Monday, October 5, 2009

(In)voluntary Exile

Updated 5 October

` (In)voluntary Exile
-My personal Struggle with the beloved Country


1. Run up to a sad Farewell
2. A Battle against Structures of Financial Inequality
3. Beaten into Submission
4. Exiled from the Church
5. Home or Hearth?
6. A fatal Blow to Communism?
7. Deeper Involvement in Spiritual Warfare
8. The End of the Exile beckons
9. Home sweet Home?
10. An Exile for Life?

The core of the material presented here was a gift to my parents on their Golden Wedding Anniversary in January 1991 in the form of a bound manuscript. It contained reports of our visits to South Africa as an exile because of apartheid legislation. The original title was Home or Hearth.
At that time the beloved country seemed to be heading threatingly to become a hearth of unrest, a cauldron from which one should rather run away? I was determined to work towards my return with my family by 1980, to get the law repealed which caused my exile. The student uprising of Soweto 1976 ignited an urgency in me to toil prayerfully and perseveringly to bring about peaceful change in South Africa.
David Appelo, a Dutch friend, assisted me with the computer work. He subsequently edited the manuscript, calling it Involuntary Exile, but changing the essence of it my too much to my liking. I also lost contact with him. (In the original version I narrated our experiences during trips to apartheid-permeated South Africa from 1975 to 1991 with my wife and children - with an emphasis on testimony to the honour of God.) The title change suggested by David Appelo however captured the essence of the material accurately, viz. the battle and inner turmoil I had been experiencing as an exile.
After falling head over heels in love with Rosemarie Göbel during a study stint in Germany in 1970, I was torn between the love for her and the love for my country which was heading threateningly towards a bloody race war. When she was refused a visa for entry into South Africa more than once, I seemed to have no real option left. Very reticently, with real mixed feelings, I started planning to leave the country in November 1973, with the intention to marry Rosemarie. After our marriage, ordination to the ministry and co-pastoring a congregation in West Berlin from 1975, we were called to Holland.

Blessed and impacted in Holland, it has been my desire ever since to do the same to other people who landed in another country against their will. I hereafter wanted South Africa to be a country where other nationals would feel welcome and loved. In 2003 my wife and I were challenged to minister specially to foreigners who would come to Cape Town. This led to the run up to and the formation of the net-working agency Friends from Abroad that was officially launched in February 2007.
With regard to racial terminology, any book on South Africa must of necessity make a choice. Noting that no 'Black' person is really black, and that 'Whites' only approach that colour when they are very pale, sick indeed, I choose to refer to these groups in inverted commas, as I do with 'Coloured' and South African 'Indians', whose ancestors have been in this country for one and a half centuries. Occasionally I group the latter two races with the 'Blacks', as we used to do in the 1970s and 1980s.

I dedicate the booklet to my parents (posthumously), my wife and our children.

Cape Town, October 2009

I returned to Germany in November 1973 as an exile to all intents and purposes. Annually theological students and young ministers of the Moravian Church congregated at the Southern German village of Obereggenen near the Swiss border. One of the student colleagues was quite perplexed that I seriously contemplated going back to South Africa. “Willst Du zurück gehen zu diesem Krisenherd ? (Do you want to return to that revolutionary hearth?) After hearing some of the experiences that I had been telling them about, the student was very surprised at my voluntary decision to want to go back to the country that almost everybody perceived as the next major hearth, ready to go up in flames of racial warfare. The student's question was the original reason to call one of my first unpublished manuscripts Home or Hearth. I was crazy in the view of so many people I encountered. To envision returning to the revolutionary cauldron by 1980 with Rosemarie and children must have sounded preposterous! But I had become a committed activist, ready to fight my way back to my Heimat, my Fatherland, with God's help.
Chapter 1 Run up to a sad Farewell

The early 1960s
Ecumenical movement
There existed a lot of movement ecumenically in the circles in which I moved. Thus we brought preachers from all sorts of denomi­na­tions to the pulpit of our small church in Linden Street, Tiervlei.
Our sister Magdalene invited Chris Wessels, a young minister at that time shortly after he returned from a stint in Europe. Chris utilised the occasion to challenge me to take up theological studies. But I was
quite adamant. I expected the Lord to call me personally if I were to serve Him as a pastor. Thereafter the conviction grew even stronger within me that I should really experience a divine calling from the Lord, before indulging into such studies. I would definitely not simply follow a family tradition. (Next to my three uncles who were pastors’ from our mother’s side, a cousin and another uncle were hulpleraars, assistant pastors at this time. Uncle Sais, Daddy’s youngest brother, was also enjoying theological training in Fairview, Port Elisabeth.)
As I went into my second year of teacher training - in those days that was the final year - I did not feel comfort­able and capable at all to go and teach straight away the following year. Still looking like a school kid myself, I genuinely feared that the pupils would run over me because of my youthful appearance.
(My ID card, which one received in those days at the age of sixteen. In red the race was typed, in my case Kaapse Kleurling, Cape Coloured)

An ecclesiastical Misfit In our denomination I soon however did not fit the mould any more. Along with two young Sunday School colleagues, Paul Engel and Paul Joemat,1 I would often launch out in an arrogant way to ‘get the Moravian Church back on track’ with regard to biblical conversion. To get ‘converted’ to faith in Jesus was regarded to be unfitting by the rank and file Moravian Church members at the Cape, also on the mission stations. Sadly, our denomination had thus drifted very far from its blessed evangelistic and missionary beginnings. 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 and then he became travelling secretary of the Christian Students Association. In that capacity he was to impact quite a few ‘Coloured’ young people around the country.
At our local youth services, I went a step further than my sister, inviting not only experienced (lay) preachers from other churches, but also other teenagers to come and preach. Attie Louw, who was with me in Matric, had contacts via the Christian Students Association (CSV). He recommended Allan Boesak from Somerset West, who was matriculating simultaneously with us, to come and preach at one of our youth services.
The challenge to Mission work
Ds. Piet Bester, who came to Tiervlei (later called Ravensmead) in 1962 , was divinely used to get me not only interested in sharing the Gospel with others, but also in missions. 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.
The run-up to my involvement with the Wayside Mission was actually quite interesting. In the Sunday school of our church, I had led 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 home. The staunch Moravian parents ‑ who had only been sending their children to Sunday school, without hardly ever attending church services themselves ‑ promptly complained to the church leadership about the ‘sectarian’ way in which I was conducting the Sunday School classes.
Reverend Rudie Balie, our minister and our Mom’s cousin, came to Tiervlei once a month. At the next opportunity I was called to book on the Sunday after the morning service. I was however not prepared to budge, deciding to rather stop my involvement in the Sunday school at the church. This typified my defiant, rebellious and arrogant spirit. Soon hereafter I joined the above‑mentioned Wayside Mission.

Ready to be ex-communicated
Allan Boesak came to preach in our fellowship soon after he started with his theologi­cal studies. Allan had to come from Somerset West, 30 kilometres away. I used to cycle everywhere I went. But this was a little bit further than my radius. Allan slept with us on the Saturday evening. This afforded me with a good opportunity for theological discussion. I eagerly grabbed the opportunity to sound Allan out about the christening of infants. (On the issue of believer’s baptism a Pentecostal friend had influenced me.) Allan couldn’t really convince me, but I was satisfied that he was honest enough about it, that he believed that infant christening is the sign of the new covenant, a substitute for circumcision. According to him the latter is the visible sign of the old covenant of God with Israel. Neither could the arguments used by Ds. Piet Bester of the local Moria Sendingkerk, who was such a big influence in my life at that time. If my Pentecostal friend had come on a Saturday afternoon to take me to a baptismal service in a lake as he had promised, I would have gone with him: I was ready to be immersed and thereafter to be ex-communicated from the Moravian Church because of believers’ baptism. That is what happened to people in those days who dared to get ‘re-baptised’.

A life-changing experience
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 a seed into my heart. This seed germinated when my Moravian soul mate Paul Engel joined me at Hewat Training College in 1964. He also spoke about the Harmony Park beach outreach. It was not difficult at all to convince me when he invited me to join the Harmony Park ‘stranddienste’ on Boxing Day (26 December). The Chris­tmas of 1964 however saw me spiritually in tatters. I was about to leave for the evangelistic beaches services, but I was feeling myself spiritually completely barren. In desperation I called to the Lord to meet me anew. I had nothing to give to anybody unless God would fill me with His Spirit. And that He did. The Harmony Park beach evangelization effort changed my life completely.
For others it might not have been so significant, but the unity of Christians from different denominational backgrounds left an indelible mark on my life. I saw the Holy Spirit at work, as I had not experienced until that time. Networking with other Christians was to become of prime importance to me. At Harmony Park my friendship with Esau Jacobs, whom everyone called Jakes, was forged. He was a young pastor who came to join us straight from far-away Umtata in the Transkei in the Eastern Cape. Along with David Savage from the City Mission, I started learning the power of prayer there at Harmony Park.2
Hereafter I also started attending the early prayer meeting at the local Sendingkerk every Sunday morning at six o’clock. I was now seriously considering God’s call to full time service. Almost as a matter of routine I put it before the Lord on these occasions that I was fully prepared to proceed to theological studies. But I had to be absolute­ly sure that it was His calling. Because Jakes had become my hero, I seriously started considering taking up studies at the Theological School of the Sendingklerk, rather than at the Moravian­ Seminary.
A significant Moravian Funeral
Another teenage hero of mine was Reverend Ivan Wessels, who contracted leukaemia at the beginning of 1968. He passed on after a few weeks in Groote Schuur Hospital, not very long after Professor Chris Barnard had just performed his first heart transplants at that hospital. Instead of the usual Sunday School Conference in Pella that had been scheduled for the weekend following his death, almost the whole Western Cape Moravian Church community gathered in Lansdowne for the funeral of one of its most promising sons. Although very principled and out­spoken against any form of racism, it was characteristic that the wise late Rev. Daniel Ivan Wessels was never jailed or banned - in contrast to so many other members of the Wessels clan. When Bishop Schaberg challenged the congregation: ‘Who is going to fill the gap caused by our deceased brother’, I discerned God’s voice in my heart, calling me to theological studies. Back home in Tiervlei after the funeral, it was not difficult at all to go to my knees and say ‘Yes, Lord, I’m prepared to be used by you to fill the gap.’
The next day we went to the Pella Mission Station for our condensed Sunday School conference. I was completely surprised when Reverend August Habelgaarn, a member of the church board, approached me with the question whether I would be interested in a bursary for two years of theological studies at the Johanneum in Wupperthal (Germany).3 I could just reply that I saw this as clear confirmation of the call of the Lord the previous day. Another few months down the road preparations were well advanced towards my leaving for Germany at the beginning of 1969.

June 1969
When I left the Cape shores the first time on board of the Pendennis Castle in January 1969 as a 23-year old, my parents thought they would never see me again. The possibility of a marriage over there would rule out a return. That would more or less exile me. I was determined not to get married there, to return to serve my people.

An African mission­ary in Germany?
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 once 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.
Reverend Rolf Scheffbuch, our ‘boss’ from Jungmännerwerk, was open to the suggestion that I could study Theology in Germany (with a bursary from the Landeskirche). I was of course elated, thrilled at the possibility of doing a full theological course at the renowned Tübingen University. The possibility of the deportation of our German lecturers at the church’s seminary was nowhere fictitious. In the case of this eventuality, I argued that it would have been good if we had properly trained lecturers from our own ranks at our denominational theological seminary. I wanted to be available for this eventuality. As a so-called ‘Cape Coloured’, one did not normally have the chance to study Greek and Hebrew, the biblical languages - unless one went to the distant Fort Hare University by special permission of the apartheid government that was known not to be in favour of inter-racial mixing.

My church leaders back home were however not so enchanted with the idea. They feared that I could become estranged from the country after five or six years out of the country.
When the Germans offered to sponsor me for a shorter study of three years at the Moravian theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA) where Reverend Scheffbuch had also studied, this looked a good compro­mise. My church authorities in Cape Town regarded this as still too long! It was clear to me that they probably feared – later these reservations turned to be spot on – that I would then become lost for the church, next to the embarrassing situation for them as the responsible people. In the end it was agreed that I could remain in Germany for another year, to study the biblical languages.

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 just as determined to return to serve the Lord in my home country. The almost two years in Germany, during which I learnt 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.4
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 inappropriate to prescribe to the Lord – including the race to which my future wife should belong.
Stay clear of politics!
Before I left, Bishop Schaberg warned me to stay clear of politics, because secret agents of the apartheid government were well represented overseas. I heeded Bishop Schaberg’s warning initially, without however really making a conscious effort.
The Lord had blessed me with insights that turned out to be quite profound and prophetic. In my three-point standard talk in Germany, I spoke about die einzigartige Probleme Südafrikas, the unique problems of South Africa. I defined them as the apartheid government policy, the disunity of the churches and alcohol­ism. As a solution to these problems, I suggested much prayer because I believed in the power of prayer. This was the result of the excellent mentoring I had received from Dominee Bester, the Dutch Reformed minister of the Sendingkerk Moria congregation in Tiervlei.5
Before I left South Africa our residential quarter was declared a slum area. We had also heard a rumour that our property – the three bed-roomed residence plus vacant ground on which many more houses could be built – was offered to a businessman in the neigbouring suburb Bellville South. Considering that our solid brick house nowhere resembled one of the many shacks that we thought would qualify for slum clearance, we initially took the rumour to be unfounded.

I became almost reckless !
But then I received a letter from my parents with shocking information. The family had been served with a notice of the expropriation of our property in Tiervlei by the Parow Municipality under the guise of slum clearance. What really enraged me there in Europe was that my mother mentioned in her letter something about ‘the will of the Lord.’ I could only perceive the Parow Municipality move as a local 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 to join 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. 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. I resembled the biblical Jonah; intense resentment towards the apartheid rulers took hold of me. I thought that I had every reason to feel that way.
As a speaker from Africa, I had become a sort of celebrity in certain quarters, especially on the South German countryside. From abroad I also wrote quite a strong letter of protest to the Parow Municipality, with copies to some people in Tiervlei.
Having read one book of Martin Luther King after the other in Stuttgart in 1969 – all of them more or less illegal or prohibited literature in South Africa – I was ready for radical activism. The only constraint I practised in respect of the content of my speeches on South Africa was a moral and religious one. I wanted to act responsibly before God in everything I do. For the rest, I couldn’t care less if the government wanted to confiscate 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, the capital of our country at that time.
My protest letter to the municipality was of no avail. In fact, it did not have any effect one way or the other. Our family was more or less evicted, because the money my parents received nowhere resembled the value of the property. A few months later there arose a shopping centre including a post office and a cinema on the site.
A few months later, while I was still in Germany, our parents moved to the Elim Mission station, where they originally hailed from. Daddy became a ‘migrant labourer’, going home one week-end per month. Health-wise the saga however became too much for him. It affected his heart. At the age of 58, he had to go on early retirement.
October 1970

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 could not keep it to myself, blurting it out and telling my two Stuttgart room mates immediately about ‘Rosemarie Göbel aus Mühlacker’, even though I still hardly knew her.

The most important moment for me during the initial time of our courtship 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. How he had warned her 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.

I returned to Cape Town in October 1970, lodging with my sister Magdalene and her family in Sherwood Park. Almost immediately I was able to get a teaching post for a school term at Alexander Sinton High School in Athlone, where I received post from my bonny over the ocean. (Typical of the discriminatory practices of that epoch, no post was delivered there. The family had to collect their post at the nearby Manenberg post office.) 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 Rosemarie's letters in the Manenberg bus in the afternoon and in all sorts of places. I would share our special love story to whoever wanted to listen, also with the learners at school.
At one of the first occasions in Elim I blurted out my love to Rosemarie, my cousin John Ulster, who was the minister of the Elim Mission station at the time, pointed out to me that I had to choose between South Africa or Rosemarie. That was logical nowhere revolutionary for our situation. But I wanted both. This must have looked really silly at that time, because a marriage to a ('White') German was just not a runner. I was too much in love to accept that. I was determined to marry Rosemarie and I had also resolved to fight for it to get her into South Africa. To everybody that idea sounded crazy.

In a quandry in Germany
I had caused problems in Germany as well because I had been quite outspoken about my desire to return to South Africa to serve my people. In a newsletter to friends in Germany, written in Elim and dated 22 December 1970, I wrote:
I hear already your question: You always asserted that you see your duty in South Africa and now you have fallen in love with a German? ...
I defended myself in the same newsletter: It is not so much that I fell in love but that GOD granted us this exceptional love. I furthermore pointed out in this letter that if I had my own way, I would have returned to South Africa much earlier and then we would not have met each other again two weeks before my return in October 1970, after we had initially lost contact with each other.6
Many acquaintances on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea were rather sceptical about our friendship, waiting for the novelty of our new-found love to wear off as time would go by. On my part there was no resolve to prove anything. For me this was just it, full stop! Never before had I loved someone so passionately. But I was not interested in becoming an exile voluntarily. My stint of just under two years in Germany had made me love my country even more than before.
I was soon swept along by the politics of the day. I had already devoured the autobiographical and devotional books of Dr Martin Luther King as well as Albert Luthuli's autobiography during my stay in Germany. This sort of literature was either unavailable or banned in South Africa. My interest was more than only aroused. Now I was ablaze in opposition to apartheid, regarding this now as my Christian duty. One of the first things after my return was to join the Christian Institute (CI), about the only organisation where Christians from different races met regularly for Bible Study. That was however fairly widely regarded as dangerous and subversive.
Here I linked up with Paul, my old rebel mate of the Moravian Church. He also had the vision that Christians should be actively engaged in opposing the unchristian apartheid policies.
We were however quite disappointed when we discovered that the ‘White’ members were not prepared to flout the immoral apartheid laws. I was clearly influienced by the activism of Dr Martin Luther King.7 I had suggested that we should board a train together. Thereafter we would walk through the different racially segregated train couches. All of us would then of course be liable for arrest. 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.

Rosemarie’s home situation
There was 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. In fact, initially only her mother knew about our friendship. Rosemarie had to promise to keep the information 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 Dieter, getting ready for their immanent wedding.

As a child the siblings witnessed her parents very often in mutual conflict. Her father, Franz Göbel, 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 a region called Sudetenland, a part of Germany that 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,8 but she was not allowed to proceed further training to become a school teacher because her parents did not belong to Hitler’s Nazi party. She was evangelisch, i.e. she was a member of the Lutheran State Church. Whereas 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 religions, they Rosemarie'sparents ventured to marry but the differences would flare up again and again. Her big nightmare as a child was that her parents might get divorced.

A paradigm shift
The original idea was that I would attend the Moravian Seminary as a full time student from the beginning of the next year. I started at the Seminary in January 1971, initially however extra-murally. (The institution had just moved to Cape Town because its location in Fairview, Port Elizabeth, had been in a 'White' residential area. District Six had already been declared ‘White’ as well, so everybody knew that the location of the seminary at Moravian Hill in District Six was temporary.)
Because I had started with the theological languages in Germany, the Moravian Seminary would have allowed me to join Kallie August, Errol Moos and Matie October,9 the other full-time students. I was adamant not to have special favours. My former Afrikaans teacher, Mr Adam Pick, who was now the principal of Elswood High School, approached me to come and teach Mathematics at his school. I accepted the full-time teaching post in Elsies River and studied part-time at the theological institution that had just moved to District Six. There I linked up once again with my old stalwart rebel fighter of the Sunday school conference days, Paul Joemat.10
My seminary days at the Moravian Theological Seminary accounted for a further paradigm shift. At that time I decided to get even more serious about my opposition against apartheid. (My risky letter to Dr Verwoerd as a fourteen year old teenager, protesting against the oppression can definitely not be counted as such opposition. The possibility of being sent to Robben Island - as my father highlighted when he found the draft letter in my school blazer that was about to be sent for dry cleaning – drove me scared stiff. My only real opposition to the apartheid regime up to that time – if it could be called such - was the regular disregard of petty apartheid laws, like going through the ‘Whites only’ subway at the Crawford railway station in the afternoons along with my Hewat teacher training student colleagues in 1963 and 1964 (We were always careful though that there were no policemen around who could arrest us!).

Efforts to ‘assist God’
A major problem had arisen in Germany after some months. Rosemarie’s father still had no clue what was going on. At the school for the blind she received my letters. Only over week-ends she would return home.
The secrecy of our friendship took its toll on Mrs Göbel after a few months, so that she landed in hospital with gall trouble. At that stage Rosemarie could not take it any more. The tension in the family had become unbearable. She splashed it out to her father, causing excessive pain to him. Subsequently she wrote to me about the quarrel they had about our friendship.
I then wrote an apology to Mr Göbel. In the letter I also formally asked to correspond with his daugh­ter. He replied equally formally, giving me reasons why I should sever my relationship to Rosemarie. I should have left it at that. Instead, I replied, requesting him to allow me to continue the correspondence with Rosemarie only at festive occasions.
Ethically this was deplorable. I twisted Mr Göbel’s arm, because in the same letter I insolently sug­gested that if I would not get a reply from him, I would take it that he agreed to my proposal. I still had to learn that one could aggravate a problematic situation by forcing an issue. Mr Göbel was too angry to reply, instructing Rosemarie to write me one final letter!
At this time the family was also very busy preparing for the pending wedding of Waltraud, their eldest daughter and only other child. When no reply came from Mr Göbel, I uttered a totally premature sigh of relief because I thought now that we could proceed with our correspondence. I went ahead with the writing of a thick epistle. Via my Easter letter Rosemarie would have enough material to read and to re-read until Pentecost!!
Easter 1971 would have been the first occasion of our mutual exchange of letters. What I did not know was that her father had instructed her to write to me only one last letter. But her letter didn’t arrive at the expected time. After some delay, the letter arrived that should have alarmed me exten­sively.
* *
On this side of the ocean there was of course the ominous ‘Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act’ that tried to prevent any marital bond between a White and someone from another race. All sorts of efforts on my part to get Rosemarie reclassified as a ‘Coloured’ ‑ to enable her to come to South Africa ‑ only created more problems. Instead of waiting on God’s intervention to enable our marriage, I decided to ‘assist Him’. After reading in a local newspaper of someone who had been racially reclassified - something like that could of course only transpire in the apartheid era - this looked to be my big chance. I would not accept the ‘realistic’ options of either Rosemarie or South Africa.
I wrote to the Prime Minister, enquiring about the pro­cedure to have someone reclassified. I was also insensitive to the objections from Wolfgang Schäfer, one of our Seminary lecturers - that I would give recognition to the immoral racial laws of the country with such a reclassification. It could not deter me.
Theoretically, there was another possibility to circumvent the legislation: if ‘non-white blood’ (what a laugh!) could be traced in Rosemarie’s ancestry. My darling has features that makes her not so typi­cally German at all. I really hoped that some non-European influence could be traced in her forebears. Alas, research that had already been done by her family for their family tree, showed just the opposite. Rosemarie is European through and through!
I desperately wanted Rosemarie to come to South Africa, instead of my going to Germany again to marry her. Knowing the objections of her family, Rosemarie on the other hand was as yet far from free from within to come to Africa. In one of her letters she actually requested me to pray for her inner liberation in this regard. I had no problem with this, trusting God to change that in due time. Didn’t she tell me when I invited her to the evening with the Wycliffe Bible Translators that she wanted to enter missionary work already from childhood? Thus I just pushed ahead with my own ideas in a rather headstrong way.

Traumatic weeks
Not fully aware of what Rosemarie had intimated in her Easter letter, I continued writing my next epistle that was intended to arrive at Pente­cost. I had elevated this church feast to the next big occa­sion, just looking of course for an opportunity to write a letter to my ‘Schatz’. But Pentecost came and went, without any letter from my bonny over the ocean.
I was ‘sure’ that the South African government had inter­vened, that our post was being intercepted. Practices like this belonged to the day-to-day occurrences of apartheid South Africa. If the powers that be could stop our contact in this way, they would definitely not hesitate. Inter-racial contact of any sort was not appreciated in government quarters, let alone that between the sexes across the colour bar.
When I didn’t hear from my darling for many weeks, I got really worried that something could have happened to her. In the meantime, I had formally resigned from teaching to go into full-time pastoral work. I received a cheque from the authorities as a repayment of money that I had paid into the State pension fund just at this point in time. The amount of the cheque was more or less just what I would need for the cheapest air ticket with Trek Airways (later it changed its name to Luxavia) to Luxembourg. I expediently perceived - albeit after some serious prayer - the cheque from the government to be divine provision to fly to Europe in the June 1971 vacation. And my passport was still valid.11
* * *
The shock was complete when a letter from Ashley Street in District Six arrived at Rosemarie’s parental address in the first half of June 1971. Because I had not received my ‘Pentecostal lett­er’, I wrote in dire frustration to enquire about Rosemarie’s whereabouts. I also indicated that I wanted to come in the June school holidays, ‘even if it would mean to visit her grave’. A final letter which she had written to me was not posted. If I had received that letter, I would not have proceeded with plans to go to Germany.
Any doubts about the correctness of such a drastic step as going to Germany for only two weeks were dispelled for the moment. I heard from Trek Airways that the first flight just after the start of the school holidays was absolutely full. This was a very conveni­ent ‘Gideon’s fleece’, a test to see if it was right to use the money that I would possibly need soon to finance my theological studies. Two hundred and sixty odd Rand meant a lot of money in those days. So I argued: “If it is the will of the Lord that I should go, then he has to get a place for me on that flight’.
When I received a phone call only a few days before the departure date that one seat is free, I saw this as a clear indication that I should go. I had considered the venture prayerfully enough!

Feathers ruffled
My unexpected arrival in Germany ruffled feathers there, because Rosemarie regarded herself as all but formally engaged, to get married to Günther (not his real name) in due course. She knew full well that the problems at home would flare up again. But she also knew in her innermost now that she could not proceed with a marriage of compromise to Günther.
After an intense struggle in prayer, Rosemarie decided to break with both of us. Everybody had respect for her decision, even her parents. I could fully comprehend the reason for her decision, but my own faith was really tested to the full. In that moment I could not understand why God allowed me to come all the way to Germany to experience this. I knew that it had been very wrong of me to try and assist Him through letters to the South African authorities or the like.
* *
The last time when Rosemarie and I were together before my return to South Africa, the Lord comforted us. Although we had the inner conviction as never before that we belonged to each other, we agreed rather hesitantly to separate, committing our future in God’s hands. As we prayed for each other, we now more or less left the ball in God’s court. He had to bring us together again if it was His will that we should marry one day. I knew for one that it had been wrong for me to try and assist Him through letters to the South African authorities or the like. But we also knew now that we still loved each other intensely and that was ample consolation for the moment.
I didn’t fly back to South Africa in high spirits. But something did happen through my coming. I discerned a fraction of the riddle-like divine mosaic. If I had not come all this way to Germany, she would have married my rival soon thereafter and that would have meant the tragic end of a special romance.
I did however return to Cape Town with an added maturity. Was that God's way to chastise me, to build character in me? But I still had to learn a lot more. I still experienced great difficulty to release Rosemarie com­plete­ly from within. Through this I made it very difficult for her.
We were still sticking to our ‘rendezvous’: every Sunday evening at 21 hours Mid-European time (10 p.m. South African time) we “communicated” supernaturally. What glorious hours of ‘fellowship’ we enjoyed as we continued to pray for each other. For the rest we heard about each other through Harry, my room mate in Stuttgart, who studied in Tübingen, where Rosemarie was now working as an occupa­tional therapist with terminally ill children.
God intervened in Rosemarie’s life a few months later when it became clear to her that she loved me too much. It came as quite a shock to me though to read the following letter from Rosemarie:

Tübingen, 7th November 1971
... You must know that it was the love, but also the trust in our Lord that led me to write this letter to you to tell you of my decision. Precisely because I want to love Jesus above every­thing, I want to be absolutely obedient to Him. You know, out of a genuine love must also grow a complete trust. Out of this trust I want to take a step in faith that will lead both of us into a genuine inner freedom. Yes Ashley, I know now clearly that it is God’s will that we part. More I cannot and should not tell you now. You may expect more particulars through Harry. May you experience the compassionate love of God.
Your Rosemarie

She thought that her love to me was obstructing her personal relationship to God. Later she described it as her Isaac experience, com­paring it of course with the Bible narrative of Abraham who had to sacrifice his uniquely born son by the aged Sarah. Rosemarie felt that she had to sacrifice me completely.
The Lord had prepared me for this shock. Just prior to this letter, I received a notification from Dr Theo Gerdener, the Minister of the Interior, to the effect that his department could only reclassify Rosemarie once she was in South Africa. I thought that this would be merely a formality. Later we had to discover that she was hereafter blacklisted in terms of entry into the country.

Youthful Activism
Also in church politics we - the seminary students - gave the church leadership a hard time. Also part-time students like Desmond Engel – along with his fiancée Virginia van Niekerk12 and the Lansdowne youth – caused headaches for their church council. The older ministers often emulated the government in their dealings with opposition to traditionalism in the church.
As one of the three full-time seminarians, I was now also quite active outside our own congregation in District Six. At many a Mora­vian fellowship one of the three of us was asked to conduct the youth services that had become a regular feature at our congregations for decades already – led by a young person. (I started preaching as a fourteen year-old.)
Definitely influenced by the evolving Black Theology, I was fond of wearing my ‘Black is Beautiful’ T-shirt, especially after I had heard that the sale of these shirts had been banned. With a thick black marker I wrote ‘Civil Rights’13 at the back of another T-shirt and ‘Reg en Geregtigheid’ (Justice and Right­eousness) at the front. (This meant of course that I could not 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 politically.) At the Moravian synod held in Bellville I sported my ‘Black is Beautiful’ T-shirt, giving some moral support to my friend Rev. Chris Wessels as he fought a lonely battle to spur the denomination on to break down the race barrier in its structures.

Sharpened axes for White liberals
We seminarians also sharpened our axes to fight White liberals who professed to be against apartheid but who were not prepared to suffer for their convictions. Thus we decided to challenge the St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Green Point. Outside the church complex a notice board welcomed all races at all times. The renowned St George’s Cathedral and the Jesus People had already failed our test when we noticed how the congregants were still sitting separately along racial lines. In our own denomination we were also simultaneously fighting racist traditions.
Reverend Douglas Bax and his St Andrews Presbyterian Church passed the test with flying colours. Thereafter he became a close friend of the seminary.14
Mentally I was almost completely caught up by the racial problems in the country. As a former teacher, the racial discrimination in educational funding and facilities was something for which I felt it worthwhile to go to the street in a protest march, defying police orders to the contrary.
On June 2 I already had a letter in my pocket for Hermann Beck, my faithful contact. I wanted to post the letter before joining in the protest, stating there that we expected to be arrested for our defiance of a ban on the demonstration for equal education for all races.
In spite of my activism on more than one front, my heart was still aching that I could not write to my Rosemarie directly. This was foremost in my prayers. We continued to pray for each other every Sunday evening at the agreed time.

Tear gas won the day
But we came away ‘unscathed’: police tear gas won the day. In this way the demonstration was scattered. Many activists took refuge in the nearby St George’s Cathedral. This was perhaps the first time when the police brutality got really home to White people. Among other police brutalities, it was reported in the newspapers how a White girl was pulled from behind the pulpit at her hair.
Returning to the Seminary in Ashley Street after the tear gas episode, there was a letter from Germany - not from Hermann, but one directly from my ‘Schatz’! I could hardly believe what I read. Her mother had given per­mission that we could resume our correspondence. In the run-up to Rosemarie’s 21st birthday, the Lord had spoken to Mama Göbel through a word from Scripture: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:34). She instinctively knew which stranger was meant. Mama Göbel derived from the Bible verse that it meant that she had to accept me and that she should give Rosemarie permission to write to me again! This was very courageous of her because she knew that this would definitely not have the approval of her hus­band.

A mag­nanimous gesture
I had some frank discussions with my parents in Elim during the last part of the June holi­days, about political matters. Because we already received copies of Pro Veritate, the organ of the Christian Institute, at the seminary, I had my personal copy sent to Elim. With some satisfaction I noticed that my father - through reading this material - became enlightened on some issues. In earlier years, so many of us were more or less taken on tow by the SABC (South African Broadcast­ing Association) version of events. I also discussed the issue of my love to Rosemarie openly with my parents for the first time. I mentioned my hope of bringing her to South Africa. They made no bones about it that they would rather be prepared to sacrifice me if I wished to return to Europe than see me bringing Rosemarie into the humiliations of apart­heid. I was too much in love to appreciate how magnanimous their gesture was. They knew what they were talking about. My cousin Hester Ulster, who married Tubby Lymphany, an English marine sailor from the Simon’s Town naval base around 1950, had not been allowed to visit her parents as yet, i.e. after more than 20 years of marriage.

A visa refused again
Encouraged by Rosemarie's letter, we resolved - along with my mentor and confident, Henning Schlimm – that the time was ripe for her to come to Cape Town. A teaching post was negotiated for Rosemarie at the ‘Kindergarten’ (Pre-school) of St Martini, the German Lutheran Church in Cape Town. Pastor Osterwald, the local pastor, displayed a lot of courage in appointing her although he had to do this secretly, making sure that there was no copy of a covering letter. I was not aware of the great courage that Pastor Osterwald had showed to appoint her. He had requested Rosemarie not to mention anything in her letters to me.
Rosemarie was however refused a visa by the government without any reason given. She did become aware all right of the activity in Germany of the 'special branch', the South African version of Hitler's Gestapo. She had walked straight into their trap.15 Also the attempt to get a tourist visa failed to produce the goods.
It seemed inevitable that I would have to leave the country if I wanted to marry my darling. God still had to humble me to accept His choice of a wife. I still did not want to leave South Africa. There seemed to be only two possibilities: I had to choose between the love for her and my love for my home country. I decided to go for the former for the moment, but I nevertheless continued to pray that God would let me fall in love with a ‘Coloured’ girl who would be ‘the equal’ of Rosemarie. I still hoped that it would not be necessary to go overseas to marry my bonny over the ocean.
Yet, there was also the nagging uncertainty whether my decision was God’s will. Or was it my own way?
August 1973

Deep soul searching
The South African Council of Churches initiated a new tradition. August was to be the month of compassion. As the speaker for our youth service in District six we invited the Congregational Church minister Bongonjalo Claude Goba16. This was possibly one of the first times that there was a Black South African on the pulpit of Moravian Hill Chapel. It was thus actually not so surprising that an honest congregant walked out the moment Claude Goba walked to the pulpit. (Had we seminarians not given a bad example, by walk demonstratively out of a church service as part of our activism against racism in the church? The three of us did this when the local pastor persisted with segregated seating for visiting Whites at special services, after earlier protests from our side had achieved no result.) Claude Goba’s sermon brought me to some deep soul searching. My inner tussle came to a head. Was I not like Jonah, running away from the problems of our revolution-ripe country? To cop out cowardly was the very last thing that I wanted to do! My inner voice told me that I should apply in time for the extension of my passport that would have elapsed on January the 16th the following year. Wasn’t I just running away like Jonah? The result was an intense inner struggle between the love for my country and my love for a foreign girl who could make me an exile of my trouble-torn heimat.
By applying in time for such an extension of my expiring passport I thought I would have been able to get peace at heart with regard to my leaving the country. But I couldn’t muster the courage (or faith?) to apply for the extension! I just couldn’t stand the real possibility of a negative response to my appli­cation. So much I wanted to make a contribution towards racial reconciliation. I thought, perhaps a bit too arrogantly: “I can be of more use here in my native country than anywhere else.” I was still to be brought down from that presumptuous pedestal.

Involuntary Exile
Very reticently, with real mixed feelings, I continued preparing to leave the country with the intention of getting married to Rosemarie. I booked a ticket to leave fairly soon after the completion of my theological examinations in November 1973.
It would have solved the problem for me if I had fallen in love with a ‘Coloured’ girl. In fact, I had actually started praying along those lines. This would have been proof to me that I was not destined to venture into the life of an exile. Was I still gripped too much by apartheid thinking? Hesitantly, I opted to leave the country, with little hope of ever being able to return. I did resolve though to fight the matter, to work towards returning to my home country by 1980. To this end I intended to attack the discriminatory laws from abroad.
In the months prior to my pending immigration, various leaders of the Christian Institute (CI) had their passports confiscated on the verge of their respective departures from Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg. Although I was only a very inconspicuous member of this organ­ization, one could never know.
My passport was due to expire on 16 January, 1974. I was forced to buy a round-trip ticket, although I didn’t intend to return to my fatherland.

Farewell South Africa!
But there were also other things that kept us busy at the seminary, such as the preparations for a youth rally with the theme Youth Power and Dr Beyers Naudé as the speaker. Our seminary played a major role in the organising of this event at the Old Drill Hall in Darling Street. Dr Beyers Naudé, the leader of the Christian Institute, was well known for his bold opposition to apartheid.
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 and my friend Roy Weber17 from Elim, we expected this to become my final fare­well to South Africa, most probably never to return. (Roy never saw his Dad alive again.)
From yet another side, I was squeezed. 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 if the government would prevent me from leaving the country.
* * *
After attending so many youth camps and the like, I was quite used to farewells. But this time it was almost unbearable. The finality of leaving my people behind was the hardest of all. Just under five years prior to this, I was determined to return to South Africa. If I would succeed in getting out of the country this time, I had to expect - to all intents and purposes – never to return. But my parents and a few others like ‘Aunty’ Bertha Fortune, our neighbour from District Six, were praying that things would change in our country, to enable me to return one day. And yet, I loved my country so much. This was a real Isaac experience of sacrifice. But I was determined to put up a fight to enable my return with Rosemarie as my wife!

Chapter 2 A Battle against Structures of Financial Inequality

Before I left the South African shores in 1973 I had been influenced indelibly at the fairly unknown 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 to 1973 I also became very sensitive to structures that perpetuate economic inequality. Having written an assignment on the role of the poor in the 'Old Testament', I wanted the church to become more relevant in the fight towards national and global economic justice.

Economic inequality bashing my conscience
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 the boot. But I also felt uncomfortable that I was earning much more as a single young man than breadwinners who had to make do with much less and with whole families to feed.
A side effect of my studies at the Moravian seminary was that I lost much of my zeal for evangelism. Gradually it was substituted with political involvement in the struggle against apartheid. In a sense Prime Minister Vorster was not completely off target when he accused me of ‘making politics under the guise of religion’. (This was his standard reply to religious objection. He possibly had not even read my letter himself after I had challenged him in October 1972, to be used by God like President Lincoln in the USA to get our country out of the impasse it was in, heading for disaster.)
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 many years experience earned in my home country. This was not the first time that structural inequality was hitting my conscience.
Come January 1974, my guilt syndrome was driving me almost crazy when our salaries were increased by almost 10%. This constantly happened the next few years, adding agony to injury.
Once in Europe, I had applied as soon as possible for the extension of my passport. My anxiety was thankfully eventually dispelled when I received the extension for a further three years. But my inner turmoil was not completely gone. Soon the home or hearth issue resurfaced. I did not make it easy for my darling when she discerned that it had been such a sacrifice for me to leave my home country.

The first visit to Rosemarie’s parental home
My first visit to Rosemarie’s parental home in Mühlacker was very near to a catastrophe. Mama Göbel remembered the command from Scripture, but her husband still had difficulties accepting a foreigner as a possible son-in-law. My visit caused so much tension in its aftermath that her parents felt compelled to request Rosemarie to leave the home. Conditioned by the notorious South African way of life with all its racial prejudices, I hardly had any prob­lem with these developments, much less than Rosemarie. The family of Elke Maier18in Gündelbach lovingly took Rosemarie into their home. My bokkie knew of course that she was not sent forth because her parents did not love her any more. But it was not easy nevertheless.
As for me, I went off to Königsfeld in the Black Forest for a time of orientation in a German Moravian environment before I would take up my first post as a full vikar, as an assistant pastor elsewhere. It was indeed very considerate of the Moravian European Church Board in Bad Boll, that I could see thus Rosemarie at least from time to time during the first few months.
Rosemarie and I became engaged in March 1974, albeit with no family from either side present. We still deemed it important enough - if possible at all - that Rosemarie would get to know my home country and my relatives. Because I was now in Germany, a major obstacle to a visa should have been eliminated. At least, that was how we reasoned. We started arranging with the Moravian Church Board in South Africa for Rosemarie to come over and use her training in education for the mentally handicapped, to do voluntary work at the home for retarded children in Elim for a period of two months. My parents had moved there after they had to leave our home in Tiervlei to live in the small Moravian mission station where they had hailed from originally. Theoretically my darling would have been able to get to know them well in this way.

Together and yet miles apart!
At a German Moravian pastors’ conference in May 1974 I shared the room with Eckhard Buchholz, a missionary from the Transkei. He was not sceptical at all - like so many other people - about the fact that the South African government intended to give independence to the 'homeland', one of the enclaves through which the apartheid regime attempted to reduce the numbers of Blacks in 'White South Africa'. In fact, Eckhard challenged me to come and work in Transkei after the commencement of independence of the ‘homeland’, due to follow in 1976. He was confident that Transkei would not take over the racist mixed marriages prohibition. I gladly accepted the challenge, encouraging him to send me audio cassettes so that I could start learning Xhosa. And that I did.
Taking for granted that Rosemarie wanted to become a mission­ary one day, I expected that she would want to join me to the Transkei. On her visit to Berlin soon hereafter, where I was now a regular vikar. During her visit I casually communicated my intention to her to return to Southern Africa. I was completely taken by surprise to hear that she was not ready at all to go to ‘Africa’ with me. The termination of our engagement was on the cards, because I was quite determined to return to the African continent as soon as possible. I didn’t feel like ‘hanging around’ in Europe for any length of time. It is quite strange that we never discussed this matter thoroughly before we got engaged!
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! In our utter despair, we cried to God for help! We loved each other so dearly. We didn’t want to part, but on such an important issue we had to agree of course. 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 seemed to be the only possibility to save our union. Both of us knew that it would not be the proper way to handle Scripture, but we decided to seek God’s mind by opening the Bible at random - albeit prayerfully. 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 extremely 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 really wanted!
It could have been a problem if we had discussed the issue further, because both of us interpreted the text from the own perspective. I trusted that Rosemarie would join me, going to Africa. She thought that I would now stay in Europe. Thankfully, we didn’t pursue the matter further. For the 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!

Short term planning
I sensed that the time for living together in South Africa was not quite 'on' yet for us as a married couple, but I desperately wanted her to meet 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 in Germany. We reasoned that a major obstacle to a visa should have been eliminated in this way. We thus started arranging with the Moravian Church Board in South Africa that Rosemarie would come to do work as a volunteer at the home for retarded children in Elim for a period of two months.
We were quite encouraged when we heard hereafter from my parents 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 inform the press. Originally we had no intention of going to South Africa as a couple. There­fore it really took us by surprise - to put it euphemistically - when instead of the requested two months, Rosemarie received a visa for two weeks!
But the Special Branch gave us an idea - the possibility of spending our honeymoon in South Africa! This deduction was something that was still to hassle us intensely. We now went over into the attack. The activism, that had taken hold of me ever since my return from Europe in 1970 - and which had increased during my seminary days - received fuel. I had no idea into what a war of nerves I would throw Rosemarie by prompting her to write the following letter:

Gündelbach, 10th December, 1974.
Dear Mr Consul,

I thank you very much for obtaining a visa for me. Thus far I could not use it, because I have learnt that the affordable flights are only applicable from a stay of 19 days.
My fiancé and I have now decided to undertake the trip after our marriage. We would like to spend four weeks in South Africa. Could you please extend the visa to four weeks? If this is not possible, we would like to hear it soon, so that we can apply timely for visas to other neighbouring countries within the 19-45 days tariff. I want to make it clear however, that we would rather spend the full four weeks in South Africa.
Yours in high esteem,
Rosemarie Göbel.

Although the consulate in Munich was notified promptly by Pretoria to give Rosemarie a conditional visa to enter the country without me, the consulate didn’t inform her of it. After a less fortunate phone call to Munich, during which Rosemarie was spoken to very impolite­ly, a heated but fruitless correspondence with the South African author­ities followed. However, I unwittingly made some serious mis­takes in the run-up and aftermath of a special honeymoon.
We decided to drive to the consulate personally. Only during this visit to Munich in February 1975 we discovered that Pretoria had notified them already in January. Rosemarie had actually been allocated a visa, albeit under the condition that she would not “travel to South Africa accompanied by your future husband.” The lady at the consulate warned us not to circumvent the condition.
Initially I didn’t see any problem with the condition. I was so elated that Rosemarie received a visa at last to visit my home country! But in her Renault R4 car on our way back from Munich, my darling had a poser for me. She wasn't prepared to go to my “heimat” alone any more. All the arrangements for our wedding had more or less been finalised already by this time. Rosemarie’s apt but vexing rhetorical question was “What sort of honeymoon is this?” I had no answer! With a fearful heart I agreed that we would go separately, defying a warning of the lady at the consulate. I could be arrested.
The idea that I would now still see my family and friends was very attractive. When I left the country in 1973, I thought that I would never be able to return legally! To ensure that our plans would not be wrecked on Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg, I was now quite untruthful. I gave the impression in my correspondence to my parents and friends that Rosemarie would come alone. (Apart from the fact that someone could mention it before our arrival, we know that post was opened quite regularly.) 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. I still carried a South African passport. Yet, I was ready for this eventuality ever since my reading of Martin Luther King and the US Civil Rights movement.

The travelling plans could now be finalized. Because of the uncertainty with regard to Rosemarie’s visa in the light of previous experiences, we had cancelled the booking with Luxavia. The new 19-75 day tariff, which had just come into oper­ation, had two distinct advantages that were of interest to us, although it was slightly more expensive. One could cancel on short notice without any costs and one could change one’s booking from the one interna­tional airline to another.

A wintry wedding
Henning Schlimm, our friend and confident from the seminary days, had just returned from South Africa with his family. He was about to take up a post as minister in Königsfeld (Black Forest). There I had resumed my stay in Germany in December 1973, operating as an assistant pastor. It seemed almost obvious that we should marry there because a church wedding from Rosemarie’s home was out of the question.
A letter from the South African Consulate confirmed that their government had no objection to me getting married to Rosemarie, but we had to keep in mind that our marriage would not be recognised in South Africa. On Thursday, the 20th March 1975, we became husband and wife legally in the Rathaus (the equivalent of Town Hall) of 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 played such a big role in the run-up to that moment. Elke brought along a protea, the South African national flower, for the occasion. This was quite costly in Europe. With her special gift she gave me an idea.
A cloud hung over the festivities because my parents and family would not be represented and Papa Göbel had no liberty as yet to participate. Rosemarie wrote a letter to him shortly before the wedding, apologising for the hurts caused by our friendship. She also urged him to come to our wedding. We were grateful that he gave his wife full freedom to act according to her convictions, to attend if she wished. But he could not overcome his reservations. At this time he visited Onkel Walter, her mother's brother, who had also married against the wishes of their parents.

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, and boiling eggs for the reception.
My bride was so beautiful, but I found the small Biedemeier bouquet inadequate. An idea took shape!
The Königsfeld church choir rose to the occasion with a great rendering of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring.’ The highlight of the marital ceremony in the church was undoubtedly the sermon. 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.
“You have seen what I did... and that I bore you on the wings of an eagle and brought you to me.”
(This is Exodus 19:4, the Daily Watchword from the Moravian textbook for 22 March, 1975).
Many a tear was shed as we were overawed by God’s good­ness and grace. Haven’t we experienced clearly enough how the Father bore us on His strong eagle’s wings? Our hearts were filled with gratitude and joy towards the mighty God we now wanted to serve together, joined in matrimony.

At our wedding reception there was a lonely protea on the table in front of us, the thoughtful gift of Elke Maier, our bridesmaid, at the occasion of our state marriage two days earlier.

A Honeymoon with a difference 19
Three days after our church wedding Rosemarie and I parted once again 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. She was however still very tense because I was not supposed to enter my home country at this time. We were clearly circumventing the condition of the visa that she had received. At such occasions one tends to aggravate things. Fears of my arrest in Cape Town, or already in Johannesburg, were only natural.
Initially we intended to stick to the spirit of the special condition of the visa, by entering the country separately. We had also taken precautions with regard to lodging. In Elim Rosemarie was scheduled to sleep in the Mission house. This was indeed a strange preparation for a honeymoon journey, but we were quite prepared to live with these conditions temporarily. We had also agreed that I would not come to Cape Town Airport to meet Rosemarie, because you could never know whether she would be watched by the Special Branch of the police.
Thus she came to the Mother City of South Africa with quite a dose of apprehension, expecting to possibly see my brother Windsor as the only known person, because he had visited me in Bad Boll during his period of study in Switzerland.
I was surely very naive, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation elicited by Elke’s unintended hint. I intimated already at the wedding that I was not completely happy with her “Biedemeier” bouquet. How could I welcome her more fittingly than with a box of beautiful proteas from the Cape?

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. My sister and her family were not at home when we arrived in Sherwood Park.20 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 – so completely unprepared for this turn of events - opened the door!
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 still one big hurdle. My parents still did not know that I had come to South Africa as well. I thought of sending 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 Special Branch had been leaving clear instructions for our stay there.
The next morning I utilized the opportunity to go to the Newlands Cricket Ground.21 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:
“Dieser 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 on the very same day. Here the problems could have started with all the racially segregated beaches, but the Esau’s had a good solution: a beach that had not (yet) been racially classified.

A “real” welcome?
For 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 Mummy. Hysterically, our dear mom burst out in tears....
This was to be expected. Not only had I misled them through my letters, but they also did not expect 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.

Other things to organize
But there were also other things to organize. One of the imperatives was a visit to the local police. It would have been impossible to hide my presence in such a small village in which my German wife would surely become the talk of the town. Because I knew that the local police officers were classified as ‘Coloured’, it was easier to ask them exactly what instructions they had received. The officer co-oper­ated fully. I told him of the arrangements we had made to sleep separately, but instead he encouraged us:
“You are married. Behave yourselves as such. If I get new instructions from my headquarters in Stellenbosch, I shall warn you timely.”
Next on the list of things to do was to inform Alice Habelgaarn and Kathi Schulze of the Elim Home (for handicapped children) that Rosemarie would not spend the nights with them at the Mission House after all.22 In the course of our conversation there, we mentioned that we intended to return to Johannesburg by other means than by air. Kathi noted that she wanted to go to the USA soon for the wedding of her sister. She would be very happy if we could take her car to Johannesburg. Thus it would also be cheaper for her and travelling the 1500 Kilometres by car in both directions would have been rather strenuous as well.
We later decided to drive via the Garden route to Durban through the Transkei at great risk.23

One surprise after the other
Having fulfilled the conditions 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 seriously happened that could have marred the tremen­dous trip. We changed our tickets to travel in the same Lufthansa machine, straight to Frankfurt. The honeymoon however also stamped the finality of my new status. I was no Jonah any more, but rather like the apostle John on Patmos, an exile to all intents and purposes.
Back in Germany, one of the first things was to phone our parents (-in-law). That we wanted to visit them on the very first Sunday after our return was only natural. We knew however, that this did not mean that Papa Göbel would be at home to meet us.
On this particular afternoon we experienced one surprise after the other. Our faith was too small, because God had wonderful things in store for us. Papa stayed at home to start with. But then he also went along to their “Stückle”, a small site where the family spent many a Sunday afternoon. We were still wary of the meeting because of the tragic similar occa­sion one and a half years prior to this, after which Rosemarie had to leave her parental home.
But this time it was to be totally different. It was a bright sunny afternoon, but I did not bring along a pair of shorts. Papa Göbel offered me a pair of his, addressing me with the personal “Du” (You). With that - and it was particularly discernible in the tone - he was saying so much as “I accept you fully as my son-in-law.”
Rosemarie, who knew him so well, recognised how much it must have cost him to come that far. Once the ice was broken, it didn’t take long before it seemed as if we had known each other for ages, as if there had never been any problem at all. God had performed nothing less than a miracle!

Another miracle
My conscience didn’t leave me in peace because we had circumvented the condition of Rosemarie’s visa. However, I also felt that we should encourage the South African government towards real democracy. A letter to the Prime Minister served this double purpose well enough, but I went too far when I tried to justify our actions. In this letter, I displayed a lack of Christian virtue by hitting back quite hard at the officials because of the bureaucratic blunders made by the Consulate in Munich.
I was courting trouble by sending a copy of the letter to the Consulate. I “earned” the jitters a few days later: an element of revenge on my part had clearly played a role. My activ­ist attitude harvested an angry response.
The Consul twice tried to contact me telephonically, but on both occasions unsuccessfully. He had discovered the name of Breyten Breytenbach in my correspondence. (I used the precedent of an illustrious Afrikaner, who had been allowed to visit South Africa with his Vietnamese wife. I tried to use that as a lever to get Rosemarie into the country.) This now turned out to be an unfortu­nate move. Breytenbach had been arrested in the meantime in terms of the law concerning the suppression of Communism. By mentioning Breytenbach’s name, I made myself suspect.
When the Consul phoned the second time, he threatened with disciplinary measures, under which we understood the confiscation of my passport. Therefore I just had to be available at the set time when he would phone again.
Rather fearfully I went to the phone at the time the consul had given threateningly. I suspected that it would be about our visit in South Africa and my letter to the authorities. It was very reassuring that I knew that Rosemarie and other friends were praying, while I was speaking to the Consul.
The Lord worked mightily: in the course of a few minutes the tone of the Consul changed completely, from tough to cordial. In the end he actually offered his aid in a very friend­ly tone if I should ever encounter any problems in Europe. I suspect that he thought that someone else had written the letter for me. His probable suspicion that someone else must have been behind the letter, was thus not confirmed; possibly it was a learning curve to him that people of colour can actually think independently and express themselves in cultured Afrikaans..
This experience encouraged me to carry on working towards democracy in my home country even more. But there were other priorities. After our return from South Africa, Rosemarie was pregnant.24 This was not ‘planned’ because I was still finishing the last part of my theological studies in Bad Boll, the HQ of the Moravian Church in the Western part of the European continent. But we took this in our stride, looking forward to our first child to be born.

September 1975 to September 1977

Rosemarie’s first pregnancy
Rosemarie’s first pregnancy was not normal at all. The gynaecologist in Boll should have monitored the pregnancy better. We were not only completely inexperienced, but also very unwise. Soon after the ordination in September 1975, we travelled in an inconvenient truck to Berlin with our meagre possessions. I was returning now to the same congregation where I had been the assistant to the pastor the year before.
A really emotional experience followed soon after our move to Berlin. At the very first time Rosemarie went to the gynaecologist there, he discovered problems. He diagnosed placental insufficiency. She was sent to a 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 induce the birth of 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. Only the Turkish lady cleaner showed compassion to a young mother who had lost her first baby!

Birth of Danny
Great was the joy a little while later when we not only had my parents with us in Berlin but when soon thereafter Rosemarie was pregnant once again. Tension arose when a complication set in. All the more we were happy when Rosemarie gave birth to our Danny in February 1977, albeit that she had to deliver in faraway Spandau - in the opposite corner to Neukölln in the metropolis of Berlin – by way of a caesarean and also not in the highly rated Steglitz hospital where the pregnancy had been closely monitored. In the end it was touch and go or we could have lost our baby son Danny as well. The umbilical chord around his neck prevented him entering the world in the normal way.
Rachel Balie 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. The Moravian Church Order allowed for this mode, so that the child could be baptised at an age when he/she could understand what was done. The problem was that we were now upsetting the apple cart, because dedication of babies turned out to be only a theoretical possibility. This caused quite a furore, 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, but I did not want to force the issue.

The Economic Dilemma revisited
After our marriage in 1975, I felt very much alone when even my wife could initially not understand how I felt about the global economic disparity. It was crystal clear to me that the annual salary increases in Germany were only made possible because of the economic exploitation of poor countries. This bugged me. I discerned how Europe was firmly in the grip of materialism. Our very first Christmas in Berlin highlighted my dilemma. We received a fat bonus – the Europeans call it a 13th monthly salary - in a climate where the birth of Jesus Christ disappeared in the wake of the commercialised atmosphere all around us. Of course, in Cape Town it had not been much different. Already there I had my problems with the abusive commercialism at Christmas time, but now I was really sad. Rosemarie couldn’t understand my emotions initially, 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.)

A voluntary Sharing of Resources?
I wanted to take a principled stand but I felt myself so helpless. I did stage my protest in a quiet way by refusing the salary increase. After experiencing initially some difficulty with my position, Rosemarie came alongside me. In further negotiations with the church authorities it was agreed that the increase would be used for the church’s mission work. This we also did the next few years.
Suddenly I saw White South Africans in a different light. I discovered that they were similarly enslaved and imprisoned by a system of injustice.
My fight against apartheid received a new direction in this way. I hereafter challenged various leaders of the apartheid state in letters to set the example to the rest of the world by a voluntary sharing of the resources with the poor. My role models at this time were Jan Amos Comenius and Count Zinzendorf, who took their cues from the Bible. When I continued my theological studies at the Moravian Seminary in Bad Boll (Germany), these two men of God became quite important to me. That Comenius had stated that we should erect signposts that would point to the reign of the coming King, was inspiring me. Thus it was not so important any more if one does not see any immediate fruit of one’s actions. Similarly, the example of Count Zinzendorf through his day-to-day Umgang mit dem Heiland (conversing with the Lord) and his high view of the Jews, really challenged me in a significant way.

Political Activism
I still had another deep concern - the political situation in South Africa. We had hardly arrived in Berlin, when I was asked to react to a controversy that was raging in the State Lutheran Church about South Africa and its policies. Soon I was lecturing here and there finding myself in anti-apartheid circles almost as much as in those of the churches. In fact, the Lutheran Church of West Berlin in general was taking a clear stand against all forms of racism.
When ANC activists from South Africa discovered that I could be a handy tool as a ‘victim’ of the government, they tried to get me onto their bandwagon. But I was determined not to join them, because it appeared to me that they viewed the armed struggle as the only option to bring down the apartheid government. I believed that there were still non-violent means available to achieve change in our home country. My resolve not to join the ANC in exile became even firmer after we had taken a student from Swaziland into our home, who lived with us for some time. The immoral life-style of certain ANC activists made us fearful that my home country could in future be governed by such people.
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 High School students demonstrating about learning Afrikaans. But the uprising of the 16th of June still took us all by surprise. The deaths of Soweto in 1976 threw me into inner turmoil, into trepidation that the expected eruption of civil war in my home country was now dawning. With Pastor Uwe Holm, a leader from the Landeskirche, the State Church, I spontaneously organised a protest meeting in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in Central Berlin. Driven by fear of a development that could lead to a bloodbath in my beloved South Africa, the 16th of June 1976 turned me into an even more dedicated activist.

Any Hope for peaceful Change?
I now set out to start a front for peaceful change, to use non-violent means to get the racist South African structures dismantled. I wrote letters to various people, but support was not forthcom­ing. All bar one of the persons who reacted to my approach, had given up on South Africa. Rachel Balie, a distant relative who had come to study in Berlin, was the only person willing to join the front for peaceful change. The violent reaction of the government to the peaceful protest of the students was to so many the proof that the days for boycotts and the like were over. At this point in time I saw boycotting South Africa as one of the remaining options short of the armed struggle, which I opposed. Yet, from within I was not completely happy. How could I suggest some­thing where others back home had to bear the brunt? (There were also opportunist Christians who opposed boycotts for different reasons. It is repugnant that some of them received money and perks from the South African govern­ment for their defence of apartheid!)
After my ‘Soweto’ speech in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church of 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 linked 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? When I read about personal friends from the Cape in the book like Franklin Sonn and Howard Eybers, 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 short stint with the Moral Re-armament movement. Already at the end of the same year Rosemarie and I attended the conference in Caux, Switzerland. There the apology of Suzanne, the daughter of Ds. Daneel, a former Springbok rugby player and a MRA leader in South Africa for the hurts of the government, made a deep impression on me. The power of confession left an indelible mark, something that I perceived as something, which could change the social and political landscape of South Africa.
The grace with which the MRA people of Caux accepted my criticising them for hero-worshipping Frank Buchman, the founder of the movement, augured well for deeper involvement. I was after all still very much of a newcomer. A few months later I participated in the celebrations in Freudenstadt, (Germany) where Frank Buchman had been born in 1878. The practice of Moral Rearmament adherents, to write down thoughts that came up during quiet time, was one that suited the activist spirit in me perfectly. My activism was translated into letters to various Cabinet Ministers and church authorities in my effort to gain my return to South Africa before 1980. As part of this attempt, I continued to collate personal documents and letters with verve, hoping to get it published under the title ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ (Hunger after Righteousness).25 In this Afrikaans manuscript I included correspondence with the rulers of the day, giving comments here and there. Yet, I wanted 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.

September 1977, Zeist

Involved in all Sorts of Skirmishes.
Before we could settle down properly in Holland, I was already involved in all sorts of skirmishes. Rachel Balie, who had returned to South Africa, wrote that Chris Wessels, a minister friend whom Rosemarie and I had still visited on our honeymoon journey, had been imprisoned. Nobody knew where he was incarcerated. My activist spirit was immediately aroused.
Soon after our arrival in the town of Zeist in September 1977, I phoned our church authorities in Germany, urging them to get involved on behalf of Chris. He had never been formally accused or brought before a court of law. Later we heard that his main offence was that he helped to care for the families of political prisoners. Shortly before this, Steve Biko died while in police custody. We feared that the same thing would happen to Chris.
My understanding of Scripture was that the least we could do was to try and get Chris released. The news of the death of Steve Biko helped our cause. Everything was set in motion, to get the Moravian Church in action on behalf of our brother in detention. Initially it involved something of a fight to get the church authorities in Bad Boll on board, but they finally also got their counterparts inother countries to write to their respective S.A. Embassies. Later we heard that this move possibly saved Chris’s life.
On a similar level, but much more low-key, I reminded the authorities back home that Nelson Mandela is not forgotten. On letters to South Africa I pasted a sticker ‘Freiheit für Mandela’ and on Mandela’s 60th birthday I sent him a card. I didn’t however expect it to be received by him, because we have experienced ourselves how letters were opened and we knew that post was intercepted. But I regarded this only as a little token of solidarity to make Hebrew 13:3 (‘think of the prisoners as if you are a prisoner yourself’) practi­cal. In those days such a card was regarded as subversive. I would have been in hot water had I been in South Africa.
Just as ‘naive’ was a flurry of letters to different government depart­ments that I wrote in a rage of activism. Later it turned out to be rather strategic. When we wanted to travel by train as a family in November 1978, it was dealt with at Cabinet level, earning treatment for us as VIP’s. (However, this angered me to the extent that I never wanted to return to South Africa.)

Chapter 3 Beaten into Submission

The unsound Premise of my Call to Utrecht
The premise of my call to the Moravian congregation of Utrecht was not sound. Robin Louz, a Surinamese brother representing the Utrecht congregation, had heard me attacking the South African Moravian Church for its double standards after Rev. Hansie Kroneberg, a member of the Broederkerk26 Church Board of South Africa at the Moravian European Continental Church Synod in 1975 that took place in Bad Boll. I embarrassed Rev. Kroneberg after he addressed the inaugural public synod meeting by exposing the lack of support of the Broederkerk Church Board for the banned brother Wessels in Genadendal (On our honeymoon we had visited the old pensioner). The Surinamese brother thus thought that they would get a young ‘political’ pastor. He didn’t bargain for one who was also an evangeli­cal, one who was on top of it deeply influ­enced by a moral radicalism. Later this was to cause a lot of tension.
After merely three months I was involved in a head-on collision with my Utrecht Church council, because I didn’t mince words in my sermons. I challenged the congregants on moral issues, as well as inviting them towards complete sub­mission to the claims of Christ. Once I referred to evangelical terminology used by Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Renewed Moravian Church - winning souls for the Lamb. This was maliciously interpreted as something tantamount to sheep stealing. After I had used testimonies of Moral Re-armament people from South Africa in a church service on Christmas Day, it was equated with the practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.27 But I was determined not to budge. In fact, I revelled in fighting for biblical truth. I was possibly quite unwise go to such extremes almost at the outset of my tenure in the congregation.
Initially Rosemarie also attended the meetings of the ‘Broederraad’, the church council. But soon it became too much for her. She decided to rather stay at home, unable to take the unfair attacks on me any more.
* * *
My interest and involvement in Moral Re-armament taught me to jot down insights and things that I wanted to do during my ‘quiet time’. As a complete radical activist, I started collating all the documents and correspon­dence pertaining to our struggle with the authorities in South Africa, giving the manuscript the title Honger na Geregtigheid.28Also the Broederkerk authorities came under fire as I tried to push them to be more active towards racial reconciliation and equality between the privileged ‘Coloureds’ and the ‘Blacks’ in the church. Thus I challenged the leadership to merge the ‘Coloured’ congregation of Manenberg and the Xhosa one of Nyanga just over the railway line, to be served by the same pastor.
Driven by activism, I got up at two o’clock in the morning after perhaps three hours of sleep. I would then return to bed at five for another quick dose of sleep, but before 8 o’clock I was again behind my desk where our son Danny would join me, sitting on my lap until breakfast.

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 Dr Wittkampf, our home doctor in Zeist, because she noticed a lump at her throat. He immediately phoned the hospital - he suspected a tumour! We were already over-sensitive after a series of terminal cancer cases occurred in our circle of friends. Peter Dingemans, a Moravian pastor colleague in Zeist, was out of action a few months after we came to Holland and Reinhild Schäfer, the wife of Wolfgang, our lecturer in District Six, had also passed away because of cancer. The two children of Henning Schlimm also had the same disease. (Henning’s first wife, whom I never got to know personally, had also died from brain cancer). The daughter Monica had already passed away while we were still in Berlin and it looked to be a matter of time before Andreas, their son, would traverse the same road. In this atmosphere it was all gloom. Tears were flowing freely.
I hurt Rosemarie immensely when I was so insensitive to clearly verbalise 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 insensitively. She was not yet ready to return with me to my home country. After the traumatic experiences in the run-up and aftermath of our honeymoon, she had come to resist this 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!”

A big fright ‘Reprieve’ came from a very unexpected source. A growth was discovered near to Rosemarie’s thyroid gland. A positive element of the detection of a tumour in Rosemarie’s throat was that we got some reprieve from the malice and accusations in the Utrecht church council, which was inappropriately called Broederrraad. 29 The reaction of our home doctor was such that we started getting ready for the worst. In our utter despair we turned to the Lord in prayer. At this stage we read a Bible verse, John 16:20 that comforted us extremely: “Your grief will turn to joy!”
Soon after commencing our ministry in Holland, we arranged with the church board that we could add the two weeks of holiday still due to us to which of the next year. We had started making preparations for a second visit to South Africa when we got the fright of our lives. Rosemarie went to Dr Wittkampf, our home doctor in Zeist, because she noticed a lump in her throat. When he immediately phoned the hospital - he suspected a tumour!
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 at this time.) We were already over-sensitive after a series of terminal cancer cases appeared in our circle of friends. In quite a few cases there were cancer that led to or were leading to ultimate death.
Our grief turned to joy!
In our utter despair we turned to the Lord in prayer. At this stage we somehow read John 16:20 that comforted us extremely: “Your grief will turn to joy!” A few weeks later the tumour was cut out in an operation - the examination showed that the tumour was benign! Indeed, our grief turned to deep joy!
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 newsletter in parts. The first part was penned before it was discovered that the tumour was benign and the last part reflected the joy we experienced. Copies of the newsletter landed up at the ANC head­quarters in Lusaka and at the offices of the Anti-apartheid Movement in London. However, I was not prepared to be pulled on to a political bandwagon. Instead, I challenged them on some issues. Our personal newsletter was possibly to the various bodies via people from the Moral Rearmament ranks. But I was not interested in scoring political points. Instead of supporting the Anti-apartheid movement, I wrote them a critical letter. Referring to the root of the word protest in Latin pro-testare: to testify for something, I noted that I prefer to fight for something good, rather than protest against something bad. Reg September wrote from the ANC head office in Lusaka. He had detected that I used the word Azania in my correspondence. I was not even aware that this was Pan African Congress parlance, the vocabulary of their rivals. All of which were trivialities to me. Much more important was that we could resume our preparations to visit South Africa again!

September 1978

Stark Differences were hitting us
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 that seemed all-pervading, along with the rationalising of it by people from whom I least expected it. Petty apartheid bureaucracy was adding insult to injury.

Another bash at the apartheid wall?
In September 1978 we left for South Africa for a six-week tour. Experiences with the Moravian Church leaders at the Cape and with the folk of Moral Rearmament during the second visit in 1978 with Rosemarie and our son Danny were quite traumatic. Because I never got written answers from the Church Board, I manipulated to attend one of their meetings through sheer activism. I had not picked up that they had probably been quite glad to post the disgruntled meddler I must have been in their eyes to Europe. Probably remembered to be the spokesman for the seminary students church walk-out of 1973 in the battle with racist Germans, the chairman was obviously trying to keep me out of their meeting. After all, it was not customary that ordinary pastors could attend Church Board meetings – in my case a young minister who had been ordained a mere three years prior to this.
I was very disappointed in my church and their reaction to the imprisonment and restriction of Chris Wessels, our friend who had been detained without trial.
My activism led to estrangement from my church authorities. Ideas from my quiet time that I came up with - like wanting to return to South Africa to pastor the black congregation of Nyanga together with the 'Coloured' one of Manenberg - were apparently too radical for the church authorities. A compromise suggestion by me, to pastor a country congregation for three years, thus to cause another crack in the apartheid wall, in defiance of the prevalent racial laws, was also unacceptable to the church leaders. When the chairman of the meeting with the South African Church Board in the Capetonian suburb of Bridgetown during our 1978 visit labelled me a tourist, I had enough. It hurt me terribly that nobody contradicted him. 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 has the beating of me
Add to that racist experiences on the train from Cape Town to Johannesburg! It was more than enough to me! That a Cabinet decision was necessary to give clarity whether we could travel in the same compartment as a family, together with bureaucratic bungling, really embittered me. Now I was really like Jonah, completely disgruntled.
It looked as if apartheid had knocked me out. This was not a sacrificial Isaac experience as in 1973. Nor was it Jonah again running away from responsibility. I had simply resolved to throw in the towel, to give up the fight. I was now determined never to put my foot on South African soil again. I was ready to become an exile, but this time by choice.

A very unhappy, embittered Christian
Howard Grace, a British Moral Rearmament (MRA) full-time worker, fetched us from Park Station in Johannesburg. He had to bear the brunt of my anger. When I was still hurting terribly from within, Howard suggested on a car trip to Umdeni (the villa of the MRA movement, where we were scheduled to stay in the rondavel for the next few days) 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 Afrikaner clique that I perceived to be taking our country into a bloodbath.
On that November Saturday of 1978 the MRA people of Johannesburg surely did not encounter a happy Christian. I am ashamed to say that I relished whipping an old lady verbally because she clearly expressed her sympathies with the government. With as much venom as I could muster, I shared how the various agents of the apartheid government had been maltreating us. Therefore it was no wonder that Howard Grace and others suspected in the evening that I was craving after sensation by phoning Dr Beyers Naudé, to find out where he was worshipping. There was ample reason for the one or other MRA member to surmise that I was not sincere in my wish to worship with Dr Naudé. I must have received special grace, that I could still keep my cool! There was ample reason for them to suspect that I was not sincere in my wish to worship with him as one my last acts in the country I loved, but that I was about to leave – determined never to return to again!
A black brother was gracious as he thought that I could be a tiger for the Lord if I was less arrogant. Someone else however actually suggested that I was more or less driven by a martyr complex, hoping to be thrown out of the church.30 I must have received special grace, that I could still keep my cool!

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. Someone - or perhaps even more than one person - must have been praying for me. Rosemarie and I, along with a few believers linked to Moral Rearmament, were privileged to visit the congregation that the Naudé couple attended regularly. He entered there as the last person just before the bell would toll so that the minister and his church council could step out of the vestry in procession. Dr Naudé would then leave 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. His wife Ilse came to us after the service, having organised that we could follow Dr Naudé in his car to their home while she was still teaching at the Sunday School.
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 - in a special way. A miracle happened that Sunday. I was changed supernaturally from within through the visit to the Naudé home.
God used the banned Dr Beyers Naudé and the congregation where he worshipped to bring me to my senses. A divine touch cured me of my intense bitterness and anger towards the country that - paradoxically - I so dearly loved and still do.
In fact, after the red-letter Sunday I really 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.31

Determinination 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 fuelled my activist spirit. From the time of our return to Holland after our six-week visit to South Africa, I saw a ministry of reconciliation now as my special duty to the country of my birth.
In my resolve to work towards racial reconciliation, I went out of my way to meet Professor Johan Heyns and a delegation of Dutch Reformed minis­ters that attended a synod in Lunteren when the group visited Holland in 1979. A few months prior to this I was not interested at all to meet the chairman of the Broederbond! The delegation furthermore included Dr O'Brien Geldenhuys and Professor Willie Jonker. I arranged to meet them again at the Amsterdam airport on their return to South Africa. (These three clergymen were to be quite influential to bring about significant changes in the Dutch Reformed Church in the years hereafter.) I urged the clergymen to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted, challenging them also with regard to membership of a secret society. Prof Willie Jonker, whom I still knew from my District Six seminary days, took me aside to explain to me that he was not a member of the Broederbond.
I was of course elated to read later that some of them had responded positively, attempting - however without initial success - to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted. Because of the well-known tampering with post by the special branch of the police - which I had experienced myself - I contrived to send the draft manuscript of Honger na Geregtigheid to Dr Naudé with the delegation.
My request that one of them would deliver the manuscript to Dr Beyers Naudé, was however not honoured (I had left the envelope open on purpose, suggesting that the bearer could read the manuscript himself first. I learned later that the envelope and its content landed in the hands of the government. Dr Naudé never received it. However, that move apparently harvested even more respect for me in government circles thereafter.) An inter­esting sequel to my meeting 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.)

Attempts at reconcili­ation
A fairly extensive correspondence followed with different role players on the South African scene. My ministry of reconciliation also aimed at trying to heal rifts where I discerned them. Thus I attempted to reconcile (the later Arch)bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak. The latter, along with his Broederkring colleagues, opposed the likes of Tutu - people who were still prepared to talk to President Botha. It also affected me personally when my correspondence with the government estranged me to some extent from my close friend Jakes. My effort to bring Boesak and Heyns together was unsuccessful, but I was happy to hear later that Bishop Tutu and my former evangelism buddy Allan Boesak were again operating in concert. However, my letter to Allan earned me the wrath of Allan, who was by now a well-known church leader. In a letter of April 1980 I apologised to him for bringing the Broederkring and Broederbond in such close proximity, but I did not receive a reply. When Allan attended the doctoral graduation ceremony of our mutual friend Hannes Adonis in Amsterdam, he simply ignored me. He had evidently not forgiven me. I had no remorse about that initially, but I only discovered the hurt I would have caused by my critical remarks of 1979 in March 2007, when I looked again at the content of that letter. I suppose I deserved to be cold-shouldered. (Later I remembered another incident with which I possibly also angered him.32)
Dr Heyns went on in the 1980s to become one of the instruments of change in his church to lead the denomination away from apartheid thinking and attitudes. 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.

Too critical?
Hein Postma had pointed out that my manuscript ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ was too critical. He highlighted that he missed love and compassion in it. It amounted in his eyes to an overdose of medicine to a sick patient. There were also other persons who were not happy with ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ like my close friend Jakes to whom I had sent a copy. He was unhappy for a completely different reason. Jakes felt that one should not correspond or communicate with members of the apartheid government at all. In his view the government should be isolated and treated like outcasts! We agreed to differ, but it was not easy to discern that apartheid was causing a strain on our friendship. His ‘second best friend’ was Allan Boesak. Jakes’ views were apt to rub off on our common friend, who had become quite influential by this time.33

Mixed Marriages Act to be scrapped?
I was following the developments in the country closely. One of the most dramatic developments occurred when Mr P.W. Botha, the Prime Minister, stated publicly that he was ready to scrap the (prohibition of racially) Mixed Marriages Act. All the more I was very disappointed to read hereafter that the Dutch Reformed Church effectively pulled the break lever on this government intention at their synod of 1978. Botha later performed a backwards somersault though, mentioning that he was merely intending to review the law in question. Yet, he challenged the churches to come with a united viewpoint. He knew that the churches were still nursing widely divergent opinions on the matter.

Tears and Anxiety
My determination to work towards racial reconcili­ation back home was not completely without risk. I refused for example to take sides when a group of South African Blacks that visited us, threatened me. I managed to stand my ground saying: “I am neither solely ‘for White’ nor ‘for Black’, I merely wanted to see justice achieved. Cathy Buchholz, a Zulu, who was visiting us at the time with her German husband Eckhardt and their baby daughter Irene Nomsa, courageously supported me. (I had married the couple in Berlin).
A further special ‘aftermath’ of our visit to South Africa was that Rosemarie was pregnant once again. We dearly wanted a second child. It was so fitting that the addition to the family was conceived just before our return to Holland, after I had been reconciled to my home country. The pregnancy proceeded however not without tears and anxiety.
Rosemarie was diagnosed with Hepatitis. Both she and Danny had contracted it in South Africa and 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 handicapped child to be born in August 1979.
* * *
Through my theological studies my zeal for evangelism suffered a lot, although I was still fasting and praying on Fridays for the Communist world. Whenever I had to preach, I used to refrain from breakfast on those Sundays. Rosemarie found this very unsociable, so I later stopped it.

The love for my home country cemented
The visits to the ‘heimat’ in 1975 and 1978 cemented my love for my home country. In correspondence with the church back home and with the government, I still tried to fight my way back, initially with the intention of coming to work in the Transkei. My intention in this regard - which was not fully shared by Rosemarie - was interrupted when we were called to Holland in 1977. It never became relevant again because two years later the continuation of our service in the Moravian Church was already very much in the balance.
I was quite insensitive to the needs of my Surinamese church members as aliens in Holland. My love for my home country made some of them quite envious. Or was it mingled with guilt? (It was well known that many Surinamese people fled their country as economic refugees, whereas I endeavoured to return to a revolutionary situation in my home country.) Opposition grew when I appeared headstrong to them in my opposition to occult traits and sinful habits, which they regarded as part of their culture.
A tragic misunderstanding occurred shortly hereafter when I mentioned casually to one of my Broederraad (church council) 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.
In the Broederraad I suggested to receive 3/4 of my salary so that I could also use a quarter of my time to help achieve democracy and reconciliation in my home country. This was bound to cause problems. The brother, with whom I had shared my longing to teach Maths again, was completely taken aback that I was willing to earn less so that I could also get time free to fight the injustice in my home country. The Broederraad members felt themselves misled and left in the lurch. When I explained in my defence that I was not using ‘church’ time to work at my treatise “Honger na Geregtigheid”, that I got up at two o’clock in the morning, it only increased their anger. They had hoped that I would rather make similar sacrifices for the Surinam cause in the Netherlands.

Chapter 4 Exiled from the Church

The tension in our church council became almost unbearable. When I saw an advertisement regarding a vacancy at the national headquarters of Scripture Union, I promptly applied, seeing this as a possibility to get away from the untenable situation. At the beginning of 1979 I was sick and tired of the bickering in my church council, the fighting over what I regarded as peripheral issues.
On the last Saturday of January 1979, I was almost on my way to Noordwijkerhout for the interview for the Bijbelbond post, when a freak slippery condition on the roads set in - ice starting 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. I decided to leave the car at the station and travel by train. When I phoned the Scripture Union people, they suggested that we should postpone the interview because there were similar climatic 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 situation in our congregation.

Discouraging news from S.A.
Other discouraging news coming from South Africa carried politi­cal implications. From the MRA people in Johannes­burg I heard that the South African government had intercepted the Dutch MRA periodical Nieuw Wereld Nieuws in which I had written an article about our previous visit. In the same periodical there was also a radical contribution under a pseudonym by Kgati Sathekge, one of the youths from Atteridgeville, whom we had met on our previous visit to South Africa. As a 16-year old, Kgati had been among the leaders of the riots and the school boycott of the Black townships like Soweto and Atteridgeville in 1976. He was arrested thrice, beaten and put into solitary confinement for a long time.
Still an eighteen-year old, Kgati made up the balance. He and a few other young leaders concluded that the price was far too high in his own generation; crime and teenage pregnancies were spiralling. Drug abuse increased drastically. Kgati and his friends decided to start a back-to-school campaign. That however led to threats to his life. Howard Grace and other MRA people supported them.
In January 1979 Kgati stayed with us in Zeist for some time, although we had warned him that Rosemarie had contracted jaundice. In his article in the 9 December 1978 edition of the Dutch MRA periodical, Kgati sharply attacked apartheid as an un-Christian pol­icy, stating bluntly that ‘we have hunger yes, but we especially hunger after ‘de volle schotel van gerechtigheid’ (the full measure of justice). In a balanced way he also attacked Black Nationalism that likewise did not produce free people.
I referred in my article to the unjust incarceration, banning and wanton arrest of innocent people like Beyers Naudé and Chris Wessels. I also stated that ‘I look forward to the day when great people like Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Beyers Naudé and other great South Africans may be seen and heard on South African TV and radio.’
It was a sad tes­timony of the slow pace of change in South Africa that articles like these were viewed with distrust. The same atti­tude pre­vailed when I sounded out some people about pub­lishing my treatise “Hunger after Justice” in South Africa. It became clear that the government was prone to censure the publica­tion, apart from the fact that much still had to be been done to make it readable and palatable.

Correspondence with DRC ministers
On another track, I took the initiative to correspond with ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church about its race theology, as laid down in Church policy papers on “Church and Race”, also with regard to synod resolutions and reports. On 4 October 1979 I wrote a letter apiece to Prof Heyns and my friend Allan Boesak. Knowing that Allan had been one of the students of Dr Heyns at UWC in earlier days, I hoped that an invitation by Prof. Heyns to Dr Boesak, to join him on the commission, could bring about reconciliation. The way in which I approached the matter – in a critical way - was unfortunate and insensitive. In the separate letter to Dr Boesak, I also wrote among other things: ‘I take it that you are still sceptical towards the government’s willingness to change their policy. I strive also after the full measure of justice, but I do not regard conflict as the best way (not even intellectual conflict, but rather honest confrontation). Would it not be better if we could fight together with as many white Africans as possible for rights and justice, not only with regard to South Africa, but worldwide. Now that the government is prepared to come down from its throne of apartheid, would it not be better to stretch out the helping hand so that they can step down totally from the pedestal of white supremacy in order that we can walk together on God’s road of love and peace?’ I probably lost both theologians in the process through this approach which might have been perceived by them as unwanted meddling.
Some press reports gave the impression that the government wanted to abolish the “Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act”, but that the Dutch Reformed Church would not agree. Would I now meet my target to return to my heimat by 1980? However, my correspondence with leaders of this influential denomination brought me nowhere. Instead of achieving anything, my activism seemed to make me only more suspect in the eyes of the South African authorities!

Difficulties in Holland
Also in Holland itself my radical activism harvested difficulties. Soon after our arrival in 1977, a local Moravian brother, who was responsible for organising lay theological training, heard me mentioning stewardship. Promptly he thought it fit to invite the new young minister of Utrecht to give teaching on the subject to his students. Hardly anybody was possibly fully happy that I was also including obsolete church traditions as practices, which should be uprooted. Yet, in the beginning of 1978 I was not even remotely contemplating christening of infants as one of these traditions. With only a few lay people attending these Saturday classes, nobody seemed to take offence at the radical34 statements which I had derived from my private biblical studies. Hereafter however, the water heated up. I challenged the church practice on every level, i.e. suggesting that we should test all the church traditions against the Bible.
That was however only the start. In typical activist fashion, I proceeded from here to campaign for erecting ‘signposts of the coming Kingdom of the Messiah’ globally. This tenet in my study of the teaching of the old Bishop Comenius, became even more important to me. I firmly believed that the small Moravian Church - as a micro-cosmos of the global economic disparity - could start to do something to rectify the economic imbalances. I ran much too fast, suggesting for example a voluntary lowering of salaries in line with the teaching of Jan Amos Comenius. In addition, I proposed that a fund should be established to enable missionaries from the third world Moravian Churches to come to Europe. I aimed much too high. The church was not ready yet for such revol­ution­ary stuff.
I was also involved in the drafting of synod resolu­tions and reports. Thus I also actively participated in a small lobby to formulate a Moravian synod resolu­tion for a boycott of Shell, the Dutch-based royal multi-national petrol company because of its role in supporting apartheid structures and practice. 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 of me. Strange things happened like the sudden disappearance of the radical proposals that we had prepared for the 1979 synod in Driebergen. Gradually I was being side-lined, but surprisingly enough, not ostracised.

The Seed of Confession germinates
From Holland I entered into correspondence with a few White Dutch Reformed ministers in South Africa since 1979, impressing on them the need for confession as a prelude to racial reconciliation. The powerful impact of confession and restitution, which I had personally experienced within the confines of Moral Rearmanent, seemed to start to take effect. The Reformation Day statement that became known as the ‘Witness of the Eight’ of 31 October 1980 - appeared to have given the ‘snowball’ momentum. The statement challenged the Dutch Reformed Church, inviting the believers to ‘resist mutual estrangement and exclusivity among Christians and so to work against the divisions of the church, which shame the communion of saints.’ It was an encouragement to me that two members of the Dutch Reformed Church delegation, whom I had met at Schiphol Airport of Amsterdam, were in this group, viz. Professors Heyns and Jonker. That Professor Willie Jonker was among this group of eight was not really surprising to me.35 I was sad however to hear of the ambivalent role that Professor Heyns was still playing as the chairman of the Broederbond. (It was good however, to read that he had actually conceded - during a 1981 interview - that the Dutch Reformed Church was paralysed internally). I was following the developments in the country closely via the weekly international edition of the Star. Two years later, a bigger group of Dutch Reformed theologians published a confession. Indeed, the seed that I have sown seemed to germinate.

Aftermath of my Schiphol Airport “rendezvous”
From my airport “rendezvous” stemmed a superficial correspondence with Professor Johan Heyns in which I challenged him to include theologians of colour like Dr Allan Boesak in the plans of the denomination for overhauling a booklet on race relations in the church.36 Indirectly I also tried to reconcile the two theologians, who were respectively leading the influential “Broederbond” and “Broederkring”. (I knew from our student days how Allan had been raving about Dr Johan Heyns, his lecturer in Biblical Studies at the University College of the Western Cape).
It was still my hope that ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ could be distributed in South Africa in Afrikaans first, to win over the Afrikaners. Rosemarie had little faith in my letter writing activity, but I just continued, albeit rather subdued.
When different Cabinet ministers had started to express openly their intention to move away from discrimination, I had secretly hoped that they would co-operate with the publication. After our trip in 1978, I had informed the government of my inten­tion to publish the documents that I had collated.

Revamping ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’
In my spare time - i.e. during the early morning hours between 2 and 4 a.m., because I was sensitive to the criticism of my church council - I worked at the revamping of ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’. I had to agree with Hein Postma that the original manuscript was possibly an overdose of medicine to a sick society. I started hereafter to revamp the manuscript, toning it down, planning three smaller booklets I concentrated in the first volume on the issues around the prohibition of racially mixed marriages and our personal experiences. The intention was also to diminish the possible shock effect for Afrikaners in that way. concentrating on the issues around the prohibition of racially mixed marriages and our own experiences, calling it ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het’ (‘What God joined together’). I hoped of course from within that this move could facilitate my return to South Africa. During our half-year stay in South Africa in 1981 I took the manuscript ‘What God joined together’ to Tafelberg Publishers, yet without success.37 Our friend Douglas Bax continued to fight our cause. The Presbyterian Church Synod actually passed a resolution whereby the denomination would defy the Mixed Marriages Act if racially mixed couples requested to be married.38
On 14 July 1979 I wrote to the Minister of the Interior explicitly, with a copy to the Prime Minister: ‘I do not want to use the booklet as pressure to get the law under discussion scrapped, but much rather as an aid in the changing of attitudes; to try to gain understanding for the necessity of the scrapping of the law.’ I naively hoped that I could help (White) South Africans to repent in that way.’ The reply of Dr Schlebusch, dated 25 July, was no more than an acknowledgement of receipt of my letter.
Ensuing developments fuelled my hope. In my letter to the Prime Minister I referred to this hope with a critical remark: ‘Whereas I appreciate your courage to adapt government policy to new circumstances, I do not like the term ‘national strategy’. It gives me the impression that the government is not serious with rights and justice, that it is just a strategy, a plan to placate world opinion. The deeds of your government in the last months gave me hope that it is not only an intention, but that you really want to give an optimum of justice to all South Africans.’ A copy of this letter was also sent to the Minister of the Interior. The reply on behalf of Dr Schlebusch, was to me the sign that the climate was not yet ripe for the venture: ‘I wish to notify you on behalf of His Honourable A.L. Schlebusch that he does not feel himself called to comment on publications which you want to disseminate abroad or on the use of official correspondence which has been directed to you.’ The letter to the cabinet ministers was one of many ‘fleeces’ (Compare the story of Gideon in Judges 6:36-40), to ascertain whether I should have my autobiographical manuscripts published at all. I had noticed how influential people got damaged spiritually when they came into the limelight prematurely. I wanted to be certain that my autobiographical material would be published in God’s perfect timing.
My hope that the government was serious was thus dashed. I decided to abort the effort towards publication.

Problems with Infant ‘Baptism’
The crowning of my renewed commitment to work towards reconciliation in my home country was to me the birth of our second son, 9 months after our visit to S.A.!
On August the 4th 1979, our son was born healthy - against the prognosis of the doctor. Fittingly, we gave him the name Rafael. This has the meaning 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 was also visiting us for the occasion.
A period of disillusionment with the MRA movement followed as I discovered that some of their members took offence when I highlighted that Surinamese people were being discriminated against in Holland. I had been uncomfortable already to notice how the unique position of Jesus was compromised, conveniently regarded by some as the equal of Muhammad and Ghandi. Yet, this did not deter us to ask Howard Grace, our friend from Johannesburg with his Dutch wife maria as Rafael's godfather next to my brother Windsor and Rosemarie's sister Waltraud as godmother.

Scrutiny of Church Traditions
Two other infants were 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. They argued that they paid their church dues and they expected me to simply perform my ‘duty’ as a pastor, to christen their baby without asking any questions. I was nowhere willing to oblige. The idea of a quarrelling couple pitching up at the church service at which our son Rafael was to be christened, literally haunted me. Although I had my church council supporting me on the issue, it gave me a sleepless night. The prospect 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 was to flare up soon hereafter. I suppose that the occurrence at our church made me very sensi­tive to the issue of infant ‘baptism’. 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 stewardship should include the scriptural scrutiny of all church traditions.
Photo: The Brauns of Lienzingen and the Cloetes from Grabouw visit us in Holland

A Substitute for Circumcision?
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 moved to discover that ‘circumcision of the heart’ - conversion to faith in Jesus Christ - was the actual basis of baptism according to the above-mentioned Bible verse. My own argument for practising the tradition of christening of infants was pulled from under me. Subconsciously I was still somehow influenced by a Calvinist argument in defence of the christening of infants. According to this view, infant christening is the sign of the new covenant, 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. I was bowled over. From the context it was clear that conversion through faith in Jesus was meant. The seed was sown in my heart for opposition to so-called Replacement Theology, whereby the 'New Testament' church is alleged to have substituted the nation of Israel of the 'Old Testament'. It would however take some years before I became unshackeled from this bondage.
In the preceding years and following in the footsteps of Count Zinzendorf, I got to love Israel and the Jews. When I now had to consider the matter more intensely, the lack of biblical support for infant christening struck home. How could the church substitute circumcision, a practise 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) baptism liturgy whereby eternal life is apportioned to babies at their ‘baptism’. As I now also studied the liturgy used at the christening of babies, I knew that I couldn’t perpetuate a practice that had indeed become a tradition, which was nullifying the power of God (Mark 7:13).
This was now really the last straw to me. How could I continue with the practice with a good conscience? I promptly put the problem to my church council. They were very sympathetic, especially after our common experience only weeks prior to this. They suggested that I should discuss the matter with my minister colleagues.
Also here I initially found surprisingly much understanding because the colleagues likewise encountered irresponsible fatherhood among the Surinamese church members. It was decided that we would organise a weekend to discuss the issue in depth with the various church councils in the Netherlands because also in other congregations there were similar problems..

Taken to Task
All my efforts to remind the minister colleagues of our decision were in vain. It was soon evident that they procrastinated on purpose. Nobody wanted to rock the boat, which could have international denominational repercussions. They would rather sacrifice me in the process. One of the colleagues contacted the church board.
I was completely taken by surprise by a phone call from the head office: ‘What is this that I hear that you don’t want to baptize children any more?’ I deduced that at least one of my pastor colleagues had decided that I was too uncomfortable. My problem with infant ‘baptism’ was maliciously conveyed to the church board in Germany. I was taken to task and finally referred to the bishop for counselling. This encounter nevertheless transpired 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 as he looked at the grace of God operating ahead of us. But it didn’t solve my problem.
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 Kathi Schulze, who was working with Scripture Union in Cape Town at the time. She had no idea what we were going through. The felt an inner urge to send us the message: ‘I pray for you!’ What an encouragement that was to us!
The church offered me a compromise post whereby I would not have to christen infants in future. However, other theological differences with regard to stewardship in general would have made my position untenable. As a matter of principle, I could not live with such a compromise. I resigned from my job, to come into effect on 31 December 1980.
Initially another visit to South Africa seemed a non-runner towards the end of 1980. Because of my conscientious and scriptural objections against the practice of the chris­tening of infants, I could not continue functioning as a minister in the Moravian Church of Utrecht in the Netherlands, being the only pastor of the congregation. I was effectively exiled from the church.

My interest at fighting apartheid was definitely not completely altruistic. In my heart there was still the deep desire to return to South Africa, my heimat. In order to achieve that, the racist laws had to be dismantled. We were not aware that we had contributed significantly to this process through our involvement in Crossroads, Langa and Nyanga. It was the beginning of the end of the influx control laws that were finally scrapped in 1985.

A racially Couple from South Africa
Rommel and Celeste Roberts, a couple from South Africa, suddenly popped up in Zeist. We had met Rommel in Caux (Switzerland) at a conference of the Moral Rear­mament (MRA) in December, 1977. After his training as a Catholic priest, Rommel became involved in the Modderdam informal settlement near Bellville. Here he met Celeste, a White Catholic nun. They broke all the codes of South African 'way of life' by marrying in South Africa, thus not crossing the border to exchange marriage vows in some neighbouring country. Rommel himself had been released from prison just before their departure. He was never brought before a court of law because of his role in the bus and student boycotts of that year, but the couple feared a new arrest. Therefore they were very happy for the opportunity to get away from the police hunt. Probably more than anybody else in South Africa the couple had courageously challenged the “Prohib­ition of Mixed Marriages Act”.
When they came to visit us in Zeist, Celeste was pregnant. A complica­tion not only extended their stay in Zeist, but she came close to losing her life because of it. In what amounted to a miracle, her life was saved. Because of her illness and hospitalisation, Celeste stayed with us much longer than they had intended.
Just at this time we got the news in August 1980 from South Africa that my only sister Magdalene had contracted leukaemia. She had played such an important part towards the education of us, her three younger brothers.
God used Celeste Roberts to sow seed in our hearts so that we started enquiring after the cheapest possibility to go to South Africa. We decided initially more or less that I should go to South Africa alone. The date of my mother’s pending 70th birthday (28th December) was however far from convenient. There were so many other complicating factors militating against it. I still had two weeks of holiday due to me. But one could hardly expect any church council to allow their minister to leave before Christ­mas.

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. Yet, the Holy Spirit must have spoken to some people because a complaint came in via a Broederraad member. Apparently my sermons had ‘no content’. I retorted that I could not understand why they got so excited if my sermons were without any content. There must be something which troubled the person in question. Then he replied: ‘Well, it had the wrong content’. As I probed further, it surfaced that it was the Bible reading on Ephesians 5 which had been challenging sexual immorality. This was no new revelation. But I was not prepared to dilute my sermons to satisfy sinful habits and desires.
Someone warned me to be careful what I would eat when I was attending the various celebrations in the homes of the congregants. We knew that this danger was real, because poisoning was some­thing that did happen in the cul­ture in which we were moving. (In fact, in 1979 we took Sister Irion, an old Surinamese widow, into our home. Her 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.

Remain in Jerusalem
Through our connection to Moral Rearmament, we got befriended to the work of the ‘Offensive Junger Christen’ in Bensheim, Germany. Their working method sounded very much along the lines of our own thinking. Soon we were seriously considering moving house to Germany. To our disappointment, nothing came from our application to join the ‘Offensive’. No clear reason for the refusal was given, although we suspected that our critical attitude towards the christening of infants might have been the problem.
By October 1980 we still had no new position and nowhere to go after the termination of our work in the church. It was understood that we were required to 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 came through strongly. The verse mentioned ‘beginning in Jerusalem’. It was not clear to us how to interpret it. We thought it to mean that we should remain in our Jerusalem, Zeist. But this seemed impossible because I had already resigned! I could not expect the church to allow me and my family to remain living in the parsonage.
From two other groups we had firm promises that we could join them - with accommodation included - if we would have no place to go to. But nothing was forthcoming from either of them when it came to the push. Our friends who prayed with us stood firmly in support as we planned to go to South Africa as a family. To us this was very much an encouragement. They knew that it was really a step in faith for us.

Another visa Application
Towards the end of 1980 it seemed as if the government was seriously trying to revive the momen­tum of change. (This was however effectively halted when Dr Andries Treurnicht started to breathe threatening down the neck of the government from the right wing.)
Due to Celeste’s encouragement we decided to take tentative steps towards going to South Africa as a family. Rosemarie was very realistic with her suggestion that we should write another accompanying letter with her visa application. She thought that mentioning my sister’s disease in such a letter would have been a good reason to expect a positive reply. I naively thought that they would hardly dare to refuse Rosemarie a visa again, knowing that I could publish the sensitive documents abroad to their detriment – i.e. an element of subtle blackmail was involved. I even thought - although I had no concrete proof to this end - that my initiative perhaps played some role in the government’s inten­tion to change or scrap 62 discrimina­tory laws.
Encouraged by a speech of Prime Minister Botha in Upington and other reports in the press, I was however very much under the impression that the govern­ment really wanted to change or scrap the law pertaining to the prohibition of racially mixed marriages. The impression was given that the ('White') Dutch Reformed Church was the big culprit. (Later I had to discern that this was too simplis­tic a view.) My idea not to write an accompanying letter however helped us to get clarity whether we should go to South Africa as a family or not. Financially it amounted to a major risk. We also considered that the granting or withholding of the visas could be a test whether it was right to start on this risky venture at all. I started to make enquiries about the airfare at a local travel agency.
Before I could book any flight however, there was still the hurdle of my congregation. It was unreal to expect them to release me just before Christmas, although I still had two weeks of leave due to me. In a remarkable sequence of events, we experienced that we were divinely guided by a strong hand. The church council offered more or less that I could deliver my last sermon on 14 December. Rather unusually, we thus never had a valedictory service, but at least this was honest.
The heavenly Father was obviously continuing to break me down to fit into His plan with us. Thus I could return to the travel agency to book seats. There the lady greeted me with the words “Mr Cloete, I have a nice surprise for you!” She had just received news that Luxavia offers a special air fare. The airline was introducing the big Jumbo jets. We saw in this “co-incidence” another confirmation to proceed with our plans. I had no hesitation any more to book for 18 December.
Letters from South Africa with regard to the illness of Magdalene, our sister, encouraged us to quite an extent. We knew that we should not get excited too soon, even though we always believed that “My Lord can do anything”. Has not God proved it so often in our lives? The fact that we could plan to go to South Africa was already a miracle.
Our joy was however soon replaced by anxiety because of the visas for Rosemarie and the children. Various telephone calls to the South African Embassy in The Hague brought no result. Slowly but surely the last day for payment drew nearer, without any prospect of the visas. Even a telex from the South African Embassy personnel to Pretoria on our behalf turned out to be fruitless.

Agonizing Days
Celeste was back with us after visiting some other people. Together we experienced the agonizing days of waiting in vain on the visas for Rosemarie and the children. We shared our uncertainty with Celeste in respect of our going, because we would be using just about our last savings for the trip and I still had no employment after our return from South Africa. The day on which we were required to pay the deposit to reserve our seats,39 I phoned the Embassy once more. The official suggested that I phone someone in South Africa to contact Pretoria. The travel agency gave us an extension of an extra day to procure the visas.
I couldn’t phone my relatives of course, because we didn’t want to cause any more anxiety there. 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.
Our friend Jakes, whom I phoned, used a method with which I would not have been happy if I had known what he would do. 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...”
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:
“No sir, I shall investigate the matter straight away. I’m sure it will come in order.”
* * * *
Not aware of this telephonic conversation, we were still anxiously waiting on the call from The Hague on Friday, the 28th of November. Before 4 p.m. we had to phone the travel agency. We agreed that if we would not have received a positive reply from the Embassy by that time, we would cancel our bookings. Finally, four o’clock arrived without any 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, while Rosemarie prayed that the will of God’s might become evident:
A friendly voice greeted me from the other side of the line: “I have good news for you. The visas have been granted. However, I must still read the full text of the telex. Please phone me on Monday.”

Overjoyed!! Although we knew by now that strange conditions could be attached to South African visas, we were overjoyed. It was such fun that Celeste was there with whom we could share our joy. The pre­liminary knowledge about the granting of the visas was already such a special gift to us. At the same time it was also a confirmation to venture out in faith into the unknown. We were en­couraged to trust God for our future and for our everyday needs. We needed this fillip because not everybody was happy with our six-week trip to South Africa.
A church board member wrote “It has nothing to do with faith...” We could understand the reasoning so well: in such a case one would normally first make sure that one has a job on one’s return. In so many words, we had to hear that this was very careless. It did hurt deeply when we had to read this written by a representative of the church. Yet, I had given the person who wrote these lines such a hard time through my activism while he tried to mediate between me and my Broederraad. I knew it was well meant out of loving concern. In the same letter, our brother affirmed that I would remain a minister of the denomination and that he would love me to welcome me back to serve the Moravian Church in the field of representation.
The only conditions attached to the visas turned out to be that we had to pay the telex costs and that we had to obtain and send a letter from the travel­ling agency to certify that we had bought return tickets. The stage was set for our next trip to the beloved heimat (fatherland)
In the following three weeks the big priority was to get a job. I hoped to take up teaching again on my return. 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 to one single application where I had survived the first round of nineteen applicants. However, there were still nine other applicants in the running for the vacant post. I still had to learn about the preference for nationals in such a scenario. I was after all only an exile from South Africa.
Chapter 5 Home or Hearth?

We had a nerve-wrecking few weeks until we received the visa for Rosemarie literally on the last minute. We could still finalize our travelling plans somehow, but it was too late to get an onward flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
We had no option than to sleep over in Johannesburg. The conditions under which the visit would took place, were nevertheless awesome. We were basically visiting my dying sister. And we had no idea what was to happen on our return to Holland. Furthermore, we were more or less using our last savings to finance the trip to South Africa.
My Moravian seminary colleague Martin October, with whom we lodged in the parsonage in Johannesburg en route to Cape Town, was quite willing to take me to Bishop Tutu and Dr Beyers Naudé when we would return to Holland. This suited me perfectly. 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 now all the more keen to discuss my manuscripts with him and Bishop Tutu. Earlier in the year I had corresponded with Bishop Tutu about ‘Liefde dryf die vrees uit’ (Love drives out fear)40 before his discussions with Mr Botha, the Prime Minister.
We left our winter coats with Martin and Fanny October, intending to collect them on our return to Europe. When I spoke telephonically to Anthony Esau, our brother-in-law, he told me that his wife was not well at all. I somehow however did not understand his question properly when he asked me where we were lodging.

A sad Welcome
On arrival at D.F. Malan Airport, the name of the international airport of Cape Town at that time, we heard that my sister had died the evening before. We were well in time to attend the funeral. Hoe kan ek u prys,41 the anthem of our clan, was of course a must at this occasion. Rosemarie and our almost four-year old son Danny had been learning the hymn as well.
It was felt that the gathering of the Joorst clan at the Jolly Carp Recreation Centre in Grassy Park, that our late sister Magdalene had initiated, should go ahead on Boxing Day. (She had also insisted in the last days of her life that our mother’s 70th birthday should be duly celebrated come what may.) She had hoped of course that she could still attend the clan gathering for the last time and meet the 200 odd relatives (I missed the previous two occasions in 1970 and 1973).
Mummy’s 70th jubilee celebration on Sunday the 28th was clearly over-shadowed by the loss of the only daughter. Ever since the condition of Magdalene became known, our mother’s health deteriorated rapidly. After my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary on the 5th of January, the nervous strain of the preceding months took its toll on both our parents. We feared the worst, especially for our mom.

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 Elim I had a long chat with 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 a post as a Mathematics teacher. (Fritz Faro, my student colleague of the seminary was also in Genadendal at this time as Chris’ understudy. We were blessed to be present at the ordination of Fritz in Clanwilliam shortly hereafter. However, a further few months later, we heard that his wife Cytheria died as a result of medical negligence.)
God started to work in my heart through the Holy Spirit. I was less impressed by the emphatic exhortation of Chris Wessels that I should expose the maltreatment by the government with Rosemarie’s visa and the like. I still preferred to win the Afrikaners over rather than exposing the misdeeds of the government.
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. Add to that Daddy’s heart condition, which caused him to take early retirement in 1971. (After the expropriation of our house in Tiervlei and him being forced to become a ‘migrant labourer’ - going to Elim one week-end per month - his health deteriorated significantly). This was also a matter of big concern. 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, Rosemarie and I spoke about how we were touched by the words from scripture the previous evening. More than once Rosemarie appealed to me to change my planning, to cancel the week on the Reef. 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 into a resolve to work for peaceful change in my home country, I was not inclined to miss this planned week.

Pride in my Way
By this time I had however become even more of a hardened anti-apartheid activist. The only constraint I had was that I waged my opposition from a religious platform. I recognised that the unity of believers was all-important. We were very much encouraged by a multi-racial group from different churches in Stellenbosch that had been started by Professor Nico Smith and a few pastors. This was a sequel to the SACLA event in Pretoria in 1979.
Rosemarie was deeply moved when she saw how our brother‑in‑law Anthony was struggling after the death of his beloved wife, our late sister. She could not understand why I insisted to go to Johannesburg in the remaining week before our departure for Holland.
My pride still stood in my way. It had not been easy to apply again for the right to travel as a family in one train compartment. Once more I had to beg the government for something I regarded as a self-evident right.

Anti-apartheid Activism made me hard
The anti-apartheid activist spirit made me hard and uncompassionate. Many people asked me why we didn’t stay longer when they heard that I had no employment in Holland on our return there. We decided to turn to certain trusted people for advice like our friend, the Anglican Rev. Clive McBride,42 at whose congregation Kathi Schulze was an elder. He thought that I should easily get a post with my reputation as a Mathematics teacher and the dearth of qualified colleagues in ‘Coloured’ schools for that subject. When I checked it out, this was confirmed. But I was not to be moved 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 would not see any of my parents again - could touch me significantly. This was the classic Jonah situation all over again where I wanted to run away from a certain responsibility, spurred on by the demonic influence of anti-apartheid fervour.
The train booking on the Trans-Karoo express turned out to be less complicated than the last time in 1978 when my application climbed the whole hierarchy ladder right up to the responsible cabinet minister. It still bugged me that one still had to ask for permission. When I booked I never mentioned anything about my vocation as a minister of religion. Yet, I received the message – the Esaus possessed a telephone line by this time – that ‘Reverend Cloete and his family may travel in the same compartment on January the 22nd’. My manuscript (plus the threatening phone call of Jakes) had evidently done its intimidating work in government circles. I went to the Central Railway Station to finalise the booking and bought our tickets at the first opportunity.
On the afternoon that had been scheduled as our final time together, the 21st January, my special friend Jakes was at hand, taking us to the Strandfontein beach. A strong wind was blowing there. The next evening we were to take the train to Johannesburg.
When we arrived in Sherwood Park at the home of the Esau family, the train tickets were however nowhere to be found. I must have lost them in Strandfontein. With the strong wind there, it would have been futile to go back and try and find them. God had caught up with me once again. Just like Jonah once, I was trying to run away from the responsibility to my parents and the bereaved family!

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. It was confirmed that we would try and stay for another six months. The church in Holland graciously agreed that we could leave our furniture in the parsonage in Zeist and that the rent could be paid at a later stage. A new pastor for Utrecht would not be appointed for the foreseeable future. My family and I would be able to return and live in the parsonage temporarily.
We attempted to support the bereaved Esau family through practical assistance. 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.
It was very special to see our ailing mother recovering slowly and the diminishing strain was evidently doing Daddy a lot of good.

Camping semi-permanently
As the nights became colder in March, it became imperative to move out of the caravan. Our one and a half year old Rafael constantly had a cold. However, the politics of the day prevented us from getting accommodation in a ‘White’ residential area for three months. Not even our church was prepared to take a risk by allowing us to stay in a vacant parsonage in Newlands, a 'White' residential area, where I was quite willing to be the ‘caretaker’. Of course, the danger of repercussions and government reprisals were very real. It is understandable that the Church Board did not see their way clear to take a risk. They possibly also considered my rebellious attitude of the past, for example when I challenged them in 1978 on behalf of Chris Wessels. They had to be cautious. The one or other of them may have noted the possibility of me wanting to stay in South Africa with my family premanently. Then the church leaders would have been in trouble! I could actually understand their stance, but I was nevertheless very disappointed that no one took the trouble to explain the refusal.
Repeatedly Rommel and Celeste Roberts invited us to come and stay with them. The couple had been with us in Holland for a few months after they were more or less forced to flee from the country the previous year. 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 government. After all other efforts to get temporary accommodation had failed we had no other excuse available to turn down their generous offer. Very hesitantly, we moved into the three-bedroom cottage with our two small boys to join Rommel, Celeste, Alan and Wally. (The latter two are brothers of Rommel.)

Involvement in ‘political’ matters
Because of my own involvement in ‘political’ matters at school, as well as our supporting Rommel, Celeste and Alan Roberts43 in the volatile Crossroads community with harassed ‘illegal’ 'Black' women,44 there was the real fear that anyone of us could have been arrested by the police. Of course, we were basically working towards racial reconciliation. Yet, it was illegal for a ‘Coloured’ or a 'White' to go into the 'Black' areas without a permit. Expecting that it would have been refused any way, we never even considered asking for one. That would have meant looking for trouble, apart from the principle involved. (It is highly debatable whether one should apply for a permit under such conditions.)
Our personal experiences and involvement in political turmoil during the first half of 1981 caused resentment in Rosemarie towards South Africa. On more than one occasion we experienced from close range how the political climate was heating up to near boiling point around us. Rosemarie had been helping a 'Black' teacher as a volunteer in a Catholic school in Nyanga with the teaching of retarded children. Every day a red car was following her closely, apparently attempting to intimidate her.
During our half-year stay in South Africa in 1981 I took the manuscript ‘What God joined together’ to Tafelberg Publishers, yet without success.45 Our friend Douglas Bax continued to fight our cause. The Presbyterian Church Synod actually passed a resolution whereby the denomination would defy the Mixed Marriages Act if racially mixed couples requested to be married.46

Tense Weeks
We furthermore 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.
A bus load of ‘illegal’ Black women had been forced to return to the Transkei. A crisis followed when the group 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. I was blessed to hear of a letter he had written when I visited a meeting of the Quakers on May 20 with Rommel Roberts. In his letter Tutu called on churches to make August the month of compassion, giving special attention to forced removals. The letter 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.
In the middle of the crisis I was preaching in the ('White') Congregational Church of Rondebosch where our friend Douglas Bax was the pastor. Through his involvement, other representatives of the Western Province Council of Churches got on board. A series of press statements increased pressure on the government. In the statement of Douglas Bax, he mentioned that the Langa people were lured to come to the ‘Bantu Administration Board’ offices under false pretences before being arrested. He challenged the government either to stop separating families or to cease calling itself a Christian government.
Rosemarie and the children valiantly joined me in dangerous ventures, such as going with me to Crossroads on Ascencion Day as part of a church delegation including Reverend Douglas Bax and a few other ministers. Military ‘Caspirs’ containing soldiers were driving along Lansdowne Road at this occasion. They reminded us that a shooting spree at our open-air meeting with these women and others in Crossroads, in which we could lose our lives, was very much on the cards. The presence of a British TV crew probably saved the day for us. On that occasion I was very much impressed by the performance of a young pastor, Elijah Klaassen.

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 is regarded as ‘political’ and ‘unspiritual’. For us it was special that we could phone Kathi Schulze, to pray for this situation as well as 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, at the Claremont Methodist Church to which she had connections and to the Anglican Church in Factreton where she was an elder in Clive and Maria McBride’s church. In this way we at least got believers to pray for the seemingly hopeless situation.
On the other hand, our friend Howard Eybers was invited quite often to preach in 'White' congregations and he was also to be the speaker at a prayer event on the Green Point Stadium. This was regarded by many as ‘revolutionary’. (in my seminary days when I was once accorded this ‘privilege’ because I was in possession of an academic degree, I refused to comply.)
Rosemarie and our two sons also joined me to Hanover Park when I decided to stand with students of Mount View High School. We were defying the government with a programme of alternative teaching on the ‘compulsory holiday’ on June 1. Secondary school learners at many schools had decided that they did not want to ‘participate’ in the celebration of the birthday of the Republic, which was normally celebrated on 31 May. (The director of ‘Coloured’ Education had given a stern warning if anybody was found to be on school premises on June 1.) We decided to have the teaching session at the neighbouring Bruce Duncan Home. A few pupils entered the school premises illegally and defiantly, going through a big hole in the fence. The police promptly stepped in. I was able to mediate somewhat in a situation which easily could have turned ugly.

Almost knocked out
During these tense weeks we had to reckon all the time with the possibility that any one of us residing in Haywood Road, Crawford could be killed or arrested. During the preceding months the going was rather tough as we had to struggle through all sorts of apartheid red tape. Then there had been the attitude of locals and that of the churches; as we tried to find accommodation, everybody we had approached - apart from Rommel and Celeste - seemed to fear breaking through the racist customs.
Yet, we still had high hopes that the church intervention in respect of the Crossroads inhabitants 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, but even more so this was the case with the Black women from Crossroads.
It was possibly very strategic that I could get the DRC Sendingkerk minister of Wynberg, 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 official of with the ‘Bantu Administration Board’. The bullying official seemed to be taken aback initially, starting off very apologetically saying that he has to see that the laws of the country are being obeyed. This prompted one of the ministers to mention that God’s law should get greater priority. Temporary reprieve for the hapless was achieved and the Anglican archbishop was to get an audience with the relevant Cabinet Minister.
Indeed, after the audience of Archbishop Bill Burnett with Minister Piet Koornhof, our friends Celeste and Nomangezi received ‘confidential concessions’ from the government on June 15, 1981, allowing the Crossroads women to stay. At least this battle seemed to have been won.
In the meantime I had become quite bitter once again. Celeste mentioned that someone wanted to organise an interview for me with the Prime Minister. But I was not interested any more. Why should I get a special privilege to live in South Africa with my wife and children when thousands of other families were being ripped apart?
Spiritually, I still had to learn that God was more interested in my relationship with Him than in my activism. Of course, I regarded my political activism as a part of my service for Him, part and parcel of an effort to get the races reconciled to each other. Towards the end of our stay Rosemarie had more than enough of all this turmoil and uncertainty.

An old Wound opened
We also now had to witness how confused our four year-old son Danny had become because of the different languages to which he was exposed. In one short sentence he managed at some stage to use the four related languages – Afrikaans, English, Dutch and German - not even mentioning two different dialects apiece of the first two. We were using these languages as we interacted with different groups of people.47 We were convinced now that we had to return to a European country where Danny could concentrate on one language. A German-speaking environment was the obvious choice. After leaving the political cauldron in South Africa, we first went to Rosemarie’s family in Southern Germany.
All efforts to get employment in Germany or Switzerland were however unsuccessful. As we shared our experiences, we completely forgot the divine injunction to ‘remain in our Jerusalem’, Zeist in Holland.
My interest at fighting apartheid was definitely not completely altruistic. In my heart there was still the deep desire to return permanently to South Africa, my heimat. In order to achieve that, the racist laws had to be dismantled. We were not aware that we had contributed significantly to this process through our involvement in Crossroads, Langa and Nyanga. It turned out to be the beginning of the end of the influx control laws that were finally scrapped in 1985.

Back in our “Jerusalem”
It was quite difficult to accept soon hereafter that Rosemarie was pregnant again. We very much wanted another child - preferably a daughter - but the timing of the pregnancy was very ‘inconvenient’ indeed. I was still unemployed with little prospect of anything coming up. On our return to Holland Rosemarie and I were quite divided on the issue of where we should be located - an old wound had been opened: I yearned to return to my home country, although I knew that it was well-neigh impossible. Rosemarie was relieved that we could get out of the threatening hearth more or less unscathed. But we knew that God had brought us together and expected to be called together to whatever country He would choose.
Back in Holland, a very difficult period in our lives started. 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. But we had no drive to start packing. On the other hand, we did not feel like Jonah at all. The church had offered us temporary accommodation in Bad Boll where we started our marriage. But we had no peace about this move.
And then it happened. Virtually on the last minute, I got a temporary teaching post in nearby Utrecht. Simultaneously, I applied for a position with a new mission agency EZIN48, to function as a pioneering church planter in Almere, a new polder area where land had been regained from the sea and where there were hardly any churches as yet. For some reason or other, I never heard from the EZIN people again after sending them my CV. Probably the evangelical group found my political activism (or my views on the christening of babies) too extreme.

A new Fellowship in Zeist
We had no intention of joining another fellowship when we left Zeist for South Africa at the end of 1980. When we returned in July 1981, we learned that a few local believers had decided to start a new fellowship. During our absence in South Africa, our friends Hein Postma and Wim Zoutewelle had been having talks with Albert Ramaker and Jan Kits (sr.) in an attempt to start a new evangelical fellowship in Zeist along the lines of the Brethren. (The latter two senior brothers belong to the founding members of the Evangelical Broadcasting Association that was to play such a pivotal role in the late 1970s and 1980s to counter the liberalism that was sweeping across the Netherlands.)49 I was not opposed to the idea of another bijbelgetrouwe (Bible-based) 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 Christians in this way.
Yet, it was still a long way off before I discovered that church disunity and a competitive spirit among the fellowships were actually demonic strongholds. My preference was to have a fellowship on a Saturday so that everybody could still attend a church of their choice on Sundays. I also had not discerned yet to what extent the medieval Emperor Constantine had high-jacked the Church, estranging us from our Jewish roots by making Sunday a compulsory day of rest. If we had known it at that time, our decision to join the new group might have been different.
What I specially liked about the new fellowship was that there would be no formal membership. The concept of dual membership that we brought along from the German Moravian Church - where the members also held membership of the state Church – also appealed to me. At any rate, we remained members of the Moravian Church. On both sides people were unhappy, but we were not to be deterred. On virtually every Saturday evening one would find me joining the traditional Moravian ‘Zangdienst’ (Evensong) and on Sunday evening I enjoyed the spiritually enriching liturgies that were constantly updated by our neighbour, Hans Rapparlié. We maintained a cordial relationship to the old couple, the Rapparliés - who lived below us - until they had to leave for a home for the aged. On Sunday afternoons (later on Saturday evenings) we often would play together on different musical instruments and/or sing and pray with each other.
The tragedy of denominational division really hit home to us on Sunday mornings when we set out for the new fellowship where I was soon asked to join the leadership team. With some hesitation I however agreed to serve on the Broederraad and lead the young people, along with Tom Zoutewelle. (Tom also served on the Broederraad). The minute fellowship moved to a new location at Panweg from where it significantly influenced the region in the 1980s.

The next few years I applied for numerous teaching vacancies in Holland. My South African nationality however made me suspect because I purposely refrained from mentioning my race in all applications. I did not want to be employed because of sympathy. On the other hand, not being Dutch, i.e. having a foreign accent on the phone and in the classroom, was not to my advantage either. Amid the uncertainty of permanent employment, our daughter Magdalena Erika - named respectively after my late sister and Rosemarie’s mother - was born on 17 March 1982.

A Period of great Uncertainty
After stopping 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 my South African (Bachelor of Arts) degree was not recognised in Holland. I decided to resume studies in Mathematics, not only as a way of getting a teaching post more easily, but also as a vehicle with which I could return to Africa in ‘tent-making’ missionary work. We really wanted to get involved with missions but no door seemed to open. One of the major handicaps was my South African passport.
Very surprisingly, Rosemarie did not protest at the prospect of a return to South Africa after we had heard from Hein Postma that the Dorothea Mission was looking for missionaries to work among the youth of Soweto. I had little hesitation to apply. However, I clearly mentioned that racial reconciliation was dear to us. The Dorothea Mission probably regarded this stance as too political because we never received any reply from them. Via friends we heard a few years later that our application was fiercely debated. With us being a racially mixed couple, this was of course quite a hot potato in a mission agency that was very close to Afrikaner thinking, if not completely immersed in it.
In the mid 1980s a speaker from OM (Operation Mobilisation) came to one of our Panweg church meetings. 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 me 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 thus highly motivated to get an updated Mathematics teaching qualification for this purpose.

Interest in Mission Work revived
While he was still at high school, the teenager Rens Schalkwijk, who returned with his parents from Jamaica in 1978, joined the weekly prayer group at the Moravian ‘widow’s house’. With Rens I felt spiritually very much on the same wavelength. In 1982 the young man suggested that the two of us should come together for early morning prayer, just as our spiritual ancestors, the Moravians, had been doing. This we put into practice, soon joined by Peter van Veldhuyzen, a young member of the Panweg fellowship, praying in the nearby forest before Peter left for his work. Since then Rens came in and out of our home quite frequently.
The 1982 prayer effort with Rens and Peter van Veldhuyzen culminated in the setting up of the ‘Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ (GNK)50 that included various facets of evangelical outreach. 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. 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 GNK 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 because of many obstacles before he was finally accepted as a Red Sea Mission worker. And how happy was he when he introduced to us 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 did we empathise with the Berkheij family as they struggled for many years to go through all sorts of preparations 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.

Ferment in the Dutch Reformed Church
After I had read in the Dutch newspaper Trouw that Professor Nico Smith was visiting Holland, I jumped at the opportunity to meet him. Some correspondence with him followed, during which I impressed the need for confession as a prelude to racial reconciliation. My effort backfired when Professor Nico Smith appeared to have cited from one of my letters at the Reforum conference of verligte DRC theologians in January 1985.
It seemed as if the way in which Prof. Nico Smith introduced my letter, might have rubbed some delegates up the wrong way. At least one person was quite upset at my temerity, to suggest that they should confess their guilt? And this was done by someone from overseas, and a ‘Coloured’ South African at that! From one of the conference participants I got an angry unsolicited response that testified to the negative reaction that my letter had provoked. Nevertheless, the seed sown in that way, appeared likewise to have germinated.
After I had seen Dr Dawie de Villiers in 1988 on TV, while I was in the country during a short visit with our daughter Magdalena, I felt an urge to write to him. He was a Cabinet minister and one of my teenage rugby heroes – and also a scrum half, the position I used to play at High School. Dawie de Villiers also stemmed from the northern suburbs of Cape Town and he had been a clergyman as well. In my letter to him I spelt out my conviction - the need of remorseful confession as a condition to reconciliation. I never had a reply to my letter, but I prayed that it might have stirred a cord in the heart of the former Dutch Reformed minister.
Two years later I really rejoiced when I heard how Professor Willie Jonker started the ball of confession rolling at Rustenburg in November 1990, confessing in his personal capacity and on behalf of his church. The government of the day and the Afrikaans press slammed the Rustenburg confession in general, but in the spiritual realm a deep impact was definitely made.

Prayer that changes Countries
At the interdenominational prayer meetings of the ‘Regiogebed’ we prayed for local issues, for missionaries who left from our area but also for other countries. In 1989 we prayed especially for Communist countries, notably for the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Romania. We were really encouraged by the news that came through from Leipzig in East Germany. Christians there seemed to have become the vanguards of the surge towards real democracy.
God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform! Unwittingly I was preparing my return to Africa, to my dear Heimat at that. On 4 October 1989 I wrote a letter of confession to President De Klerk, the newly inducted president, after I became inwardly convicted because of my activism and arrogance. Over the years I had written quite a few letters to the new presidential incumbent’s predecessors and to some of the Cabinet ministers. (Rosemarie felt that I was wasting my time She was very sure that my letters would never reach the likes of Mr. P.W. Botha. I prodded on nevertheless, but after 1982 the letters became very sparse compared to the years 1978-80.
At our ‘regiogebed’meeting of 4 October 1989, I mentioned in passing to someone that I had posted a letter to President De Klerk that day. Spontaneously Mr van Loon, a teacher from the nearby town of Doorn, who was no regular at our prayer meetings, suggested that we devote more time that evening to pray for South Africa. Nobody objected. That must have been supernatural guidance. The whole prayer meeting was hereafter devoted to praying for my beloved country. That was the only occasion when we prayed so intensely for a single country.
Nobody present at the prayer meeting was aware that President De Klerk was to meet Archbishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak the next week. That strategic meeting became in a sense a watershed in the politics of the country, the prelude to the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. Also in other countries - especially in South Africa itself - people had been praying for a change in the suicidal direction of the political system.51
This prayer meeting was special to me in another sense. This was one of the very first opportunities in evangelical circles where I experienced clear support for my opposition to my government at home. Some people even perceived the Dutch evangelicals to be supportive of apartheid. There was somehow the idea still floating around that a good Christian had to be supportive of either apartheid or Communism. I was opposing both, but I was not so isolated as in earlier days.

Through my ‘Joseph experience’ during my personal devotional time, the Lord dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. I was challenged while discovering that Joseph never returned to Israel. I had to released my yearning to go to my Heimat. The renowned biblical personality was exiled to Egypt. I had to be prepared to serve the Lord anywhere in the world, without ever able to return to my home country. After some inner battle I became willing – never to return to South Africa if that would be the confirmed divine guidance. However, the African continent was still my silent preference.

Suffering from spiritual Suffocation Before long I got involved in yet another verbal skirmish. I ran into problems with a few members of our Panweg fellowship because a few Roman Catholic nuns had participated in the ‘Regiogebed’. Some believers had obviously been so brainwashed by anti-Catholic indoctrination that they could not believe that born-again people - especially nuns - could be in the ‘Church of the Pope’. The unity of the body of our Lord was an issue about which Rosemarie and I felt that we could not compromise. Other simultaneous tensions in the fellowship brought matters to a head.
It was very special when we now received a letter from Dick van Stelten52 in Josini (South Africa), which confirmed to us that we should consider moving on from the fellowship where we suffered increasingly from spiritual suffocation.
Differences among the leadership of the Panweg fellowship coincided with a financial and transport crisis within our family. We decided to walk on Sunday mornings to the nearby ‘Figi’ congregation - the Full Gospel Fellowship - until such time when we would be ‘mobile’ again. The problem of transport was really not a crucial issue because everybody in Holland uses the bicycle all too often. As a family we were regularly on the road on a Sunday afternoon in that way, with our two youngest children respectively transported by Rosemarie and myself.
We yearned to return to the fellowship with which we had so many happy memories over the previous seven years. But it was not to be. The reconciliation 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 fellowship, but once we joined a home cell in 1989, things improved considerably. That the new congregation would not fully supportive of the ‘regiogebed’ was nevertheless a matter of distress to me. The building of an own kingdom was very much rife, also in the ‘free churches’. Yet, some members of the new fellowship participated in the prayer groups for schools that were initiated and encouraged by the Regiogebed.
We had proved a point in the meantime with the work of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’. This local evangelistic ministry was going well with about 30 workers from different denominations, involved in a wide range of evangelistic ministries. We had demonstrated to Dutch Christians that it was possible for people from different church backgrounds to work together if doctrinal tussles were not allowed to cause quarrels, if they would only concentrate on rallying around the uniting person of Jesus.

Chapter 6 A fatal Blow to Communism?

Just before I left South Africa in January 1969, I had bought a booklet at the Parow bookshop of Nic de Goede, the leader of the Wayside Mission. The autobiographical booklet ‘Tortured for Christ’ by Richard Wurmbrand, in which the author described how he had been maltreated in communist Romania, made a deep impression on me. In Germany I soon had the opportunity to listen to the testimony of the Romanian pastor himself and hear about the experiences of Christians in the Communist countries.
Hereafter I received the periodical of the organization founded by Wurmbrand regularly. I also started a practice of fasting on Friday mornings, praying especially for imprisoned Christians behind the iron curtain. Initially this was more or less merely faceless and untargeted prayer. This was to change in later years when we got photographs of the persecuted Christians. Nevertheless, I never really proceeded to become an intercessor in the best sense of the word.
After my return to South Africa in 1970, my vigour to pray for the Communists was dampened after I listened to a radio report about Richard Wurmbrand once again. He had spoken in a mass meeting on the Green Point Stadium of Cape Town. What was reported about what he had said I regarded as very insensitive. He purportedly compared our situation of racial inequality with the Christians’ experience under Communist oppression. The SABC however rubbed salt in the wounds of the oppressed part of the population through their reporting of the Green Point event and Wurmbrand’s visit to the country in general. I discerned once again how slyly satan53 was causing disunity.

Behind the Iron Curtain
Nevertheless, I became involved in the practical support of the East European Christians in their struggle against Communism when I worked as assistant pastor in (West) Berlin in 1974. Time and again we brought Christian literature to the Eastern part of the city when we met the Moravians under the Communist regime. This was not completely without risk, because I was always picked out from the queue either because of my external features or my South African passport. Once, I was very surprised when the officials actually looked into my satchel with the illegal Christian literature openly displayed. Yet, no action followed. For the rest, our support of Christians in the Eastern part of the divided city was low-key.
After our marriage in March 1975 and our ordination in September 1975, we returned as a married couple to Berlin where I was now the second pastor.54 A highlight at this time was a visit to Herrnhut in August 1977 at the 250th year celebration of the revival that kick-started world missions like nothing else ever since. Normally those people who would go into the German ‘Democratic’ Republic proper – as opposed to only going to East Berlin, were very thoroughly checked at the borders. Having our baby Danny with us, we of course also had to take nappies and other baby utensils along. This helped a lot that the scrutiny at Checkpoint Charlie was not as stringent as it otherwise would probably have been.
It was a special privilege to lead the Bible Study at a family camp that coincided with the celebrations. Just as memorable was an evening meeting where Christians from neighbouring socialist countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia also attended.
At that occasion I was allowed to give a short ‘Grusswort’, but the believers from Poland were very disappointed that I didn’t speak longer. The Polish Christians were even more starved than the East Germans from meeting people from outside the Soviet block. At a time when I was personally struggling with the materialism of the church in the West, I was really blessed by the convincing walk with the Lord of some of those believers in the Socialist part of Germany.
Our hosts saw it as their special privilege to have us lodge at the church’s Gästehaus. We had a big fright however when I slipped on the stairs of the Guest House with Danny on my arm. Our six-month old son had an ugly blue scar on his bum. After a thorough examination nothing serious was detected. The answer to a question by the doctor was reassuring: the blue mark was due to my Asian ancestry – the so-called Mongolian birth mark.

Supporting the persecuted Christians
The next chapter of our involvement with the fight against the Communist wall started in Holland. Especially because of the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi’s, that country took a great pride to support the persecuted. A great pioneer was Anne van der Bijl, who had his Bible School training at the WEC missionary training College. (Outside of Holland he is called Brother Andrew). He had a long relationship with the Heijnks, the founders of the Full Gospel ‘Figi’ fellowship of Zeist, preaching there at least once a year. The Sunday just before Christmas became traditional over many decades with the sermon held by Brother Andrew, alias Anne van der Bijl.
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 face from the little 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.
Tieringen was to become the beginning of the next chapter of our low-key struggle against the atheist Communist regimes. 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 got valuable inside information, but we also got addresses from Christians in that socialist country.

Attempting to be moderate
My intention to be moderate and to practice fair play at all times, often brought me into trouble with opposing parties. I harvested enemies by criticising the unjust economic structures, noting that we in the affluent West were exploiting the poor of the third world. To many Christians this was socialist language that befitted the left of the political spectrum. How could I then be against Communism? To some this was puzzling. Some evangelicals derogatorily regarded me as an ecumenical. The latter Christian grouping was usually not favourably inclined to evangelicals. I could not care less if people would label me as ‘sitting on the fence’. I was not ashamed of my stance deriving my views from the Bible and my faith, my ultimate source of inspiration.

Sending Clothing for the needy
A visit by Shadrach Maloka, a well known Black evangelist from South Africa to our Panweg fellowship, spawned the sending of clothing to needy evangelists who were linked to his work. 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 helped 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 there pick there. Salou and Annelies,55 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.
After September 1987 we extended our charity service, now 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 suffering 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 was to become quite pivotal in this process. This was seemingly part of God’s master plan to break down the Communist stronghold.

Prayer that changes countries
The ‘regiogebed’ that we started in the central area of Holland in August 1988, congregated every first Thursday of the month for an interdenominational prayer meeting. 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 other countries. In 1989 we prayed especially for Communist countries, notably for the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Romania. We were really encouraged by the news that came through from Leipzig in East Germany. Christians there seemed to be the vanguards of the surge towards real democracy.
* * *
I got my upgraded Maths teaching diploma, but that also signalled the end of my teaching career in Holland. When I applied for a post in Gouda, the principal confided telephonically that he wanted to employ me but that the two unqualified teacher colleagues on his staff resisted my appointment. With future retrenchments expected because of a merger, their own jobs would then be on the line. No other application was successful. Yet, God was at work.

The dust was not yet fully settled on different issues in October 1989 when along came our friend Wil Heemsbergen-Büchner, a Goed Nieuws Karavaan co-worker, with a repeated invitation to to join a bus trip to Romania with all costs paid, to assist on the pastoral side in the touring bus to the Communist stronghold. I had stated the first time that I was not really at ease to accept the invitation because of my situation of unemployment, waiting on replies to applications for teaching posts.
It was now already well into October. I had just heard that some of my most recent applications for teaching posts were unsuccessful. Thus I would theoretically be free to join the group to Romania. But there was still another hurdle - my possession of a South African passport. I was uneasy about it after my experiences every time I had to cross a border into East Berlin. I explained to her my predicament. I feared that I would cause problems for the rest of the group. Wil promptly relayed my reservation to Jan van de Bor, the Dutch leader of the mission agency 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 somewhat uneasy.
When the Dutch leader of the Underground Church - as Richard Wurmbrand called his organization - approached me a second time, my last application for a teaching post had been very discouraging. My hope of getting an appointment as a Maths teacher in Holland again was all but dashed. Now I seemed to be almost overqualified!

I had almost forgotten that I had applied for Dutch citizenship in order to get to the African mission field. I now had to come to grips with the fact that all the disappointments with teaching applications were the sum total of my Jonah experience. I was actually running away from my calling.
And then it happened! Out of the blue I heard that my application for Dutch citizenship was successful - much earlier than what everybody had anticipated. I had expected a language proficiency test to be the next step. Within a few days I had my Dutch passport, ready to be on my way to Hungary and Romania! Believers in Zeist covered us in prayer for the trip to Romania, one of the prime Communist strongholds of the time.

Hungary and Romania
The experiences in Hungary and Romania were sobering, emotionally not easy to handle at all. Hungary had already started opening up to the West. The hospitality of the Reformed Christians, our hosts, was really heart-warming. In Western Europe, where materialism had taken its toll, I had become used to cooler receptions. We delivered the bulk of the aid to the persecuted Christians here. Other people would take the literature in small quantities to various other countries that were still in the grip of Communism.
Rumania was a completely different cup of tea compared to East Germany or Hungary. We had hardly passed the German border when one of our passengers, who originated from Hungary before her marriage to a Dutchman, picked up the news on the radio. A bus with tourists from the West was announced. The border officials of Romania had dutifully relayed our entry into their country to the national radio station. We were ‘in the news’. What a special item! The intention was of course to brand us. It was forbidden for Romanians to have contact with foreigners.
Only a few selected people in our group knew about the clandestine operations. Everything happened in utmost secrecy to secure the safety of the local Christians. Only once I was one of the select group that was privileged to take clothing to a local address. We did that in broad daylight. If we were asked by anybody where we were going, we would have enquired after the way to the hotel where we were staying.
What a joy our presence brought to those believers! Although none of us could speak a language known to them and no member of the Romanian contact family we visited could speak a West European language, we experienced a special kind of fellowship. The gesture that Christians in the West have not forgotten them, really made their day!
The trip ended traumatic. At the border the sentries used the inspection of the film in a video camera and the reaction of its owner as an excuse to grill the whole group. The Romanian Securitate, their secret police, had evidently done their homework very well. They knew exactly which people from our group were involved with the clandestine activities. They extracted enough information - using a search that included the underwear of one of our participants and a letter that was to have been posted in the West - to bring our trip to Romania to a very sad end.
What would they do with the people at the address that they got out of the panty of one lady? They knew exactly whom to scrutinize specially. The other question was what would happen with the couple whose son in the West was to receive a letter posted by someone from the group.

Changes in Eastern Europe and South Africa
During the next few months history was made both in Eastern Europe and in South Africa. On both occasions I missed out on seeing the events on TV when it happened.
While we wer in Romania on a mission trip, a very significant event happened in Germany. I missed out because the breaking down of the Berlin wall on 9 November was not relayed by the Romanian state TV viewers. Instead, we were treated with a massive dose of Čeauçescu clan reports any time of the day in our hotel bed-room, like of course all Romanians, although we could not understand the language.
A few months later I was in West Africa accompanying Bart Berkheij to Mali. In Dionkoulane where he ministered till he lost his wife in a tragic car accident the previous year we were really out in the sticks. Communication was by radio every morning to other missionaries in the country when one could hear the latest ‘news’ from the field. BBC news was of course very special. This was of course even more so when I picked up that President de Klerk had given a speech in parliament, lifting the ban on the ANC and other parties and most exciting of all - Nelson Mandela was to be set free! We returned to Holland on the evening of the 11 February 1990 – a few hours too late to see great event on TV live!!

Rebellion in Romania
It was something of a consolation when we heard soon thereafter that there was rebellion in Romania. At this time I was working part-time at the East Europe Mission a few days per week. Now and then I was taking Bibles and other material aid on behalf of the organization to Switzerland. The loads were scheduled for the Communist countries. Other people would take the valuable goods further.
When the fighting in Timisoara moved to a critical stage, Tineke Zwaan, one of our Goed Nieuws Karavaan co-workers, phoned us. She wanted to come over with her husband Gideon so that we could have a special session of prayer for Romania. We had close contact with Tineke for many years, since the time when she was still single and unemployed. She was one of the founder workers of our evangelistic team of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan. I suspect that we were one of many groups around the world that were raised by God at that point in time to pray for the Communist stronghold to crumble. Within a matter of days, the dictator Nicolai Čeauçescu’s days were counted. Communism was on its last legs!
In the next few years the almost complete demise of Communism took place. Albania was one of the few countries that was still resisting the winds of change. When I heard from the aged sister Kooy, our faithful prayer warrior, that the diminutive Gesina Blaauw of the Antique Mission had been working with Albanians, it was only natural that she would be one of the next speakers at our monthly regional prayer meeting.
I was not privileged to listen to Gesina Blaauw myself. I had hardly returned from Romania, when Bart Berkheij approached me again to accompany him to West Africa, mentioning that the friend who would have joined him, had stepped down. This time I was happy to accept the invitation to go to Mali, on condition that he would join me to Côte I’voire. In the latter country I wanted to explore the situation at the mission school where I hoped to go and teach.

Chapter 7 Deeper Involvement in Spiritual Warfare

George Otis described Islam as the last giant to be conquered. When we started working in Zeist among Moroccan and Turkish children, we were not aware that the Lord had started to prepare us for a future ministry among Muslims. Even when we invited Herman Takken - who was involved in this sort of work in Holland full-time, calling a part of it Gospel for Guests - to come and give us, the volunteers of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan’, some teaching on Islam - I was not remotely thinking of getting deeply involved.
At that time OM (Operation Mobilisation) came along to one of our Panweg church meetings. 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 me the dire need to share the gospel there.

Working in a Middle East Country?
Rosemarie could not appreciate my wish to go to a Middle East country like Egypt. But she initially patiently allowed me to 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 and our fifth child Tabitha was born on 25 April 1986, the very day I had an examination to write and thus not able to be present for the birth. (Apart from our first born, who came lifeless into the world, and Danny, who was delivered via a Caesarean, I was privileged to be present at the birth of the other three.).
The information in one of the OM leaflets however effectively nailed the door to me to proceed with any procedure to be accepted by that mission agency: ‘Don’t wait until you are 40 or when you have five children.’ My Mathematics studies caused a lot of frustration at home because I had so little time for Rosemarie and the children. From 1985 I had been attending lectures on two evenings per week and often thereafter I still studied or worked after coming home because I was also teaching simultaneously. One evening per week, every fort-night there was also the church council meeting, apart from the responsibility and work associated with leading the city-wide evangelistic work of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan (GNK) that we had started at the end of 1982. Almost every evening of the week I was not at home. The children only really saw me on the weekends. We tried to compensate for this by doing something together on the Sunday afternoons that they would enjoy. It surely was a good idea to take time with one child apiece over the weekends. This could be just going for a drive by bicycle, eat ice cream or whatever they would wish and which would not be expensive. This was also excellent for the education of our children, but it petered out however after only a few months.
A phone call to the Dutch WEC Headquarters in Emmeloord discouraged me. I erroneously got the impression that they would expect me to go to a Bible School again. That put paid to our joining WEC at that point in time. Later we understood that we would probably not have been accepted then, because of Mission Policy. New couples with five children would not have been acceptable for joining the mission agency.

Regional Prayer
Rens Schalkwijk was a natural choice to become the godfather of our youngest daughter Tabitha in 1986. One day he came along with the proposal 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, Ria and her fiancé Lukas Hartong, who had been 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 the Dutch Christians with regard to Concerts of Prayer.
In August 1988 - through the active urge of Rens Schalkwijk and his contacts with Pieter Bos, the prayer movement in Holland got under way. Rens and I were soon leading the first unit of the ‘Regiogebed’ of the Netherlands - that of Driebergen-Zeist - which congregated every first Thursday of the month for a prayer meeting with believers from different church backgrounds.
However, the summer of 1988 also brought a terrible shock when we heard that Bart Berkheij and his children had lost Ruth, his wife and their young mother, in a car accident. They had been in Mali only for a very short time! We had been feeling ourselves very close to them.

Spiritual Warfare
The last day in Abidjan, the capital, took the cake. I had already enjoyed the bus trip from Vavoua, during which I had a meaningful ‘conversation’ with a student who had studied German. I practiced my little bit of French, translating a tract about the lost sheep of Luke 15 into German, for him to check. The openness for the gospel in the West African metropolis impressed me, even though the humidity made me depressed. I could hardly sleep during our only night in the West African city.
Bart and I spent the morning doing some sightseeing and shopping - little artefacts to take along for the families at home! I got home sick as I looked over the Islamic city! When I saw a few mosques, it so much resembled the old District Six, the slum-like area of my childhood. I had thought that South Africa was way out of my mind in terms of a return there! But in a fleeting moment I was overwhelmed by nostalgia.
An even deeper impression followed at our ‘visit to a mosque’. We landed in one by accident. When all the shops closed down, we had no opportunity to continue our shopping spree. We simply took a seat next to the road, when 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!) What a bashing he gave me hereafter for going through the Islamic motions. Strangely enough, I didn’t feel very deeply sorry from within...
As I looked at the people in front of me, I experienced a thrill. It was as if the Lord was reassuring me that these movements were no more than meaningless tradition; that some day the Islamic wall would also crash like the Communist wall.56
The insight I gained from this experience was quite deep. Back in Holland I challenged our home ministry group: I recognised that having your hands in the air while we sing and similar gestures could be just as empty! Having come from a church with a rich tradition of ritual and music, the message of Isaiah hit home to me that outward feasts and celebrations - without a genuine concern also for the poor and the needy - could actually be disgusting in God’s eyes (Isaiah 58).

We deemed it fit to speak to the leaders of the fellowship about our mission plans even though we had been church members for less than a year. The dynamic ‘Mama’ Heijnk was quite contented when she heard that we intended to use the vocation in which I had been trained. She stated clearly that as a church they were financially committed to ‘Open Doors’.
At the discussion with the new leadership team a few months later - the old Heijnks had taken a back seat - they were quite surprised that we didn’t mention financial support. Not very long hereafter, the elders progressed even further along a new road: they committed themselves to regular monthly support for us to a substantial tune.

The Yoke of ritual Bondage
As the years went by we discerned that many Muslims were wrestling under the yoke of ritual bondage. The question became even more pressing: How will all those people who are still veiled ever get rid of it? 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 only 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 sovereignly accomplish. God doesn’t need us, but we can be instruments in His hands to change the world, especially through prayer.
The three weeks were sufficient to excite me about the possibilities to share the gospel in West Africa. The discussions at the school in Vavoua (Ivory Coast) were promising, although I foresaw that merely as a prelude to get into other missionary work after a few years. But I still had to get fluent in French and Rosemarie had not even started learning this language. We could even kill two birds with one stone. I would be involved in the effort to bring the last giant down and I would be returning to Africa.

‘Doors’ start to open’
The Lord used the orientation journey in yet another way. While I was in West Africa, our long-standing friend Geertje Rehorst visited Rosemarie one evening. After she returned from Austria with her two teenage sons, we helped to make the two boys feel at home in the new environment, as part of the youth group that we ministered to in our home.
When Geertje heard from Rosemarie that we were praying for a teacher, she asked all sorts of questions during my visit to West Africa. Because she had been ruled unfit for teaching a few years before this, we never even seriously considered Geertje as a possible candidate to help us out.
When her son Peter visited us with his wife Annelies soon after my return, we told them of our predicament, our need of a teacher to accompany us to England. He 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 that she should go with us to England. She was only waiting on us to approach her.
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 started seriously to buy 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 was to play a big role in helping me to get a manuscript prepared for the Golden wedding anniversary of my parents on 5 January, 1991.

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 terse hand-written letter from Pietie Orange, a friend from our Tiervlei/Ravensmead days.
There was not much in Pietie’s letter in terms of content, but very clearly there was the clarion call: COME OVER AND HELP US. Under normal circumstances I would have jumped at this opportunity to return to my home country, but with many different missionary opportunities that have suddenly opened up, I was quite confused. The experiences in West Africa were still fresh in my mind. For years the ‘doors’ to missionary service seemed to remain closed and now there appeared to be many doors wide open. Which was the right one?
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 be in Europe. Through my ‘Joseph experience’ during personal devotions, the Lord had by now thoroughly dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. I was in the meantime prepared to serve the Lord anywhere in the world. 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 the ‘door’. This actually happened. Quite lovingly Jean Barnicoat, the directress of the WEC mission school, pointed out in a letter that the age and number of our children militated against the venture of us joining their staff. I was nevertheless shattered to some extent when this reply came. I had been looking forward to serve in Vavoua, having started to learn French to that end.

Journey into the unknown
In his faithfulness the Lord intervened once again. Out of the blue we received a phone call from Dick and Ann van Stelten, a missionary couple in the little town of Josini in South Africa, near to the Mozambican border. They have been receiving our newsletters. Although we had written only about our plans to go to Côte I’voire and nothing about South Africa, they invited us, challenging us to come and take over their ministry. In a sense this was a ray of light after the disappointment with regard to Vavoua.
Jacob and Emmy Spronk, the Dutch WEC leaders, were very supportive that we should go and explore the work in Northern Natal, to see if the Lord confirmed that call. Perhaps it could become a new venture of WEC South Africa. (All of us were not aware of it that WEC South Africa had actually decided not to start new ministries in the country.)
My mother was due to turn eighty at the end of that year and the golden wedding anniversary of my parents was due shortly thereafter in early January 1991. After all the trips of the previous months, we hardly had liberty to share our vision and intention with other Christians to visit South Africa on orientation at the end of 1990. (Officially I was still unemployed, teaching only a few hours per week and doing some casual work with the East European Mission.)
Gradually one hurdle after the other was surmounted as we decided to take our eldest and youngest children along on the orientation journey to South Africa. We had no funds for such a trip, so that the publication of my autobiographical material naturally came in for consideration. A major obstacle to the publication of our story had been removed at the death of Papa Göbel. At certain points I had written rather negatively about him.
We were severely tested about going to work in Northern Natal. In a TV programme on Dutch TV the reporter mentioned that the fighting in Natal was worse than Lebanon and Northern Ireland put together.57 ‘Was this the sort of situation into which we wanted to take our children?’
In obedience to the Lord we nevertheless planned to start a visit to South Africa in Pretoria, visiting the Lugthardts, a Dutch missionary couple linked to the Dorothea Mission. From there, we prayed and trusted that we would get to the Van Steltens in Josini somehow.

Pretoria was still very much an apartheid bastion in the year 1990. In the morning we attended the church of our friend Shadrach Maloka in Garankuwa just outside of Pretoria, to whom we had been sending parcels with used clothes. It was no surprise to me when we heard that I would not be able to attend the evening service of the Afrikaanse Baptiste Kerk, but that Rosemarie could. We got the message. I was not allowed to attend because I was not White.

The Lord turned the Tables
The Lord himself turned the tables when Cees Lugthardt came to me the Sunday afternoon with an ‘unanimous request of the church council’. Their pastor had contracted a slip disk at the morning service. Now they wanted me to preach during the evening occasion. Never before had someone of colour attended the church, and now I was to be on their pulpit!
Rosemarie however gave me thumbs down after my first sermon draft. The old carnal activist in me had resurfaced. The Lord gave me special grace to revamp my draft, to be able to serve without any resentment. And the heavens did not come down! In fact, from the reactions of the congregants afterwards, it seemed to have been an eye-opener for many of them. The one or other could possibly not envisage that a ‘Coloured’ could preach, let alone do it in cultured Afrikaans.

A Sense of Home-coming
In a wonderful way transport was supplied for us to get to Josini. A ‘bakkie’, a transport vehicle with only one seat for two or three passengers was miraculously suddenly at our disposal. Our two children that we had taken with us – Danny, our eldest son and Tabitha, our youngest - could sit under a canopy at the back. We were to return the vehicle to one of the Van Stelten children in Durban. The young man was only too happy to have convenient transport in this way to go home for Christmas. Another son Van Stelten would return the vehicle later to the military base Voortrekkerhoogte near Pretoria.
In Josini it was clearly confirmed that the Lord did not call us to serve in Ubombo, a school for Zulu children. On the other hand, when we joined the national conference of WEC in Durban, we experienced a sense of home-coming. Although we did not know anybody present, we felt that we belonged there, in spite of a hick-up or two.58 Durban was the ideal preparation for our candidates’ orientation at Bulstrode in England, which was to follow soon after our return from South Africa. Also in Cape Town, the next venue of our orientation, things fell in place. It was agreed that we could return there at the beginning of 1992 with a role in representative work and possibly for evangelistic work among students. The end of my exile was looming!!
It was great to be present for the 80th birthday of our Mum and the Golden Wedding Anniversary of my parents. We hereafter linked up with friends like Jattie 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. A conversation to the Kinnears, 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. I got excited when we heard that the the last hurdle was to go which prevented our return to the Heimat. The Group Areas Act – which prescribed residential areas for the various races, was to be scrapped soon. It seems as if my exile could indeed end soon.

Lessons in Spiritual Warfare
Come January 1991, we were already in Bulstrode, the international headquarters of WEC for the missionary Candidates’ Orientation. The Lord used this time to start moulding us profoundly for our future ministry in Cape Town. There we were clearly introduced to the concept of spiritual warfare for the first time in such a clear way. Never before had we heard about terms like prayer walks, about strategic and targeted prayer. I had practised targeted prayer before, for example in areas of Zeist with other believers, without giving it that tag.
The Gulf War at the beginning of the year made things very practical. In one of the devotionals at the WEC International Office Jenny Carter demonstrated why it was necessary for the allied aeroplanes to prepare the area for the onslaught of the artillery.
I should have known more about spiritual warfare because Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the renewed Moravian Church, had introduced a term like ‘Streiterehe’ - the warrior marriage - centuries ago. (According to this concept the married partners sacrificed to be separated from the spouse for extended periods.) But all of this I had perceived as not valid for our time. At Bulstrode this changed because the Gulf War made the issue so practical. Furthermore, fundamentalist Islam became more clearly visible as a threat to world peace.

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. I had been giving talks about different aspects of South African life, but discerned that I did not know enough about the culture and history of the Indian population of my home country. What also played a role in my thinking was the strategy to be used back home to help recruit South African Indians for missionary work in the subcontinent from where their ancestors originally hailed.59 We shared our ideas with Heather Jones, a missionary who had to leave Liberia because of the civil war there. She was challenged to go to Durban, to work among the Indians.
My suggestion now was that Rosemarie could study the politics, economy and related issues, while I would make a study of the South African Indians. This led me into looking at Hinduism and Islam, their two major religions. 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 rest of the continent. I also noted 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 minister in their home countries. In the months hereafter I started writing my thoughts about these matters, which ultimately culminated in a manuscript I called ‘A Goldmine of another Sort’. The subtitle was the New South Africa as a base for Missionary Recruitment.’60
On alternate Saturday mornings we evangelised in London, among other things using the EE3 method also called Evangelism Explosion, from the Westminster Chapel. 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. Howard and Jill Sayers as the Candidate secretaries did their bit to make the experience very memorable to all of us as missionary candidates.

Chapter 8 The End of the Exile beckons

When we returned to Holland from England, we first had to go for further orientation for two months to Emmeloord, to the Dutch HQ of WEC. In our correspondence with WEC South Africa we did mention that we wanted our hands free to spread the Gospel among the Cape Muslims. However, the South African WEC leadership desperately wanted to use us 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 get ‘bogged down’ by administration and representation. We could not see that as our gifting.
We celebrated Rosemarie’s 40th birthday in Emmeloord. My gift to her was a manuscript ‘Op adelaars vleugelen’ (On Eagle Wings), alluding to the text Henning Schlimm used at the occasion of our wedding in Königsfeld. (The present book is a translation, an updating and an expansion of that treatise.)
Thankfully, all the differences could be resolved and a few months later we were accepted as WEC missionaries. It was agreed that we would assist our colleague Shirley Charlton with representation in Cape Town in the first year and thereafter we would see how the Lord would lead.

Hurdles and Afflictions
The next hurdle was the airfare to South Africa for seven of us. (Two of our five children needed to pay adult fares.) We furthermore decided that a container would be the most economical way to get our belongings to Cape Town, although 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 circumstance that we considered as a ‘fleece’, a test, became quite an affliction when the couple that stayed in our home in Zeist for six months did not pay the rent promptly. They finally paid the rent in a lump sum after we had spoken to their pastor about the matter. We thus experienced once again how the strong divine wings of the eagle were seeing us through. Not even once did we have to delay the payment of rent and we always had sufficient funds to contribute towards our stay in Bulstrode.
With the belated lump sum payment of the rent we now suddenly had finances not only for the airfares to South Africa for the seven of us, but also for the transport and rental of a container with our essential possessions!

Start of the Zendingsbidstond
In Emmeloord, at the Dutch HQ of WEC, we heard of the advisability of having a missionary prayer meeting in our home church. Shortly after our return to Zeist, we invited Don and Kryniera Koekkoek, a couple from our church, for a cup of tea. They had occasionally been supporting our ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ evangelistic work. Kryniera shared during their visit how God had challenged her to stimulate prayer for missionaries.
Another couple in our fellowship was about to go to Bhutan as missionaries. When we spoke to Hans Riemersma, one of the elders, he was very sympathetic to our request to start a zendingsbidstond, but he was rather sceptical. Apparently, other people had already tried something similar, but tradition in the church had smothered every effort in that direction.
The Lord blessed the renewed attempt. We soon hereafter had a regularly zendingsbidstond - a monthly prayer meeting for the many missionaries started in the home of Don and Kryniera Koekkoek. That became an important feature in the calendar of the church.
The Lord used the time in Bulstrode, the International WEC Headquarters near to London, to bring Geertje back into missionary work. Soon hereafter she started to learn Spanish, becoming the member care person for a few workers in Spain. This was still quite a few years before it became the in thing in missions to have a member care person.

Farewells and more spiritual Warfare
Towards the end of the year we started giving away various items that we could not take along to Cape Town. When Anne van der Bijl (Brother Andrew) mentioned in his annual pre-Christmas sermon a family in need, we got into some trouble after giving away a good bed. An old couple from the former Panweg fellowship was offended because they had specially given that bed to us when they moved to an old-age home. This signalled the beginning of one attack after the other.
On one day in the week I assisted in the office of the Eastern Europe Mission. This led to my taking clothing and Bibles for persecuted and needy Christians on behalf of the Eastern Europe Mission to Switzerland over certain weekends. From there other people took the goods to Communist countries. I was given permission to take the family members along on these trips in a small truck with comfortable seating for at least five people. Because we would sleep with our family in Southern Germany, this saved the mission quite a few Dutch guilders for accommodation and meals in Switserland.
On our last trip on behalf of the Eastern Europe Mission in December 1991 - also intended as our farewell to the family in Germany - we had to face the reality of spiritual warfare as never before. Satan evidently wanted to prevent us from going to South Africa. Rosemarie and I left for Switzerland from the home of the Braun family in Lienzingen, with literature and used clothes for persecuted believers in Eastern Europe. The intention was to return to Lienzingen the same evening. We had no idea how close we would come to losing our lives. Apart from the literature and used clothes we had brought from Holland, we also picked up quite a number of Russian Children’s Bibles at Licht im Osten in Korntal, near Stuttgart. The load was thus quite heavy hereafter.
Snow in the mountainous region of Southern Germany about 50 Km before the Swiss border made driving hazardous in the extreme with the heavily loaded van. As we slid across the Autobahn61 on the heights, we were praying almost all the time.
And then it happened! We skidded off the road. We discerned God’s protecting hand when the van with the heavy load was thankfully just at a place where there was a parking place. If it had been at almost any other location in that area, we would have gone down into the depths to a certain death.

More Difficulties and Attacks
Soon we had to face an onslaught of another sort. We were heavily burdened to leave the care of Rosemarie’s ailing mother to Waltraud, her sister. From Holland we could at least come during the school holidays to take over some of the burden. That would not be possible from South Africa. Everybody also knew how dearly I wanted to return to my home country. Therefore it was fully comprehensible when it was vocalised that I had been only been abusing the interlude of the Ivory Coast as a smokescreen, to prepare the way to take my family to South Africa.

We returned from Germany with heavy hearts. We cried to the Lord to intervene. Our tickets were booked by now and the container ordered. The Lord would have to send in someone to help Waltraud with the care of our mother. Otherwise we would have no liberty to go!
A friend brought us in touch with a retired nurse of Doorn who spoke German and who was prepared to go to Lienzingen to help Waltraud with our mother. This cleared the way for us. We were now free to go to Cape Town a week later! It was however never necessary to call on that help.

While I was in Holland I was deeply impacted by the followers of Jesus there. I was encouraged to return to my home country to be a blessing to my people. I hoped that we might be used by God in a similar way.
Chapter 9 Home sweet Home?

When we arrived in South Africa in January 1992, my physical exile was really over. I know full well that as a Christian we should always be like strangers and aliens on this side of the grave. My return to my home country brought new challenges. I was scheduled to become the successor of Shirley Charlton as the main WEC representative in the Western Cape during the first year. This we had agreed to after some negotiation. But the Lord apparently had other plans. At a visit to the Moravian Seminary, I was soon invited by Kallie August, my student colleague and now the director of the institution, to attend its 40th celebration in Genadendal and also deliver a paper at the institution. Because it co-incided with the commemoration of the birth of Bishop Jan Amos Comeius in 1492 this became the run-up to my mansucript A Goldmine of another sort - Southern Africa as a base for Missionary recruitment. Chris Wessels and others celebrated me initially as a prodigal son that has come home. Soon however I was an exile once again because I could not share the inter-faith notions and pluralism which had been infiltrating my former church. When we later also linked up with the Vineyard (later Jubilee) Church along with a calling to minister to Muslims lovingly, I was never invited to any Moravian pulpit again.

Involvement in the Prayer Ministry
Never before did we see personally how powerful united prayer by Christians could be as after Operation Hanover Park had been established in 1992. A police sergeant from the Phillippi police station and a believer, called in the help of the churches in a last-ditch effort when the local police could not cope with the crime situation in the township Hanover Park. In answer to prayer the situation changed dramatically within three months. Although I would never dare to call myself a fervent intercessor, I got fairly intensely involved in the Prayer Ministry. An event organised in 1993 with a link to the Western Cape Missions Commission was a workshop on a Saturday morning with John Robb of World Vision. I later used the list of participants of that occasion to organize Jesus Marches the following year.
Early morning prayer as part of a mission week with students of the Baptist Seminary led us to discern that the Islamic Gabriel had brought a different Gospel. Much prayer followed for the true nature of the 'last giant' (Islam) to be exposed in a sensitive and loving way which would bring freedom and liberation to the millions under the yoke of Islamic bondage. (We were encouraged to see how God had achieved this in the case of Communism and the liberation of Afrikaners under the Apartheid bondage.) This was confirmed by my hobby, namely private study and research.
Much of the intercession was fuelled by such research. The result of this was jotted down into various manuscripts, amongst others Some Things wrought by Prayer and Spiritual Dynamics at the Cape. Thus I 'discovered' how the Cape led the field in praying for missions and evangelism in the 18th century at the Gestig complex in Long Street and via the role of the missionary Dr Philip in the abolition of slavery. During our prayer times (e.g. at the Koffiekamer) we started to pray that the Cape might become a catalyst for the liberation of the worldwide islamic enslavement and for the Cape to become a source of spiritual refreshment and good hope for all people from the nations.
Next to the prayer for Bo-Kaap, the prayer for the City of Cape Town became another focus of our work after we linked up with Jan Hanekom at the Hofmeyr Centre in Stellenbosch. This led to me connecting later with Bennie Mostert and other leaders in the national prayer movement, that was to make a global impact at the turn of the millennium. NUPSA (Network of United Prayer in Southern Africa) did this especially via its periodical Jericho Walls.
Over the Easter Weekend of 1993 almost the whole country was thrown into turmoil when the devastating news was broken that Chris Hani, a leader of the Communist Party, was assassinated. He appeared to be on course for high office in a new ANC-led government. For a few days the country teetered on the brink of civil war.
The death of Chris Hani helped not only to get a date set for elections, but also to bring about a climate for reconciliation. Yet, by July 1993 the country was still clearly moving towards the precipice of civil war. In different parts of the Peninsula, Christians from different denominational backgrounds came together for prayer, although this was still mainly occurring within the racial confines. In fact, God had to use the brutal attack of believers in a Capetonian sanctuary to get the Church in South Africa praying fervently.

Divine Intervention
The massacre in July 1993 at the St James Church of Kenilworth caused a temporary brake on the escalation of violence that was threatening to send the country over the precipice - a civil war of enormous dimensions. The event inspired unprecedented prayer all around the country and around the world, bringing home the seriousness of terrorism that would not even stop at sacred places. The attack on the St James Church brought about a new sense of urgency for Christians to leave their comfort zones.
But Satan had overplayed his hand. The St James Church killings turned out to be the instrument par excellence to impact the movement towards racial reconciliation in the country. Those family members who lost dear ones received divine grace to forgive the brutal killers. The killing of innocent people during a church service sparked off an unprecedented urgency for prayer all around the country. The adage of Albert Luthuli after he had been dismissed as chief by the South African government in November 1952 received a new actuality: It is inevitable that in working for freedom some individuals and some families must take the lead and suffer: the Road to Freedom is via the Cross.
Whereas the violence and turmoil on the East Rand, in Natal or even Khayelitsha was still on the periphery of our lives, the weekend starting with the second Friday of September 1993 had us reeling.
The theft of our car, followed by a demonic attack via a drug addicted conman brought home to us the spiritual dimensions of the battle of the hearts. For many years hereafter I tried to complete a report of those two days. I wrote down the following notes (slightly edited) shortly after the traumatic days:

9 a.m. Just after nine I leave the home with the little broom to sweep the car before I pick up the old ladies.
But the car is not there! I can’t believe my eyes. We wanted to get rid of the ancient 1976 combi, but not in this way! We had hoped to get something for it as a trade-in although it was getting less powerful.
Completely shattered, I could just run back to inform Rosemarie in Dutch, our home language: “De auto is weg!” I phone the police and Margaret Curry, one of the (WEC) prayer ladies, instructing her to phone the other participants. I would phone again when the police would have left. Then we would have to see whether we could still have our prayer meeting. Quite soon the police was there.
The occurrences of the next 30 hours were traumatic in the extreme. Our emotions swung like a very long pendulum from the heights of elation to the deepest despair. For many years hereafter I tried to complete a report of the events. But I was traumatized so much that I was never able to finish writing down the story within a reasonable time limit, in which the memory of the events was fresh enough. On the same Friday on which we discovered that our vehicle was stolen, a new ‘convert’ came to our one o’clock prayer meeting. Purportedly he was a drug addict who had just been ‘saved’. Thirty hours later we found out that he was a conman. In between, this fake convert had fooled us terribly. His demonic demeanour squashed our vision to work or challenge others towards the establishment of a drug rehabilitation in Cape Town almost completely.
The events of the weekend highlighted the temptation to return to Europe. The Jonah in me surfaced very strongly. The Lord however did not give us peace to leave the Mother City as yet. In fact, thirteen and a half years later we are still living in the Vredehoek home that we actually bought.
The Holy Spirit inspired the compassionate sister Eta Kleber, an old member of our Panweg Fellowship in Zeist to bless us with money to buy another vehicle. For R3,500 we could buy a 1981 Mazda that gave five years of wonderful service not only to us, but also to another couple in missionary service thereafter.
United and wide-spread prayer not only averted wide-spread violence which looked certain, but it also ushered in a miracle, the peaceful elections of April 1994. Two years later the Lord blessed our spiritual warfare and efforts to unite the Church, frustrating the attempt of PAGAD (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs) to islamise the region. In fact, the Lord overruled mightily when the city-wide prayer effort by pastors and wives that was initiated by Pastor Eddie Edson, culminated in the first Global Day of Prayer. The run to the latter event started in the City Bowl at the Moravian Church. Rather unfocused and quietly interceded against satanism and sexual perversion, without getting activist. Monthly prayer meetings in Bo-Kaap and the Koffiekamer, at or in the Moravian Hill Church, on Signal Hill and at the Civic Centre were nevertheless quite targeted.

Jesus Marches and their Aftermath
Jesus Marches were planned for a certain Saturday in the month of June 1994 in different countries. In a letter from a British WEC missionary colleague, he wrote to me about their preparations for a Jesus March in Sheffield. Inquiries on this side of the ocean brought the co-ordination of the whole effort in Cape Town into my lap. I had high expectations when I co-ordinated about 20 prayer marches in different parts of the Cape Peninsula. I hoped that this venture would result in a network of prayer across the Peninsula. However, the initial interest petered out. However, only two such prayer groups continued for some length of time, one in Muizenberg at the home of Gill Knaggs and the other at the home of the Kirkwood family in Plumstead.
In the run-up to the Jesus Marches in 1994 I shared for the first time publicly what I had researched about the influence of the Kramats, the Islamic shrines on the heights of the Cape Peninsula.

Radio Ministry
A strategic contact of the Jesus Marches initiative was Trefor Morris, who was closely linked to Radio Fish Hoek, a pioneering Christian radio station. Trefor visited our Friday lunch time Shepherd's Watch prayer meeting. He became a link to the radio station so that Rosemarie and I were invited to come and give advice and teaching to their ‘prayer friends’. These Christians had to answer the phone calls from Muslims who contacted Radio Fish Hoek, the first Christian community radio station in the country and the forerunner of Cape Community FM (CCFM) in the suburb Muizenberg.
Shortly after the Global Consultation of World Evangelisation (GCOWE) in Pretoria in July 1997, we received a phone call from Avril Thomas, the directress of CCFM. She had been challenged at GCOWE to look at ways and means to spread the Gospel via the radio responsibly, also to the main unreached people group of the Peninsula, the Cape Muslims.
At that stage CCFM had been passing telephonic contacts from Islamic background to us. After serious consideration and prayer, Rosemarie and I concluded that I would write a series on common personalities of the Abrahamic religions, which I had been using at the cell meetings with believers in the towship Hanover Park. The result was ten talks about biblical personalities such as Moses and Abraham, after more private study of the Qur’an and the Talmud.
The contact to CCFM turned out to be quite strategic. After the initial radio series we felt that we should take up the offer of a regular programme. From 1999 I also produced a Friday evening testimony programme God Changes Lives62 where I was interviewing people from different religious backgrounds who had came to faith in Jesus.

Praying through the 10/40 Window
In October 1995 a next major push ensued towards an intercessory network as we prayed through the 10/40 window, the geographical area 10 and 40 degrees north latitude where almost all the major unreached people groups of the world live. Every Friday evening we gathered in a different church of the City Bowl. I was thrilled when Hendrina van der Merwe, a local Christian, shared that a few prayer warriors from City Bowl churches had decided to continue praying for the city every first Friday of the month.
A monthly prayer meeting at the Cape Town Baptist Church where Christians from different denominations congregated, plus a weekly gathering with a few pastors was part and parcel of our commitment towards that goal. The monthly meeting petered out but the weekly prayer of a few pastors continued into the new millennium, later becoming a monthly event.

Strategic prayer Links
In October 1994 I met Bennie Mostert when I joined a prayer effort at the shrine of Sheikh Yusuf, the founder of Islam in this country. I drove in the car together with Bennie Mostert and Jan Hanekom,63another giant of the South African mission scene. I shared with them some of my research on the history of Islam in South Africa. The prayer at Sheikh Yusuf’s shrine that day probably signified a breakthrough in the spiritual realm. Although the Cape churches in general remained indifferent, individual Christians started showing an increasing interest in praying for the Muslims. Invitations to come and preach however still hardly rose above the level of entertainment, where I was usually asked to bring along a convert from Islam.
At the occasion of the sending out of prayer teams to different spiritual strongholds in 1997, a team from the Dutch Reformed Church Suikerbosrand from Heidelberg (Gauteng) followed the nudge of Bennie Mostert to come to pray in Bo-Kaap. In the spiritual realm this was significant because Heidelberg was the cradle of the racist Afrikaanse Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) when the town belonged to the Transvaal province of the old South Africa.
A supernatural element was clearly present when I received a phone call from Sally Kirkwood at this time. She hosted a prayer group for the Cape Muslims at her home in Plumstead in the mid-1990s. The Lord had laid prayer for the wasteland of District Six on her heart - that the curse and guilt linked to the wanton greed and theft of the area by apartheid legislators might be lifted. Sally played a pivotal role in this prayer event. As part of the Heidelberg (Gauteng) visit, a prayer meeting was organised for November 1, 1997 in District Six, on a gravel patch near to the former Moravian Church. An unforgettable day of repentance, confession and reconciliation followed.
Hereafter Sally Kirkwood came to the fore with a more prominent role among the Cape intercessors. Richard Mitchell, Eben Swart and Mike Winfield linked up more closely at this occasion in a relationship that was to have a significant impact on the prayer ministry at the Cape in the next few years and transformation of the city at large. (Eben Swart had became the Western Cape coordinator for Herald Ministries, working closely with NUPSA (Network of United Prayer in Southern Africa). Eben Swart’s position as Western Cape Prayer coordinator was cemented when he hereafter got linked to the pastors and wives prayer meeting initiated and led by Pastor Eddie Edson of Mitchells Plain..
Five years later President Mbeki gave the Moravian church complex back to its original
owners and a programme of restitution got under way whereby former residents (or their descendants) could apply to return.

10. An Exile for Life?

Through my ‘Joseph experience’ during my personal devotional time in the mid-1980s, the Lord had been dealing with my craving after a return to South Africa. I was challenged when I discovered that Joseph never returned to Israel. As I started revamping this manuscript in March 2009, I sensed that my exile is not complete. I was reminded that Bishop Amos Comenius nev edr returned to his home country after being exiled as a young man.
There are still some issues where I feel very lonely indeed – like an exile! The need for the Unity of the Body to be made practical in prayer, word and deed is one of the areas where I struggle. Everywhere churches, mission agencies and institutions are only bent on building their own Kingdoms. The Replacement Theology is as rife as even, whereby even top evangelical leaders are still disseminating the notion that the Church came in the place of Israel. Is my interpretation wrong to expect wrong to expect more in terms of concrete networking of believers across denominational and racial boundaries? Or is it a pipe-dream to desire change in this respect in a country such as ours with its apartheid past?

Another Exile?
As a born and bred Capetonian I had a distinct advantage over missionaries from overseas when we started ministering at the Cape since 1992. But exactly because of this I remained an outsider in their ranks, without however suffering under it significantly. Through our conscious decision to concentrate on the support of believers from Muslim background and to refrain from religious polemics, we thankfully nevertheless experienced some impact.
For over seventeen years I however tried unsuccessfully to get churches interested in the Cape Muslims and since 2003 in destitute and needy foreigners. After attending the CPx until April 2008 Rosemarie and I feel oursleves strengthened in our resolve to be involved in general advocacy and supporting practice on behalf of the marginalised of our society, especially refugee foreigners. We are committed to bring the Gospel to the unreached of Cape Town – especially to those who would not easily enter a church building. Will this lead to another exile? We continue to attempt invitingly to get the body of Christ to operate in unity in holistic ministry to the poor needy and afflicted, especially to the stranger in our gates.
I still feel myself to be an exile and stranger with regard to the primary views expounded in this work. I continue to pray that the Church universal may own up to its global debt in respect of the poor, knowing that this will be even more difficult now in the light of the economic meltdown that erupted in 2008. Nnationally I yearn to see our country becoming loving and hospitable to all foreigners: and locally I want to increase my prayers and the effort to see the body of Christ operate in unity. I long to come home on all three levels, praying that the publication of this work may be tantamount to erecting a signpost, ushering in the coming of the reign of the King of Kings.

Judeo-Islamic Reconciliation
Lillian James, a believer who grew up in Woodstock, and who loves Jews and Muslims, became God’s strategic instrument to bring us into contact with Leigh and Paul Telli, when they came from the UK early in the new millennium with their daughter Miriam. Leigh Telli was a new worker of Messianic Testimony, based in Durbanville. Together we set out with a new goal: to link Messianic Jewish believers with followers of our Lord from Muslim background. Via the mediation of Lillian we met Leigh Telli, who returned to South Africa from Britain in 2004 with her husband and daughter. A special networking ensued with my wife, a German and her husband, an Arab from North Africa.
In the aftermath of a Islam-Judaism seminar in the suburb Durbanville in February 2005 the idea came up to make an attempt at rewriting the radio series on The Global Day of Prayer for publication. Our colleague Leigh Telli was willing to make a painting for the cover. At this seminar itself the theme of reconciliation was used. Leigh and I printed our papers on the respective role of 'the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael in these last days' as a desktop manual, adding to it a few of her paintings, including the broken wall. In the manual we also printed a testimony apiece from a Messianic Jewish believer and a Muslim background follower of Jesus whom we used at a follow-up occasion in Sea Point, an area where still a number of Jews reside (Insert here the painting).

In Exile as an Author
I continue with private research and writing manuscripts whenever I get the opportunity, enjoying the many library facilities wherever we are. When I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in October 2003, I took to heart Rosemarie's reprimand and nudge to at least try and finish some of my work and get it distributed. Subsequently I changed the title of an autobiographical title, an ‘open letter’ letter to all Capetonian clergy, calling it I will not die but live, but still no publication ensued.
My love for historical research and Church History resulted in ‘Some Things wrought by Prayer’, Spiritual Dynamics at the Cape and The Unpaid debt of the Church, the most important ones that I wrote in the 1990s. Rather stubbornly, I wanted to see my work read, in stead of merely given as presents or as ornaments on bookshelves or unread in libraries. My first serious attempt to get something published occurred at the Moravian Hill Church complex in District 6, Cape Town, on May 9 at the start of the 7 days' initiative, organised by Global Prayer Watch, the Western Cape arm of Jericho Walls. Chatting to Bennie Mostert, he agreed to write a forward for ‘Some Things wrought by Prayer’ , a part of which I wanted to use for the back cover of the book.
Because of the content, I deemed it fit to send the manuscript to Patrick Johnstone, a WEC missionary colleague and the author of the well-known book Operation World.. He encouraged me, suggesting that we should also think of attempting to prepare the manuscript for international publication. He gave excellent pointed constructive criticism. Heidi Pasques, a good friend of us and the wife of Louis Pasques, the minister of the Cape Town Baptist Church took up the challenge to edit and rewrite the manuscript. After a few months she had to give up the attempt however, because of too many other commitments. I suddenly had no inner liberty to go ahead with the publication, putting a 'fleece' to the Lord, for something to happen if He wanted me to go public with material included which would be still volatile.
In the run-up to the Pentecost Global Day of Prayer of 2005 I used much of the material of ‘Some Things wrought by Prayer’ for a radio series via CCFM which I called The Road to the Global Day of Prayer. The idea also came up to publish the series, with which my missionary colleague Neville Truter assisted to prepare the manuscript for printing when a printer volunteered to contribute 1000 copies. A tragedy happened in his life before the publication could be finalised. In a next attempt to get my work published, I changed my research on Spiritual dynamics at the Cape into smaller units, which I called The Mother of the Nation and Missionary Snippets at the Cape,64 offfering the manuscripts to various publishers, without any success. The ususal reply was that there is no market in South Africa for my material. When I heard of internet blogs, I had my opportunity at last to get my work published, with no cost involved and read by those who are really interested in the material.

In the meantime, Rosemarie and I had been praying regularly with Heidi Pasques, Hendrina van der Merwe and Beverley Stratis. Trevor Peters, the tour guide of the Groote Kerk, became a regular at the local police station every Wednesday morning from 2005.

Prayer at Die Losie
When we were still wondering whether it was feasible to go ahead with plans to have a 24/7 week of prayer in the City Bowl at the beginning of February 2005, Trevor Peters phoned.
At the monthly prayer for the City on Saturday 8 January (2005), it was decided to press ahead with another week of prayer from 30 January to 6 February as a next step towards the goal of a 24-hour Prayer Watch in the City Bowl.
One thing led to the other within a week, until it was finalized that the week of prayer would be held at Moravian Hill, to be followed thereafter with weekly prayer at the Buitenkant Street police station complex. Superintendent Fanie Scanlen put to our disposal a room called Die Losie, a former Freemason lodge. This was a significant step in the spiritual realm. On Sunday 23 January, 2005 the station was anointed and prayed over.
A 24-hour Prayer Venue at the Civic Centre
In due course die Losie became the regular prayer venue. As part of the preparation for the 2006 Global Day of Prayer, a prayer drive where participants prayed Scripture converged at the Central Police Station, coming to the former Losie,. God used this event to touch at least one person in a special way. Wim Ferreira had been a transport engineer working with the City Council. He was challenged to resign from his position to concentrate on prayer for the City. He was hereafter invited to work with the Deputy Mayor of the Metropolis.
When all the groups had arrived at the former Losie, Daniel Brink, the co-ordinator of the event, asked me to share in a few words how God had changed things at the police station. I became too emotional. However, at this moment, Wim Ferreira was touched to request a room for prayer in the metropolitan Civic Centre, where he had just started to work. This was another divinely orchestrated move. The Lord soon challenged Ferreira to start 24-hour prayer at the Civic Centre premises. A few months further on, a regular Friday prayer time was functioning in a board room of the Civic Centre. Before long, a trickle of workers from all walks of life was coming to faith in Jesus as their Lord as a result of these prayers. On Wednesdays at lunch time believers from different denominational backgrounds gathered there to pray and intercede for the city.
The goal of gathering believers across denominational boundaries started to bear fruit towards the end of 2007 when Barry Isaacs and his Three Cord Ministries initiated monthly prayer meetings at 5.30h on Saturdays once a month. At one of these occasions, the lack of the availability of the Civic Centre Banqueting Hall for a combined prayer event on Ascension Day 2008 touched Peter Williams, the secretary of the Provincial Parliament. He promptly extended a provisional invitation to the group to come and pray there as well.
Outreach to Foreigners
One of the results of our Friday lunch-hour prayer meeting was outreach to foreigners in 1996. God used a destitute Congolese teenager as a catalyst towards regular church services for French speakers at the Cape Town Baptist Church. The word spread, so that in due course also other churches started opening their doors to refugees throughout the Peninsula.
The need for refugees to get employment was the spawn for the English language classes at the city church to be revitalised. A special category of refugees were Muslims who had been persecuted in their home countries.
In October 2003 Rosemarie and I were challenged to concentrate on the loving outreach to foreigners, Rosemarie had a strange dream in which a newly married married couple, clad in Middle Eastern garb, was ready to return as missionaries to the Middle East. Suddenly the scene changed. While the two of us were praying over the city from our dining room facing the Cape Town CBD, a massive tidal wave came from the sea, rolling over Bo-Kaap. The next moment the water engulfed us, but we were still holding each other by the hand. There was something threatening about the wave, but somehow we also experienced a sense of thrill. Then Rosemarie woke up, very conscious that God seemed to say something to us through this dream. What was God saying? In events following soon hereafter she was reminded of her confirmation text in Mühlacker when she was still a teeanager: ‘Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty! God confirmed that a wave of opportunity was to come to Cape Town, people from other countries..
We started with English teaching and income generating workshops to help those who have come to our city to find their feet here, linking up with other missionaries under the umbrella Friends from Abroad. At a Friday prayer event of Friends from Abroad we decided on a once-off relocation of the venue, scheduling the one of 13 April to take place at the Foreshore Home Affairs premises. There some immediate needs were identified. The question arose whether the body of Christ in the City Bowl should not be challenged to address some of the problems and needs of the foreigners.

Addressing Corruption and Xenophobia
The massive influx of sojourners from all parts of the African continent in the new millenium led to a great increase of corruption, notably in the department of Home Affairs. At the same time xenophobia spiralled because local folk perceived the newcomers as the cause of the rising unemployment. The challenges are great, but we believe that our God is greater still.
A disappointment that the churches in general fail to apply the teachings of Jesus to our times brought us to a new interest in home churches. It was only natural that we linked up with Floyd McClung and his agency All Nations International after he and his wife Sally had come to Cape Town at the end of 2006.

Turmoil once again
When I spoke to Barry Isaacs on the phone at the beginning of March, he shared that he and his wife have peace about being listed as candidates for the Provincial Parliament. I had no problem with the move, knowing that God used people like William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson in the past for the trade in slaves and their eventual emancipation. But I was not so happy with the timing. It nevertheless took us all by surprise when soon I heard on Friday 13 March that there were serious objections against our praying in the Unicity Council Chambers and in the Provincial Parliament.

New Challenges
It is still my conviction that the Unity of the Body of Christ holds the key not only to the Transformation of the city of Cape Town. I continue to pray that followers of Jesus across denominational boundries, including those from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds, will rally in unity to usher in the return of the King of Kings.
For many years I have been unsuccessful to convince missionary colleagues that there should be an attempt towards practical confession and restitution for what I described as THE UNPAID DEBT OF THE CHURCH. I continue praying that the Holy Spirit may 'water' the plants, to bring repentance and revival fruit related to them into our city, to our country and to the continent of Africa. I feel greatly challenged to see the actualising of Jesus' teachings for our day and age.


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