I was very uneasy about it, after my experiences every time I had to cross a border into East Berlin in the mid-1970s at a time when South Africa was the skunk of the world. I explained to Wil Heemsbergen my predicament that I feared that I would cause discomfort or problems for the rest of the group. Wil promptly relayed my reservation to Jan van de Bor, the Dutch leader The Underground Church, the organiser of the trip. Although the organisers wanted to give it a go with me on their bus - in spite of my South African passport - I was still quite uneasy.                         
When Jan van de Bor approached me a second time to assist with pastoral duties on the touring bus going to Romania, my most recent application for a teaching post had been very discouraging.  The unqualified incumbents of the Maths post at the school to which I had applied were opposing my appointment. Now I seemed to be over qualified. My hope of getting an appointment as a Maths teacher in Holland was thus all but dashed.
Dutch Citizenship confirmed!
And then it happened! I unexpectedly received a letter from the office of the Dutch Queen, informing me that I qualified for a Dutch passport. Out of the blue I heard that my application for Dutch citizenship was successful, without any test of language proficiency that I had expected as the next step – and much earlier than what everybody had anticipated. Within a few days I had my passport. I was ready to be off to Hungary and Romania! Many believers in Zeist covered us in prayer for the trip to Romania, one of the prime Communist strongholds of the time.
         The journey to the Eastern Block countries Hungary and Romania was quite exciting. We delivered the bulk of our special load at a Reformed Church in Budapest – Russian Children's Bibles and other literature that was forbidden in almost all the Soviet Block countries. We slept one night with families from the congregation ahead of the main intention of our mission – to make a small dent in the Communist stronghold where the dictator Nicolae Andruţă Ceauşescu was ruling with an iron hand. .       As we were driving there the next day,  one of the bus passengers - a Hungarian national who married a Dutchman, picked up on the news via the radio that a warning was broadcast against a bus with tourists from the West.  As we had dumped our 'dangerous' material already in Budapest, the scrutiny of Romania's Securitate at the border was nerve-wrecking but it transpired without a hitch.
         I was a rookie on a trip of this kind!  All the ‘genuine’ tourists would stay at night in the hotel while the Dutch leader of the “Underground Church” and a few regulars were involved with clandestine operations of which we were not aware.  The next day we took clothing in suitcases to certain addresses. (Romanians were not allowed to have contact with anybody from the West.) Nobody at the address where we delivered the suit case with content could speak a Western language.  And yet, we had such wonderful supernatural fellowship in the Lord with our Romanian 'siblings'.
At the border on our return the atmosphere was quite tense. The Securitate folk did not like the possession of a film camera with one of the participants. They abused that as a reason to examine our luggage very closely. They had done their homework very well. They knew who had been involved in the clandestine stuff. One of the ‘specialist’ participants did not do her homework. She did not memorize all addresses. One given to her she thought would be safe in her underwear. Another participant was taking a letter destined for some relative in the West, whose author would of course bear the brunt of Nicolae Andruţă Ceauşescu. 
The result of all this was that our return journey to the Netherlands was full of gloom. All the more there was joy all round when we could participate a few months later in intense prayer when the regime of Ceauşescu was toppled. Christians from Timisoara played a big role in the resistance. Knowing that believers in Zeist across denominational boundaries had contracted that Romanian fever not so long before that, we had a great feeling of gratitude and satisfaction.
A Trip to West Africa.
I had hardly returned from the trip to Romania, when Bart Berkheij approached me again to accompany him to West Africa. The friend, who would have gone with him to Mali, had pulled out. I still had no teaching appointment. This time I was ready to accept the invitation to join him to go to Mali on condition that he would join me to Côte d’Ivoire. In the latter country I hoped to explore the situation at the WEC mission school where I hoped to go and teach. To that end I started learning French, using audio tape cassettes.
         The itinerary could soon be finalised. He agreed that I would join him on the trip to Mali for two weeks and the third week he would accompany me on an orientation trip to the Ivory Coast.
Viva Mandela!
After completing the original target of our mission in Djonkoulane, in the desert of northern Mali, Bart and I set out for the Ivory Coast. Via BBC radio we had heard of President de Klerk’s special speech at the opening of Parliament in Cape Town and the subsequent release of Nelson Mandela from prison. After a long wait in Bamako, the capital of Mali, we heard at least that the bush taxi was ready for departure. It would only left when it was ‘full’. I was surprised when the driver regarded it necessary to fill up soon after leaving Bamako on Sunday the 11th February. We would drive through the night. The reason for the ‘double fuel fill-up became clear after a few hours.  We had run out of fuel and everyone on deck was required to push the vehicle up the hill that was luckily not too steep.                                          The driver announced assuringly that a refuelling station would be ‘just over the hill’.  But just as we got to the top I lost my shoe during the pushing exercise. The vehicle started to pick up speed, going downhill. I was thankfully still fit enough to catch up. As the other passengers lifted me in, they shouted excitedly Viva Mandela! They had heard from Bart that I came from ‘Afrique Du Sued’. Earlier that day Nelson Madela had been released! I was quite sad that I could not even witness the event via a TV set as we had been travelling through rural Africa!
Travelling rather adventurously over the next few days to the WEC mission school in Vavoua, we slept in a mosque one night            
We were scheduled to fly back from Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire on 16 February, 1990. The last day in the West African metropolis was exceptional.
Bart and I spent the morning doing some sightseeing and shopping – buying small artefacts to take along for the families at home! When I saw a few mosques, it so much resembled the old District Six, the Cape Town slum area where I had spent much of my childhood.                                                                  I had thought that South Africa was out of my mind in terms of a return there! But in a fleeting moment I was overcome by nostalgia. It was strange that my trip was supposed to be an orientation for us as missionaries to West Africa. But I was now also ambivalently longing to return to my home country once again. Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison.
         Was the way opening up for me to return to my home country after all? At that moment however, I was firmly set on returning to Côte d’Ivoire to teach in the WEC mission school in Vavoua.
A Nudge to tackle the daunting Wall of Islam                           
With the ‘iron curtain’ of Communism and the edifice of apartheid all but shattered by February 1990, supernatural intervention occurred in Abidjan to nudge me to tackle the daunting wall of Islam. A deep impression followed at our ‘visit to a mosque’, in which we landed by accident. When all the shops were closing for the lunch time and it being Friday, we had no opportunity to continue our shopping spree. We simply took a seat next to the road, waiting for the shops to reopen. Suddenly prayer mats were rolled out all around us. Bart was sitting obliquely behind me. Somehow I had the impression that he was also doing the obligatory raka’ts, the Islamic cycles of body movements accompanying the prayers. Thus I simply joined in, imitating the people in front of me. Suddenly I heard an angry stifled shout-whisper: ‘Ashley, wat doe je daar!’ (Ashley, what are you doing!) ‘and you want to become a missionary?’ What a bashing he gave me hereafter for going through the Islamic motions. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel remorse from within...
Doors opening!                                                                                                                         With Campus Crusade I had started to do some voluntary work in Holland with their devout worker Bram Krol. Also from that side we were challenged with regard to full-time work. I had learned to use the four spiritual laws and we also started seriously to contemplate buying a house in Zeist from where we would operate. (Rosemarie’s parents always wanted to assist us towards this end).
         I also got to know Cees Rentier and David Appelo through this outreach. Cees worked with us in our Goed Nieuws Karavaan outreach and later led a major ministry of loving outreach to Muslim migrants from different countries in the Netherlands, Evangelie en Moslems.  David Appelo would play a big role in helping me to prepare a manuscript for the Golden wedding anniversary of my parents on 5 January, 1991.
The Yoke of ritual Bondage                                 
As the years went on, we discerned that many Muslims were wrestling under the yoke of ritual bondage. The question became even more pressing: How will all those millions of people, ever get rid of the thick veil over their eyes? As my wife and I read 2 Corinthians 3 once again, we were reminded that Martin Luther only got into the freedom of Christ when he discovered that he needed a Saviour. This occurred when he developed a deep sense of urgency about his own sin. We also realised anew that this is something that only God can accomplish in a sovereign way. God doesn’t need us, but we can be instruments in His hands to change the world, especially through prayer.
         The three weeks in West Africa were sufficient to excite me about possibilities to share the Gospel there. The discussions at the school in Vavoua, Ivory Coast, were promising. I foresaw teaching there however merely as a prelude to get into other missionary activity in Cote I’voire after a few years. But I still had to get fluent in French (Rosemarie had not even started learning that language).
Preparation for missionary Training                                                                                                  
As a next major step in our planning and praying as a family, Rosemarie and I had to do the WEC International candidates’ training course. But before that, we needed a Dutch teacher to join us. At our extended weekly family devotions even the little ones now started to pray fervently for a teacher to accompany us - it seemed so unlikely to find someone who would be prepared to volunteer as a teacher to pay his/her own way to get to England and contribute towards the overheads at Bulstrode, the international headquarters of WEC!
         While I was in West Africa, our long-standing friend Geertje Rehorst visited Rosemarie one evening. When Geertje heard that we were praying for a teacher, she asked all sorts of questions. Because she had accepted early retirement from teaching just prior to this, we never even seriously considered Geertje as a possible candidate.
         When her son Peter visited us with his wife Annelies soon after my return from West Africa, we told them of our predicament, our need of a teacher to accompany us to England. Peter promptly responded with ‘Have you thought of my mother?’ At the school for the blind Geertje had been teaching children of different age groups. When we invited her over one evening to put the question to her, Geertje confirmed that she knew all along that the Lord wanted her to go with us. She was only waiting on us to approach her.
Come over and help us! 
On my return from West Africa there were quite a few letters awaiting me, two of which were challenges to new areas of ministry. Most of all I was surprised that Rosemarie appeared quite tense about my response to a letter from South Africa. Out of the blue there was a hand-written letter from Pietie Orange, a friend from my Tiervlei/Ravensmead days. There was not much in Pietie’s letter in terms of contents, but very clearly there was the clarion call: COME OVER AND HELP US. The release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC created a new expectation in South Africa.
         I was however quite perplexed and somewhat confused. The experiences in West Africa especially were still fresh in my mind. For years the doors to mission services seemed to remain closed and now there appeared to be many doors opening. Which was the right one?
Which Door to enter?
I was surprised to sense Rosemarie’s excitement about the possibility to go to South Africa. She knew of my fervent desire to return to my home country. In the early years of our marriage it caused a lot of strain when she sensed that I perceived it as a sacrifice to live in Europe. Through my ‘Joseph experience’ during my personal quiet time the Lord had by now thoroughly dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. (I had discerned that Joseph never returned to Israel during his lifetime.) However, the African continent was still my silent preference.
         We decided to move further along the road towards the teaching post at the WEC school for missionary kids in Ivory Coast, unless the Lord would close that ‘door’. And just this happened so clearly. Jean Barnicoat, the directress of the WEC mission school of Vavoua, pointed out lovingly in a letter that the age and number of our children militated against our coming to serve there.
         I was nevertheless quite shattered when this reply came. I had started to look forward so much to go and serve in Cȏte I’voire.
Journey into the Unknown    
In his faithfulness the Lord intervened once again. Out of the blue we received a phone call from Dick van Stelten, our missionary friend in the village Josini in South Africa, near to the Mozambican border. He invited us, challenging us to come and take over their work.
         Through a process of elimination we had been guided to WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ). Jacob and Emmy Spronk, the Dutch WEC leaders, were very supportive. They suggested that we should go and explore the work in Northern Natal, to see if the Lord would confirm it. Perhaps it could become a new venture of the mission agency. My mother was about to turn 80 at the end of that year and the golden wedding anniversary of my parents was due shortly thereafter. Another visit to South Africa looked so enticing but how could that be realised in these daunting circumstances?
         After all the trips to other countries in the preceding months, we hardly had liberty to share our vision with other Christians that we wished to visit South Africa on orientation. How could one ‘sell’ that to others, especially from a financial point of view? In official terms I was still unemployed. But gradually every hurdle was surmounted. We decided ultimately to take the eldest and youngest of our children along on the journey into the unknown. Wonderfully the Lord provided the finances to pay for all the tickets and some ‘pocket money’ for a very special orientation trip.
         We were severely tested as we prayed about going to work in Northern Natal. In a programme on Dutch TV the reporter opined that conditions regarding violence in Natal were worse than those in Lebanon and Northern Ireland put together. Was this the sort of environment into which we wanted to take our children? It was scary, but we also wanted to be obedient to any calling of our Lord.
A Sense of Home-coming                                                                                                                  
Obediently we planned to start our visit to South Africa in Pretoria, visiting the Lugthards, a Dutch missionary couple linked to the Dorothea Mission. From there we trusted that we would get to the Van Steltens in Josini somehow.
         In a wonderful way transport was supplied for us to get to Durban via Josini and Kwasiza Bantu. In Josini it was clearly confirmed that the Lord did not call us to serve in a school for Zulu children in Ubombo. When I mentioned in passing to the Van Steltens that I intended to publish our story. Ann felt implored to warn me. Attempting to procure funds in that way would be a slippery road. I buried that warning in my heart. I possibly went overboard by writing many unpublished material thereafter. I was wary of incurring costs of having books printed that would not be read.
         When we joined the national conference of WEC International in Durban, we experienced a sense of home-coming. Although we did not know anybody present there and in spite of a hick-up or two, we felt that we belonged. Durban was the ideal preparation for our candidates’ orientation at Bulstrode in England, which would follow soon after our return from South Africa. It was agreed that we could return to Cape Town at the beginning of 1992 with a role in representative work and possibly for evangelistic work among students.)
The WEC International Stint almost still-born
Although we felt so much at home in Durban among the missionaries there, two clashes with older missionaries almost wrecked our intention to join WEC International. The one especially led to deep introspection. We arrived there just prior to 16 December, a public holiday that ignited deep divisive emotions among the various communities. It was called the Day of the Vow at that time.
         I wrote a letter which I intended to send to President de Klerk, Dr Gatsha Buthelezi and Mr Nelson Mandela, the big three political leaders of the day. I suggested that they should get together as a sign of reconciliation and that the public holiday be renamed to Day of Reconciliation.
         When I showed the draft letter to the acting leader of the mission agency, he lashed out at me viciously.  He wanted me to understand that WEC was a-political, pointing to a right-wing activist whom they had to expel because of his political inclinations. WEC could not accept a left-wing activist as I had obviously been branded.
         The views of the acting leader led to some deep soul searching. I had displayed a very clear activist position against apartheid, but I also thought that my sentiments were Bible-based. Was this the mission we could join? Soon hereafter we were scheduled to go to Bulstrode near to London, to the international headquarters for our candidates’ orientation course. Thus a cloud was now hanging over our joining the agency.
            It was great to be present for the 80th birthday of our mom and the Golden Wedding Anniversary of our parents. We hereafter linked up with old friends like Juttie and Florrie Bredekamp. They not only assisted us with contacts which helped us to consider the future schooling of our children, but they also put a car at our disposal that we could use during our week or so at the Cape before our return to Europe. The link to a couple that had a child at the German School looked promising because our children could speak neither English nor Afrikaans. We knew now that this would be the best option at least for the two oldest boys.
The Lord at Work in different Ways 
The WEC leaders in Holland suggested that we should have ‘contact persons’ before we would set out to our mission field, South Africa. We thought of Harmen and Fenny Pos, our faithful ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ co-workers. We could not have asked for more devout persons. The way they rallied around us subsequently became the example for other missionary support groups in our own fellowship and even for many other groups in the Netherlands.
         The procedure to become WEC missionaries was already underway when we suddenly became very uncertain. We asked ourselves what would happen if WEC turned us down or if we decide not to join that mission agency after all? Then we would have been without any accommodation. We knew how difficult it was to get a house even for a couple or a small family. 'Would such a step be responsible with our five kids?' We decided to put out a ‘fleece’ to test the waters. If the Lord would give us people who would be willing to come and stay in our home and pay the rent for the six months of our missionary orientation, we would know for sure that God was confirming our call.
         We actually found a couple that had no children and both of whom were employed. They were youth workers of a local church. That sounded wonderful to us, looking like God’s perfect provision. However, it panned out quite differently.
         The Lord used the time in Bulstrode, the international WEC Headquarters near London, to bring our friend Geertje Rehorst back into missionary endeavour. When we worked in Zeist among Moroccan and Turkish children, the Lord had started to prepare us for a future ministry among the Muslims of Cape Town.[23] And then there was of course the visit to Mali and the Ivory Coast that had struck a chord in my heart to reach out to those who were suffering under Islamic bondage, with the bulk of them this was of course not consciously the case.
Come January 1991 we were already in Bulstrode for the missionary candidates’ orientation course. The Lord used this time to continue moulding us for our future ministry in Cape Town. There we were clearly confronted with the concept of spiritual warfare more intensely than ever before. Never before had we heard about terms like prayer walks, strategic and targeted prayer although I had practised it before. (We did this for example in Zeist, together with other believers without giving it a fancy name.)
We have helped to change the World
We had hardly arrived in Bulstrode when news shocked the whole community. Jill Johnstone, the wife of Patrick who had written the best seller book Operation World, was diagnosed with cancer in a terminal stage. The seminal book with updated information of every country in the world had arguably influenced spiritual matters worldwide second to only the Bible. Jill had just concluded We can change the World, a children’s version of the book.
             Our children were now the guinea pigs in the Bulstrode children’s club where they prayed for one country after the other, starting alphabetically with Albania.  
1.                    Before leaving for Bulstrode I had been able to arrange for Gesina Blaauw to come and speak at a Regiogebed meeting. The physically small dynamic believer would play a big role in Albania where she had pioneered initially behind the scenes as coordinator of the Albanian Encouragement Project. (As Gesina Blaauw Secka she has been internal director of both God Loves Albania Ministries(GLAM) and Ground Breaking Services (GBS) for decades.

Field Study                                                                                                                                      
As part of our missionary training at Bulstrode we had to write an assignment called a ‘field study’ about the country where we intended to go to. We decided that Rosemarie could study the politics, economy and related issues, while I would be looking at the history of and issues pertaining to the South African Indians. This led me into studying Hinduism and Islam, the two major religions of Indians. My experience in West Africa influenced me in yet another way. I now also thought of the ‘Black’ South Africans as potential missionaries to the Muslim countries of the continent. I furthermore discerned how I was impacted while in exile, hoping that we could one day also inspire foreigners in South Africa in a similar way - to go and be a blessing in their home countries. In the months hereafter I started jotting down my thoughts about these matters, which ultimately led me writing a manuscript that I called A Goldmine of Missionary Recruitment (I changed the title later to A Goldmine of another Sort. The treatise is accessible at www. isaacandishmael.blogspot.com). During my field study I discovered that Bo-Kaap, the residential area below Signal Hill, had become even more of an Islamic stronghold because of apartheid. A seed was sown into my heart.                                                        
                  The schooling of our children at Bulstrode belonged to the highlights of their educational career. Tante Geertje would often take them into the spacious grounds of the castle-like area and a special relationship developed to Joyce Scott and her husband Chris.
Accepting Injustice joyfully
Financially we experienced the sublime provision at this time again and again. We paid our rent in Holland and simultaneously also contributed towards the overheads and lodging at Bulstrode while the folk who lived in our home did not do the same. International phone calls were not cheap in those days, but they were of no avail.
To aggravate matters we received a letter from The Hague, claiming that we had received too much state rental subsidy in 1989. Because I started teaching in Huizen from November - but was only paid for November and December in January 1989 - a big difference arose between the annual income for 1989. This brought the authorities to the conclusion that we had received an incorrect rental subsidy in 1989.
Because we had the papers to prove the above were in Zeist and we were in Holland, I was in a quandary. At this point I had just been reading Hebrews 10:34 (…and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property…).  I can’t recall whether I was reminded at that point of the unjust expropriation of our property in Tiervlei in 1969, but I just decided to accept this relative injustice. I did not do it joyfully, but I nevertheless decided not to fight it. I had just received a similar amount from the tax office using that for the required repayment of the rental subsidy.
Missionary Orientation in Emmeloord         
When we returned to Holland from England, we went for two months to the town Emmeloord, to the Dutch HQ of WEC. In our correspondence with WEC South Africa we mentioned that we would like to have our hands free to spread the Gospel among the Cape Muslims. However, the South African WEC leadership had earmarked me for representation in the Western Cape. The stated strategy of WEC in SA was to focus on recruitment, and not to start new ministries. We on the other hand were not inclined to be predominantly involved in administration and representation. We did not see that as our gifting.
         We needed clarity before leaving for South Africa in January 1991 whether we would have freedom to evangelise there. We continued however with the negotiations for relocating to South Africa. Thankfully, the differences could be resolved and a few months later we were accepted as WEC missionaries. It was agreed that we would help our colleague Shirley Charlton in Cape Town with representation in the first year and thereafter we would see how the Lord would lead us.
         We celebrated Rosemarie’s 40th birthday in Emmeloord. My personal gift to her was the manuscript ‘Op adelaars vleugelen ’ (On Eagle’s Wings), alluding to the text Henning Schlimm used at the occasion of our wedding in Königsfeld.
Hurdles and Afflictions          
We had decided that a container would be the most economical way to get our belongings to Cape Town, even though the bulk of our furniture was quite old and tattered already and some appliances had been bought second-hand in Holland. The Lord sovereignly helped us in these major steps of faith.
         The issue that we had considered as a ‘fleece’ became quite an affliction and challenge when the couple that stayed in our home in Zeist for six months did not pay the rent. After we had approached their pastor, thus going the biblical route of Matthew 18, the couple finally paid the rent in a lump sum. We thus experienced once again how God carried us through. Not even once did we have to delay the payment of our rent and we always had sufficient funds to contribute towards our stay in Bulstrode and Emmeloord.
         With the belated lump sum payment of the rent we now suddenly also had sufficient finances - not only for the airfares to South Africa for the seven of us, but also for the shipping and rental of a container with our possessions!    
        
                       



[1) Translation: Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world …
[2) In the educational field quite a few of my student colleagues became school inspectors and others become rofessors in their respective fields of studies. One of them, Jakes Gerwel, became the rector of the university and still later President Mandela’s choice to be his top advisor.
[3) The German equivalent of A-level school leaving exams.
[4) Later the programme was changed to a practical year with theEvangelische Jungmännerwerk in Stuttgart.
[5) The latter subject I did by correspondence with the University of South Africa in Pretoria.
[6)  In recent years the building complex was renovated and changed to house the City’s Library.
[7) 
[11)The other two manuscripts, Sonder my kan julle niks doen nie and As God die Huis nie bou nie did not get much further than the collating and commenting stage of documents.
[] I loved to use the Latin word for root – radix – as my motivation to be radical. Certain trees with bad fruit had to be uprooted, I would explain.
[13] Rommel was never brought before a court of law for his role in the bus and student boycotts, but they feared a new arrest. Detention without trial was a practice used by the regime randomly. Therefore they jumped at the opportunity to get out of the In the church council there were in fact more females than brothers.
[8) The title alludes to one of the biblical Beatitudes, Matthew 5:6.Geregtigheid in Afrikaans has the double meaning of righteousness and justice.
[9) In 2001, the MRA movement changed its name yet again, to Initiatives of Change [IofC).
[10) A fuller report of our 1978 visit to South Africa can be found in Home or Hearth/ Involuntary Exile.
country for a few months when it arose.
[14] In the mid-1980s a motor car tyre was put around the neck of any person suspected of conniving with the government, petrol would be poured over such a person and set alight. It was a sort of people’s court where the suspect had little or no opportunity to defend himself.
[15] St Francis of Assisi is said to have inaugurated this tradition.
[16] ‘Blacks’ were only allowed to be in the ‘White’ cities and towns under restricted conditions if allowed at all 
[17] The actions in Crossroads, KTC and Nyanga played a significant role as part of the run-up to the repeal of influx legislation.  In 1985 the Pass Law was scrapped.
[18] Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa. Proceedings and Decisions of General Assembly 1981, p.180ff.
[19]Papa Göbel had a spinal defect himself.
[20] Annelies, Surinam-background believer was the sister of Lesley Reiziger. Lesley and his wife Wil, a medical doctor, left for Ghana as missionaries on behalf of Wycliffe Bible Translators with their son Samuel.
[21] Soon hereafter we bought a second hand TV for 50 guilders that we left in Holland when we came to South Africa in 1992.
[22] Richard Wurmbrand called his organization to support Christians in communist countries The Underground Church
[23]We invited Herman Takken, who was doing this work in Holland full-time - to come and give us, the volunteers of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan’, some teaching on Islam. I was however not remotely thinking of using it one day in the city where I was born and bred.


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