Friday, September 18, 2015

JUMPING OVER WALLS (Part 1) September 2015

JUMPING OVER WALLS

 



 Content............................................................................................................................................ 1
1. Childhood Walls................................................................................................................... 1
2. Climbing over the racial walls of partition .......................................................................... 7
3. Crossing cultural and Denominational boundaries ............................................................ 12
4. Clearing the marriage barrier ............................................................................................. 17
5. Overcoming honeymoon hassles   ..................................................................................... 28
6.  A fight against the global economic divide....................................................................... 32
7. Skirmishes of a multi-faceted Battle.................................................................................. 36
8.  Against the brick wall of tradition ................................................................................... 45
9. Breaking down walls of prejudice ..................................................................................... 51
10. The battle with the pen..................................................................................................... 54
11. Fighting Communism and the Iron curtain ..................................................................... 59
12. A year of Struggle - and victory....................................................................................... 63
13. Early attacks on the Wall of Islam................................................................................... 69
14. Hurdles towards publication............................................................................................ 73
15. More hurdles to surmount ............................................................................................... 78
16. Shots at the Islamic wall................................................................................................... 82
   16a. Fighting the Stronghold of Church Indifference........................................................ 86
17. On the brink of Anarchy.................................................................................................. 92
18. On the victory Path.......................................................................................................... 99
19. In the Frontline............................................................................................................... 103
20. The Start of the Breakthrough through Crises?.............................................................. 111
21. Strongholds attacked – not without a Backlash ............................................................ 117
22. The almost insurmountable Drug Problem .................................................................... 122
23. A Funeral as a Catalyst................................................................................................... 129
24. The battle against Crime, War and Violence.................................................................. 135
25. Taking on the Prime Cape Strongholds ......................................................................... 142
8001   ........................................................................................................................................... 149


 

Preface

More than once I was just like the biblical Jonah, running away in some way or other, also from divine callings and challenges.  Thankfully, God got hold of me again and again. All too often I obstructed His purposes with me. Sometimes I double-crossed His plans through my activism and self-centredness. At other times, I was simply downright disobedient, doing my own thing, without even trying to find out what God’s will was. It took me very long to learn the biblical truth that it pays to wait on Him before acting. Like the Master, I had to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8).
         I dedicate this booklet to the two people whom God used – possibly more than any other single person - to bring me back on His course when I was in danger of getting side-tracked. The concrete inspiration to publish autobiographical material arose when my best friend, the late Ds. Esau Jacobs, commonly known as Jakes, would have turned seventy on 6 December 2006.
         My wife was the other person who pulled the brakes when I was too impulsive and spontaneous. She  encouraged and nudge me to try and get the one or other of many manuscripts published after I had been diagnosed with cancer of the prostate gland. Some of the manuscripts had been on my computer for many years. She was the one to correct me once again when I wanted to rush ahead with this manuscript prematurely, challenging me to consider whether my passion for writing was not idolatrous. I was working full-steam – and going overboard to finish the manuscript before 6 December 2006. I discerned that HIS(s)tory should come to the front of the queue of unfinished manuscripts to be saved in cyberspace.
The most important lesson that I have probably learned over the years is perhaps that adversity often turns into a blessing when one can accept it with grace and thankfulness. The other big lesson I had to learn again and again was that it is always good to wait on the Lord. Over the years I have written and typed many a page that never got published. I have learned to be patient.  Very much aware that the reading of books is getting increasingly obsolete, I nevertheless dare to pray that many a reader may be blessed to read how God has been teaching and carrying me in spite of my obstinacy and doing my own, when I was like Jonah.
         I dedicate this updated manuscript to Anne, the widow of my late friend Jakes and their son Alain. This is primarily intended as a tribute to one of the great unsung heroes of our beloved country.

Ashley D.I. Cloete
Cape Town, February 2015

1. Childhood Walls


            My birth represented a cultural divide. I was born in St Monica’s maternity clinic. This institution was situated in the residential area Bo-Kaap that was declared a ‘Malay Quarter’ in later years, with the tacit understanding that only Muslims would be allowed to live there. Of course, if there hadn’t been such a fuss about District Six, this part of the city would also surely have been declared a ‘White’ residential area along with other ‘grey’ areas like Walmer Estate, Woodstock and Salt River. All these suburbs got a predominant Muslim population in the wake of the demise of apartheid and in the case of the latter two suburbs, through the increase of drug trafficking and prostitution.
                       
            The Roman family, our neighbours at 32 Combrinck Street in District Six, were like family. We walked in and out of their house and Aunty Patsy, my favourite teenage ‘aunt’ at that stage, would help to put us to bed. It took quite a long time before I understood that they actually belonged to a different denomination. As a toddler I was quite lively and naughty according to her, giving them many a scare, e.g. when I once walked through the legs of a horse. Indelible in her memory was the ‘aandseen’, the evening devotions in which she usually joined in. At those occasions my mother’s favourite was ‘Kom kniel by die kruis’ (Come, kneel at the Cross because just will meet you there). Of course, ‘Hoe kan ek u prys’, the family hymn we had to learn as soon as we could memorise anything. 
God blessed our mom with exceptional insights. One day a new top that I had just received from an aunt, was exchanged in the course of playing in the street. When I ran to her to complain, she responded with an adaptation of the wisdom of Solomon. My playing mate was quite happy when she took the two tops behind her back and we were supposed to pick one. I was not happy of course, but I knew it was useless to object. Promptly my counterpart picked the new playing top.
Many years later I asked my mother why she allowed that, because it was quite evident that the other top was much older. She replied that she also wanted to teach us to handle adversity, to be treated unjustly, especially in our society. At the time when she gave me this reply, I was quite upset, because it came at the pinnacle of my anger against the apartheid injustices. Should one condition your children for the grave injustices of an immoral system? Still later, I had to learn the hard way that she was right: that there is a hidden power in suffering unjustly.
           
            Just down the road some Blacks were living for a short period.  Somehow they didn’t completely fit into our community, surely also because our population group regarded Blacks as inferior. Nevertheless, as children we did play together without any discrimination whatsoever. As a three or four year old my little ‘girl friend’ Charmaine was English-speaking. My mother would later tell how she enquired where I was. Undeterred by my mother’s reply that I was sleeping, she would retort: “Mrs. Cloete, may I see him sleeping?”
            I was really fortunate to grow up in a Christian home, where sound moral values were inculcated. Through a functional authoritarianism, my parents succeeded in drilling basic obedi­ence into us. Furthermore we were not allowed to fight ‘nie voor of nie agter my nie’. Bringing up children in District Six, at that time more or less a slum area, might have been easier in the late forties or fifties than in the Cape townships today, but the task was nevertheless awesome.
            Very early in my life I was aware of different ‘walls’ of partition. Thus there was an unseen divide to our next-door neighbours in District Six, the bubbling slum area of Cape Town where I spent my first 9 years. These neighbours sold liquor and dagga (marijuhana) ‘after hours’, i.e. illegally, whereas my parents were true templars, i.e. tee-totallers. Already as children we attended the ‘Band of hope’ where we had to promise week by week ‘not to drink wine, beer, brandy or any strong drink...’ Even as small children we soon knew where to refer potential customers of the shebeen next door when they came to knock at our house.
            Vice and violence abounded. Criminality of all sorts was rife in District Six especially on Friday evenings when alcohol was flowing freely. After climbing the wall of our backyard, I witnessed once how the aged grandmother was also joining in the fight with a chair in her hand. As a little child I saw a rape being perpetrated by a dustman on a lady who was looking after us. Our mom was very sickly at this time. We feared that she would not be with us very long.
            At another occasion, I just walked along with a vagrant-type stranger to the Forest above Zonnebloem after being promised a shilling. After abusing me, the man left, without giving me the promised shilling. The equivalent of 10 cents was big money in those days.  With twelve pennies to a shilling and four Astoria toffees for a penny one could get a really big bag of toffees. Because I knew the area so well, it was quite easy for me to find my way home, albeit that I needed treatment afterwards at the Vredehoek Free Dispensary in Buitenkant Street for some venereal disease.  (Nowadays it is called the Rob Nurock Day Hospital.) How fortunate I am that HIV/AIDS was not as rife as it is today.[1]
            I gave my parents quite a few frights from an early age, roaming to all corners of District Six. I knew the names of almost every street before I was six years old. When Aunty Bertha Roman, our neighbour, wanted to take me along from one of the dark places where I was not supposed to be, I knew that I was in for a double hiding – one from her and one from my mother. I retorted with an ingenuous weapon, requesting my ‘friends’ to ‘sit die hond agter haar!’:  Thus it was with great relief to my parents that I could start my schooling career at Zinzendorf Primary School in Arundel Street.
            In my class at the Zinzendorf Primary School we had a few Muslims in the class. Without any discussion the Muslim children joined us for Kinderfees once a year in the Moravian Church. The painting of some German missionary, depicting Jesus with little children included a Malay boy on His lap - easily recognizable with the red fez - endeared the Cape Muslims to me from an early age. I was even a silent admirer of my classmate Asa, a Muslim girl from down the road in Arundel Street, where the school was situated. I knew though that I would never marry her.
            The latter sentence also indicates the unwritten rules. There was a clear but unseen divide between the Muslims and the Christians of District Six. About one’s religion one never spoke and those people who did marry across this bar were scorned upon.
            In a similar way the locals who spoke about ‘bekering’ (conversion) and who held open-air services on the Grand Parade and on street corners, belonged to the despised sects. They were not the sort of people with whom we as ‘respectable ‘Coloureds’ associated ourselves.
             The Moravian traditionalism, from which both of my par­ents came, formed an effective counter-balance for the sur­roundings. Thus it was logical to them that we as children should attend the Zinzendorf Primary School and the Sunday school at the same venue. Even before school going age we went with our Daddy to Woodstock, where he conducted Sunday school in the house of the Cedras family. At some stage he had also been involved with a Sunday school in Bo-Kaap. At home Mom ruled with an iron hand, gaining the respect of friend and foe. Furthermore, the adage “the family that prays together, stays together”, proved to be true.
            Although they themselves hardly enjoyed much of an education, my parents were culturally sensitive to the future needs of us as children. Thus one day in the week no Afrikaans was allowed to be spoken in the house for some time. As an incentive we would earn a ticky (two and a half cents) for the effort. Even Evelyn, the youngest daughter of Aunty Hetta and Uncle Phillip Kampher, joined in the fun. (My dad’s sister with her family moved in with us when I was eight.) Evelyn who had just learnt to speak, would boldly tell one of the neighbouring kids, notably in English: “Clivey, go home!”
Although quite bright, Daddy had to help earn after primary school as the eldest of seven children. His father, Oupa Amos Cloete, was a poor shoemaker. In the city, the teenager was employed in different milliners’ factories in the 1930s when it was still required for women to wear hats to go to church. But he was very hard working, making hats at night after work and selling them on Saturdays all over the Peninsula. For hats he sold at Christmas time, he would go and collect the money throughout the year until just before Christmas the next year. Two of the three uncles in District Six – the Kampher family stayed with us for a few years and Uncle Christie, his brother who lived in Rutger Street – were his salesmen. After a few years Daddy was the proud owner of a scooter which needed some foot peddling to get the machine started.
                                    *                      *                      *
            Walmer Estate and the area near to De Waal Drive represented another wall. There the ‘half-naatjies’ - i.e. fair-skinned ‘Coloureds’ who tried for White - usually English-speakers in contrast to us - lived. We didn’t associate with them simply because we felt ourselves inferior. They had bigger houses and some of those children wore shoes. We only used our shoes on Sundays when we went to church.
            And then there was of course the completely other world although it was only a kilometre or so away - the other side of De Waal Drive. Devil’s Peak and Vredehoek belonged to the world of the Whites: Out of bounds for us! This wall seemed completely insurmountable and impenetrable. But somehow one was always inquisitive to know how it was on the other side. Two of our aunts worked as domestic assistants for Whites in these areas, but we would not even think of going to see for ourselves how it was there. It was only many years later when Aunty Maggie, my mother’s sister was working for the Killa family in Milnerton, when I occasionally cycled from Tiervlei (later called Ravensmead) to visit her.

            The wall to the Blacks never had any attraction to me. The general prejudice of our society towards the minority of the city at that point in time operated perfectly. That they spoke another language was not really the issue. Unconsciously I had learnt to look down to the people who performed what was regarded as the lowest kinds of manual labour. The coalmen who brought the pitch black fuel for our stoves seemed to revel in the role of scaring little ones like us, but it also inculcated in me a condescendence over everybody who vaguely resembled them.
            At home we heard quite a lot of some of these injustices as my father shared at the table some of his experiences from the various milliner factories where he worked. But he was very hard working, making hats at night after work and selling them on Saturdays all over the Peninsula. After a few years he was the proud owner of a scooter which needed a few foot paddling to get started. This was more than the equivalent of a motor car for the bulk of District Six’ inhabitants. (A car was seldomly seen in our area in those days. We played in the street, expecting the odd car to hoot first before we would get out of the way). In winter time especially, Daddy had trouble with the machined bicycle, with which he could now easily travel to for us as children far-away places like Grassy Park and Tiervlei.
Once a year, on Mummy’s birthday – 28 December - we went to Kalk Bay with the train and a special treat was also the occasional Kinderfees[2] in Hout Bay by lorry or other rented vehicle He evidently had vision. By joining the African Peoples’ Organisation’s rotating scheme, he knew that one day we would come in line for buying property. At the end of 1954, we moved to a big property of 8 plots in Tiervlei, as Ravensmead was called in those days. Here we were regarded as ‘rich’ because we had a brick house. That it was not even whitewashed on the outside and a kitchen that looked horrible because of black soot was not important: almost all the other people who lived there had shacks of some sort.
            For me personally, the change caused the gain of a school year. At the Zinzendorf Primary School in Arundel Street District Six I was in the same classroom together with children of the Standard IIs (Grade 4s), the class above us. Thus I picked up quite a lot from the work of them. At the Volkskerk Primary School in Tiervlei the teacher had a problem with me, because not only did I know such a lot already, but we were also now taught in a church building with a big class of 110 children. There two teachers were trying to teach within audible distance of each other. I don’t know how Messrs February and Meiring coped! Well, they shifted me to the next class, where I managed all right. At this time I ‘went forward’ during an evangelical tent campaign, but because of lack of proper counselling, I didn’t receive assurance of salvation. There was also no trace of follow-up discipling.

            The walls mentioned up to now were very low. Our parents allowed us to play with the kids from these other (sub)cultures, we bought koeksiesters from the motjie and we attended school together. I was just turning nine when I had to climb over another wall, viz. the difference between the city and the countryside. Tiervlei was regarded as up-country although it was hardly 20Km from the Mother City. For me personally, the change caused the gain of a school year. In District Six I was in the same classroom together with children of the class above us. Thus I picked up quite a lot from the work of them. At the Volkskerk Primary School in Tiervlei the teacher had a problem, because not only did I know such a lot already. But I was now in a church building with a big class of 110 children, where two teachers were trying to teach within audible distance. I don’t know how they managed! Well, they shifted me on to the next class, where I managed all right. At this time I ‘went forward’ during an evangelical tent campaign, but because of lack of proper counselling, I didn’t receive assurance of salvation. There was also no trace of follow-up or discipling.
                       
            In Tiervlei I saw poor Whites for the first time. Because they clearly despised us, we grew to dislike them. The attitude of the White Christians we saw was so clearly condescending, that it was not easy to love them. It might have been common practice in the country for a White clergyman to travel to the church alone in his car or to the graveyard after a funeral, but it didn’t register positively to my youthful spirit to see such things. My resentment to White people grew as time went on.
            After only two years in Tiervlei, another change came my way. My grandfather, Oupa Joorst, requested my parents from the Elim Mission Station whether I could come and help there as a ‘stuurding’, an errand boy to fetch water, go the shop and empty the toilet buckets (two boys were required at that time to carry the buckets to a big hole prepared for that purpose on the outskirts of the village. I count it as very special to have been in Elim for the 500-year celebration of the Unitas Fratrum, the oldest protestant church in Bohemia-Moravia.
            It was likewise a very special privilege to have been present at the deathbed of Oupa Joorst. The tranquillity, assurance and peace – yes, sheer joy - that he radiated as he left this life, was something never to forget. Two years in Elim grounded me not only in the Moravian traditions, but I also got a sound knowledge of Scripture, because we had to learn many Bible verses ‘by heart’.
            It would have been better if we had really learnt the verses by heart, because so much was very superficial. We were not challenged to have a personal relationship with God, although the stories of Susanne Kühnel and the revival at Herrnhut was repeated year after. In her own childhood my mother accepted Jesus as her Saviour at one of these ‘Kinder­fees’ celebrations and Daddy was challenged to a personal faith when he thought that his father would die.
            Coming from the city, along with Mr. Dunston, the local police sergeant and Ivan van der Rede, who grew up in District Six we pioneered cricket on the mission station. Roy Weber, a top UCT science student was also there, joining us at the beginning of the year before the start of the semester in our very primitive version of the game. The gate was the batting wicket. The wide wicket assured a quick rotation of batsmen. This was probably the start of my addiction to sport. At the Volkskerk Primary school I had excelled at soccer, being the captain of the under 11 team, but it nowhere governed my thoughts. Two years on the Elim Mission station grounded me firmly not only in the Moravian Church traditions, but I also got a sound knowledge of Scripture, because we had to learn many Bible verses by heart, including the first verses of Isaiah 53.
                                    *                      *                      *
            For secondary schooling I was back in the city, attending Vasco High School. I felt myself inferior to my English-speaking pupil colleagues, but yet challenged. In spite of not really working hard at high school, I managed to do well enough to be among the top four students at Vasco High School in Standard Seven. That I was given Woodwork as a subject, proved to be a handicap. When I asked the principal whether I could do Latin, he chased me out of his office.
            At the end of the year I somehow nevertheless managed to get past Valerie Oliver and Gert Flink. I made up my mind, to take Mathematics the next year. I was ambitious enough to try and beat Ismael Khan as well, if only I could have Maths instead of Woodwork, a subject in which I was hopeless. With my small frame and almost two years younger than most of the other boys, I really struggled. By the beginning of the New Year, I had established myself well enough at the top echelons of the grade for Mr. Braam to agree to my taking Maths instead of Woodwork. (I started in the summer school holidays to catch up on my own with the Standard VII Mathematics I had missed). Unfortunately, Ismael’s father had decided that he had to come and help him in the shop. So I never had the chance to beat him. Also Valerie Oliver was taken out of school. That nobody beat me hereafter was therefore a pyrrhic victory.
            It was touch and go or two others who competed with me, Richard Arendse and Gert Flink, also left school. In fact, Richard had already started in the school holidays at the Nylon Spinners factory after Standard Eight, but later he pleaded with his mother successfully to come back to finish matric. Gert Flink could only stay at school after teachers decided to help him to get the textbooks. My books were paid from the bursary that I won for passing the Junior Certificate first class, the only one from our school (This was indicative of the quality of the teaching at Vasco High School, where only a few teachers had a degree.
That we had no laboratory for Biology was not special, but that we got taught to swim on the ground surely was! We even had a little note books in which we made little drawings of breaststroke and the Holger-Nielsen method.)
            At home in Tiervlei also changed dramatically when our father lost his relatively well-paid job as milliner. He was retrenched after he had trained a young man.  With him being unemployed, it became difficult to feed the family. My younger brother joined me in Elim later he was sent to live with mom’s sister and their family in Wittewater.
            In spite of not really working hard at high school, I managed to do well enough to be among the top four students at Vasco High School in Standard Seven at the June examinations in 1959 That I had Woodwork as a subject proved to be a handicap. When I had asked the principal at the beginning of the year whether I could do Latin, he chased me out of his office. I dared not to suggest that he should put me in another class where I could have Mathematics as subject.
            All the changes helped to prepare me to become flexible to different cultures and life-styles.


















































































2. Climbing over the racial Walls of Partition                                 


            The new situation brought me face to face to the petty apartheid walls of partition. All the walls I had to conquer up to this point in time were not legally prescribed. Coming from school, it became one of our favourite games at Elsies River station to climb onto the platform when the railway police was not looking. But I couldn’t muster the guts yet to cross the bridge for ‘Whites only’ at the same station. At the subway of Tiervlei station we had to witness a partitioning wall going up to separate the races.
            At high school I became firmly addicted to sport. First I played soccer, later rugby. I studied the technique of javelin throwing from books at the library and practiced with a stick at home over many months. This gave me an edge over much bigger opponents. In the ‘Coloured’ society of those days athletics were limited to a few weeks at the beginning of the year. In spite of my small physique, I was the javelin under 17 champion of the school in the year I matriculated. Even at the inter schools competition I outclassed much bigger competitors. If my best attempt had stuck in the grass, I would have finished second behind Armien Manuel from Simons Town, who went on to become the South African champion.
            My addiction to sport helped me finally to cross the racial barrier. As one of only very few people of colour to venture to go the Green Point Stadium, I sat among the Whites at athletics meetings that were still very unpopular at the time. Thus I was also present at the trials for the Rome Olympics in 1960 at the Green Point Stadium, the last time before our country was allowed to participate in the prime international sporting event before we were barred because of our racial policies. That stadium later became racially segregated. I was just as sad with my White compatriots when our hero Gert Potgieter, who was a world record holder and hot favourite for the gold medal, was involved in a car accident only weeks before the Olympic Games.
            At the Newlands rugby ground I often felt myself torn between my natural patriotism and the support that the people all around one gave to the opposing teams. Whenever the Springboks played there ,people of colour were expected to applaud the opposition in the test matches, but when Western Province played, we supported the home team without exception. The general perception was that the ‘boere’ (the Afrikaners) were responsible for apartheid.

 

Political Interest and prejudicial Influence
The Sharpeville and Langa events of 1960 made itself felt all over the Western Cape. I had really started to hate apartheid but not Whites as such. The subtle education of society and the oppressive government paid its toll. Thus I had been thoroughly influenced to look down on Blacks. At the time of the Sharpeville shootings and the march of thousands of Blacks from Langa to the Caledon Square police station, I was one of the first to leave the school premises when a rumour went around that the ‘kaffers’ were coming. With fear and trepidation we left the school building. I displayed more courage in writing a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Verwoerd, at this time. In my draft letter of protest I addressed the inequalities and injustice of the political system. However, I did not post the letter immediately. But I was not really sad when my father discovered the letter in my school blazer when it had to be sent for dry cleaning. A serious reprimand followed: “Do you also want to go and languish on Robben Island?” I did not fancy that idea. It was well-known that this was the fate of people getting involved in resistance politics. I had no intention to join the league of Robben Islanders.
            A year later, I dared to heed the boycott call on the occasion of the Republican festival. (South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961 outside of the British Commonwealth.) Nevertheless, my move was not completely courageous, because I used a sound excuse for my absence from school: I went to Karl Bremer hospital for some flimsy reason.
           
            As I was finishing high school, my results inspired someone at Mupine in Pinelands, the place where my father was now working as a night porter, to help sponsor me for medical studies at the University of Cape Town, but I never even gave it a thought. I felt myself much to inferior to attend a ‘White’ university. Our whole intellectual community however frowned upon the ‘bush’ University College of the Western Cape that had just started especially for the ‘Coloureds’.  So I did the ‘obvious’, to apply for a place at the prestigious “Hewat Train­ing College,” the only teacher training institution for ‘Coloured’ matriculants of the Western Cape where my brother Kenneth was in his first year. To become a teacher came almost natural. So many of our clan were operating in this profession.
Being the only institution of its kind for ‘Coloured’ males in the Western Cape, the bulk of the male applicants for that institution usually had to be turned down. Long before 'affirmative action' became a common concept, females applicants were usually admitted with inferior results.[3] (only very few high school students of that gender proceeded beyond Standard 8 (Grade 10) in those days).            
            During 1962 our mother had to stop working because of arthritis, aggravated by the factory work where she had to be on her feet all day. I matriculated at the end in that year, with the under­stand­ing that I could finish my teacher training after a break of a year, taking any employment that I could find. The financial situation was not such that all three boys could be kept at school and college simultaneously. (Our sister Magdalene, the eldest of the children, had already been taken out of school in 1957 to go and work in a factory to help feed the family.)
            After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to get a clerical work - that were as a rule reserved for Whites - I settled for a menial job at the printing factory of Nationale Boekhandel, where I was required to clean the machines. It was clear that Mr. Coetzer, the foreman who probably did not have much of an education himself, enjoyed the fact that a matriculant now would have to do the filthy work.  
            Returning to our Tiervlei home from the prin­t­ing Nationale Boekhandel works in Parow in the late afternoon of early January 1963, I learnt that I have been accepted as a teacher trainee at Hewat Training College in Crawford.[4]
            I was pleasantly surprised when my parents disclosed that they feel that I should go to ‘Hewat’, the only teacher training college for ‘Coloured’ matriculants of the Mother City. They had been challenged by the ‘Watchword’ from the Moravian textbook for the day, Isaiah 55:8: “My ways are not your ways...” They had decided to send me to college by faith. That was quite exceptional, because faith ventures were fairly unknown in the ‘Coloured’ society of South Africa of the 1960’s and even more so in the Moravian Church of that time. I experienced quite an amount of inward glee when I saw Mr. Coetzer’s face that I was stopping to work, because I was going for teacher training.
            It was nothing short of a miracle that I could proceed straight away to take two years of teacher training because the financial situation at home was quite precarious. The bursary I received enabled my parents to buy me a blue Hewat blazer. Thus nobody at the College would know about the poor background from which I came. A government loan that would turn into a bursary if I finish some years of teaching took care of the cost for books.
            After a short period of gradual spiritual backsliding ‑ while I was nevertheless active in church youth work ‑ God used Ds. Piet Bester, an Afrikaner Dutch Reformed minister, who came to Tiervlei in 1962 (later called Ravensmead) to show me that I was ‘addicted’ to sports. In the first quarter of 1963 I was deeply challenged by a sentence from a sermon of the local Sendingkerk minister because sports had become the equivalent of an idol to me. Dominee Piet Bester’s testimony of his delive­r­ance from folk dancing pierced my heart: ‘Was I actually idolizing sport?’ The church deacon, brother De Bruyn, who counselled me afterwards, was very clear: If the Holy Spirit convicts you of anything, then you must put it right.
            Ds. Piet Bester, who came to Tiervlei in 1962 (later called Ravensmead) was divinely used to get me not only interested in sharing the gospel with others, but also in missions. As part of a new commitment to the Lord, I abruptly decided to stop playing cricket for Tigers, the local club, although with a few other teenagers we saw the club establishing itself in the C division of the Maitland Parow Cricket Union. We had prepared the way for the Van Oordt brothers - my soccer opponents of primary school days - to take the club to greater heights.
            Ds. Bester started one evangelistic initiative after the other in which I was soon joining in. The evangelist Chris Cronje from Springs in the Transvaal was a favourite in the public campaigns. In the meantime the conviction had grown within me that I should really experience a call from the Lord before indulging into such studies.
           
                                                *                                  *                                  *
            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. I still looked like a school kid myself. I feared that the pupils would run over me because of it.
            Therefore I applied to do a third year of training that was the big exception at the time. This excuse was very handy when our church offered me a teaching post in Port Elizabeth, albeit with the proviso that I would also attend the extra-mural theological seminary classes. It was not that I was against theological education as such. In fact, before my conversion to Christ I had already envisaged myself as a teacher and preacher simultaneously. That was quite customary among our relatives, with my grandfather and a few uncles practising as such.    
            Quite surprisingly, there were not enough applicants for the third year “academic” teachers’ course at Hewat Training College for 1965. Thus I had to try and get one of the rare teaching posts. There were not enough schools for ‘Coloureds’ so that many children were not attending school. At the beginning of the school holidays, a post in Hopefield, way out in the countryside, loomed. The idea that I would have to do my own catering, was not very inviting, but beggars can’t be choosers. I had no option.
            A few days before the re-opening of schools in January 1965, I had not heard again from the school principal from Hopefield. ‘By chance’ my old principal, Mr. Braam,[5], discovered that I was still ‘unemployed’. The increase in enrolment at his new school required more teachers. In those days ‘Coloured’ university graduates were just not available for secondary education. I had just turned 19, but I still looked like a 14 or 15 year old. Thus I would now not only have to teach children almost my age, but I also looked like one of my pupils. The prospect of being only a few miles from home – easily accessible by bicycle - was nevertheless quite attractive. I would not have to do my own cooking!!
          My two years of teacher training at Hewat Training College hardly brought any significant change in my attitude to the racial policies of the day. My only opposition to the apartheid regime at this time was the regular disregard of petty apartheid laws like going through the ‘Whites only’ subway at Crawford station in the afternoons along with my student colleagues - yet we were careful that there were no policemen around who could arrest us.

A child of my surroundings
I was however also very much a child of my surroundings and completely unbalanced. Not long before this, I frowned upon lengthy degree studies because I really expected the Lord to return very soon. Yet, when I heard that extra-mural degree courses would be commencing at the nearby University College of the Western Cape, I jumped at the opportunity to start degree studies, forgetting my earlier reservations to study at the ‘Bush’ University College. Not knowing that it would come in good stead at a later stage, I included German (Special)[6] as one of my degree subjects.
Soon I was cycl­ing to the school in the morning. From there I pedalled to the late after­noon and evening classes at the university. Often I utilised the time on the bicycle with a book on the steering bar while I memorised the various forms of the German strong and irregular verbs.
         Being thoroughly materialistic at this time, I jumped at the opportunity to get in line for promo­tion in later years. I was however sad that they could not offer my favourite subject Mathematics extra-murally straight away. Only in my final year of the degree I included Mathematics I in my curriculum, doing it by correspondence with the University of South Africa (UNISA).
            In that year I also took Sociology, where Howard Eybers, one of the university librarians, was with me in the class. A friendship started there that was to blossom in later years.

A radical for my faith           
The missionary zeal of Harmony Park, where I participated in an evangelistic outreach just a few weeks before the reopening of schools, was still very part and parcel of me. I displayed a badge “Jesus Saves” and I challenged people left right and centre to accept Jesus as their Lord. It was only natural that a branch of the Student Christian Associ­ation (SCA) was to be founded at the school where I commenced my teaching career.  
            At that time the movement was however going through a crisis. The association had just splintered along racial lines. Much to my surprise, the politics of the country started to play a role. Mr. Braam, our principal, called me in to complain about the name of the Christian organisation that had just split. Reverend Abel Hendricks of the Methodist Church, who had also been at Harmony Park, became the part-time travelling secre­tary of the ‘Coloured’ section of the student movement, visited the school. Mr. Braam himself displayed a badge of the SCA, but he didn’t want to have an organisation on his school that went along with apartheid. Our principal had strong objections to have a group of the ‘VCS’ - the ‘Coloured’ section of the segregated movement - at the school. I had no problem with this position. I simply changed the name of our lunchtime student group to the ‘Je­suites’. Nobody complained this time, so we just went ahead. I was too naive to consider that this could be confused with a Catholic movement. In the ‘Coloured’ community denominational walls were however quite thin.
            But also in the classroom I came out quite radically for my faith, e.g. by spreading tracts of the evangelist Chris Cronje and organising a trip for interested students to evangelistic campaigns, e.g. at the Goodwood Showground. Here I bumped against the ever-present apartheid walls. I had booked seats telephonically, without mentioning that I would bring along a group of ‘Coloured’ students. I was not as radical yet to cause a stir, to insist on the seats that I had booked! We just took the issue in our stride because there were ample seats in the ‘other’ section of the stand.
            Over the four years I was teaching there quite a few scholars decided to follow Jesus. Sammy Lawrence, one of my pupils, even later became a travelling secretary for the Vereniging van Christenstudente (VCS), the new name of the Coloured sector. (The two brothers Eltie and Tony Links along with George Brink joined not only our teaching staff in 1968, but also the lunchtime Christian meetings. The brothers belonged to the Seven Day Adventist Church and George Brink was a member of the AME Church. We thus had a fine representation of the body of Christ.) 

Unity in Christ across the racial divide?
I continued to naively try and ignore the unwritten prescripts of our society. I was looking at all sorts of ways to express the unity in Christ across the racial divide. As a young teacher I nevertheless had clear views about the racial policies of the country. I believed that Christians should set the pace to demonstrate the unity in Christ. The ecumenical multi-racial camps that I attended during school holidays fitted into this picture. But I was definitely naive when I tried to follow this up in the city. I dated a White UCT female student, Liz Whiteing once only.  I had met her at the work camp in Genadendal, inviting her to an evangelistic campaign on the Green Point Stadium. Meeting her at Cape Town station might already have posed a problem in those days, but as we travelled from different directions, this was easily surmounted. It was more complicated to board the bus to Green Point stadium. We were however not to be deterred. ‘Non-Whites’ were allowed to sit on the longitudinal bench of the bottom section of the double-decker bus going to Sea Point via Green Point. My partner graciously took the backmost of those seats that were reserved for the Whites. We thus just chatted away while others in the bus voiced their disapproval, referring to the “Immorality Act”.[7] Our behaviour was obviously upsetting the expected norms overtly. Contact between Whites and the other races was taboo and we dared to defy the gender barrier as well and that even in the open! But we were not aware of doing anything immoral. There was little romantic about the rendezvous. I did hope though to challenge Liz towards a closer relationship to the Lord. For the rest the exercise was part of my rebellious spirit. I revelled in going against the stream whenever I got the chance.
            At the Green Point Stadium Liz and I had less luck. There the seating was neatly segregated across racial lines and we could only meet each other again after the conclusion of the meeting.

            Along with two likeminded radicals Paul Engel and Paul Joemat I set out as a teenager in an endeavour to bring biblical conversion back into the Moravian Sunday Schools. Racist practices and traditionalism in the church later also came on our agenda. Preaching conversion at a time when that word was regarded almost as tantamount to swearing, I left our church Sunday school to go and join the Wayside Mission. How pervasive racial prejudice and racist practice was, I hereafter also experienced in the Wayside Mission. In this mission it was the common practice to let workers of the same gender operate as a pair. When there was no young White male available (or willing?) to work with me, the prevalent custom triumphed. Alas! The mission leaders teamed me up with a ‘Coloured’ lady. The right race was evidently of prime importance to this Christian group.
            Probably not a single South African who lived in the country between 1948 and 1990 was unaffected by the politics of the day. The apartheid policy was cutting into one’s life at every turn. Yet the reaction to the prescriptive laws differed quite consider­ably. In general, people were docile, with the government propaganda operating quite effectively, instilling the notion far and wide that religion and politics should not be mixed. And where this didn’t succeed, the fear of torture and detention without trial did it.

Activism as a Teacher           
In 1966 I was however already subtly nudging my Secondary School learners to stay away of the Republican Celebrations at the Goodwood Showgrounds. This was however already an infringement. A teacher colleague, Armien Jardine, was dis­missed in the wake of the boycott of every one of the pupils where he was the class teacher. It was touch and go or I was posted to the countryside as ‘punishment’, but it hardly had any effect to stop me from taking a principled stand on many issues. I was not going to allow this intimidation to deter from taking a principled stand on such issues. (Decades later – in 2008 - I was to use this tactic again in addressing the corruption at Home Affairs, spreading the word that the refugees should try and get the money back which had been taken from them illegally.)
            I challenged my teacher colleagues for instance - as a form of protest - that we as ‘‘Coloureds’ should request the lower salaries of the ‘Blacks’. That would have demonstra­ted how serious we were about racial equality. But nobody on our staff was interested in such a proposal. My colleagues were only eager to get parity salaries with the Whites. I suppose that it is human nature to discern more easily where one is disadvantaged.

3. Crossing cultural and Denominational boundaries


            I am thankful that God used people from other countries and cultures to enrich my life. Possibly the first time I was challenged to commit my life to Jesus was during an evangelistic service in the Moravian Chapel of District Six by some German preacher.

Gospel challenges from other church traditions
The breaking down of denominational prejudice and the appreciation of other denominational tradition likewise started in District Six. As a family we attended the local Dutch Reformed Church when we moved to Northway Road in Tiervlei. The school up the road that my siblings and I attended, was linked to the Volkskerk. When I was nine years old the next invitation followed to accept Jesus as my personal Saviour. This time it happened at an evangelistic service by the well‑known evangelist Robert Thom in a tent next to the local AFM church, where I responded to the altar call. But I was neither counselled properly nor followed up.
            A few years later Mr. Braam, our English-speaking High School principal who hailed from Methodist stock was God’s instrument with a clear challenge. That he could say with such emphasis ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine’, really struck at my deepest emotions. I lacked that inner assurance.
            I was still a fifteen-year-old teenager when my close friend Klaas Dirks invited me along to the Goodwood Showgrounds on Sunday 17 September 1961 where a Canadian preacher Dr Oswald Smith, was the speaker. Decisively the evangelist challenged everybody during the service to ‘come to the Cross.’ For the first time in my life I realized that it was not good enough to know in a general way that Jesus died for the sins of the world. I had to appropriate it for myself. I responded positively, accepting Jesus as my Saviour. Once again there was no follow up. As secretary of the youth club I deviated in my annual report from the prevalent custom of painting a rosy, but dishonest picture at the birthday celebration to which other church groups would be invited.
Further­more I linked up informally with Paul Engel and Paul Joemat in my way of doing things, two young colleagues at Moravian Sunday School teacher meet­ings and conferences. We made no bones about it that we felt that one could not teach Sunday school unless one is born-again. Quite often one or other of this group of three was asked to preach in one of the youth services in the various Moravian congregations of the Cape Peninsula. Thus I was already preac­hing here and there at a fairly young age. In these sermons we were not tactful either. Even though it was hardly appreci­ated, the radical challenge was nevertheless getting across.

         While I was at Vasco High School as a teenager I was quite small in physique and on top of it I was also younger than my classmates. We were often required to run the British mi/le[8] on a strange track during the Physical Training (PT) lesson. We were expected to run around the prefabricated school complex four times. The finishing line was in full view of many classrooms. I was above average as a bad sportsman, but I was definitely not a long distance runner. On top of it, I was a kaalvoetklonkie, I had no footwear - like many others in my class. The PT lesson would often conclude with the running of the mile in the first months of the year.
         The so-called track included thick sand in one part and thorns in another portion (My hardened feet became quite used to the thorns after our move from District Six to Tiervlei/Ravensmead). In a bunch – the boys from two classes combined - we would set off and go on our race of four laps around the school complex. One particular day during the PT lesson, I ran the first two rounds with my classmates, but then I became quite tired. I decided to rest a while at the back of the school where no one would be able to see, or so I thought. The other runners would in the mean time be doing the third lap. As the leaders came around for the final lap, I joined them, thus finishing in the leading group … However, the teacher, Mr October, did pick it up. He now required me to run the lap all alone, in full view of many other learners who would now know that I had cheated!! How difficult that last lap was. Not only was there the shame, but there was also the thick sand at the back of the school.  But then I discovered that the running was suddenly easier. I received what we used to call a tweede wind, a second wind and I managed to finish the race in this way.             
I used the example in later years to explain that the Lord gives us a second wind when the going is tough.
            Our sister Magdalene had pioneered youth services a tour church, bringing in people of other protestant churches to come and preach. Lay preachers like the Methodist Mr. Braam, our school principal, were asked. Daddy contributed by bringing in Nic Bougas[9], who stayed in the Old Mutual Hostel Mupine, where our father had become the night porter. As secretary of the youth club I deviated in my annual report from the prevalent custom of painting a rosy, but dishonest picture at the birthday celebration to which other church groups would be invited.  Soon I became a sort of teenage celebrity, preaching in the different congregations at their youth Sundays.
            Daddy also had a good relationship to Mr. Bill Parker, the superintendent of the hostel in Pinelands and a devout Baptist Christian. This relationship not only enabled me to earn some money doing the summer holidays as a cleaner there, but thereafter I would go with Mr. Parker on Saturday afternoons as a ball boy when he was playing baseball. Especially when they played at the UCT grounds they needed someone to throw the balls back that went very high over the wall. For the afternoon’s trouble I received 25c. That was a welcome compliment to the 10c pocket money that I got per week. That was already much for many classmates did not get any pocket money at all.
            At our youth services I went a step further than my sister, inviting not only experienced (lay) preachers from other churches, but also teenagers like myself to come and preach. Attie Louw, who was with me in Matric, had contacts via the Christian Students Association (CSV). He came to preach at one of our youth services and he also recommended Allan Boesak from Somerset West, who was matriculating at Gordon High School. As a very committed believer, Attie headed to become a Dutch Reformed Dominee. The Lord used him to bring life into the CSV of our school. Richard Stevens was another classmate who became a minister in later years but at school he had not committed his life to the Lord yet. In later years I dared even to bring in my teacher colleague, the Seventh Day Adventist Tony Links, as a preacher.[10]
                        *                                  *                                  *
The challenge to Mission work
In many ways dominee Bester influenced me profoundly. He was formative in my spiritual development because I attended his church quite regularly. Here my faith was really built up as I participated in open-air services and early morning prayer meetings.
            Since I was racially classified and raised as a ‘‘Coloured’’ in apartheid South Africa, I never even thought that I could ever get to another country for mission purposes. Instead, I joined the local Wayside Mission, which had various little open-air Sunday schools in the Parow area. I joined this Mission after getting in trouble at my own church because of my evangelistic zeal. I hereafter worked as a volunteer with a minute open air Sunday school in someone’s backyard.
            The run up to my involvement with the Wayside Mission was quite interesting. In the Sunday school at our church I had led a few children to believe in the Lord. As I was used to practise as a spiritual counsellor at evangelistic outreaches, e.g. with Dominee Piet Bester and others - I encouraged new Muslim background believers 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 only sent their children without hardly ever attending church themselves at that point in time - promptly complained to the church leadership about the un-Moravian way in which I was conducting the Sunday School classes. To get ‘converted’ to faith in Jesus was regarded as sectarian by the rank and file Moravian Church member.
            When the minister called me in, I was not prepared to budge. I decided to rather stop teaching at the Sunday school in the church. They could ask my older brother Kenneth to take over from me. This typified my rebellious, arrogant spirit.
            Nevertheless, the Lord even used that because not long hereafter both Sonnenberg parents accepted Jesus as their Saviour. For many years hereafter they were the stalwarts of the church in Tiervlei that was later called Ravensmead. The story was going to have a sequel more than thirty years later.  In the meantime, I had already sensed clearly that God’s ways are not our ways. He wonderfully provided: in spite of a meagre family income, I could still receive teacher training.          

A keen Interest in other Denominations
Already in my teenage years I had a keen interest in other churches and their doctrines. Obviously I was also confronted with doctrinal differences. Through the influence of a Pentecostal friend, it was touch and go or I would have been baptized by immersion one Saturday afternoon.  That would have ushered in my ex-communication from the Moravian Church.
The intellectual arguments of knowledgeable people, Dutch Reformed Christians like Ds. Bester and my new young friend Allan Boesak ‑ whom we had invited to come and preach at one of our youth services ‑ sometimes impressed my investigative mind. Their view e.g. on infant baptism, could however not fully convince me. I was still looking for a clear biblical explanation of the church tradition that seemed to me to be contradictory to the Biblical evidence.
            While I was still a rebellious critical young teacher trainee, divine intervention was needed to get me to finish the confirmation class of the Moravian Church. It was evidently God’s way of keeping me in this church where I was still going to influence people, both at the Cape and in Europe. The fact that I stemmed from one of the respected traditional churches enabled me to influence other young people as well - some of whom later became leaders in their own churches. In the Moravian Church itself I had a good standing due to my forbears – my grandfather was no less than Reverend Daniel Joorst. The Ulsters were my cousins!   
But in other ways I was a misfit. Along with two young Sunday School teacher colleagues I nevertheless launched out in an arrogant way to ‘get the Moravian Church back on track’ with regard to biblical conversion. The two Paul’s (with the typical Cape Moravian surnames Engel and Joemat) and I sometimes used some unconventional means. Bible choruses were regarded as sectarian in those days, but we had the respected Chris Wessels - a young minister at that time - on our side. Chris had been in Holland and Germany before he returned to the church’s service and then he went to the Christian Students Association as travelling secretary.
On another level, a link through Paul Engel  (the rebel student colleague of the Moravian Church) and Allan Boesak brought me to a major turning point in my life. They invited me to the evangelistic outreach of the Christian Students Association at the seaside resort in Harmony Park. This outreach was scheduled to start just after Christmas at the end of 1964.
However at Christmas 1964, I felt spiritually empty and bankrupt. How could one go and share the Gospel with others in such a condition? I cried to the Lord to equip me! He somehow divinely touched me. I sensed the power of the Holy Spirit taking hold of me. Now I wasready for the outreach in Harmony Park!
A special friendship and partnership developed to my evangelical tent mates David Savage and Ds.  Esau Jacobs (who was generally known as Jakes) who joined us on New Year’s Day. At that time Jakes was a young pastor who had just started off in his first congregation in the Transkei.
After one of these evening services I got my introduction into ‘spiritual warfare’. When Jakes entered the tent after he had a long conversation with a Muslim camper, he exclaimed that we would not be able to make any head‑way without prayer and fasting.  The young pastor became my role model and mentor for the next few years.
The Harmony Park evangelistic outreach influenced my life in yet another way: There I received an urge to do things together with people from different church backgrounds more than before.  Tragically, discord set in soon hereafter, caused by an influence of apartheid when the CSA was ripped apart. Some of the leaders among the ‘Coloured’ sector of the student movement thought that it was inevitable to accept the new racial divisions.  Others like Chris Wessels, a young pastor of the Moravian Church who had just returned from a study stint in Holland and Germany, believed one should fight apartheid without any compromise. The opposite camp thought that one could still operate within the government constraints. Thus the attitude to the status quo caused divisions throughout society, including the church and among teachers.  (Also in my denomination and family I personally sensed the tension. I belonged to the Joorst clan that was very much in the leadership of the accommodative TEPA teachers union, but politically I leaned more to the anti-apartheid activist Wessels clan, the other influential family of the Moravian Church).

            I was by now quite involved with church youth work, Wayside Sunday School and in the Student Christian Movement. The weekends were hectic, often even more than the weekdays. I revelled in four years of hectic life, during which my family did not see much of me, not even during the school holidays. At the different youth and student camps I fell in love more than once, but soon after the camps it usually ebbed away.
            At the different youth and student camps I 'fell in love' more than once, but soon after the camps it usually ebbed away. The only correspondence that lasted for any length of time, was with Jakes, who was now pastoring a church in Port Elizabeth. In fact, I hitch-hiked to Port Elizabeth, about 800 Kilometres away, to be present for his induction in the new township of Gelvandale in December 1966. It was no sacrifice to bring me to Thornham, where the Moravian Youth Camp was to start just after Christmas.
This camp caused something of a paradigm shift in Moravian Youth work when the presence of Chris Wessels helped us to introduce choruses. Up to this time we only sang church hymns at our youth camps. I not only celebrated my 21st birthday there but I was also quite surprisingly elected to the executive of the national Youth Union of the denomination (Pietie Orange, from our youth group in Tiervlei, shared with me how various young men were lobbying against me because of my evangelistic leanings).
            I suppose that I was very pragmatic about the romances. At the wedding of my brother in January 1967 I started a relationship but a few months later I decided that it was time-wise not expedient to have a girl friend. I promptly terminated the friendship. I was quite happy with this atti­tude; unaware of the hurts I was causing in many a heart.  The only correspondence that lasted for any length of time from this period was with Jakes, who was now pastoring a church in Port Elizabeth and Dave Savage.[11]
            In the latter half of 1968 I got involved in some romance again, but I got cold feet when the nice girl, a committed believer suggested some­thing like getting married after my return from Germany. I was enjoying my ‘freedom’ still far too much and definitely not ready yet for such a drastic step as marriage.

Teacher or academic?
The year I finished my two year teacher training at Hewat, I still looked like a boy although I turned 19 at the end of that year. (In fact, my nephew put the question to me why I looked like a boy when I was well over twenty). I feared teaching because already during the period of practicing at college I had problems with discipline. And yet, at other occasions I could keep audiences spellbound, in spite of a voice that was not conducive to public speaking.
            I was required to teach Standards Six and Seven (grades 8 and 9). The first few weeks were quite exciting and enjoyable. But then it became quite tough. I don’t know whether I hoped that home visitation would help to get the upper hand in the classroom. However, at such visitation, one of the parents thought I was a classmate of her 14-year-old son. The first year especially was very hard. Thereafter I gained the respect of the pupils and colleagues alike.
            The proximity to the University College of the Western Cape and the start of undergraduate classes the same year gave me the chance to go for promotion. There I rubbed shoulders with colleagues who later made their mark in the South African teaching profession as university professors, school principals and inspectors. They included the likes of Jakes Gerwel and Franklin Sonn who were still going to hold high office in the first democratic government of the country. My decision to study extra-murally was emulated by many friends including my VCS and Harmony Park camp mate Jutty Bredenkamp, who hailed from the Moravian Mission Station Genadendal.
            Because I was fairly successful as a student, the question soon came up whether I should go for an academic or a professional career. God intervened in his own way at a funeral in 1968.
                        *                                  *                                  *
            I was looking at all sorts of ways to express the unity in Christ across the racial divide. Thus I eagerly latched on to the opportunity to pray with the young people of Youth for Christ on Friday mornings after I had read about their prayer meetings in their periodical. I had been sending a part of my tithes to the organization and this would have been a natural supplement of my prayer times early on Sunday mornings at the Dutch Reformed Church.
            However, when I pitched up at the venue on my way to school, I was told that the prayer meetings were not open to ‘Coloureds’.  I took it in my stride, knowing that this was South African ‘way of life’.
            I continued to naively try and ignore the unwritten prescripts of our society. When posters advertised a healing campaign with signs and wonders by the famous ‘Boeremusiek’ accordion player Rassie Rasmus, I duly went to the local White Pentecostal church. I really sensed a touch of the Lord in the region of my elbow that had been dislocated in a rugby match as a Standard Nine schoolboy. It had never healed completely. At the service I was allowed to stand at the back of the church, but someone pointed out to me that there was a church in Bellville South - i.e. in the ‘Coloured’ residential area - where I would be welcome to attend. But that did not deter me from going forward for prayer when there was an invitation to which effect. 
           
The call to full-time theological studies
While I was still a teenager, the above‑mentioned Chris Wessels, challenged me to go for theological training, but I expected to be more clearly and divinely called, although I had no idea how such a call would occur. Dr Krüger, a member of the Church Board, approached me in 1964 with an offer of a teaching post in Port Elisabeth as I was finishing my second year of teacher training. But I sensed no peace to follow this ‘call’ to the Theological Seminary. I was therefore quite contented that I could tell Dr Krüger that I had applied to do the third year ‘academic’ course at Hewat.
            After my encounter with the Lord before my first Harmony Park beach outreach, I started to attend the prayer meetings 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 Dutch Reformed Church seminary, rather than with the Moravian­s. But he never encouraged me along these lines. I appreciated that.

            From the Wessels clan Reverend Ivan was even more of a hero to me. He got leukaemia at the beginning of 1968, passing on in Groote Schuur Hospital after a few weeks. Instead of the usual Sunday School Conference that had been scheduled for the weekend following his death, almost the whole Moravian Church establishment 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 late Rev. Daniel Ivan Wessels was never jailed or banned - in contrast to so many other members of the Wessels family. 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.
            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.’ I knew that this would mean taking up theological studies.
            The next day we went to the Pella Mission Station for our condensed Sunday School conference. I was completely surprised when Reverend 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 in Germany. I had no hesitation to reply that I saw this as clear confirmation of the call of the Lord the previous day. I was overawed by the perfect timing of the Lord. I would just be finishing my extra-mural degree studies at the university that year.

A missionary coming to Germany from Africa?      
I regarded the stay in Europe in the first place as an opportunity to study, but it was also combined with some missionary zeal. Some Germans were quite shocked by the idea that their ‘Christian’ country was really in need of mission­aries from Africa. When Reverend Rolf Scheffbuch, my boss, came up with the suggestion that I could study theology in Tübingen, I thought this a good idea. In fact, I had already mentioned the possibility to Gerhard Fey, who was responsible for me, to live ‘in faith’ in the university town as a missionary. This idea was possibly too radical for Gerhard. (Two years later, Ameri­cans started on this ven­ture in Tübingen, albeit fully supported from their respective home churches. Rosemarie was impacted by their work, leading to her baptism by immersion in 1971.)  I was thrilled when I soon got a formal offer to do a full theological course at the renowned Tübingen University. As a so-called ‘Coloured’, one did not have the chance to study Greek and Hebrew, the biblical languages - unless one went to the distant Fort Hare University. The possibility of the deport­ation of the German teachers at our church’s seminary was nowhere fictitious. In the case of this eventuality, it would have been good if we had properly trained teachers at our seminary. But my church authorities back home were not so happy with the idea. They thought that I would become estranged from the country after five or six years out of the country. There was of course always the possibility that I could fall in love with some German girl. That would have damaged the exchange enterprise completely because of the South African laws. 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 back home regarded this as still too long. In the end it was agreed that I could remain in Germany for one more year, studying the biblical languages.
            From the outset I regarded myself as a ‘short term missionary’. In those days this terminology was still unknown. The possibility of a missionary coming from Africa to ‘Christian’ Europe was unheard of. But I was however just as determined to return to serve the Lord in my home country.  The almost two years in Germany were very enriching. During the first year in Germany I learnt much about youth work. The last of the two years was devoted to studies in Greek, Hebrew and Latin.[12]

Thrust into political activity
Before I left South Africa in January 1969, our bishop had warned me to stay clear of politics, because agents from the apartheid government were also well represented overseas. I initially heeded this warning without however really making any conscious effort. But then I received a letter from my parents with shocking information. They had been served with a notice of the expropriation of our property in Tiervlei under the guise of slum clearance.
            What really enraged me was that my mother mentioned in her letter something about ‘the will of the Lord’. I stopped just short of considering joining the armed struggle against the apartheid government, because this brutal act was to me just an extension of their racist policies. I hereafter wrote quite a strong letter of protest to the Parow Municipality from abroad, with copies to some people in Tiervlei. But it was all of no avail. Hereafter, I became almost reckless in my opposition to the South African government policies. I was now very critical of the regime, also in public utterances. (I became something of a celebrity in certain quarters, especially on the Schwabian countryside. As a speaker from Africa I got much publicity by the church press. A ‘clergyman’ from Africa who was fluent in German was still something quite extraordinary in those days - in plain vanity I never objected to wear a clerical robe whenever I preached).
            The only constraint with regard to the content of my speeches on South Africa was a moral and religious one. I wanted to act responsibly as if to God in everything I did. For the rest I couldn’t care less in my youthful vigour if my government wanted to withdraw my passport or not. In my letter to the Parow Municipality, I had almost invited these people to pass the information on to Pretoria. The result could have been the confiscation of my passport. Nevertheless, the Lord blessed me with insights that turned out to be quite pro­phetic. In my main paper on S.A., I spoke about 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 the problems, I suggested much prayer because I believed in the power of prayer. The time with Ds. Bester and the believers around him had impacted my life very deeply in this regard.

            My protest letter to the Parow Municipality after the expropriation of our house in Tiervlei, did not have any effect one way or the other. My parents were more or less forced to go to the Elim mission station. Daddy became a migrant labourer, going home one weekend per month. Health-wise it all became too much for him. It affected his heart. At the age of 58, he was forced to go on early retirement. [13]
            When my parents moved to the countryside - thus without visible reminders and news from me - the prayer support from the Tiervlei warriors diminished. Parallel to it, also much of my initial missionary zeal vanished.


                                             4. Clearing the Marriage Barrier


            Towards the end of 1968, preparation for Germany didn’t belong to my priorities. Instead of trying to get my knowl­edge of the German language on par, I ran from one youth camp to the other. En route to one of these, I all but committed myself to the one girl in South Africa of whom my friend Jakes and I both had felt that she could become the wife of either of us. Our friendship was such that no one would have minded one bit if the other one would have married her.
            Being a 23-old now, many of our friends have married or were engaged to marry. This issue was no side issue any more. I was determined from the outset not to get married to a German girl. That would have prevented me from returning to South Africa because of the laws of the time. I wanted to return to South Africa to make a meaningful contri­bution in one way or the other. Rationally I just felt I was needed more in South Africa. I had to guard myself against falling in love if that was possible at all.
            I had not been in Europe for two weeks when ‘it’ hap­pened. I fell in love as never before. A Christian girl not only impressed me but I also noticed a growing feeling towards her that drove me to my knees. I was really thrown into a spiritual crisis. I asked the Lord to take away my infatuation because I felt myself committed to a task and commission, which was awaiting me in my home country.
            The emotional crisis was saved when she wrote to me a few months later that ‘she’ liked me only as a brother. She already had a boy friend. God taught me through this experience not to prescribe to Him to which race my future race should belong. The end result of this experi­ence was however that all my defences with regard to a White girl friend fell apart.
            Although I was in the region of Stuttgart quite a lot at this time, I was yet to meet Rosemarie. In fact, for two months I actually resided at the Christian hostel from where I got in touch with the young people of the ‘E.C.’, a group of committed Christians to which Rosemarie was also aligned. I soon became a regular at the ‘Brenzhaus’ every Wednesday evening. Her student colleague and close friend Elke Maier, who rented a room in the city, attended regularly. Rosemarie commuted from Mühlacker every day to their training course to become an ‘educator’.[14]
            A clear challenge came from a completely different direc­tion when I landed at Selbitz, a protestant institution that had all the hallmarks of a monastery. The life-style of these Christians challenged me to a celibate life, something with which I had not been confronted before. But I knew myself too well. I settled for a compromise: I decided to dedicate my ‘youth’ to the Lord, i.e. I intended to stay a bachelor till the age of 30.
         I was challenged when I fell in love with a teenager. But this was fairly ‘safe’ because Friedlinde was only fifteen years old. Being a cradle snatcher in this way ensured that I would remain a bachelor until I was thirty. This was my first serious romantic friendship after two brief encounters of this nature just prior to my departure from South Africa.
         Alas, after a few months my teenage lover said to me: I don’t love you anymore! This was the first time I was the clear loser. In the previous encounters I never shed a tear when they ended. Now it was different.

                        *                      *                      *
When Rosemarie entered the ‘E.C.’, the evangelical Christian Encounter youth group with her student colleague and friend Elke Maier, 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. I just wanted to tell my two Stuttgart roommates immediately about ‘Rosemarie Göbel aus Mühlacker’, even though I hardly knew her.
         There was some disappointment when she stepped just as suddenly out of my life again as she had entered. We had no opportunity to exchange addresses or telephone numbers. On the other hand, I was still grieving the loss of the friendship to the teenager on the Schwabian countryside. At that time I still hoped that my teenage love would change her mind regarding our relationship. I had remained a friend of the family. With hope of a revived friendship I visited the rural village of Rottenacker once again. The opposite happened. There I became liberated from my emotional attachment to the eldest daughter of the family. In a very special aftermath, she and Rosemarie became friends and years later she would marry in Rosemarie’s wedding dress.

                                                *                      *                      *
            Just at this time, my parents went to the Mission Station Elim. I noticed for the first time what a prayer backing meant to any missionary. Although nobody spoke about short-term missionaries at that time, I was one to all intents and purposes. With the presence of my mother not reminding the prayerful women from various churches in Tiervlei to pray for me over­seas, I almost tangibly felt the lack of the sus­taining inter­cession which I had experienced in the 18 months prior to this.
            Almost simultaneously with my examination in Classical Greek - two weeks before my scheduled return to South Africa - Rosemarie re-entered my life. This time I resorted to some very unconven­tional methods to make sure that we would not lose contact again. Those two weeks turned out to become quite crucial in our lives. The miraculous divine intervention so gripped me that I really wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
            However, a crisis followed when one of my room-mates also fell in love with Rosemarie. He touched a sensitive chord when he admonished me not to break a girl’s heart, being on the verge of my return to my heimat.  I knew that his warning was not primarily inspired by concern for her but I was nevertheless gripped by a sense of guilt. I did not want to cause heartache to anybody before my return to South Africa - I was initially prepared to sacrifice my feelings for her. I was basically ready to leave her over to him. But it was quite an inner wrestle until I could leave everything over to the Lord. And this was only a fraction of the action of two very intriguing weeks, where we definitely saw the Lord at work in our lives.[15] One of the most unusual love stories ensued, not only because her mother initially opposed our relation­ship, now allowing her to meet me again. (Rosemarie agreed not to tell her father about me.)
            The most important moment for me during this time was probably when I invited Rosemarie telephonically to attend an even­ing with the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Her reaction 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.
            Rosemarie was not allowed to attend my farewell at the Brenzhaus youth group, but she later learned the chorus “My Lord can do anything ...” from a recording of the proceedings via one of the latest technological advances, the audio cassette. I had taught the German young people this chorus that even­ing. A foretaste of the miracle that was still to happen, occurred just prior to my departure. When she went home the next weekend, her mom allowed her to see me once more and then accompany me to the airport a few days later. I was so happy when she agreed to join me to a performance of Händel’s Messiah when I went to meet her at the train station.
            Everything seemed hopeless with regard to any future for our intense mutual love. We had no option but to stick to the content of the chorus: Our Lord could do anything and every­thing. We were thoroughly blessed, when we attended the Messiah performance as we listened to the words from the pro­phet Isaiah: ‘Every valley shall be exalted...’ We looked at each other eagerly adapting the prom­ise to our personal circumstances! How we longed for the fulfilment of the adaptation of the verse from Scripture.
                                                *                                  *                                  *
            I returned to Cape Town in October 1970, lodging with my Magdalene and her family. I immediately got a teaching post at Alexander Sinton High School in Athlone, where I received post from my bonny. In the first few weeks after my return letters flew to and fro between Cape Town and Stuttgart in quick succession. I wrote about every­thing I did, writing on railway stations, reading and re-reading her letters in the Manenberg bus and in all sorts of places.
            There was however one snag: Rosemarie’s father still didn’t know about our friendship. At one of the occasions where 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’.  But I wanted both. This must have looked really stupid at that time because a marriage to a (white) German was just not a runner. But I was too much in love to accept that. I was determined to marry Rosemarie but I had also resolved to fight to get her into South Africa. To everybody that idea sounded crazy.             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!
            I was soon swept along by the politics of the day. Ever since reading books from Martin Luther King and Albert Luthuli during my stay in Germany that were either unavailable or banned literature in South Africa, my interest was more than only aroused. Now I was ablaze in opposition to apartheid. I saw this as my Christian duty. One of the first things after my return was to join the Christian Institute (CI). Here I linked up with Paul Joemat, my old rebel mate in the church. He also had the vision that Christians should be actively engaged in opposing the unchristian apartheid policies.
            We were quite disappointed when we discovered that the ‘White’ members were not prepared to flout the immoral apartheid laws. I had suggested that we should board a train together and walking through the different train couches. All of us would then have to be arrested for it. We 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 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 pending wedding.
            The secrecy of our friendship took its toll on Mrs. Göbel so that she landed in hospital with gall trouble. It was at that stage when Rosemarie couldn’t keep it to herself any more. The tension in the family had become unbearable when she splashed it out to her father, causing excessive pain to him.
            Hereafter I wrote a letter of apology to Mr. Göbel. But in this letter I formally asked to correspond with his daugh­ter. He replied equally formally, giving me reasons why I should terminate my friendship with Rosemarie. He was strictly against his daughter marrying someone who is not a German. 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 very problematic. I was effectively turning his arm. He was so angry that he did not even reply
           
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            On this side of the ocean there was of course the ominous ‘Mixed Marriages Law’. 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 a possible 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 take place in the apartheid era - this seemed to be my big chance. I would not accept the ‘realistic’ options of either Rosemarie or South Africa.
            I wrote to the Prime Minister to inquire about the pro­cedure to have someone reclassified. I brushed aside the objections of Wolfgang Schäfer, one of our Seminary lecturers - that I would give recognition to the immoral racial laws of the country with such a reclassification,. Theoretically, there was another possibility to circumvent the legislation: if ‘non-White blood’ (what a joke!) could be traced in Rosemarie’s ancestry. In fact, my darling had features that made her not so typi­cally German at all. That’s why I really hoped that some non-European influence could be traced in her forbears. But research that had already been done by her family for the family tree, showed just the opposite. Rosemarie is European through and through!  My activism on this score – along with my naïve blurting out that I had a bonny over the ocean - was to elicit a massive disappointment to the two of us another two years on.

Divine intervention
A major problem had arisen in Germany after Rosemarie and I had fallen in love with each other. We immediately knew that we wanted to get married to no one else. That her parents were very unhappy with the match could not stop me. From the outset Rosemarie knew that it would not be easy on that score. Her father had almost coerced her to promise him never to marry a foreigner. That was long before I came on the scene. As a matter of principle she refused to oblige. She was not prepared to promise something like that. That was good for me, of course.
           
            In the meantime Rosemarie’s relationship to her parents became so strained that Rosemarie got tempted into another friendship to a young man. The relationship to a prim and proper German seemed to bring back the family bliss.
When I didn’t hear from my darling for many weeks, I got really worried.  I had resigned as a teacher to go into full-time pastoral work. Now I had just received a cheque from the authorities as a repayment of money that I had paid into the State pension fund. The amount of the cheque was more or less just what I would have needed to pay for the cheapest air ticket[16] with Trek Airways (later it changed its name to Luxavia) to Luxembourg. I (expediently) perceived - albeit after some serious prayer - that the cheque that I had received from the government, was God’s provision to fly to Europe in the June 1971 school and seminary vacation.
            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 considered: “If it is the will of the Lord that I should go, then he has to get a place for me on that flight.”
            It seemed to me just the confirmation, which I needed. I felt an inner compulsion to go and check out what was going on overseas. When I received a phone from Trek Airways 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!

            In the meantime Rosemarie had come into an immense dilemma when the mother of the handsome German young friend became critically ill. He stated innocently to her that he would not be able to take it if he would lose both Rosemarie and his mother. Rosemarie felt herself cornered.
            The temptation was just too big when the relief at her own home became almost tangible every time she pitched up with the handsome young German. Peace had returned to their home in Mühlacker. Rosemarie’s sister Waltraud had married her Dieter in the meantime, so that she was alone at home with her parents over the weekends. In her heart she was nevertheless still hoping for some miracle to happen so that she could marry her ‘first choice’ in Africa, but more and more this likened a pipe-dream.
            My unexpected arrival in Germany turned out to be rather strategic, because Rosemarie had been all but engaged to be married to her new friend.
            She knew full well that the problems at home would flare up again. After an intense struggle in prayer, Rosemarie decided to part with both of us. Everybody had understanding for her decision, even her parents. I had understanding for her decision, but my faith was tested to the full.
            The last time we were together, Rosemarie and I parted. The Lord comforted us. Although we had the inner conviction as never before that we belonged to each other, we decided to separate. We committed our future in God’s hands. In our last prayer together, we more or less put the ball in God’s court in faith. He had to bring us together again if it was His will that we should marry one day. I for one knew that it had been wrong for me to try and assist Him through letters to the South African authorities or the like. But I did know now that we loved each other as always and that was ample consolation for that 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. But I still had to learn a lot more.

At the Moravian Seminary in District Six
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 along with Paul Joemat, 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 we knew that the location of Moravian Hill was temporary.
            Because I had started with the theological languages in Germany, the Moravian Seminary would have allowed me to join the other full-time students. I was adamant not to have special favours. When my former Afrikaans teacher, Mr. Adam Pick, who was now the principal of Elswood High School, approached me to come and teach Mathematics in 1971 - I took the full-time teaching post in Elsies River and studied part-time at the seminary that year.  
         Having completed my B.A. degree just prior to my departure for Germany in January 1969, I was earning much more than the bulk of the other teachers. This made me rather uncomfortable. The bulk of my colleagues were married with families.

 Our lecturers at the seminary really did everything possible to give us a broad-based theological training. Regularly we were taken to lectures by nationally and internationally renowned speakers. People like Dr Desmond Tutu from the Theological Education Fund who was at that time relatively unknown, came to the seminary.
            In the meantime, my close friend Jakes had accepted a call to the Cape. I was elated, especially when he moved into his own parsonage in Penlyn Estate. He was responsible for ministry in the newly started township of Hanover Park, where many of the former residents of District Six were moved to. Our old Jonathan and David relationship flared up. Over the weekends, after the Sunday evening service, I often went to his home where we would have long discussions, often about a possible wife for him. He was a bachelor of long standing and I was determined to become one at least till my 30th birthday. Of course, I was still hoping that one day my wife would be ‘Rosemarie Göbel aus Mühlacker’.
            Often in our nightly discussions we discussed the best ways of opposition to apartheid. Tirelessly I would point out to him the strategic role of his church, the DRC church. One of his initiatives was to get the enlightened Professor Willie Jonker to address ministers of their church on a regular basis. So many of his ‘White’ church colleagues were still firmly entrenched in apartheid ideology. The idea of the Broederkring, a brain child of Dr Beyers Naudé, evolved from here. The ministers of the various races would come together for discussions and prayer along the lines of the CI, of which Jakes was more or less a founder member. ‘White’ DRC ministers would never have attended a meeting of the ‘radical’ CI.
            Looking back, the strategy floundered because the opposi­tion to racial discrimination was central in the Broederkring instead of the unity in Christ. Before this time, the DRC church was spiri­tually leading the way in the mainline churches. The sense of unity in this church got lost however as the Broederkring got an activist tag that it also was to all intents and pur­poses. But it did encourage Black ministers to stand out for justice. They were urged in the meetings not to allow others to blackmail them into subservience. White ‘mother churches’ often abused their monetary support to get ‘Black’ and ‘‘Coloured’’ ministers to tow the apartheid line.
            I revelled in asking uncomfortable questions, e.g. in Stellenbosch at the Kweekskool, the Afrikaner Dutch Reformed Seminary after the speech of Professor Eberhard Bethge, the biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My question comprised a comparison between Nazi Germany and the South African set-up. The Stel­lenbosch professors cleverly sidestepped the issue by trans­lating my question incorrectly.
            At that time our theologi­cal seminary was perhaps the only institution in the country where the students could influence what was actually taught. Thus we noticed for instance the irrelevance of the curriculum with regard to our surround­ings. I found it strange that we had no studies of Islam in the curriculum at our Seminary. After all, we had Muslims all around us there in District Six. In the atmosphere of openness, the lecturers had no problem to add some lectures after the end of the year examinations.  The Seminary lecturers had no qualms when I when I asked whether my friend Jakes could be invited over for a few lectures on Islam. My knowledgeable close friend Jakes, was only too happy to oblige to come and lecture on Islam.
            Through my contact with Jakes – who was now planting a Sendingkerk congregation in the new township of Hanover Park - we also attended lectures on Ethics by Professor Willie Jonker of Stellenbosch at Dominee Bester’s church in Tiervlei. Our part-time lecturer Reverend Martin Wessels gladly took us there for these monthly occasions. Whenever prominent international speakers like Martin Niemöller, Eberhardt Bethge and Hans‑Rudi Weber were around, our lecturers not only kept us posted, but Henning and Wolfgang also provided the transport to get us, the full-time students, to these events.
Having prominent South African Black theologians like Desmond Tutu, Bongonjalo Goba and Manas Buthelezi at our seminary or at activities organized by the Christian Institute were enriching experiences with which few other theological institutions could boast. It was special to study at the Seminary at the time when Black Theology was coming into its own, encouraged by the Seminary lecturers. In the atmosphere of open academic discussion we not only learned to look very critically at issues, but we also became more sensitive to the injustices of our society. The yearning to work towards racial reconciliation through the unified church grew in my heart.
             In another initiative in which Robbie Kriger,[17] a part-time seminary student, was prominent. Dr Beyers Naudé was invited to address a youth rally on Youth Power in the Old Drill Hall. This was typical of the position of the Seminary in opposition to the regime.
            The two years of full-time study at the seminary however also included a good balance with evangelistic activity. Now and then Jakes would come and pick me up on a Friday evening to join evangelistic outreach like that of Ds. Pietie Victor’s Straatwerk, that was however still very much run along along racial lines that we did not like. The outreach of a group in Grassy Park was much more to our liking.
            Fritz Faro, one of my former Bellville South High School Mathematics learners, was at this time my student colleague. Initially he found that difficult to handle, especially when the lecturers also insisted to be called by their names, (i.e. brother Henning instead of Reverend Schlimm). Fritz really got enflamed by the evangelistic zeal of the Jesus People. We - Gustine Joemath and myself, the other two full-time students, tried to accommodate that but at the same time we deemed it necessary to challenge the apparent Jesus People acceptance of the racist South African way of life. Thus we invited a student from Rhodesia - as Zimbabwe was still called in those days - to join us in evangelistic outreach on Muizenberg beach. The idea was just to go and sing choruses, using our instruments. As this beach was denoted ‘for Whites only’, the three of us were liable to be arrested. After obviously influenced by others, our Zimbabwean friend opted out with a flimsy excuse.
            We also sharpened our axes for 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 this church a notice board welcomed all races. 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 fighting racist traditions simultaneously.
            Reverend Douglas Bax and his St Andrews Presbyterian Church passed the test with flying colours. Thereafter he became a close friend of our seminary.[18]   
            A side effect of my studies at the Moravian seminary was that I lost much of my evangelical zeal. 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. Yet, prayer had inspired my letter.
            This was the time when Black Theology was emerging. With our German lecturer Wolfgang Schäfer’s leaning to the left of the political spectrum, our seminary soon got a bad name with the government of the day. People of all races were entering and leaving the Moravian Hill seminary premises. That was regarded as subversive. That even Maties - students from the University of Stellenbosch, easily identifiable by their striped blazers - visited us over the weekends must have unnerved those who spied on the building.[19] Knowing that the phone was tapped and the possibility that hidden tape recorders could be present, Wolfgang Schäfer could nevertheless not be bothered. He helped us to behave as free people while he described the seminary premises as a ‘liberated area’.  Indeed, we experienced a foretaste of the new South Africa there, even though not quite on a par with the Christian Institute offices in Mowbray.

A Sense for Justice
Independent of this influence I always had a deep sense for justice, often making myself very unpopular in some quarters by speaking out, albeit sometimes out of turn. A part of this tendency was my leaning to speak out for the defenceless. Thus I offered to ‘testify’ at an inquest into irregularities at the school just before the end of the year examinations in 1971. The White school inspectors were quite surprised when I, a young teacher who looked like one of the high school pupils, challenged them for disrupting the school at the critical time of the year. When they enquired after my name, intimating that my attitude could militate against later promotion, I was not intimidated in the least. I was already on my way out of the teaching profession any way, scheduled to go to the Seminary in District Six full-time for the rest of my course.
            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’[20] 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 Chris Wessels as he fought a lonely battle to get the denomination to break down the race barrier in its structures.
            In the June holidays of 1972 I represented our seminary at the very last University Christian Movement conference in Roodepoort. In an attempt to pre-empt its banning, the move­ment was disbanded at that occasion. Because of its total absence of an evangelical leaning, I felt myself really out of place. It was a far cry from the Chris­tian Students Associ­ation that had meant such a lot to me in earlier days. But the latter movement had been totally dis­credited, because it was neatly divided along racial and language lines. What a pity that the issue was politicised so much. Many UCM delegates stayed on for the SASO confer­ence. I preferred to return to the Cape and missed the opportunity to meet the likes of Steve Biko. At the conference I resisted the virus of Black Power, but in due course I did become a forceful proponent of Black Conscious­ness.[21] (The following year I was one of our Seminary’s delegates to a very Intersem meaningful conference in Umtata, where theological students from all over the country and from different church backgrounds were represented.)

            The three District Six seminarians had little trouble being the odd man out. Of course, this attitude was not completely kosher, but it didn’t really bother us. When we were invited to attend a CI meeting in the posh Bishop’s Court house of Mrs. Robb, the Black Sash stalwart, we had a lot of soul-searching to do. How could we attend any meeting in that bour­geois environment? In the end we went there more to accommodate our beloved director, Henning Schlimm than out of conviction. It must have been a very funny sight to see us - in our casual blue jeans - being served by the butler in the posh surround­ings...
            Another meeting of the CI at the home of the Schlimms brought us face to face with an Afrikaner. When I met Hester van der Walt, I sensed the resentment against the hated Afri­kaners coming up in me and I immediately made her feel it. But she rose to the occasion. She reacted very warmly, not react­ing to the venom that she and Lies Hoogendoorn, her compan­ion, must surely have felt from the three Seminarians. They were already enlightened and they soon became regular visitors to the seminary in Ashley Street. In their own church they were already outcasts because they have come to love Black people. They had worked as nurses in a mission hospital. Through our contact with us they also now became more activ­ist.
            As individuals they rocked the boat of the nursing authorities when they requested to receive the lower salaries of ‘Coloured’ nurses.
            I don’t know why, but somehow I never rubbed shoulders with the Special Branch (Security Police). The closest I came to some sort of ‘hot water’ was the reaction to a sermon from the book of Acts on the communalism of the first Christians. The late Reverend John Swart, who had invited me, confided later that a congregation member who was in the police force, had conveyed a warning: I should not be asked to preach there again because then he would have to arrest me. The police agent in question had confused communalism with Communism. The latter terminology was anathema to everyone in authority in those days; they abused the term “Communist” to smear people.
                                                *                                  *                      *
            In spite of my activism on more than one front, my heart was still aching that I couldn’t write to my Rosemarie directly.  God intervened in Rosemarie’s life a few months later when it became clear to her that she loved me too much. We had still kept to our mutual promise, 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 now worked as an occupa­tional therapist with termin­ally ill children.
            It came as quite a shock when Rosemarie wrote:
                                                                                                Tübingen, 7th November 1971
                        “MAY THE LORD BE BETWEEN YOU AND ME”
... 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 can’t and should not tell you now. You may expect more particulars through Harry. May you experience the compassionate love of God.
                                                                                                Your Rosemarie

            Rosemarie 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 son. 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 the Department of the Interior that they could only reclassify Rosemarie once she was in South Africa.
            A few months later God linked us up again - although it felt like ages to us. He spoke to Rosemarie’s mother through His Word. She had to love ‘the stranger’ as herself. She instinctively knew which stranger was meant. As a result of this we were allowed to resume our correspondence after Rosemarie’s 21st birthday.
            Encouraged by this development, along with my mentor and confident, Henning Schlimm, a teaching post was negotiated for Rosemarie at the ‘Kindergarten’ (Pre-school) of St Martini, the German Lutheran Church in Cape Town. Pastor Osterwald displayed a lot of courage in appointing her although he had to do it secretly, making sure that there was no copy of a covering letter. I was not aware of the great courage that Pastor Osterwald, the local pastor had displayed to appoint her, knowing the background of the ap­pointment. He had asked Rosemarie not to mention anything in her letters to me.
            However, Rosemarie was refused a visa by the government without any reason given. She did become aware all right of the activity of the South African special branch of the police in Germany. She walked straight into their trap. Also the attempt to get a tourist visa failed to produce the goods.
It looked 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 one way out: I had to choose between the love for her and my love for my home country. I chose the former, 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. Very reticently, with real mixed feelings, I planned to leave the country in November 1973 with the intention to marry Rosemarie.
In the months prior to the departure 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. The presence of Dr Beyers Naudé, the leader of the CI at our youth rally, did not augur well for me. His passport had also been taken away. I wrote to Rosemarie that I would phone her from Johannesburg if the government would confiscate my passport.

Involuntary Exile
Very reticently, with real mixed feelings, I left the country with the intention of getting married to Rosemarie. Ironically, there was still a touch of uncertainty with regard to my leaving South Africa. I had been booked to leave fairly soon after completing my theological examinations in November 1973 because I wanted to get to my beloved Rosemarie as soon as possible. Almost just as important was the fact that my passport was due to expire on the 16th January 1974. I had to buy a round-trip ticket even though I didn’t intend to return to my fatherland. I just didn’t dare to apply timely for the extension of my passport before my departure. I had a real fear that it would not be granted.

            “Would they allow me through the passport control?”  That was the question of the moment. Although I was never directly involved in politics, there were quite a few reasons for the government to confiscate my passport. I made for instance no secret of my sentiments regarding justice in South Africa posturing a self-written T-shirt with “Reg en Geregtigheid” (A call for jus­tice) at the front and “Civil Rights” on the back. One just had to reckon with it that such provocative actions would have been registered in police circles to one’s disadvantage.
            My position was however far from hopeless. In contrast to some student colleagues, the security police never interrogated me. I could thus be really hopeful to get through the customs without any problems. I was quite composed, know­ing my future to be in God’s hands. The lack of inward clarity at that stage about where I was supposed to be in order to be in the centre of His will - in Germany or South Africa - perhaps also helped to relax somewhat.
            In Tübingen Rosemarie was waiting anxiously. I wrote that I would phone her if the authorities would have confiscated my passport. Rosemarie hoped of course that there would be no phone call from South Africa. All the anxiety with regard to my getting out of the country, proved to be unnecessary.  Rosemarie and I were soon enjoying every minute of being together after the years of involuntary separation. It was not easy however for my darling that I regarded my return to Germany as a sacrifice.
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            My first visit to Rosemarie’s parental home in Mühlacker was very unfortunate It caused so much tension in its aftermath that her parents requested her to leave the home. Mama Göbel remembered the command from Scripture, but her husband still had difficulties accepting a foreigner as a future son-in-law. Coming from South Africa with all its racial prejudices, I had less of a prob­lem with these developments than Rosemarie. My bonny knew of course that she was not sent forth because her parents did not love her any more. But it was not easy nevertheless. The family of Elke Maier[22] in Gündelbach lovingly took Rosemarie into their home.
            We got engaged in March, 1974, 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 that Rosemarie would come over to do voluntary work at the home for retarded children in Elim for a period of two months. My parents had relocated to Elim after they were more or less forced from our home in Tiervlei by municipal decree to live in this small Moravian settlement where they had come from originally. Theoretically my darling would have been able to get to know them well in this way. With increased hope Rosemarie applied for a visa for the third time. Along with the application she sent an explanatory letter mentioning the fact that she wanted to get to know my parents better.
            But we were scheduled to part yet again, temporarily this time. I was booked on the night train to far-away Berlin for the 31st of March, to continue as an assistant minister in the western part of the divided city.
            There the members of the church brass band were getting ready to welcome the new African assistant pastor the next morning at my arrival. When they got the news early in the morning that I had broken my leg, everybody thought that it was an ‘April Scherz’. But it wasn’t ‘April fool’, it was the truth! A few hours before my scheduled departure, I had indeed broken my leg playing football. Neither Rosemarie nor I was really sad, because this meant that we would be near each other at least a little longer...
            At a church conference I shared the room with Eckard 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 real independence to the homeland. In fact, he challenged me to come and work there after independence. He was confident that they would not have the racist mixed marriages law there. I gladly accepted the challenge, encouraging him to send me audiocassettes so that I could start learning Xhosa.
            So much under the impression that Rosemarie wanted to become a mission­ary since childhood, that I had taken for granted that Rosemarie would want to come to the Transkei with me. On her visit to Berlin soon hereafter, I was therefore quick to communicate my latest intention to her. I was completely taken by surprise that she was not ready at all to go with me to ‘Africa’. The end of our engagement was on the cards, because I was quite determined to return to Africa as soon as possible. I didn’t feel like ‘hanging around’ in Europe for any length of time. It was so strange that we never discussed this 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. It had to be sorted out immediately. 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 a proper way to handle Scripture, but we decided to get God’s mind by opening the Bible at random - albeit prayerfully. When the word of God fell open at the place 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 yearned!
            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 the Transkei and she thought that I would stay in Europe. Luckily, 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!
                                                *                                  *                                  *               
            I resumed my theological studies through the seminary of the Moravian Church in Bad Boll (Germany) as a ‘vikar’, an assistant minister. The topic that I put forward for my theological acceptance assignment reflected my interest in economic justice: ‘The role of the poor in the NT’. The church authorities added to my proposal ‘...und die Broederkerk’, suggesting that I should also give my analysis of the situation in my home church in South Africa.

5. Overcoming honeymoon hassles  


            Rosemarie and I got married in March 1975. The first visit to South Africa was surely a unique honeymoon trip. Rosemarie had received conditional permission to visit the home country of her fiancée. The condition was that she would not be ‘accompanied by your future husband’. We took some risk, circumventing the condition of the visa by travelling into the country with different airlines. I felt terrible that I had to mislead everybody in South Africa, giving the impression that Rosemarie would be coming alone. I did not dare to inform anybody, fearing that our honeymoon would be wrecked on my arrival. It was not easy at all for Rosemarie - coming two days later - not knowing whether the police had not perhaps arrested me in the meantime. I was not supposed to be in the country for our ‘honeymoon in separation’. The separation of spouses was however nowhere special at that time. Thousands of Black husbands and wives were forced by law to live separately all over the country.
            The travelling plans could now be finalized. Because of the uncertainty with regard to Rosemarie’s visa in the light of previous experiences, we cancelled the booking with Luxa­via. The new 19-75 day tariff that had just come into oper­ation, had two distinct advantages that were of interest to us, though it was slightly more expensive. You could cancel on short notice without any costs and you could change your booking from one interna­tional airline to another.
                                    *                                  *                                  *                     
            Our friend and confident from the seminary days, Henning Schlimm, had just returned from South Africa. He was about to take up a post as minister in Königsfeld (Black Forest), where I resumed my stay in Germany in December 1973. It seemed almost obvious that we should marry there because we could not entertain the idea of marrying from Rosemarie’s home.
            Nevertheless, on Thursday, the 20th March 1975, we become husband and wife legally in the Rathaus (= Town Hall) of Rosemarie’s hometown Mühlacker. We deemed it a special blessing that her mother agreed to serve as witness, along with Elke Maier, who had such a big part in the running up to this moment.
            Initially we intended to stick to the strange conditions of the visa, even making preparations to sleep in separate homes in the mission station Elim, where my parents stayed, as well as in the Mother City. The local policeman of Elim encouraged us saying that we should just behave ourselves like a normal married couple. He would warn us in time if there were complaints from his headquarters in Stellenbosch.
            Jakes, our bachelor friend, would have none of it that Rosemarie should go and sleep with Lies Hoogendoorn and Hester van der Walt, two White friends, with whom we had fought many an apartheid skirmish. He insisted that we stayed in his home, the parsonage of his Hanover Park congregation.
            A special part of the honeymoon journey was the car trip through the Transkei. Here I renewed the contact with Eckardt Buchholz, with whom I had shared a room at a conference in Germany. The short meeting with Willy Mbalana in Mvenyane was also meaningful, leading to a partnership later between his church and our congregation in Berlin. We had originally met at a students’ retreat in the Eastern Cape in 1973. The students’ conferences and studies in Black Theology at seminary had made me more sensitive to the injustice of the politics of our country.
            My first meaningful contact with the black members of our denomination had started with the friendship to Karl Schmidt, who had been a minister in the Southern German village Bönnigheim, where I also preached once. Schmidt was a political activist, who made me sensitive for the struggle of the ANC. After meeting him, I pasted ‘Freiheit für Mandela’ stickers (Freedom for Mandela) on my letters to South Africa.                                  
             
            Having fulfilled the conditions of the visa, not to enter the country together, we returned with thankful hearts that nothing seriously happened that could have marred the tremen­dous trip. We travelled in the same Lufthansa machine, straight to Frankfurt.
            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 looked for trouble by sending a copy of this letter to the Consulate. I should not have been surprised when my activ­ist attitude elicited a quick response. I “earned” the shivers a few days later: an element of revenge on my part had clearly played a role.
            The Consul twice tried to contact me telephonically but on both occasions unsuccessfully. He had discovered the name of Breytenbach in my correspondence. (I had used the precedent of the illustrious Afrikaner who had been allowed to visit South Africa with his Vietnamese wife as a vehicle to get 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. With regard to my mentioning his name, I made myself suspect.
            When the Consul phoned the second time, he threatened with disciplinary measures. Under that 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. I suspected that it would be about our visit in South Africa and my letter to the authorities. It was very reassuring though that I knew that Rosemarie and other friends were praying while I was on the phone.                   
            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 assistance in a very friend­ly tone if I should ever encounter any problems in Europe.
            This experience encouraged me to carry on working towards democracy in my home country even more. But there were other priorities.

            After Rosemarie and I returned to Germany, Rosemarie was found to be pregnant. This was not so ‘convenient’, because I was still finishing the last part of my theological studies in Bad Boll. The pregnancy was not completely normal. The gynaecologist should have monitored the pregnancy better. But we were not only completely inexperienced, but also very unwise to travel in the same truck to Berlin with our meagre possessions, soon after the ordination in September 1975. We headed for the same congregation where I had assisted the year before.
            We received many a visitor in our little flat in Bad Boll. That pattern was going to follow us wherever we went. Cultural differences brought some strain early in our marriage in Bad Boll, where I was finishing my theological studies, preparing for ordination. Our first marriage quarrel followed when I rocked up with visitors from South Africa that I had met in the village without informing Rosemarie beforehand. From our culture that was never a big deal. We would simply share what we had or fetch something from the shop. In Germany everybody wants to be properly prepared for guests. Unexpected visitors were completely unknown.
            A real traumatic experience followed soon after our move to Berlin. At the very first time Rosemarie went to the gynaecologist, he discovered problems. He diagnosed placental insufficiency. She was sent to hospi­tal, but the baby could not 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 they decided to remove the dead foetus. The staff of the hospital, 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!
            The next major strain of our marriage occurred after we had taken a young drug addict into our home in Berlin. In the end Rosemarie threatened to move out unless I send the young man away.     
                                    *                      *                      *
            My parents had started preparing to come and visit us after the birth of our child. We encouraged them to continue nevertheless with the preparations. That was to become a highlight to them and to us at Easter the following year.
            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 - through a caesarean and not in the highly rated Steglitz hospital where the pregnancy had been closely monitored. It was in the end touch and go or we lost our Danny as well. Rachel Balie, a distant relative who had come to study in Berlin, was the logical choice to be the godmother.
            We had started making preparations for a second visit to South Africa when we got the fright of our lives. After Rosemarie had gone to Dr Wittkampf, our home doctor in Zeist, because she noticed a lump in 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.[23] I hurt Rosemarie deeply when I was so insensitive to clearly verbalise her immanent death as a possibility to allow me 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 vocalise this possibility. She was not yet ready to go with me to my home country.
            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 removed in an operation. The laboratory examination showed that the tumour was benign! Indeed, our grief turned to exceeding joy!”
            Our glee got a damper though when an influential member of our church wryly compared our testimony, our witness about what God had done, to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Undeterred, we concretely soon resumed our plans to visit South Africa in September. I made it difficult for myself when I articulated my desire for democracy in South Africa and my wish return to Africa as soon as possible. That was very unwise. Not surprisingly it went down very badly with the Surinamese church members, who interpreted that as disloyalty to them.
            Experiences in the church and with the folk of Moral Rearmament during our second visit to South Africa in 1978 with Rosemarie and our son were quite traumatic. The stark differences 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 - were hitting us as never before.
            And then there was the general indifference to the injustices that seemed all pervading, not even to mention the defences of people from whom I least expected it. Petty apartheid burocracy was adding insult to injury.
            Towards the end of the trip[24] it looked as if apartheid had the beating of me. I had already resolved to give up the fight when God intervened once again. This time God used the banned Dr Beyers Naudé when I was all set to leave the country ‘never to return again’. Apartheid experiences almost had me packing my bags permanently. Without him even knowing it, God used Dr Beyers Naudé and the congregation where he worshipped to cure me of my intense bitterness and anger towards the country that paradoxically I so dearly loved.
                                    *                      *                      *
            Through my 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 two 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 into the country, initially with the intention of coming to work in the Transkei. Even before our wedding I had started to learn Xhosa. My intentions in this regard - which were not fully shared by Rosemarie - were 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 in the balance.
            The crowning of my renewed commitment to work towards reconciliation in my home country was to me the birth of our second son Rafael 9 months after our visit to S.A.!
            But that was not without tears and anxiety either. A few months after our return to Holland Rosemarie was not only pregnant, but she had possibly also picked up the Hepatitis virus in South Africa. Both she and Danny had (yellow) jaundice. We were really not overjoyed when the doctor felt compelled to suggest an abortion. The possibility was great that we would have a deformed or handicapped baby. On principle we decided that we would accept the baby in whatever state it would come into the world as God’s gift to us. When a healthy baby was born, we appropriately called him Rafael that means God heals.
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            In the meantime I was unfortunately quite insensitive to the needs of my Surinamese congregants as aliens in Holland. My love for my home country made some of them quite jealous. Opposition grew when I appeared headstrong to them in my opposition to occult traits and sinful habits that they regarded as part of their culture. I now seemed to have opponents all around.

6.  A Fight against the global economic Divide


             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 1971-3 I also became very sensitive to structures that perpetuate economic inequality. As a teacher I had already battled with the racial disparity. Being on the receiving end of injustice was in fact some consolation because I knew that we as ‘Coloureds’ were earning almost double that of our Black counterparts. And we had much smaller classes to cope with at that.  But I felt nevertheless uncomfortable that I was earning much more as a young man than others had to make do with whole families to feed.
            It was not so much the formal theological studies, but especially the extra-mural activities, e.g. via the Christian Institute with which our German lecturers Henning Schlimm and Wolfgang Schäfer brought us into contact, that enriched our lives as students tremendously. My personal friendship to Jakes brought us also to activities of the Dutch Reformed Church (and later to those of the Broederkring).
            Last not least we were allowed by our lecturers to participate in political marches, demonstrations and the likes, e.g. those for equal educational opportunities without any fear of reprimand.
            It was special to study at the institution at the time when Black Theology was coming into its own and encouraged by the Seminary. In the atmosphere of open academic discussion I learned to look very critically at all issues but I also became more sensitive to the injustices of our society. The desire to labour towards racial reconciliation through the unified church grew intensely within me. An article in Pro Veritate, the periodical of the Christian Institute showing how South Africa is a micro-cosmos of the world at large, presented me with a challenge. If it were true that all the problems of the world is present in a compact way in our country, why couldn’t we give an example to the world to the solution of these very problems? Henning Schlimm was quite happy to let me examine poverty in the 'Old Testament'[25]  for a mini thesis in which subject.
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            From 1 December 1973 I had become an unmarried assistant minister of the Moravian minister 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 when structural inequality was touching my conscience.
            Come 1974, my conscience was really driving me almost berserk as our salaries were increased by almost 10%. This constantly happened the next few years adding agony to injury. After our marriage in 1975 I felt very much alone when even my wife could initially still not understand how I felt. The Christmas of 1976 changed things when the extreme ‘Weihnachtsrummel’ (Christmas commercial exploitation) of Berlin was in such sharp contrast to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the Transkei. (I had kept up contact with Reverend Willy Mbalana, who was the Moravian minister in Sada, an apartheid creation. Sada was a ‘resettlement area’ where redundant people were dumped - e.g. those who returned with diseases from the goldmines.)          
            It was crystal clear to me that the annual salary increases in Germany were only possible because of the disparity between rich and poor countries. This bugged me. I felt myself so helpless although I did stage my protest in a quiet way by refusing the salary increases. In further negotiations with the church authorities it was agreed that the salary increases would be used for the church’s mission work. I discerned how Europe was firmly in the grip of materialism.
            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 got a new direction. 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 of the country. 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 important to me. That Comenius had stated that we can erect signs by pointing to the reign of the coming King, was very inspiring to me. Thus it was not so important any more when one did not see any immediate fruit of one’s actions.
            Similarly the example of Zinzendorf - including his day-to-day relationship to Jesus and his high view of the Jews - really challenged me in a deep way.
            Some people in the church did not have understanding for my principled stand on some issues. Before we went to Berlin as a couple, we were living in a small flat. When we were offered financial assistance as a gift to furnish our new home, we refused the gift for young ministers. We did not do this so much because there were strings attached - we had to commit ourselves to three years of service in the church - but we also felt that it was not necessary to have furniture in every room. We had no scruples to leave one bedroom completely empty and we accepted gifts of used furniture, instead of accepting the monetary offer from the church board. On principle we thought that we could not accept finances when we didn’t really need it. We however definitely did not intend to leave the service of the church for any number of years.  In fact, we found the sugges­tion by someone horrendous to take the money and put it in the bank!              
            I had also another deep concern: the political situ­ation in South Africa. We had hardly arrived in Berlin, when I was asked to respond when a controversy raged in the Lutheran State church about South Africa and its policies. Soon I lectured here and there and found myself in anti-apartheid circles almost as much as in those of the churches. The Lutheran Church in general was taking a clear stand against all forms of racism.
            Sensing that I could be a handy tool through my ‘being persecuted’ by the South African govern­ment, ANC activists tried to get me on their bandwagon. But I was not going to join them, espe­cially because I believed that there were still non-violent means open to change our home country. (The ANC activists were very vocal about the armed struggle as the only way to change things in South Africa, telling me that I would not have use arms myself to get on board!) My resolve not to join them became even firmer after we took into our home a student from South­ern Africa who lived with us for some time. The immoral life-style of some of those activists really made us fearful of the country to be led by such people in future.
            Many of the church people of West Berlin knew me now as a ‘victim of the apartheid regime’. From different sides people tried to pull at me. But I was not keen at all to get politically involved. I loved my independence far too much. However, when a debate in the church press of West Berlin erupted on the attitude to South Africa, I was forced to take sides. Not everybody was happy that I was so outspoken against apartheid, especially those Christians who still wanted to pussyfoot with racism.

Towards a non-racial Set-up in South Africa?         
Various anti-apartheid groups started pulling at me when I returned to Berlin after our marriage and ordination. They seemed to enjoy having a 'real' apartheid victim who was fluent in German to boot! I was however determined to retain my independence, definitely not prepared to be put in front of the cart of any group. This was no Jonah stint at all!
Every week I received the airmail edition of the Interna­tional Star. Thus I kept abreast of developments in South Africa. I saw how trouble was brooding in Soweto, with High School students demonstrating about learning Afrikaans. But the uprising of the 16th of June took us all by surprise. With Pastor Uwe Holm, a leader from the Lutheran State Church, I spontaneously organised a protest meeting in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in central Berlin. The 16th of June 1976 made even more of an activist out of me as I feared a development that could lead to a bloodbath in my beloved South Africa.
         With Pastor Uwe Holm, a leader from the Lutheran State Church, I however got spontaneously involved in organizing a protest meeting in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in central Berlin. The 16th of June 1976 catastrophe made even more of an activist out of me. I feared an escalation of violence that could lead to the widely expected bloodbath of cataclysmic proportions in my beloved South Africa.
     I felt personally challenged to work with increased energy towards a non-racial set-up in South Africa, using non-violent means. In an attempt to start a ‘Peaceful Front' to change the racist structures of our country, I wrote many letters. But support was not forthcoming. The brutal government repression of the peaceful protest of the teenage learners was to all and sundry the proof that the days for boycotts and the likes were over. My compatriots overseas felt that the government in our home country could only be toppled through the barrel of the gun. All bar one of those whom I approached had given up on the option of peaceful transition to change in South Africa. Our friend Rachel Balie, who was studying in Berlin, was the only one from our circle of countrymen and -women who were still supporting the idea of non-violent change. The brutal putting down of the Soweto school protests in 1976 brought many people to change their minds regarding non-violent protest.
           
            I saw it as my moral responsibility to continue working towards a non-racial set-up, using non-violent means. In the meantime I had been unsuccessful in setting up a front, trying to create a lobby in Europe to this end. My compatriots felt that the government in our home country could only be toppled through the barrel of the gun. Our friend Rachel Balie was one of only a few of our circle of countrymen and -women who were still supporting the idea of non-violent change. The brutal putting down of the Soweto school protests in 1976 brought many of them to change their minds on the effect of non-violent protest.
            I now attempted to start a ‘Peaceful’ front to use non-violent means to get the racist structures changed. Letters were written in all directions. But support was not forthcom­ing. All bar one of those whom I approached had given up on South Africa. The reaction of the South African government to the peaceful protest of the students was to all and sundry the proof that the days for boycotts and the likes were over. At this point in time I regarded boycotting South Africa as one of the remaining options short of the armed struggle that I opposed. From within I was not completely happy. How could I support boycotting where countrymen back home would have to bear the brunt? Of course, there were also Christians who were opposed to boycotts for different reasons. Some of them got money from the South African govern­ment!
            The only Christian with whom we felt completely in unity was Rachel Balie. She came to study in Berlin and soon became a regular visitor. Once she told us of a meeting by Christians who were to all intents and purposes supporting the apartheid government. A theologian from the most conservative (in the negative sense of the word) Reformed churches in South Africa was translated by Professor Wintherhager. The guest painted an idealistic picture of the Blacks and their beautiful music, I asked why they don’t worship together and thus be mutually enriched. The fact that I sported an Afro hairstyle, made me suspect. Someone hereafter referred to Cambodia and the Communists there, while he looked askance at me. Thus, each and everyone had to deduce that I must be a Communist. The propa­ganda machine of the South African government worked perfect­ly!
          Rachel Balie supported me as I set out in an effort to start a movement for peaceful change. However, other South Africans opposed us, stating that the time for non-violent protest is past. I nevertheless wrote a letter to the German Chancellor, Mr. Willy Brandt, when it seemed that the German government was going to get involved in supporting the armed struggle against the regime in Pretoria.
            In Berlin itself I straddled the Christian world. Because of my anti-apartheid stand, I was invited by pastors who were really leftist. On the other hand, I worked alongside the organisers of an evangelical campaign with Ulrich Par­zany, who was up and coming as an evangelist. In those days it was quite unusual to be evangelical and at the same time radical in one’s opposition to apartheid. Not everybody had understanding, so I was probably regarded by some people as something of a misfit.
            I had problems in the church work itself. Because of my clear stand on moral issues and preaching that challenged the traditional Moravians to complete submission to the claims of Christ, the younger generation especially could not appreciate me any more. The youth was unhappy with us because they regarded Rosemarie and me as too evangelical. Some older people had difficulty audibly hearing me. The latter was an issue that was going to haunt me wherever we ministered. My voice has always been rather with microphone amplification and I was also speaking too fast. Over the years the Lord helped me to work on the latter issue.
            The church had no problems however when Eckhard Buchholz, a missionary from Transkei, wanted me to marry him and Cathy Ncongo. The authorities in Pretoria would surely have fainted if they had attended the Africa-styled wedding in Berlin. Not only was it very special to see the beautiful black bride narrate with great self-consciousness the African customs, but also to hear a racially mixed group of South Africans - including a few of them exiles - singing Nkosi sikelel i’Afrika. In those days that anthem was regarded as subversive inside the beloved country. The West Berlin Moravian congregation soon discovered that Africa also had a lot to give. With Cathy’s Catholic background, it was fitting that Alan Boyles, a ‘Coloured’ Natalian who studied for the priesthood when he met his German-background wife Helga, translated my sermon into English for the sake of the bride.  The church people had no inkling how special it was for the South African contingent to sing ‘Nkosi Sikelel I’Afrika together as a racially mixed choir, but they did enjoy the ‘bring and share’ church celebration, a community occasion which was unknown over there at that time. This was a completely new experience for the German congregation, but thoroughly enjoyable.
            In an activist way, especially through letters to various Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers, I furthermore resolutely continued towards my goal of returning to South Africa by 1980, i.e. trying to get the apartheid laws gradually repealed. (Much later I changed my views in my correspondence with the South African authorities significantly, after I had discerned from Scripture that one could not reform a wicked system; that it had to be eradicated.)
            The church authorities needed someone in the city of Utrecht who could learn Dutch quickly. As Afrikaans is my native language, they approached us. We had earlier indicated that we were open to work among the Surinam people in Holland. Before we left, we were already planning to go to South Africa in February 1978 to show our Danny to my parents.
            After my ‘Soweto’ speech in West Berlin I was catapulted into the role of mediator in a dispute between foreign African students and the local authorities. Through this effort of mediation Heinz Krieg, who was connected to Moral Re-armament befriended me. Heinz gave me a challenging book as a parting gift when we left for Holland in September 1977: South Africa, what kind of change? When I read in it about personal friends from the Cape like Franklin Sonn and Howard Eybers, I was challenged once again to become an activist for racial reconciliation in my home country.

7. Skirmishes of a multi-faceted Battle


            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 from his family knew where he was incarcerated.
            Soon after our arrival in September 1977, I was already phoning our church authorities in Germany, urging them to get involved on behalf of Chris Wessels. Our friend Rachel Balie, who had returned to South Afri­ca, wrote from there about the arrest of Chris Wessels, a minister col­league and long-time friend. My activist spirit was immediately aroused. According to Rachel, Chris’ wife Nabs did not even know where the government was detaining him.
            Furthermore he was never 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 (Germany) on board, but they finally also got other countries to write to the S.A. Embassies in their respective countries. Later we heard that this action 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.)
            The stewardship issue came once again to the fore when I was asked to address a group of church people in Zeist in early 1978. In typical activist fashion, I proceeded from here to campaign for ‘signs of the coming Kingdom of the Messiah’ globally. I had discovered this tenet in my study of the old Moravian Bishop Comenius. I furthermore believed firmly that the small Moravian Church as a micro-cosmos of the  global economic disparity could start to do something to rectify it. Instead of waiting on governments to act, I thought that we as church minis­ters should voluntarily go for salary cuts and then encourage our congregations to put money into a ‘Unity fund’. From this fund we could e.g. support the South African church towards equality of the salaries of the ministers. In addition, the aim should also be to enable missionaries to go out from the third world Moravian Churches, also to Europe. I was setting too hot a pace. The church was not ready yet for such revol­ution­ary stuff.  Backbiting and attacks had to be expected.
            In Holland I was now regarded by some of my minister colleagues as an anti-apartheid activist, but not in a too negative way. With my background, they had a lot of understanding. The initial goodwill towards me was however eroded soon when I simultaneously pleaded for concrete steps of solidarity with the third world.
            The premise of my calling to Utrecht was not sound from the beginning. A Surinamese brother had heard me attacking the South African Moravian Church for its double standards at a public meeting at the time of the Synod in 1975. I showed up their lack of support for the banned brother Dan Wessels in Genadendal. The Surinamese synod member thus thought that they would gain a young radical ‘political’ pastor. The Broederraad didn’t expect one who was also an evangeli­cal minister, one who was on top of it deeply influ­enced by the moral radicalism that the movement with that banner expounded. (It was however only later that I came in touch with Moral Re-armament.
            After only three months I was in head-on collision with my church council, because I didn’t mince words in my sermons. I challenged them on moral issues as well as calling congregants to complete sub­mission to the claims of Christ. I referred to terminology of the Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Renewed Moravian Church about winning souls for the Lamb. This was maliciously mis­construed as something tantamount to sheep stealing. After using testimonies in a church service, this was equated with the practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.[26] But I was not going to budge. In fact, I almost revelled in fighting for biblical truth.
            But this was all too much for Rosemarie. Initially she had also attended the meetings of the ‘Broederraad’, the church council. Soon she decided to rather stay at home. She couldn’t take the unfair attacks on me any more.
            I really made it very difficult for my wife because I was also radical on other levels. In Berlin we had met a couple, Mike and Linda Saylor from Santa Barbara (USA), who saw themselves as tentmaker missionaries. Their home church had been inspired by the history of the Moravian Church. We became close friends, later meeting other missionaries from their home church. We got to know Linda’s father, Gene Edwards, who was not yet the famous author he later became. Gene asked me whether I thought that the Moravian Church could ever be revived to its former glory. I flatly negated this possibility, but the question haunted me.
            My connection with Moral Rearmament brought me into conflict with my new congregation which consisted predominantly of Surinamese immigrants. The culture of this group that developed from slavery, included a different pattern of family values whereby many men fathered children with different women, with little commitment following it. When I pushed through a slide show at the Christmas service of 1977 - after being in the church not even three full months - I might have taken New Testament sexual morality on board, but I was very unwise. Not surprisingly I landed in hot water.
            I found myself completely alone on this score. My European minister colleagues exonerated the Caribbean practices: ‘They have their occultism and we have our materialism’.  I could not agree to compromise one sin with another. The next skirmish was programmed, against materialism.
            Hereafter the water heated up. I challenged the church practice on every level, i.e. suggesting that we should test all the traditions of the church from the Bible.
            My interest and involvement in Moral Re-armament taught me to jot down insights and things that I wanted to do during my ‘quiet times’. This tended to increase my activist attitude that did not augur well for the future. Our visit to the international headquarters of the movement in Caux at the end of 1977 was very meaningful, especially after a White South African, the daughter of Rev. Daneel, a leader in the movement, apologized for everything that the South  government had done to us as a couple. I discovered first hand how powerful remorseful confession could be. Other young South Africans of colour I met there, soon had me excited. They shared with me the vision of racial reconciliation in our home country. Sam Pono had been an ANC fighter before his conversion and Rommel Roberts was a young Roman Catholic who had a heart for the downtrodden. The three young guys from Spes Bona High School where Franklin Sonn was the principal included Elroy Lawrence who was going to play a pivotal role in our life many years later.
            In Caux I detected an unhealthy hero-worship of Frank Buchman, the founder of the movement. But I was not castigated when I articulated that in a public meeting, comparing it to the way we were also putting Zinzendorf on a pedestal in the Moravian Church. I was so much enchanted with the movement at this stage that I not only visited Freudenstadt the next year for a special anniversary of the movement, but I even started praying about joining them on a full-time basis. Rosemarie was however not yet ready for such a faith venture.
            Instead of being a humble servant of reconciliation, I however became a complete radical activist as I started collating all the documents and correspon­dence pertaining to our struggle with the authorities in South Africa. Also the Moravian Church in my home country authorities came under fire as I tried to push them to get more active towards racial reconciliation and equality between the privileged ‘‘Coloureds’ and the ‘Black’ church. Driven by an unhealthy 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 dose of sleep. By 8 o’clock I was usually again behind my desk. I believed firmly that I did not need more than six hours of sleep per day anyway.
            Reprieve came from a very unexpected source. A growth was discovered near to Rosemarie’s thyroid gland. The reaction of our home doctor was such that we started getting ready for the worst. Within our circle of friends we had quite a few cases of cancer that led or were leading to ultimate death. At the height of the crisis we were encouraged by a word from Scripture that our sorrow would turn to joy. What I did not know was that Rosemarie vowed at that time that she would be prepared to go to my native country if the Lord would heal her. Though we had few problems there during our honeymoon, the experiences had frightened her terribly. She did not want to live there permanently.
            The growth turned out to be benign. How we rejoiced at the new lease of life together as a couple! Our next newsletter, in which we testified of the bless­ings of Rosemarie’s recovery, caused ripples in many a quarter. I had written the letter in two parts. The first part was written before it was discovered that the tumour was benign and the last part reflected the joy we experienced. Amongst others, 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 get on a political bandwagon. Instead, I challenged them on some issues. Our personal newsletter had also found its way to the Anti-apartheid movement in England. It was possibly passed to them 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 wrote to them that I prefer to fight for something good, rather than protest against something bad.
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            A tragic misunderstanding was conceived shortly hereafter when I mentioned casually to a Broedrraad member 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 pecuniary aspect never came up in my think­ing. I was just longing to teach Mathematics again.         My views on a voluntary salary decrease to demonstrate practical solidarity with the third world made me quite unpopular with some of my colleagues. The image of an enfant terrible was enhanced after our visit to my home country.

Unbecoming activism
The six-week visit from September 1978 turned out to become a watershed. The experiences at the Cape at that occasion made me quite bitter towards our church authorities. I had more or less been forced to scheme to arrange a meeting with our church board. I enquired on behalf of the Dutch colleagues after Chris Wessels when he was incarcerated (There had been special interest in Chris because he had studied at the seminary in Zeist, Holland). This was not completely honest however, because I had spoken to Chris personally in the meantime, hearing also how he was ostracised by his minister colleagues. The church leaders were obviously not enchanted to be interrogated by me, a young minister whom some of them regarded as a trouble-shooter. I sensed that for some of them it had been good riddance when I had left for Germany at the end of 1973.
            The church leaders were thus completely taken by surprise when I furthermore suggested a temporary return of three years by us as a couple, another attempt to hammer the wall of apartheid. We would be quite happy to go to a countryside mission station to minimize the possibility that the move would be interpreted as provocation by the government. (In earlier correspondence I had already suggested combining ‘Coloured’ and Black churches that are in close proximity, e.g. Nyanga and Manenberg. I never got a reply to this proposal.) My suggestions must have sounded too radical for some members of the church board. When the chairman blurted out, “We don’t need tourists!” he was probably silently supported by the others. My activism was probably just a bit too much for the brethren. The reaction was therefore actually not so surprising – an understandable bout of frustration at me.
            Disappointments in the church board and their reaction to the imprisonment and restriction of Chris Wessels, our friend who had been detained without trial, made me bitter. I returned from the meeting so disappointed that I just wanted to leave the country as soon as possible. I had enough. My interest to come and work in the country and the church that I loved, got a near fatal blow.
            Simultaneous traumatic negotiations with the railways authorities and eventually indirectly with the central government - after Rosemarie and I had been very ‘audacious’, requesting to share a train compartment - all but finished me. I hereafter had quite a firm resolve to leave the area, never to return to my home country. Experiences on the train, from Cape Town to Johannesburg – they were actually well intended when I was treated as an honorary White – proved to be counterproductive. They merely strengthened my resolve never to return to South Africa. 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 angered and embittered me. I was perhaps unreasonable in my anger, not willing to understand that the government was themselves in bondage, entangled by their race laws.
            The effect on me was nevertheless devastating. When Howard Grace, a new friend from Moral Rearmament suggested soon after my arrival in Johannesburg to introduce me to the influential Professor Johan Heyns in Pretoria, I was definitely not interested. The only thing I still wanted to do was to attend the church where the banned Dr Beyers Naudé worshipped. Completely disgruntled, I wanted to get out of the country, and nothing else.
            All that was going to change on a special Sunday just prior to our return to Holland. The secretive meeting with Dr Beyers Naudé after the service, in combination with the visit in the evening to the Dutch-based family of Ds. Lensink, changed all that. When I heard how the Lensink family was courageously harbouring Black children illegally, it inspired me to such an extent that I was hereafter inspired towards a completely new commitment. The next day I even phoned the office of the State President, with the intention to try and console the embattled President Vorster. (The ‘Muldergate’ scandal, in which the maladministration of a Cabinet Minister, Dr Connie Mulder, was implicating Mr. Vorster, had all but floored him). I returned to Holland with a new resolve to work towards racial reconciliation in my home country.

Ministry of reconciliation
Since our return to Holland after the six‑week visit in 1978, I saw a ministry of reconciliation even more as my duty to the country of my birth. As part of this effort I had been collating personal documents and letters under the title ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’. In this manuscript I included and commented all my correspondence with the government. I specifically wrote the manuscript in Afrikaans for possible publication inside the reviled country. I wanted to win the government over rather than expose them abroad. As a means to this end I targeted the Dutch Reformed theologians whom I believed could play a pivotal role.
            After reading in the newspaper that a church delegation from the influential (White) Dutch Reformed Church - including the Professors Johan Heyns and Willie Jonker - was going to attend some church synod in Lunteren (Holland), I took the initiative to meet them. I saw this as a possibility to amend for my incalcitrance and headstrong refusal to meet Professor Heyns on our visit the previous year when a friend wanted to take me to him. However, the only possibility of a meeting that Dr Heyns could offer me was to meet the delegation at Schiphol Airport just before their return to South Africa. This I did. There I also met one of the top officials of the South African Embassy, who was keen to come and visit me at our home in Zeist.
            I made the ministers evidently very uncomfortable by referring to Dr Beyers Naudé. I stated quite bluntly that I regarded it to be their duty to see him vindicated and re-instated. I had taken with me the   manuscript in which I included my correspondence with the apartheid regime. Knowing that Naudé’s mail was being fiddled with, I requested one of them to take it along with them and hand it over personally.
            Naively I expected that theologians should be open to take the lead in repentance of the apartheid practices. Instead of the manuscript getting to Dr Beyers Naudé, it landed with the government. The episode nevertheless had the positive result that I was treated with a considerable measure of respect in the years hereafter by government officials.
            After this airport ‘rendezvous’ a superficial correspondence ensued with Professor Heyns. I challenged him to include theologians of colour like Dr Allan Boesak in the revision of a publication on race relations in the church of which Heyns was the editor. Indirectly I thus also tried to reconcile the two theologians, who were such influential church leaders. They were respectively leaders of the Afrikaner ‘Broederbond’ and the ‘Broe­derkring’. The latter institution consisted of Dutch Reformed ministers and academics that came mainly from the disadvantaged race groups. These ministers and academics opposed the government of the day. I knew from our student days how excited Allan Boesak had been about his lecturer, Dr Heyns.             
         Our modest parsonage home in Zeist now had as guest within a short space of time first a high Embassy official, Mr. van Tonder and then Reg September from the ANC top command in Zambia. I found myself opposing both of them from completely different angles.
           
Too critical of apartheid?
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.[27]         Hein Postma, had pointed out to me that the manuscript ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ was too critical, not loving enough. I started to revamped the manuscript, 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 in my heart of hearts that this could facilitate my return to South Africa.
            It was still my conviction that ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ should be published in South Africa in Afrikaans first to win over the Afrikaners. The curt reply of a Cabinet minister when I hinted this in one of my letters was to me the sign that the climate was not yet ripe for the venture.
In the late 1970’s I was following the developments in the country closely. One of the most dramatic developments was when Mr. P.W. Botha, the Prime Minister, made it plain which he was ready to scrap the (prohibition of racially) Mixed Marriages Act. All the more I was very disappointed to read that the Dutch Reformed Church effectively pulled the break lever.
            I noticed know how influential people got damaged spiritually when they came into the limelight. I wanted to be certain that my autobiographical material would be published in God’s perfect timing. The letter to the Cabinet Minister 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.

             During our half-year stay in South Africa in 1981 I tried out Tafelberg Publishers with ‘What God joined together’’, yet without success.  Even though I had no proof that my actions contributed in any way, I did sense satisfaction when the law that prohibited people from different races to marry, was finally repealed in 1985.
            On a weekly basis I was receiving the international version of the Johannesburg-based newspaper The Star that included a summary of the most important events in my home country the week preceding its publication. Thus I kept fairly well abreast of what was happening back home. I also discovered that the petrol company Shell was boycotted in Cape Town because they wanted to build a filling station in District Six. (The Friends of District Six had called on the public not to buy property there.) Because Shell is a Dutch-based multi-national company, it was almost natural for the activist that I was at the time, to get involved.
            In the church I got isolated even more after I clubbed together with two young minister colleagues trying to nudge the Moravian Church to take a lead in Holland to oppose Shell because of its support of apartheid. It was strange though that our draft resolution at the synod ‘disappeared’ mysteriously. The conclusion was not to be overlooked: the South African government had its contacts within the innermost confines of the church. Fortunately I still had a copy of the proposed resolutions. We caused even more of a problem when we now hereafter distributed the resolutions outside the confines of the synod. Our radical suggestions - originally intended to be presented at the synod - e.g. that the church in Western Europe should set an example of real sharing with the poorer countries, contributed to my complete isolation. I was vilified among my colleagues as a fundamentalist and a trouble-shooter at the same time.
            My radicalism on so many issues made my position almost untenable. In my view the South African Moral Re-armament and the Moravian Church were much too compromising in their opposition to apartheid. In Holland I collided with my minis­ter colleagues when one of them aired that Europeans had no right to oppose occult Surinamese traditions. The Europeans themselves are in the web of another ‘-ism’, viz. material­ism. I was not prepared to compromise any sin, ideology or practice.      
            There seemed to be enemies wherever I went. People had problems with me because I didn’t fit into one of the boxes of the time. One was expected to be against either apartheid or against Communism. I attacked both. On top of it, I also opposed occultism and materialism. Could one blame them that I seemed to be against everything? All the while I had hoped to be positive: to fight for God’s righteousness and justice. But it was probably not very wise to fight so many different issues simultaneously.
             In the meantime I targeted the Dutch Reformed theologians of South Africa whom I believed could play a pivotal role in effecting change for the better in my home country. A fairly extensive correspondence followed with different role players on the South African scene.

Attempts at reconcili­ation
A fairly extensive correspondence followed with different role players on the South African scene. As a part of my perceived ministry of reconciliation I also aimed at trying to heal rifts where I discerned them. I read one day for example about a major clash between Allan Boesak of the Broederkring and Archbishop Tutu in the international weekly edition of the ‘Star’. The camp of Boesak was angry at the likes of Tutu who were still prepared to talk to President Botha. I promptly attempted to reconcile (the later Arch)bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak. The issue at stake 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.[28])
            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.
                                                *                      *                      *
            At the beginning of 1979 I was sick and tired of the bickering in my church council. When we heard of a position at Scripture Union, I promptly applied, seeing this as a possibility to get away from the untenable situation.
            I was already in our car to go to Noordwijkerhout for the interview, when ice started pouring down - a very rare phenomenon. 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 conditions there. In fact, it was countrywide, because the youth meeting of Moral Re-armament in The Hague that I was scheduled to address in the evening, was also cancelled.
            The interview with Scripture Union never took place. I soon sensed that this one of my most significant Jonah experiences, where I tried to run away from the task at hand in the Moravian Church.
            I was completely at loggerheads with my own church council who regarded me as ‘Pentecostal’ and fundamentalist. Already after the first few meetings Rosemarie had decided not to attend any more because of the unfair attacks on us. Personally I didn’t mind. In fact, at times I somehow still enjoyed that sort of skirmishes.
                                                *                                  *                                  *
            On the other hand, I felt also really committed to win my church council over on the spiritual side. I very strongly wanted to start a weekly prayer meeting. The Broederraad agreed that I could go ahead with this, but no one of them would participate in it. There were two other church members with whom I should have started the prayer group. But I still hoped that I could get the members of the church council to join. It was a terrible mistake that I waited on them instead of starting the prayer meeting as a threesome. (Rosemarie was of course time-wise completely engaged, caring for our little son Danny.)
            The Church Board tried to mediate between me and my church council. The negotiations to get us reconciled took place as a side show to the synod meeting in Driebergen (Holland) in 1979. I fled forward, unhappy especially with the spiritual side of things. Instead of backing down in the meeting with Henk Esajas, who mediated on behalf of the ‘Centrale Raad’, the central council of the denomination in Holland, I put my suggestion that we should start our church council meetings with an hour of proper Bible Study.  This was unrealistic but I saw this as the only possibility how the rift between me and the rest of my church council could be healed. The three-minute devotional that was the common practice, reading the daily texts - two verses from the Bible - followed by prayer was hardly any basis in my view to get to solid common ground.  It looked as if I we had all won, when it was agreed that we would hereafter start our ‘Broeder­raad’ meetings with half an hour of Bible Study. But the truce was only short lived!
            My political involvement on behalf of justice and reconciliation in South Africa took a back seat when the infighting heated up. Things came to a head in August 1979. I was really challenged by the happenings preceding the coming event of infant baptism in my church. One parent more or less insisted that I should christen their child without putting any questions to them with regard to their faith. The church council surprisingly supported me, but I still had a sleepless night immediately prior to the scheduled church service with the christening of infants. I was uncertain whether these parents would rock up on the same day on which we were to christen our second child Rafael, along with two other infants.
            Shortly hereafter I was seriously challenged from Scripture on this church practice. This was happening at the very time when I was suggesting that stewardship should also include the scriptural testing of all church traditions.  During a Bible Study with Hein Postma, who belonged to another free church group, 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, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart for other reasons that had been in discussion in our church.
            My own argument for practising the tradition of infant baptism was pulled from under me. Subconsciously I was still somehow influenced by the Calvinist argument in defence of infant baptism. According to this view, infant baptism as the sign of the new covenant was a substitute for circumcision, the sign of the old covenant of God with Israel. I now read there about the circumcision of the heart. Aware that we were speaking of infant baptism as having come instead of the practice of circumcision, I was bowled over, even though I had not yet looked critically into the replacement theory, whereby it is believed that the church came in the place of Israel. From the context it was clear that conversion through faith in Jesus was meant.
            In the preceding years and following in the footsteps of the Count Zinzendorf, I got to love Israel and Jews. When I now had to think of it more deeply, the untenability of infant baptism struck home. How could the church put something else instead of circumcision, a practise so sacred to the Jews? As I now also studied the liturgy used at the christening of babies, I knew that I couldn’t carry on with practice that had indeed become a tradition that nullifies the power of God (Mark 7:13). The seed was sown in my heart for opposition to replacement theology, whereby the church is alleged to have substituted the nation of Israel.
            I was shocked 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. In the course of my participation in a liturgical commission of the church I was already troubled by the formulation in the Moravian (infant) baptism liturgy whereby eternal life is apportioned to babies at their ‘baptism’.
            This was now really the last straw to me. How could I continue 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 it with my minister colleagues.
            Also here I initially found surprising 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. A common difficulty was the lack of responsibility by men who fathered children outside of wed­lock.
            All my efforts to remind the 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 what 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. Rosemarie and I now experienced the opposition and ostracism quite intensely, but the Lord encouraged us supernaturally. We received a telegram from South Africa from Kathy Schulze, who was working with Scripture Union in Cape Town at the time. She had no idea what we were going through. The Lord just laid on her heart to send us the message: ‘I pray for you!’ What an encouragement that was to us!
            Before the envisaged weekend could take place, 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 happened in a very cordial spirit. Talks with the newly elected Bishop Reichel and correspondence on the issue could not convince me.  We were impressed that Bishop Reichel was convinced of the matter for himself as he looked at the grace of God operating ahead of us. But it didn’t solve my problem. In the end we found a compro­mise:
            Yet, a compromise was reached when the church offered me a post whereby I would not have to christen infants in future. However, my theological differences with regard to stewardship in general made the position untenable to me. As a matter of principle we just could not live with the compromise. I resigned from my post, to come into effect on 31 December 1980.
            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. My sermons had ‘no content.’  Asking what the matter was, I retorted that I could not understand why they would get excited if my sermons were without any content. Then the brother replied: ‘Well, it has the wrong content.’ Probing further, it surfaced that the Bible reading on Ephesians 5 had been challenging sexual immorality at one of my recent sermons.
Someone warned me to be careful what I would eat when I was attending the various celebrations in the home 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 Zuster Irion, an old widow, into our home. Her husband had been poisoned some time before this.).) But I decided that I would not allow fear to govern my life.                                 *                                                *                                              *
In hot water with the government
My activism brought me in hot water with the South African government. The manuscript with personal documents ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ (Hunger after Justice) that I had sent to Dr Beyers Naudé with the Dutch Reformed clerics, when I had met them on Schiphol airport, never landed in his hands, but instead with the government. My mentioning Winnie Mandela, in an article -she was banished to the little Free State town of Brandfort - also made me suspect. Someone conveyed the message to me, but as I was acting very low-key, I suppose that made my position fairly safe. The government didn’t even threaten to confiscate my passport.
            Initially another visit to South Africa seemed a non-runner towards the end of 1980. As we entered the second half of the year, I still had two weeks of holiday that I had not used. But one could hardly expect any church council to allow their minister to leave before Christ­mas.           

 

8.  Attacking the Brick Wall of Tradition


         Ever since my return to South Africa from Germany in October 1970, I had set as one of my goals to oppose racial prejudice wherever it would surface. Operating predominantly within the confines of the ‘Coloured’ community, I knew that we also had to address the superiority complex of our people in terms of ‘Blacks’.

The Battle against Church Traditions
In 1966 it was fairly easy to introduce Bible choruses at the Moravian Youth camps into the singing repertoire instead of sticking to the old-fashioned and so often irrelevant hymns. We supported Chris Wessels who returned to the denomination as a minister after his stint with the Christian Students Movement in the early 1960s.
         In an invitation to preach at one of their youth services in 1973 the young people of Elim had been requesting me to tackle the legalist traditions, for which the village and its church was notorious. Among the young people there was Kathi Schulze, a physiotherapist who had just arrived from the USA. She was a descendant of German missionaries.
         At the start of my sermon on Mark 7 where Jesus pointed out how tradition were abused to nullify God's laws, I started off in much too radical way by narrating a little anecdote from the community before I read the text from the Bible. For one brother this was too much.
         During the youth service the congregant left the church angrily, slamming the door viciously almost at the outset of my sermon. The sermon itself was a head-on clash with the tradition of the old people. After the incident had done the rounds, I was subsequently banned from quite a few Moravian pulpits at the Cape, as was Fritz Faro, one of my seminary colleagues.
            In West Berlin – likewise notorious for ultra conservatism - where I ministered from 1974 as an assistant minister, I was much more successful in breaking down barriers of tradition and prejudice such as against foreigners. During a sermon at Easter I highlighted how the first evangelist of the resurrection according to the Gospel of John was Mary Magdalene. I could in this way prepare the way for my successor, Karin Beckmann, to become the first female pastor of the congregation.

A demonic South African tradition
The separation of Black families developed into a strange tradition, a diabolic one, in South African society because of government policy. We were privileged to have been involved with the spadework that prepared one of the first victories over the apartheid regime, the battle of Nyanga in the latter part of the winter 1981. Alan Roberts, the brother of Rommel, interviewed the ladies who had been taken out of the homes in the church where they stayed for some time. I was deeply moved as I typed the stories of the luckless Black people whom the government was trying to remove forcibly. It was strategic that I had copies of these stories after they had mysteriously disappeared at the court hearings.
            Our involvement with the Blacks did create in me a resistance of another sort. As I saw how Black families were forced to live separated, I was not interested any more to go to the government cap in hand for the ‘privilege’ to live in my home country with my wife.
            Rosemarie hereafter had only one prayer left: ‘Lord, I am prepared to serve you anywhere in the world as long as it is not South Africa’. She had somehow completely forgotten her vow of 1978.
            The life stories of the women were not the only material that disappeared. A manuscript that I wrote at this time about false political alternatives, that I had left at the school in Hanover Park, was also nowhere to be found. On the other hand, I was surely too naive to submit “What God joined together” - a narrative using various documents in our fight against the “Mixed Marriages Act” - for publication to Tafelberg Uitgewers.
           
             
             The Moravian Theological Seminary in District Six was regarded at this time as a breeding ground for (church) revolutionaries. Pulpit bans and the like were meted out to my student colleagues and me. Our fight against racist traditions especially brought things to a head.
            In my own church we were doing our thing. A certain racist tradition in the Moravian Hill Church in District Six, i.e. the church just next to the Seminary, called for a chal­lenge. Twice per year German Moravians came to this church. Then chairs would be specially put on the stage where they would sit.
            The racist tradition was highlighted, when the local minister refused the request for this special privilege in August 1972 to be granted to other White people. They were the employers of a deceased servant who now wanted to attend the funeral in the church. At the seminary we were of course quite happy with this principled stand, but when we saw the chairs specially taken out for the German Moravians only a few days later, this smacked too much of hypocrisy. We just couldn’t leave the double standards unchallenged. When the church council member who was taking out the chairs, was not willing to listen to reason, the word was spread quickly. The youth group wanted to stage a mass walk out at the ‘Love Feast’ of the almost sacred tradi­tional 13th of August commem­oration of the revival in Herrnhut in 1727. This would cer­tainly have rocked the boat. We feared that the church leader­ship would point to Fritz Faro, Gustine Joemath and me, the three full-time students at the seminary, as the instigators of such a walkout. Thus we suggested to the young people that we would rather do it on their behalf and face the inevitable music alone. There was not much discussion about the matter because the decision had to be taken in a rush.
            At the beginning of the service with its blessed tradi­tion the three of us left the church quietly without really upsetting the proceedings. But the impact was nevertheless quite consequen­tial. We were in hot water from more than one quarter. The youth turned against us as well, accusing us of wanting to steal the show. One of the female youth members aired the problem that she had with me - perhaps others also had it but they didn’t articulate it: I was sporting ‘Black is Beautiful’ on my T-shirt at all occasions - and yet I had a White girl friend overseas!
            On another level, a clash with the upper echelons of the church hierarchy loomed. But Henning Schlimm, who had just been elected to the church board, supported us wonderfully after we had explained to him the run-up to the events. The actual clash was averted. He arranged a meeting with a two-man delegation of the German Moravians. I was to be the spokesman on behalf of the students.  The discussion was frank but amiable with a compromise reached: the chairs for the Germans would not be put out in future on the two occasions. The Germans could sit separately at the front of the church if they wished to.
            We were not satisfied yet, because we regarded this as a travesty of the unity in Christ that we professed. Thus we fetched our own Whites friends to come and sit among us at the next ‘chair’ occasion. Lies Hoogendoorn and Hester van der Walt were quite willing to be used for this purpose, sitting among the young girls of our youth group. The effect was minimal however, because the Germans hereafter stayed away from the next service where they should have come.
            My personal protest against senseless church tradition was quite low-key in the years hereafter. It resumed in full force in 1977 when we wanted to dedicate our infant son Danny instead of baptised. We still had a battle with the local church council when we wanted to dedicate our son. The 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 of course that we as the ministerial couple were now upsetting the apple cart, because dedication turned out to be only a theoretical possibility. This caused quite a furore, with someone 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 Easter weekend as we had planned, we decided to budge instead of playing the two modes off against each other. Two and a half years after the birth of Danny we did rock the boat on the issue of infant baptism, when I could not continue with the practice without castrating my conscience.
            I had challenged the very conservative church of Berlin in one of my sermons there on the use of lady preachers, by pointing out that Mary Magdalene was the first ‘evangelist’, the carrier of the message of the risen Lord according to the gospel of John. That may have helped to pave the way for my successor Karin Beckmann that amounted to a breakthrough for the negatively conservative Berlin congregation.
            I was soon resuming a fight in Holland that had already been started in South Africa in my youth camp days: against unbiblical church traditions. The congregation that I had served was located in Utrecht, 10 Km’s away from Zeist where we lived on Broederplein. The historical buildings belong to the highly traditional Moravian settlement.           
            Resistance in the local churches against any change to traditions was very strong. This I experienced thoroughly in South Africa, in Berlin and also in Holland. I was not the local minister in Zeist, but the congregation in Utrecht was not yet autonomous. On paper it was a daughter church to Zeist, where church tradition was spelt with capital letters, e.g. with males and sisters sitting separately.
           
            We saw now how confused our four year-old son Danny had become because of the different languages - in one short sentence he managed at some stage to use the four languages we were speaking to different people. We were convinced that we had to return to a country where he could concentrate on one language.. A German-speaking environment was the obvious choice. But all efforts to get employment in Germany or Switzerland were unsuccessful. We had completely forgotten the divine injunction to ‘stay in our Jerusalem’ as we shared our experiences with Rosemarie’s family in Southern Germany where we first went to after leaving South Africa.
             There was a wide range of reasons for not getting employment. This was strange because in 1981 unemployment was definitely not a major issue in Europe. On the one hand, the hands of church authorities were bound because I was willing to accept demotion as long as I would not have to baptize infants. On the other hand, my principled stand probably scared off would-be employers. That was at any rate the answer that Swiss church officials gave. The net result: no job was forthcoming as we criss-crossed Southern Germany and Switzerland.
            It was very difficult to accept that Rosemarie was pregnant again. We very much wanted another child - preferably a daughter - but the timing of the pregnancy was very uncomfortable 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 even though I knew that it was well-neigh impossible.  Rosemarie was relieved that we could get out of the threatening cauldron more or less unscathed. But we knew that God had brought us together and that we had to be called together to whatever country He would choose.
            My interest at fighting apartheid was definitely not completely altruistic. In my heart there was still the deep desire to return to my home country. In order to achieve that, the racist laws had to be dismantled.

Battle against Denominationalism    
By accident we got involved in the battle against denominationalism in Zeist. Ever since my involvement with the Christian Students Association, church unity was high on my agenda. I soon discerned that unity was a powerful ‘weapon’, long before the terminology of spiritual warfare was common knowledge. In my speeches and talks on South Africa in Europe in 1969 the ecclesiastical divisions was one of three problematic issues that I addressed, along with apartheid and alcoholism.           
            I was still in full-time service as a pastor when we attended Bible studies with a few Christians from other church backgrounds on alternate Thursday evenings. Rosemarie and I really enjoyed the services of a free church in Baarn every time we visited there. The diminutive old brother Braaksma, our friend Hein Postma’s father-in-law, could really grip us. He was speaking authoritatively like a prophet of old.
            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, a few believers had decided in our absence to start a new fellowship. I was not happy at all that they had already decided to have services on a Sunday morning. I had no problems with the idea of a new fellowship as such, but I detested the concomitant idea of competition. 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 how 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 idea of dual membership that we brought along from the German Moravian Church - where the members also held membership of the state Church - 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 an old age home.
            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. We felt the pain of the church separation anew when Anneco Adriaanse, a close friend, visited us. She preferred to attend the Full Gospel Church that worshiped in Figi, one of the local cinemas. Anneco was still a remnant of our connection to Moral Rearmament. We met her at their base in Johannesburg in 1978. Like us, she had become estranged from the movement. We discovered that the atoning death of Jesus was not central in the thinking of the organisation because they also tried to accommodate other religions, compromising that doctrine.
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            Back in Holland, a very difficult period in our lives started. Time was running out because my work permit was due to expire soon. The word from Scripture to stay in our “Jerusalem” did not enter our minds again. Yet, we had no drive to start packing. The church had offered us temporary accommodation in Bad Boll where we started our marriage. And then it happened: Virtually on the last minute, I got a temporary teaching post, Religious Instruction on three days a week – from Monday to Wednesday - at College Blauwcapel in Utrecht. That was however one big frustration and little joy.
            On Fridays I was working with drug addicts at ‘Heil des Volks’ in Amsterdam. At the latter institution I discovered during the period of probation that this job was tailor-made for me either. It was mutually agreed that I was not suited for that ministry.  Yet, I got valuable experience and exposure to the drug subculture. It also rekindled in my heart compassion for young people who had become ensnared by the addiction to drugs.
            Very surprisingly, Rosemarie did not protest at the prospect of a return to South Africa after friends had heard that the Dorothea Mission were 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. Probably the Dorothea Mission regarded my stance as too political because we never received any reply. Via friends we heard a few years later, that our application was hotly debated. With us as 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.
            The next few years I applied for numerous vacancies in Holland. My South African nationality however made me suspect because I refrained on purpose from mentioning my race in 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.
            All this added to a new longing to return to my home country – that I was not successful to meet the target of returning by 1980 with my family was not bugging me so much as that I was feeling useless, not able to feed my family. And then there was of course the feeling that others might be having taking joy after  I had left my sure job as a pastor, and now experiencing uncertainty. But I was still having peace at heart, especially after a very extraordinary devotional time when I felt as if the Lord was ministering to me directly because of my intense yearning to return to Africa – with South Africa of course as the first prise. As I was reading the story of Joseph I was seriously challenged to discover that he never returned to Israel. I experienced inner peace when I released my longing to return to South Africa. I was now ready to be an exile till the end of my life.

Moravian Links
While he was still at high school Rens Schalkwijk, who returned with his parents from Jamaica in 1978, joined the weekly prayer group at the Moravian Widow’s house. This was the one link to the denomination that I kept intact throughout our period of ministry in Zeist. Later Rens’ mother led the prayer group at the Zinzendorf House next to their home.
            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 prayer walking in the nearby forest before Peter left for his work.
            The 1982 prayer effort with Rens and Peter van Veldhuyzen culminated in our setting up the ‘Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ in Zeist that had various facets of evangelical outreach. Another young man, Peter Kalmijn, was one of the youth group members of the Panweg fellowship that met in our home. The Lord used Peter at different times in our lives to challenge us. Peter had returned from Austria with his mother Geertje and his brother Hans in 1981, where his parents had been missionaries. On one of our youth evenings in 1982 Peter mentioned that the organizers of the ‘Kinderkaravaan’ - a local outreach to children - were looking for a leader.
            At the first meeting of the envisaged local evangelistic agency the aged Sister Kooy, a member of the Moravian Church, also attended. She was already over eighty at that point in time, having been involved in the evangelical movement of Holland since the Second World War when they were caring for the persecuted Jews and for the destitute with famous Dutch people like Corrie ten Boom and Brother Jan Kits (sn). Sister Kooy had also been a member of the prayer group at the Moravian Widow’s house on Zusterplein for many years. 
            When Rosemarie and I volunteered to take over the leadership of the ‘Kinderkaravaan’ work, I immediately put forward my vision for a broadly based evangelistic outreach - also to the youth, the unemployed and to the Huis van Bewaring, a sort of prison in Utrecht where criminals with less serious charges were incarcerated.  
            At the new church many of our friends like Hein Postma and Wim Zoutewelle were involved. The new fellowship that we started attending, moved to a little hall in “Panweg” a few months after its inception. The group that consisted of some of the Christians with whom we had our Thursday evening Bible Study meetings, was committed to church unity and evangelisation. No other ecclesiastical grouping supported the work of the new evangelistic work of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ - which recruited workers from churches across the board - like this fellowship. In fact, many of our Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ volunteers got into the one or other problem with their own denomination because they co-operated with ‘other’ Christians. Only the Panweg congregation supported the idea of fellowship with other believers in Jesus more or less full-heartedly at that stage. In time to come this was unfortunately also going to change there.
            Not everybody was happy with the situation that the Cloetes were still members of the Moravian Church. I never even considered it necessary to make an issue of our church affiliation.
            Because we still lived on Broederplein, we also felt morally bound to stay in the church anyway. All efforts to get permanent employment elsewhere had failed and the new pastor of my former congregation in Utrecht had a house of his own. This does not happen very often. Gradually we understood the purposes of the Lord. In His sovereign way he kept us in ‘our Jerusalem’ in this way.
            Not quite out of the blue a critical brother in the Panweg fellowship deemed it feasible to question whether someone could serve in the leadership of the group and still be a member of another church.
            At this point in time I was over-committed any way. I was teaching at different schools a few hours apiece and also studying Mathematics extramurally. This was apart from being the leader of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’. After some prayer, I decided that it was time to resign from the ‘Broederraad’. For years there had been internal tensions. Regularly my sermons were criticised because I wrote them out fully, but this criticism was no comparison to what I had experienced in our previous congregation. The only serious crisis developed when the Zoutewelle family - who had led the music ministry - left the fellowship after a wave of criticism was allowed to get out of control. We had been quite close to them ever since I led the youth group of the fellowship with their eldest son Tom. That I also mentioned political issues in my sermons like the colonial guilt of Holland, had also steered me on collision course with some members of the church who were still denying it.
            Yet, many were surprised with my decision to resign from the leadership, but I really had peace about it. I felt that it was necessary for the sake of church unity to stay in the Moravian Church until they would more or less chuck us out. We were surprised that it had not been done already because of the many negative vibes that came through from their ranks.

            Within the Panweg fellowship we survived a minor crisis when we came together with other believers to pray for Johan Sleeswijk Visser, one of my youth club members, for whose life was feared. Since childhood he had a heart ailment that turned critical. Some people in the fellowship apparently had problems with us  because we would not accept his pending death without any ado. In answer to prayer Johan survived the crisis, later finishing his university studies. Still later he married a Spanish young woman. At the time of writing, about 20 years later, he was practising as a lawyer in Holland.

            I ran into problems with members of our Panweg fellowship because a few Roman Catholic nuns 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 on which we felt that we could not budge. Other simultaneous tensions in the fellowship brought matters to a head. To all intents and purposes a split set in.

9. Breaking down walls of prejudice             


            While I was still teaching in Bellville from 1965-68 I tried to inculcate racial equality among my pupils. I would repeatedly tell them: “We are not inferior to Whites but also not superior to Blacks”. Therefore it was quite consistent when I opposed my teacher colleagues who were only clamouring for salary parity with Whites. I made myself quite unpopular, suggesting that we should rather fight for parity with Blacks. However, I was not aware how deep-seated these prejudices were in South African ‘Coloured’ society: yes, even in my own heart.
            The acid test started the moment I left South African shores the first time in January 1969. Although there was no apartheid on the Pendennis Castle[29], I felt so inferior that I did not dare use the swimming pool while the Whites were in the water. I only ventured to do that when nobody else was around. And in Germany, I was shocked when a West African entered a room. My typical South African life-style reaction was: “What is he doing here?” I conveniently forgot that was also ‘not supposed to be there’. I thought I had completely overcome my inculcated racism after being in Europe for about one and a half years, when I was suddenly taken by surprise. A racially mixed couple came together lovingly towards me at a subway. My spontaneous reaction was: Are they not afraid to be arrested for contravening the ‘Immorality Act?’ These personal experiences helped me in later years to have more understanding for other people who wrestled with the deep-seated racial or national prejudice with which they grew up.           
            Ever since my return to South Africa from Germany in October 1970, I set as one of my goals to oppose racial prejudice wherever it would surface. Operating predominantly within the confines of the ‘Coloured’ community, I knew that we had to address the superiority complex in terms of Blacks. Our inviting Claude Bongojalo Goba to preach in Moravian Hill, was part and parcel of this effort. But it was actually not so surprising that one lady walked out of the church the moment he stepped to the pulpit. We had given the bad example as seminary students not so long before that, by walking out of the church. We did this when the local pastor persisted with segregated seating for visiting Whites after earlier protests from our side had achieved no result.
            Claude Goba’s sermon threw me into an inner tussle. Was I running away from the problems in my country by preparing to return to Germany at the end of that year? This question was going to haunt me for months.  I could not bring up the courage to apply for the extension of my passport before my departure. I knew this could have been the test to discern God’s will for me. I feared that our political involvements of the preceding months would have jeopardized such an extension.
            In Berlin it was easier to counter the prejudice. Both Rosemarie and myself were being discriminated against. Being dark-haired - in contrast to the blond rank and file population - Rosemarie was commonly thought to be a Turkish national. What a surprise the discriminating Berliners would get when the ‘Turkish lady’ replied in perfect German. Similarly, the foreign ministry police was usually astonished that a ‘Guest worker from Africa’ could speak proper German. My minister colleagues in Berlin were very supportive in my drive to uproot the racial prejudice in the church towards the Turkish guest workers.
            At the conservative and sometimes even racist Moravian settlement of Zeist where we moved to in September 1977, our names were often a subject for discussion in negative ways. We were often only hearing the distorted rumours. 
            We rubbed influential members in the church up the wrong way right from the outset, when we agreed to keep the drug-addicted son of our predecessors in our home, to allow him to finish his schooling. With only a baby at that stage, the parsonage was far too big for us any way. The price of having Thomas Baudert in our home was high in terms of nerves, but nevertheless worthwhile. Yet, we were sad that he did not come around to a changed life before his death while in India on the drug trail.
            When I heard from my Surinamese congregants and others of the discrimination they had experienced in Zeist, I made no secret of my opposition. Of course, this was not appreciated. When a Surinamese lady, Sibylle got in problems accommodation-wise, we took her in. We heard of the unspoken rule that Blacks would not get accommodation allotted on the central property of the church on the pleinen. Knowing my views, nobody dared to challenge us. When Sibylle left us in February 1979, the next tenant was already lined up, sister Irion, an elderly Surinamese lady. By now the racial prejudice was partly broken through. She got integrated quite well. As we headed for South Africa at the end of 1980, she was a resident of the hallowed Widow’s house, most probably the first black occupant ever. 
            About some of the things I did, I did not encounter any trouble at all. Thus I rocked the boat of custom somewhat by pushing a pram with our baby Rafael as I took our son Danny to the crêche opposite the road. That was in those not exactly a thing to do for men, but I was not going to be deterred by such pettiness. It was good to see nonsensical traditions like the separation of the sexes in the church - first in Berlin and later also in conservative Zeist - disappear. Coming from apartheid South Africa, I was perhaps a little more sensitive to the criticism and frustration of young people at these traditions.
            Being a racially mixed couple, we uncovered much of the prevalent prejudice in so-called tolerant Holland. With my background we understood fully the problems that mixed couples encountered. I found some support in the Moral Re-armament movement for my stand in this regard, but I soon encountered problems here as well when I suggested that foreigners should also be given leadership roles in Dutch society.

Occult attacks
When we came to Holland in 1977 we were fairly ignorant with regard to unseen things happening in the spiritual realm. However, we should have known better in the mid 1980s because we had learnt of occult realities through reading material of Kurt Koch, a German theologian.
            In the run-up to the birth of our son Samuel in July 1984 we were clearly confronted with occult forces. We hoped to have wanted four children from the outset. In fact, at a conference of the Offensive Junger Christen in 1978 (or 1979) in Germany, when the participants were asked to come up with their vision for the future 10 years hence, I suggested having four children and being back in my home country. (In the end we even surpassed the first part of my dream and the second part was realized in 1992.)
            Rosemarie had intense pains during the pregnancy with our Samuel in 1984. She feared that evil forces were trying to kill the foetus. We had learnt about generational curses and influences in the meantime. Rosemarie heard from her father why he never wanted a son. Through generations some curse had rested on their family coming via the sons.  One night when she had this heaviness and fears again, she woke me. When she told me this, we immediately prayed, breaking the curse in Jesus name! That was the last time that Rosemarie had these problems even though the actual birth of Samuel was not plain sailing at all.
            Samuel’s birth brought Brigitte Röser, a Dutch friend who has been visiting us from Germany from time to time closer into the family. We asked her to become his godmother. In later years she was to become our contact person for the distribution of our newsletters in Germany.
            Knowing that we were now in the front-line of missionary outreach, we were not surprised any more at the attacks that we recognized as demonic. Yet, we still did not discern mutual links between Communism, Islam and other anti-Christian forces.
            One evening we were confronted with another demonic ally. In all innocence we got prepared to attend a symphony concert in the local Moravian Church as part of a ‘Mozart week’. We were quite surprised when we heard funny noises like a chain being pulled on our loft in the middle of the night. I had already tried unsuccessfully to phone the police - where the phone had been engaged - when I decided to go and have a look what (or who) it was. There was nobody. It would have been embarrassing if the police had come. I could only conclude that the occult link of Mozart via Freemasonry unleashed demonic activity in our home.

            After WEC had suggested that we should have contact persons before we would set out to our respective mission fields, Rosemarie suggested Harmen and Fenny Pos, our faithful ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ co-workers. We could not have asked for more devout persons. The way they rallied around us became the example for other missionary support groups in our own church but also in in many places in the Netherlands.
            In Emmeloord, at the Dutch HQ of WEC we heard of the advisability of having a missionary prayer meeting in your home church. Shortly after our return from there, we invited Don and Kryniera Koekkoek, a couple from our church who had been supporting our ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ evangelistic work, for a cup of tea- The wife shared on that occasion how God had challenged her to stimulate prayer for missionaries. Another couple in our church was about to go to Bhutan as missionaries. When we spoke to Hans Riemersma, one of the elders, he was very sympathetic to the cause of a missionary prayer meeting, but quite sceptical. Apparently, other people had already tried something similar, but tradition in the church smothered every effort in this direction.
            Surprisingly, we soon hereafter had regularly monthly prayer meetings for the many missionaries started in the home of the Koekkoeks. That became an important feature in the calendar of the fellowship ever since.
            The Lord used the time in Bulstrode, the International WEC Headquarters near to London, to bring Geertje back into missions in a trailblazing way. Soon hereafter she started to learn Spanish, becoming the member care person for Spanish missionaries. This was still quite a few years before it became the in thing in missions to have a member care person. At this time we were already getting prepared to go to South Africa as career missionaries.

10. The battle with the pen


            Our short stint with the Moral Rearmament movement revived in me the desire to use the pen to fight the apartheid government back home. Already at the age of about fourteen, I wrote my first letter of protest to Prime Minister Verwoerd. When my father discovered the draft, his mentioning the possibility of Robben Island was enough to get me scared stiff.
            After I had heard of the expropriation of our property while I was overseas, I resumed my fight with the pen in 1969. My protest letter to the Parow Municipality after the enforced sale of our house in Tiervlei, did not have any effect one way or the other. My parents had to move to Elim with my father becoming a migrant labourer, going to the mission station 200 Km away one weekend per month. Health-wise it all became too much for him.
            Although I still felt committed to the fulltime theological ministry, I also sensed a moral guilt towards the Blacks of our country. A letter from abroad to the education authorities with the offer to teach Mathematics in one of the Black schools, was however not even answered by them. That was not completely surprising, because the racial policies prescribed ‘you in your small corner’.
            The next skirmishes with the pen centred around the Mixed Marriages Act as I first tried to get Rosemarie to South Africa so that we could marry here. Later I assisted her to get a visa for work at the Elim Home for retarded children. One letter stood out during the early seventies, October 1972 to be exact: I challenged the Prime Minister, Mr. Vorster, to emulate President Lincoln. His reply was a big disappointment: a standard letter - with only my name inserted - in which he rejected every effort to use religion for political ends.
            It took three years before I wrote another letter to the Prime Minister. After we returned from our illegal honeymoon, I confessed in a letter to Mr. Vorster that we had circumvented the condition of Rosemarie’s visa. Simultaneously I mentioned the burocratic bungling with Rosemarie’s visa application, encouraging him however to continue with drastic changes towards democracy. This letter got me in hot water because I had also sent a copy to the Consulate in Munich. In a sense I deserved the veiled threat from there because I had deviated from moral high ground through my snipe at them for the treatment to Rosemarie. I should have written to them directly instead of via the office of the Prime Minister.

Attempting to be moderate
My intention to be moderate in the best sense of the word 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.
         After right-wing German church politicians had been funded to visit S.A. - with the obvious intention of the apartheid government to further their own cause - my former student colleagues who were now assistant ministers in Southern Germany approached me. They wanted me to reply to the articles on Southern Africa in a book called ‘Rotbuch Kirche’. This book accused the World Council of Churches (WCC) of a Communist slant, slamming especially their support of the armed struggle. This occurred via the groups that opposed the racist rule in Southern African countries in their Programme to Combat Racism. I responded to the request with an article that was then distributed among young clergymen in Southern Germany.
         I fitted no bill, thus both sides rejected me. Yet, I nevertheless had friends in the evangelical camp who were critical of the rule in South Africa. It is sad that the opposition to apartheid took, was so divided itself. Whereas hardly any single factor was uniting Christians of colour as much as the abhorrence of the oppressive policies race policies in the country, ambivalently and ironically hardly anything brought as much division as the reaction to it.
         The only South African Christian with whom we felt completely at one was Rachel Balie. Once she told us of a meeting by Christians who were to all intents and purposes supporting the apartheid government. The moderator of the South African ‘Hervormde Kerk’, Dr Oberholzer, visited Berlin around 1977 in the spurious company of rightwing evangelicals. The leader of the Reformed denomination in South Africa that actually barred people of colour to become a member of their White congregations was to be the speaker at the event. Professor Wintherhager, a leader of the Notgemeinschaft, a German reactionary group, translated Dr Oberholzer.
         The guest painted an idealistic picture of the Blacks and their beautiful music. At question time I asked why the Whites and the Black Christians of their domination were not worshipping together and thus be able to mutually enrich each other. However, the fact that I sported an Afro hairstyle, made me suspect. Someone hereafter referred to Cambodia and the Communists there, while he looked askance at me. Thus, each and everyone could deduce that I had to be a Communist. The propa­ganda machine of the South African government worked perfect­ly!
            Because of the support of his church to apartheid, I put some uncomfortable questions to him in a public meeting. Herr Motschmann, one of the renowned protagonists of the opposite group - thus very much theologically related to the ‘Rotbuch Kirche’- referred to the Communist onslaught in Cambodia, looked askance at me. To all and sundry the message was clear: I was obviously to be regarded as one of those Communist guys who infiltrated church meetings. In those days it seemed that almost everybody expected that one could either belong to the Communist/socialist block or one had be an apartheid-supporting evangelical. I fitted no bill, thus both sides rejected me.
            Yet, I nevertheless had friends in the evangelical camp who were critical of the rule in South Africa. Thus I was approached to write a series of articles for Spektrum, a Swiss evangelical periodical. I believed that I also had a role to play to make an effort towards reconciliation between Bible-believing Christians across the board. Because I suggested in this series that the South African government should engage in negotiations with the (Communist-backed) ANC, I probably became suspect. The series was trimmed down to a single article but the editors eventually turned down even the one article after advice to this effect by some biased professor.
                                    *                      *                      *
            At some stage I decided to go public with the two letters that I had written to President Vorster. Nevertheless, I opted for low-key publication in South African periodicals that were critical of the government of the day that would thus enable the government not to lose face too much. We had spoken to Roelf Meyer, the editor of ‘Pro Veritate’ on our 1975 trip, but somehow the letters were not published before the Christian Institute, the mother organisation was banned in 1977. When Francis Wilson, the editor of ‘The S.A. Outlook’ had lost the copies of the letters, I was frustrated. The Lord had to humble me when I misplaced the articles myself.
            After a visit to Caux, the Moral Rearmament stronghold in Switzerland at the end of 1977, activism started to get hold of me. This coincided with the struggle against my own church authorities. I was morally committed to give all my time to perfect my Dutch and other things of which my church council were quite critical. To pre-empt any criticism on that score, I would get up at two o’clock and work through till about four in the morning as I worked on ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’, the compilation of personal documents about my resistance to apartheid. In the visit to South Africa in 1978 I succeeded to unearth a few earlier letters.

            After our return to Holland in 1978, I wrote an article on our visit to South Africa in Nieuw Wereld Nieuws, the Dutch Moral Re-armament (MRA) period­ical. Hereafter, discouraging news that came from South Africa carried politi­cal implications. Howard Grace from the South African MRA, who had tried to introduce me to Professor Heyns, relayed that the authori­ties had intercepted the Dutch paper with my article about our visit to South Africa. In the same issue there was also a radical article that sharply attacked apartheid as an un-Christian policy. It was written under a pseudonym by Kgati Sathekge, one of the youths from Atteridgeville, whom we had met on our previous visit to South Africa. (In January, 1979, Kgati stayed with us in Zeist for a few days.)[30] It was a sad tes­timony of the slow pace of political change that articles like his were viewed with distrust. The same attitude pre­vailed when I sounded out some people in government about publishing my treatise “Hunger after justice” in South Africa. It became clear that the government could censure its publica­tion, apart from the fact that really much still had to be been done to make it readable and palatable.           
            One of the most dramatic developments was when Mr. P.W. Botha, the Prime Minister, made it plain which he was ready to scrap the Mixed Marriages Act. Hoping that this could prepare our return to my home country, I was therefore quite disappointed to hear that the Dutch Reformed Church effectively pulled the break lever.
            Rosemarie had little faith in my letter writing activity, but I just continued, albeit rather subdued. Because different Cabinet ministers had openly expressed their intention to move away from discrimination, I naively secretly hoped that they would co-operate with the publication of “Honger na Geregtigheid”. After our trip in 1978, I had informed the government of my inten­tion to publish the documents that I had collated. After a response by someone from the government that was not positive enough to me, I decided to refrain from proceeding with the publication effort. 
            On another track, I took the initiative to cor­respond with a few ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa about its race theology as laid down in their church policy papers on “Church and Race”. Some reports in the press gave the impres­sion that the government wanted to abolish the “Prohibi­tion of Mixed Marriages Act”, but that the Dutch Reformed Church would not agree to it. However, my corres­pondence with some of their theologians did not seem to make any headway. Instead, my activities made me suspect in the eyes of the authori­ties.
                                                *                                  *                                  *
            I also got involved in the drafting of synod resolu­tions and reports. It all started at the Southern German village of Obereggenen near the Swiss border where theological students met young ministers of the Moravian Church annually. I was encouraged when the young colleagues responded quite positively to my radical ideas. One of them was quite surprised that I contemplated going back to South Africa. Willst Du in diesen Herd zurück? His surprise at my voluntary decision to go back to the country that almost everybody perceived as the next major hearth to go up in flames became to me the reason to call a manuscript Home or Hearth[31]. In this work I narrated our experiences during our trips to South Africa.
            The discussions on ethical matters resulted in an invitation to the church members at large to ‘think along with young ministers and theological students (Harpprechthaustreffen) of practical steps to achieve a new unity with regard to material means on a worldwide basis.’ In the latter wording I summarized this invitation in a letter to Dr Philip Potter, the Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches.
            Back in Holland I clubbed together with two young theologians, one who hails from Germany and the other a student from Surinam, actively participating in a small pressure group to get a Moravian synod decision on a boycott of Shell, a Dutch company, because of its perceived 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 in many quarters, although hardly anybody openly showed their dislike. Strange things happened like the disappearance of proposals that I had prepared for the 1979 synod in Driebergen.
            Yet, there was general appreciation and acclaim for the balance in my article in the July 1979 edition of the German periodical of the Moravian Church, the Brüderbote, where I suggested: ‘Eine christliche Gemeinde muß sich einerseits an Christus und seinem Wort orientieren und andererseits sich den Problemen unserer Zeit stellen.’[32]
           
            A naive arrogance took hold of me as I wrote a letter to Dr Philip Potter, the Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The latter body had already been controversial for some time through its Programme to Combat Racism, funding the ‘freedom struggle’ in Southern Africa. When I heard that a certain Professor Sjollema had suggested that the ANC should be regarded as the sole negotiating partner of the churches, I wrote to Dr Potter as a Black South African taking cognizance of the views of the South African Council of Churches: ‘...I see the attitude of the WCC on Southern Africa as counter-productive... I’m afraid, you’ll have to set many things right in this regard. The argument that you negotiate with the freedom movements fairly hard in private, doesn’t impress me much, as long as you attack the white (racist) governments loud and clear in the open.’ (cf. the full letter in the appendix).

            In 1980 I had been especially activist with my letter writing on the issue of racial reconciliation. It all started with a letter in reaction to an editorial of the Star in February in that year after the kidnapping in Silverton on the Rand, purportedly perpetrated by ANC ‘terrorists’. Amongst other things I wrote: “I missed in your editorial any discussion of the merit of releasing political prisoners like Mandela.”  Later I also added “Don’t you dare to condemn the attitude of the ANC when its officials are being quoted as saying ‘they will kill all the hostages next time’?” It seemed as if the ANC had decided to go for all-out insurrection including the taking and killing of hostages.
            In March I posted a copy of my letter to the editor of the Star to Reg September of the ANC head office in Lusaka who had visited us in our home, as well as to Prime Minister Botha. In the letter to the ANC office I challenged the leaders:  “I pray that (at a possible release of Nelson Mandela and others?) the ANC can be brought back on to the original course set out by people like Chief Albert Luthuli - a course of racial reconciliation, together with the appreciation of the intrinsic value of every human being... Oh, I do want to pray that South Africa might become a driving force for God’s justice and peace!”
            In early April my next letter already went to the Mr. Botha, a mild protest against the confiscation of the passports of Bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak. I almost felt like relinquishing my own passport, but refrained from doing it.
            In July I was driven into action once again after I read about the arrest of some of my friends like Paul Joemat. After I had read that Mr. Botha was going to have a meeting with church leaders on 9 August. to I pointed out to Mr. Botha in a letter dated 22 July that some of those people who had been arrested were friends of my youth days. They were committed Christians who never would have considered violent solutions for the political problems of our country. Also I referred to some of the young people who had fled the country after the 1976 and 1977 clampdown of the government. I suggested the increase of sabotage and insurrection as a result of these government actions. I also included with that post a paper that I had written under the title “Liefde dryf die vrees uit.”[33] A copy of this document was also posted to Bishop Tutu, who was the General Secretary of the South African Churches at that time. In the accompanying letter to Bishop Tutu I wrote: “It is my conviction that the South African churches in general should confess their collective guilt with regard to racism, as an aid to the government to do the same”.
            Using 1 John 4:18 as my point of departure, I opined in ‘Liefde dryf die vrees uit’ that the apartheid laws were based on fear and therefore they had no future. Instead, the authorities should give love and trust a chance. This paper was originally intended as a challenge in which I critically discussed a few of the government policies, with the aim to get it printed in one of the Afrikaans daily newspapers. It was possibly too long for anyone of the Afrikaans papers to consider it seriously, unless possibly as a series. Seeing that it opposed government policy diametrically, not a single one of the big four Afrikaans daily morning papers to which I had sent the article, showed any interest. I was possibly also too radical, referring to the (traffic) sign of the cul-de-sac as a deformed cross. I stated that apartheid opposed the message of the cross; that it was basically diabolic because it separated, whereas the nature of God is to join together. But I also suggested confession as a pre-requisite to reconciliation in this document.                                    
            In the letter started on 19 November and concluded on 25 November, I applauded Professor Heyns on the efforts to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted and that the Dutch Reformed church also called for the repeal of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. Also in this letter I suggested a clear confession accompanied by a concrete proposal of restitution. Professor Heyns played a major role in the transformation in the Dutch Reformed Church when the synod of 1986 made a major turn around. That unfortunately nudged apartheid die-hards to break away to form their own denomination. Great of course was my joy to hear of the confessions offered at Rustenburg in 1990, even though the government did not show appreciation initially.  The seed of confession apparently still had to germinate in some hearts. Johan Heyns was not going to experience the start of the uniting of the sister reformed churches in 2003 that had been divided by the hurtful race policies. An unknown gunman, who possibly saw Heyns as a traitor of the Afrikaners, assassinated him in 1994.
                        *                                  *                      *
            In my spare time - i.e. during the early morning hours between 2 and 4 a.m. because of the criticism of my church council - I worked at the rewriting of ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ in three parts. After Hein Postma, one of our friends had pointed out to me in 1979 that ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ was not written lovingly enough, I had to agree that the manuscript was an overdose of medicine to a sick society. I toned it down, planning three smaller booklets, of which the first one would concentrate on issues around the Mixed Marriages Act. The first revised manuscript was originally called ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het’, and thereafter translated and redrafted. When we left Holland in December 1980 I thought that ‘What God joined together’ was ready for print. But was it God’s timing for such a publication? Would I get a publisher for it? During our six-month stay in the country I updated the manuscript. When we left for South Africa in June 1981 the second draft of ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het’ in English translation had already been duplicated. I left a copy of the manuscript with Tafelberg Uitgewers just before we returned to Holland in June, 1981 with the understanding to have the book printed in Afrikaans first if they would accept it for publication. Finally it became just another addition to of a growing list of unpublished manuscripts.
            In the international weekly edition of the ‘Star’ I read one day about a major rift between Allan Boesak of the Broederkring and Archbishop Tutu. The camp of Boesak was angry at the likes of Tutu who were still prepared to talk to President Botha. In letters to both church leaders, I appealed to them to get their act together because it was absolutely counter-productive in the opposition to the abhorrent race policies. I never got an answer from anyone of the two, but I was satisfied to read later that they were on speaking terms again. In fact, in due course they were seen sharing the same platform.
            My interest at fighting apartheid was still basically self-centred. In my heart there was still the deep desire to return to my home country. During my quiet time in the early eighties, God liberated me from this passion. I had been reading in the Word how Joseph was taken out of his home country against his will; that was how I felt. I discovered that Joseph never returned to Israel. Hereafter I was now also prepared to spend the rest of my life abroad. 
             
            After I had stopped working as a minister in 1980, we were really struggling to make ends meet. Although I had been offered various employment opportunities, none of them materialised. When we left for South Africa in December in that year to visit my terminally ill sister, we used our last savings. There was hardly any comprehension from our church authorities. Such ‘steps of faith’ were equated with ‘leichtsinn’ and stupidity. Likewise, my parents-in-law had no comprehension for my principled stand. ‘Why don’t you just baptize children and get on with things? Can one be so stupid to risk your livelihood for a principle? You are just head-strong!’ Rosemarie was very supportive of my stand. She really encouraged me in this first major step of faith as a couple. Yet, after our return in July 1981, I was constantly looking forward to the next opportunity to visit S.A. again. That seemed now an absolute luxury. However, we were not yet in the mode of making an issue like this a matter of targeted prayer. Instead, I thought of getting some money out of the publication of one of my manuscripts.

11. Fighting Communism and the Iron curtain


            Just before I left South Africa in January 1969, I bought a booklet at the bookshop of Nic De Goede, the leader of the Wayside Mission, that was going to impact me greatly -’Tortured for Christ’ by Richard Wurmbrand, in which the author describes how he had been maltreated in Communist Romania. The booklet 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 agency founded by Wurmbrand regularly. I also started a practice of fasting on Friday mornings and praying for imprisoned Christians behind the iron curtain. This was more or less really faceless untargeted praying. Sometimes I just mentioned numbers before the Lord when I heard that the Christian prisoners had been given numbers. Yet I never really proceeded to become a prayer warrior 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 Richard Wurmbrand once again. This time he spoke on the Green Point Stadium. I regarded him as very insensitive when he 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.
            Nevertheless, I got involved in the support of the Christians in their struggle against Communism when I worked as assistant pastor in (West) Berlin while I was already engaged to Rosemarie. 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 almost 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. On another occasion, a lady official insisted that I open a letter that I had just taken from the letterbox. It was a love letter from Rosemarie. The female official insisted that I should read it aloud to her. For the rest, our support of Christians in the Eastern part of the 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.
            A highlight at this time was a visit to Herrnhut in August 1977 at the 250th year celebration of the revival that spawned world missions like nothing else ever since. 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 also attended.
            I was asked to give a short ‘Grußwort’, a word of greeting, but the believers from Poland were very disappointed that I didn’t speak longer. The Polish people were even more starved from meeting people from outside the Soviet block than the East Germans. At a time when I was really 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 Socialist Germany.

            The next major 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.
            The formative years of the World War II made Van der Bijl sensitive to the needs of the persecuted. Worldwide he became known as Brother Andrew and as the leader of Open Doors.
The discovery that Bibles were almost impossible to get into those countries made Brother Andrew the pioneer of a crusade with a difference: to smuggle Bibles into the Communist countries. Through ‘Kruistochten’, as Open Doors was initially known in Holland, we prayed regularly in our home for persecuted Christians in different countries.
            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.
            After I had stopped as a minister of the Moravian Church, a period of great uncertainty followed for us as a couple. We wanted to get involved with missions, but no door seemed to open. One of the major handicaps was my South African passport. In the mid-1980s a speaker from OM (Operation Mobilisation) pitched up at one of our church meetings. I felt challenged to venture into one of the Middle East countries. A comparative study 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 teaching qualification. At that stage Rosemarie was not at all enthralled by my idea of going to a country like Egypt. But initially she 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.
            A visit by Shadrach Maloka, an evangelist from South Africa, had spawned the sending of clothing to needy evangelists who were linked to his work. Rosemarie had been sensitive to the Holy Spirit. 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 was the spawn to start distributing clothing to missionaries, evangelists and other needy people. In our huge home, the former parsonage, we always sub-rented a 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 bring and share clothing shop. Missionaries from overseas could come and make there pick there. Salou and Annelies ??,[34] a befriended YWAM couple from Cameroon, even filled a vehicle that they had received as a gift.
            In 1987 an international conference for missionaries linked to Islamic countries was going to take place in Zeist.  But the Lord had other plans for me. It was not his timing that I should get involved with the wall of Islam in a bigger way than via the Goed Nieuws Karavaan activities. There was another ideology to be tackled first.

Another Bash at the iron Curtain
In the children’s clubs of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ an evangelistic agency that we had started in the little town of Zeist with Christians from different church backgrounds in 1983, the children learned a song about the persecution of Christians in Russia and China. The year before Braunfels we actually undertook our first holiday in faith. Financially we could not afford to go on holidays, but in 1987 we ventured out in faith with the prayer that the Lord would use the period of holiday in the German village of Tieringen. This facility was heavily subsidised by the German state to enable big families that struggled financially, to go on holiday.
            Tieringen was to become the beginning of the next chapter of our struggle against the atheist Communist regimes. There we met Erwin Klein and his family, who had just come out of Romania legally because of his German forbears. Through them we not only got valuable inside information, but we also got addresses from Christians in that socialist country.
             
            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 Ceauşescu regime quite nervous because their nationals were officially not allowed to have contact with foreigners.
            Believers from different church backgrounds were linked to various mission organizations.  We could gradually understand why God asked us to stay in Zeist, our ‘Jerusalem’, that is more or less in the middle of the country. Parcels with clothing and articles that were scarce in that country, were sent to different addresses supplied to us by Sina Klein. Our ‘clothing depot’ came in handy with the Goed Nieuws Karavaan funding the postage. Another source of income for this project was people ‘buying’ clothes (Often some of the clothes ‘bought’ were back in the ‘boutique’ after a few weeks, ready for resale or to be sent to some foreign country.) For some Dutch believers who never before considered wearing used clothing, this was a new experience in good stewardship.
            Clandestine visits to Romania followed hereafter from different parts of Holland. Various organisations that brought aid to the Communist world intensified their aid to Romania although this apparently was not formally decided. This was seemingly part of God’s master plan to break down the Communist stronghold.
            The rest is history. When Michail Gorbachov took over as the leader in the Kremlin, God had evidently put the right man in place for the season. It was fitting that the avalanche towards the removal of the Berlin wall in November 1989 and the final demise of Communism all started with Anne van der Bijl of Open Doors offering one million Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church on the occasion of their 1000 year commemoration.
            The battle was however far from over with the Orthodox Church’s acceptance of the gift of Bibles to which Gorbachov and his cronies surprisingly agreed. The praying Christians around the world knew of course that this had been painstakingly prepared, bathed in prayer.[35] George Otis (The Last of the Giants, 1991:49) described the cause of the miracle of Eastern Europe in 1989-90 aptly: ‘With so many intercessors having petitioned God faithfully with respect to the burden of Communism, the circumstances were reminiscent of the Israelites’ crying to Jehovah during the Egyptian captivity.’ 
            Another part of my involvement with the Communist world got linked to the apartheid wall through the prayer movement in Holland. At the prayer meetings of the ‘Regiogebed’, with Christian participants from different church backgrounds we prayed for local issues, for missionaries who left from our area, but also for countries. In 1989 we prayed especially for Communist countries, notably for the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Romania. We were really encouraged by the news that came through from East Germany. Christians there seemed to be at the forefront of the surge towards real democracy.          
            When I was invited to give pastoral assistance to the other participants on a ‘touring bus’ Romania in November 1989, Nikolai Ceausescu and his clan was still firmly in command. The bus was almost empty in terms of passengers, but loaded with Bibles other Christian literature and material goods for the persecuted Christians of the iron curtain. Because I was unemployed at the time of the offer, I initially declined the invitation on moral grounds. I had just acquired a more advanced Dutch Mathematics teaching diploma, hoping that this would at last give me a permanent position after more than 8 years of uncertainty with regard to employment. I felt that it was my first duty to feed my family and not to do pastoral duties on a bus to Communist countries. It was an open secret of course that this was not normal tourism. The other reason for my declining the invitation was that I possessed a South African passport. After my experiences in East Berlin, I did not want to endanger the rest of the group.
            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 was all but dashed.
            On the other hand, doors started to open up towards the mission field.  
                       
Movement on the Mission Front
As a couple Rosemarie and I kept praying for a ‘door’ to open to some African country.  . But nothing opened up.  Rosemarie and I had been attending the annual mission day of the Evangelical Alliance regularly, first in Amsterdam and from 1989 in the little town of Barneveld. Year after year we went there hoping that the door to foreign missions would open up. When we went to Amsterdam in 1988 we had actually given up the possibility to enter missionary work. Our eldest son Danny was about to enter secondary school and there were four more to follow. When Tabitha, our youngest, would be finished with her education I would be almost at pension age. On top of it, it seemed as if hardly any mission agency would prepared to accept a family with five children.
            In Amsterdam I nevertheless took along a leaflet from Africa Inland Mission (AIM) that struck me. They were looking for teachers at their boarding school for the children of missionaries in Kenya. The “door” suddenly opened for the first time. When we spoke to the representatives of AIM, they encouraged us, even seeing other possibilities for us with my training and background. The only problem was my South African passport. But seeing that I had been in Holland so long, they suggested that I should apply for a Dutch passport.
            This was however easier said than done. The problem that I would then have to apply for a visa to visit my parents and my home country did not even enter my mind at that stage. My main problem was the feeling of cutting off my own roots. It had been traumatic already that not only our home and school church in District Six had been razed to the ground, that my high school in Vasco suffered the same fate because of the Group Areas Act and that our home in Tiervlei/Ravensmead had to be vacated under the guise of slum clearance. Would I now also have to lose citizenship of the country I love so dearly?
            I nevertheless buried my pride and inner turmoil, sensing that a step of obedience was required. We had been praying all the years for the possibility to return to Africa for missionary work. How could I opt out now?
                        *                      *                      *                                 
            A few months later God had the opportunity to confirm the move in a sovereign way. It all started when our black and White TV that we had bought in Berlin in 1975, packed up just prior to the Olympic Games of 1988. When the apparatus starting giving trouble, we decided not to replace it. The pending Olympic Games were however something we thought that could also have some educational value for our children. Our quest after a second hand model from the newspaper resulted us agreeing to take one on loan via a befriended family from their aged mother who was not using it much in the old age home. We agreed that we would keep it only for the duration of the Olympic Games.
            When a letter arrived from The Hague regarding my application for Dutch citizenship, they also mentioned an administration fee of 400 guilders. This was occurring just at a time - the only occasion during our 14 years in Holland - when our banking account was in the red, although we had been scraping the barrel for the bulk of our time there.
            Rosemarie and I went to the Lord with the letter. I still had the turmoil in my heart, really struggling with the prospect of having to give up my South African citizenship. 
            God intervened in a clear way when the befriended family that was struggling themselves financially, wanted to give us 800 guilders. I was overawed that God sent in double the amount we needed! It turned out that the husband, who brought the money, was actually using it as a test on the evangelical Christians. He came to fetch the TV of his mother, but he and his wife decided to give us money so that we could buy a new set. He did not know that we had been praying for confirmation with regard to the money for my Dutch citizenship. He was just as surprised when I showed him the letter. He agreed that we could use the money for that purpose and other more urgent needs.[36]
            I was reassured at the same time to see that God was in the move of my having to hand in my S.A. passport.
 .

12. A year of Struggle - and victory


            1988 ended oh so hopeful. After so many temporary teaching posts in Holland, I really yearned to settle down. By November 1988 I had an updated secondary Maths teaching certificate in my pocket and I was on the verge of getting an even higher qualification in which subject. I had no intention of continuing academic studies as such, but the idea of venturing into missions was somehow blocked out. The prospect of having a home of our own in the picturesque little town of Huizen with a permanent teaching post in the offing all but eliminated my vision for missions. I finally got a teaching position in Huizen, a position that could become permanent. Also there was the option of a nicely situated house to rent. After all the dark years of employment uncertainty and scores of applications - plus the church breathing down our neck to move out of the former parsonage - light at last seemed to break through.  I definitely needed another ‘Jonah experience’ to get me back on track.
             
            The year 1989 started with turmoil. Every Saturday evening Martje van Dam had been coming to us with Gré Boerstra, another believer from the Panweg for a time of prayer. We had been doing this regularly with our neighbours, the old brother and sister Rapparlié till they went to an old age home. But Martje, who had survived the death sentence of breath cancer for almost 11 years, was now terminal.
            We have a family tradition to wake the birthday boy or girl early in the morning by singing the prayer of Martin Luther “Führe ihn (sie) O Herr und leite...” [Guide o Lord and lead him (her)]. When we followed the meaningful ritual for our eldest son Danny on the 4th of February we had no clue of the multiple double blow that was going to hit our family that day. First of all the news came through that Martje van Dam passed away. But we knew that this could happen any day.
            We were not prepared for it when a phone call from Mühlacker informed us that Papa Göbel died in his car after he had a heart attack. Yet, information that came through the next few days comforted us. For years we had prayed that he would return to the Lord. At a family camp the whole family committed their lives to Jesus, but thereafter he gradually backslid because he had no spiritual nourishment. It was very special when our dear Mama told us that he carried in his wallet (that was found in his pocket at his death) the letter that Rosemarie wrote to him just before our wedding, asking him to attend. Even though he did not attend our wedding, he evidently treasured that letter.
            As if all of that was not enough, we heard that a close friend from our church, Els van Wingerden, had been diagnosed with breath cancer. To the Van Wingerden family we had quite close ties not only because they had five children of similar age than our sprouts. They had come out of the Reformed church with similar battles as we had and because Hans, the husband, was ill with a serious heart problem, they were also battling financially all the time.  Children’s clothing was shared to and fro between the two families.
            But that was not the end of the calamities. As I travelled from school in Huizen with a teacher colleague, I heard from him that my teacher predecessor wanted to return to the secondary school.
 It was just the time when the decision on my probationary three months was to expire. I could not compete, because I did not belong to the right church. Actually I was also still struggling to cope in the Dutch teaching environment. Of course, being in a foreign country in a situation of unemployment also makes one vulnerable. The odds were stacked against me. Yet, I now at least I had a modern Dutch Mathematics teaching diploma, hoping to have an upgraded one in a few months. The Lord used this circumstance to throw us back to our first love.
             
            Because our mother could not drive, she was ready to donated to us their car. Alternately, we could get the equivalent in cash. We opted for the latter because an Opel Cadet would not have suited our family needs - we needed something bigger! Because Mama Göbel was about to visit us soon hereafter, we felt pressurized. We did something that we knew one should never do, i.e. buying a second-hand car in a rush. We felt great having a car that was not so old, but the Daihatzu mini-bus broke down on the very first outing with Mama Göbel. We had so many problems with that vehicle that we sold it back to the garage - at a big loss of course!
                                    *                                  *                                  *
I received 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.
            I had forgotten that I had applied for Dutch citizenship in order to get to the African mission field. I had to come to grips that all the disappointments were the sum total of my Jonah experience. I was running away from my calling.
            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 to President De Klerk, the new president, after I sensed an inward conviction 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, sure that my letters would never reach the likes of Mr. P.W. Botha. I persevered nevertheless, but after 1982 the letters became very sparse compared to the years 1978-80.
            The ‘regiogebed’ that we started in our area of Holland in August 1988, congregated every first Thursday of the month for a prayer meeting. At our 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 South Africa. That was the only occasion when we did it in that way.
            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 of the suicidal direction of the political system.[37]
            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. There had always been individuals from evangelical ranks who had given support, but the lead from the Evangelische Omroep was very ambiguous. Some people even perceived the Dutch evangelical radio station as being supportive of apartheid. There was somehow the idea still going 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.
            However, I harvested enemies by criticising the unjust economical 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. To some evangelicals I was derogatorily regarded as an ecumenical. The latter grouping was usually not favourably inclined to evangelicals. I was ‘sitting on the fence’ in their eyes but I was not ashamed of it because I derived my views from the Bible.
                                    *                                  *                                  *
            Ever since an old German couple, the Scheunemanns, were sleeping in our home as guests of the Rapparliés, our downstairs neighbours in Zeist, we had been receiving Weltweit, the German two-monthly newsletter of WEC International. After we had read there about a family camp to be held in the little town of Braunfels, we decided to book in faith. We had no money for such luxuries as holidays at that stage, but we definitely needed a break. The Lord provided miraculously.
            We had hardly arrived there, when the news came that Rosemarie’s mother had a stroke, that she was committed to hospital. This was thus only a few months after her father had passed on. Rosemarie left by train for Mühlacker, starting a period in our life that would require more visits to her mom, but it also brought WEC into focus as a possible mission agency with which we could work, although we still had AIM as a back burner if I would get my passport the next year, i.e. 1990. At our application for Dutch citizenship the letter stated that I had to reckon with a two-year waiting period.
            After the family camp in Braunfels, we visited Lienzingen for our annual visit to the family, this time having to visit Mama Göbel in hospital.
            On the Sunday late afternoon just prior to our return to Holland, I rushed back to Lienzingen, driving through a red traffic light. The flash was ominous. Would they haunt me in Holland. Being in our precarious financial situation, I felt very bad about it. A few years prior to this I had to pay a fine of 100 German marks for a similar offence.

A dispute turning into a blessing
As we drove from Lienzingen back to Holland Rosemarie and I were involved in a subdued dispute that had been a cause of a lot of anxiety and tension in the family - my Mathematics studies. I also had responsibility in our church congregation apart from leading the Goed Nieuws Karavaan, there was little time for the family. I was now qualified for Dutch schools, but I was considering to add another year to upgrade my teaching diploma that would give me more options for getting permanent employment.
            We agreed that I would only do that extra year if God would give us a volunteer who would take responsibility for the driving of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan vehicle to the various children’s clubs of Zeist. For the very same evening the Friday evening ‘coffee bar’ outreach was scheduled. Harmen Pos came there especially to tell me that God had laid on his heart to take over the driving of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan. He became not only the chauffeur of the vehicle but also the maintenance man. Harmen cared for the missionary truck like his baby until we sold the blessed evangelistic tool in 1991 just before our going full-time into missions.

                                    *                                  *                                  *
            October 1989 was to become one of the very special months in our lives. We were challenged in October 1989 when Marry Schotte of WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ) shared in Barneveld about a mission school in Vavoua (Cote I’voire) where they needed teachers. Their need seemed geared to what I could offer. In the school for the children of missionaries, they had departments for Dutch and German children. The common language of the school is English. I could teach Maths - for which they indeed had a vacancy - in all three languages.
            I hardly had opportunity to digest this challenge when our friend Bart Berkheij phoned with the request whether I could join him on a trip to Mali at the end of January 1990. All expenses would be paid for him and a friend, to go and wind up things where he had stayed with his family. We had a close friendship to Bart even before he got married. A special bond developed between his late wife Ruth and Rosemarie. The two were pregnant almost at the same time when we had our three youngest children. We empathised with the Berkheij family as they struggled for many years to go through all sorts of preparations until they could finally go to Mali. And then there was the terrible shock when Bart lost Ruth in a car accident in 1988. They had been in Mali only for a very short time!
            I declined Bart’s invitation to join him initially because I was still unemployed. It was very attractive to get a feeling of West Africa in the light of our own preparations to go to Cote d’Ivoire. However, I found it ethically incorrect to plan this while I was still hoping to get a teaching post. Everything looked cut and dried when I heard that someone else was going to join him on his trip to Mali.

Invitation for a bus trip to Romania 
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 join a bus trip to Romania with all costs paid. I would be required 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. But there was also another hurdle - my possession of a South African passport. I was uneasy about the invitation after my experiences every time I had to cross a border into East Berlin.
         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.

         I had hardly returned from Romania, when Bart Berkheij approached me a second time 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 WEC mission school of Vavoua where I hoped to go and teach.

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 the various 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 deemed it important to relay this to the national radio station. We were ‘in the news’. What a special item! The idea 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 privileged to take clothing to a local address. That we did 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! Even though none of us could speak a language known to them and none of them could speak a West European language, we experienced a special kind of fellowship. The gesture that Christians in the West have not forgotten them, made their day!
            The trip ended traumatic. At the border the sentries used the inspection of the film of 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 that people from our group were involved with the clandestine activities. They extracted enough information - using a search that included the underclothing 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 only 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.
            While we were in Romania, something significant had happened. We missed the television viewing of the breaking down of the Berlin wall. In Romania it was of course not shown on the state TV.

Rebellion in Romania
It was something of a consolation when we heard soon thereafter that there was rebellion in Romania. Demonstrations in the city of Timişoara were triggered by the government-sponsored attempt to evict Laszlo Tõkés, an ethnic Hungarian pastor, accused by the government of inciting ethnic hatred. Members of his congregation surrounded his apartment in a show of support.
At this time I was working part-time at the East Europe Mission for 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 got to a critical stage, Tineke Zwaan, one of our Goed Nieuws Karavaan co-workers, phoned us with the suggestion 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, 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 up at that point in time to pray for the Communist stronghold to crumble. Within a matter of days, the dictator Ceaucescu’s days were counted.
            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, because movements were already afoot to get me more deeply involved with the next wall: Islam. 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 join him to go to Mali, on condition that he would join me to Cote I’voire. In the latter country I wanted to explore the situation at the mission school where I hoped to go and teach.
            The experience during this trip was so encouraging that I was highly motivated to return.

Come over and help us. 
Back in Holland after the trip to West Africa in February 1990, there were quite a few letters awaiting me, two of which were challenges to new areas of ministry. Bart Berkheij and I had considered starting jointly with a European base for a missionary venture to Islamic countries, using telephone directories. The letter from the headquarters of the organisation in the USA invited me to come over so that they could meet me and discuss things.
            Most of all I was surprised that Rosemarie was especially tense about my response to another letter. Out of the blue there was a hand-written letter from a friend from our Tiervlei/Ravensmead days, Pietie Orange. There was not much in his letter in terms of contents, 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 all the different missionary opportunities, I was completely confused. The experiences in West Africa especially were still fresh in my mind. For years the doors to mission services seemed to remain closed and now there appeared to be more than one door wide open. What 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 as she sensed that I perceived it as a sacrifice to be in Europe. Through my ‘Joseph experience’ the Lord had by now thoroughly dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. I was prepared to serve Him anywhere in the world and quite willing never to return to South Africa on a permanent basis if that was the confirmed divine guidance.
            With Campus Crusade for Christ I had started to do some voluntary work in Holland along with Bram Krol. Also from there we were challenged to join their full-time team.
            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. I was nevertheless shattered to some extent when a negative reply came from there. The age and number of our children militated against such a venture.
            In his faithfulness the Lord intervened by way of a phone call from Dick van Stelten a missionary in the little town of Josini in South Africa near to the Mozambican border, inviting us to come and take over their work.
            Through a process of elimination we had been guided to WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ). Jacob and Emmy Spronk, the Dutch WEC leaders, were very supportive that we should go and explore the work in Northern Natal to see if the Lord confirmed it. Perhaps it could become a new venture of WEC.[38] After all the trips of the previous months, we hardly had liberty to share our vision with other Christians to visit South Africa on orientation. Gradually every hurdle was taken as we decided to take our eldest and youngest children along on the journey into the unknown.

Into a culdron?
We were really tested as we prayed about going to work in Northern Natal. In a TV programme on Dutch TV the reporter mentioned that Natal at that time was worse than Lebanon and Northern Ireland put together. Was this the sort of situation we wanted to take our children to?
            In obedience to the Lord we nevertheless started to plan a visit South Africa. In Pretoria we were going to visit  the Lugthardts, a Dutch missionary couple linked to the Dorothea Mission. From there we would somehow get to Josini. Miraculously, sufficient funds came in to book our tickets and pay the fares without having to get into debt or approach anybody. We were so happy to see how the Lord was teaching us to live by faith. In fact, we also needed the fares for the ferry to take us plus our car from Holland to England for our Candidates’ Course. The Lord supplied so wonderfully!   
            Pretoria anno 1990 was still very much an apartheid bastion. 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. In the morning we attended the church of Shadrach Maloka in Garankuwa just outside of Pretoria.
            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 a slip disk at the morning service. They wanted me to preach in the evening. Rosemarie however gave me thumbs down after my first sermon draft. The old carnal activist had resurfaced. The Lord gave me grace to serve without any resentment. Heavens did not come down. The church had possibly not only someone of colour attending, but also one on their pulpit!
            In a wonderful way transport was supplied for us to get to Josini. We were given a ‘bakkie’, a car-like vehicle with one seat. Our two children could sit under a canopy at the back. We could return the vehicle to one of the children of the Van Stelten children in Durban who was only too happy to have transport to go home for Christmas.
            In Josini it was clearly confirmed that we were not called to serve in Ubombo, a school for Zulu children. However, when we joined the conference of WEC in Durban it was as if we arrived home. Even though we did not know anybody, we had a great sense of belonging. This was the ideal preparation for our candidates’ orientation at Bulstrode in England soon after our return from South Africa.
A few incidents could have marred our stay there. The most serious of them was when I was heavily attacked after having written a rather innocent draft letter to the State President, Dr Mangosuthu  Buthulezi and Mr Nelson Mandela, who had been freed earlier in the year. The gist of the letter was a suggestion to make a common state of reconciliation on the 16th of December, a public holiday that was very divisive at the time. (The Day of the covenant basically commemorated the victory of the Boers over the Zulus in 1838 after Dingaan had killed Piet Retief and many other Voortrekkers after deceiving them). An older WEC missionary whom I had approached for advice saw in my activity 'political involvement'. (Just prior to our enquiry WEC had been turning down another prospective missionary who had been blatantly supportive of apartheid, with close links to the Defence League, a fringe right-wing Christian organisation.) WEC would not engage in overt anti-apartheid activity.
            Also in Cape Town things fell in place when we heard that the Group Areas Act was about to be scrapped. A visit to a couple who had their son at the German school looked promising, a possibility for the schooling of our children at a possible return to the country. We got ready to return there at the beginning of 1992 with a role in representative work and possibly for evangelistic work among students.
           




[1] I was actually sexually abused twice - by a gangster and a vagrant - on the unfulfilled promise respectively of payment of sixpence and a shilling (These were the equivalent of 5 cents and 10 cents respectively when our currency became decimal in 1960)

[2] The annual celebration of the revival among the children of Herrnhut on the 17 August, 1727.
[3]      The only other institution in the vast Cape Province – Bridgton Training College in Oudthoorn – only catered for males.
[4]    As I had passed first class - that today would not count much because it meant merely passing with a C aggregate - I qualified for a bursary from our school. (That I was one of the top students countrywide, one of only 36 candidates who had C aggregates, reflects on the poor quality of teaching at the ‘Coloured’ schools countrywide. We had only one good teacher - Mr. Awie Muller, who was actually still inexperienced. In later years he became the Driector of Education for ‘Coloured’ schools.

[5] He had been the principal of Vasco High School that was closed down because it was in a White residential area, continuing as Elswood Senior Secondary School. In 1964 he had pioneered a new high school in Bellville South.
[6] The first group of German (Special) students, my student colleagues of 1965, included many who later became school inspectors and top academics. One of them, Jakes Gerwel, later became the Rector of the University whom President Mandela chose to become his close aid in the first ANC government. Tony Links went to high honours until he finally became the Registrar of the prestigious University of South Africa, UNISA.
[7] Marriage across the racial divide was barred since 1949. My cousin Hester, who married Tubby Lymphany, an English marine sailor from the Simon’s Town naval base around 1950, was one of a few people of colour who was forced to emigrate.
[8]               Approximtely 1,5 Km.
[9] Nic Bougas later became the editor of the periodical Christian Living Today.
[10] Tony Links later became a Professor at UWC and his brother Dr Eltie Links, another teacher colleague at Bellville South High School, later became the South African Representative to the International Monetary Fund for many years.
[11] In the early 1990s Dave Savage became the principal of the Chaldo Bible Institute, the theological seminary of the Full Gospel Church.
[12]             I studied the latter language by correspondence with UNISA, intending to write the exams in Cape Town after my return in October 1970.
[13]My parents were paid out a pittance our property that consisted of 8 big adjacent plots. A few years later a shopping centre was erected on the premises.
[14]The course for ‘Erzieherinnen’ qualifies one to become either a Kindergarten teacher or a tutor for a chil­dren’s        home.
[15]     I wrote down a fairly full account of these two weeks soon after my return to South Africa.
[16]             About R260 return from Johannesburg.
[17] Robert Kriger later became active in anti-apartheid affairs from Germany. He completed his doctorate in Engllish in Tübingen. Subsequently he became a professor at UNISA.
[18] We visited Douglas Bax and his wife Betty on our honeymoon journey in Umtata, where he was teaching at the time and in 1981 I preached in his church in Rondebosch. At the latter occasion I also informed the congregation after the service on what had been happening in Crossroads.
[19]             We know of at least one person who was approached to spy on the activities at the Seminary. I gave private lessons in German to a teacher who told me that he had been approached by the Special Branch. One of their agents must have been monitoring the premises constantly to have noticed that this teacher was coming there because he only came irregularly, only once or twice a week.
[20]     At a public meeting in the Rondebosch Town Hall organised by UCT students Helen Joseph was the speaker on ‘Civil Rights for all’. While Geoff Budlender was chairing the meeting, his house was petrol bombed and gutted in his absence.
[21]     Black Power was understood to exclude Whites, Black Conscious­ness was only concerned that Blacks should also have the opportunity of leadership without ever excluding Whites as such. The concern in the latter was also that no racism in reverse should occur.  
[22]     Elke Maier brought Rosemarie to the Jugendbund für Entschiedenes Christentum, the Christian Encounter youth group where we met each other the first time.
[23]     Peter Dingemans, a Moravian pastor colleague in Zeist was out of action 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, our other lecturer, also had the same disease. (Henning’s first wife whom I never got to know, had also died from brain cancer) The daughter Monica had already passed away while we were still in Berlin and it looked a matter of time before Andreas would go the same road. In this atmosphere it was all gloom; tears were flowing freely.
[24]     A fuller record of that trip can be found in Involuntary Exile.
[25] As Christians we have been referring to the Hebrew Bible as the 'Old Testament', a term Jews consider denigrating. I try to avoid the term because of the substituting connotations. It somehow creates the impression that the New Testament (NT) more or less replaced the 'Old Testament'. For lack of a better term (Jewish scholars sometime refer to the NT as Christian Scriptures, but that terminology does not sound to me accurate enough), I continue to use NT.
[26]     ‘zieltjes winnen’ in Dutch has a negative connotation in Dutch and giving one’s testimony is known as ‘getui­gen’. Jehovah’s Witnesses are also known as J’s ‘Getuigen’.
[27]     I thought to have discerned some influence of Honger na Geregtigheid when I read about an open letter that Dr Boesak wrote to Dr Schlebusch, a Cabinet Minister. Later he openly clashed with Bishop Tutu because of the willingness of the Anglican bishop to continue talking to Prime Minister Botha.
[28]     I had vocalised an objection when someone approached me to assist with the translation of parts of a biographical TV documentary about Allan’s life on the German ZDF. I could not detect the evangelist Allan Boesak of his youth in the script. I may have angered him extremely when he possibly preferred to keep that part of his past out of the limelight.

[29]     Travelling by air was still out of bounds for the rank and file mortal in financial terms. The church paid my ticket.
[30]     Kgati Sathekge later went to the USA where he was pivotal in drumming up opposition against the apartheid regime.
[31]     I gave this finally as a gift to my parents on their Golden Wedding Anniversay. A Dutch friend edited it substantially, calling it Involuntary Exile.
[32]     Translation: A christian church (congregation) must orientate itself to christ and his word on the one hand and on the other hand she must face the problems of our time squarely  
[33]             Translation: Love drive out fear
[34]Annelies was the sister of Lesley Reiziger, to whom we had contact even before he and his wife Wil, a medical doctor, left for Ghana with their son Samuel as Wycliffe missionaries.
[35] God had evidently already heard the agonising prayer of the persecuted believers long before 1984, the start of the seven years of prayer. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December, 1979 started the downward spiral. Riots in 1980 in the city of Alma Ata. Between 1980 and 1984 many Kremlin old guard stalwarts died viz. Kosygin, Brezhmev, Podgorny, Andropov Ustinov and Chernenko
[36]     Soon hereafter we bought a second hand TV for 50 guilders that we left in Holland when we came to South Africa in 1992.
[37]     I do not want to minimize the political efforts, e.g. by the moves behind the scenes sponsored by the Swiss government or by Dr van Zyl Slabbert’s IDASA, but I maintain that it was ultimately the concerted prayer that made the difference.
[38] My mother was to have turned 80 at the end in that year and the golden wedding anniversary of my parents shortly thereafter.

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