Monday, March 7, 2016

Into the Light Foreigners changed at the Cape December 2016

Into the Light
-         Short Stories of Foreigners Changed at the Cape

You are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
(1 Peter 2:9)


1.      A North African Berber impacted 
2.      I felt like a Bird in a Cage
3.      A Street Child becomes a Missionary
4.      My Father was a Diplomat
5.      My Mother was no more…
6.      A Bicycle 'Taxi Driver' starts following Jesus
7.      God delivered me from Drugs

Excerpts from Moravian History showing how exiles were divinely used.
The plight of refugees is very much a current topic of discussion, but it is not a new issue. The Israelites were repeatedly admonished in the Bible to be hospitable to strangers. I would like to suggest that the presence of refugees should be regarded as both a challenge and an opportunity.
Within his historical context Abraham is specifically mentioned as a stranger in various places in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 12:10; 17:8; 20:1). Isaac (Genesis 26:3), Jacob (Genesis 32:4), Joseph (Genesis 37ff), Moses (Exodus 2:15ff) and Nehemiah were also spoken of in a similar manner. In fact, it can be argued with substance, that for David and Moses, their years as refugees served as a training ground for later service. In the case of Joseph and Daniel they assumed high office in their host countries. Daniel had the special distinction of serving with aplomb under three different rulers. The refugee status of baby Jesus and his parents should also fill us with compassion towards all refugees. And he was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:15 as fulfilment of Hosea 11:1)
The Israelites were strangers (refugees) in Egypt. God reminded them repeatedly of this fact, and precisely because they were oppressed during that time, they were expected to act in the opposite spirit and be hospitable to foreigners. Leviticus 19:33,34 includes the astounding verse “Love the stranger as you love yourself”. If the foreigner/stranger is destitute, he should be supported and shown hospitality (Leviticus 25:35).
The Hebrew Scriptures clearly demonstrate how foreigners became a blessing to the people of God. The prime example in this regard was Joseph, who was an Egyptian in the eyes of his brothers, when he reminded them of their God and the God of their forefathers.
God also used other nations to chastise the ‘apple of His eye’, the Israelites, when they strayed from Him. God wanted His people to be a blessing to the nations. The Bible does not teach the notion of the ‘New Testament’ Church as a replacement, as a spiritual Israel. The inference is nevertheless correct that Israel is the example to the Church. The body of Christ should therefore also be a blessing to the nations.
At the time of Pentecost, after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Jews from many nations, including Central Asia, were in Jerusalem. They were coming from the Diaspora (the dispersal/scattering). The Assyrians and later the Babylonians had scattered the Jewish people into surrounding nations, and took them into captivity. We may assume that many of the newly converted Jewish believers took the Gospel with them to places like Damascus and Babylon, after that special Pentecost event.
The subsequent persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1) possibly caused the biggest explosion of missions in history.  It is noteworthy that this persecution in the first century was the main catalyst for the spread of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This severe persecution, together with the Babylonian exile, prepared Jews to become vagabonds for the Lord. The Gospel broke through geographic, racial and nationalist barriers. Philip, in obedience to the divine command, immediately went to the Gaza desert where he met the Ethiopian finance minister (Acts 8:27), who in turn pressed ahead and brought the Gospel to Africa. The Cypriot, Barnabas, became a leader in the church at Antioch; along with two Africans, Simon the Black and Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13:1). From Antioch the Gospel reached different parts of the known world.
South Africans need to be reminded that the first colonists caused a situation of moral degradation. This condition was opposed and corrected by the arrival of the pious refugee French Huguenots in 1688. These new colonists brought with them spiritual correction at a time when alcoholism, corruption and immorality were rife among the opportunist Dutch and early German colonists. On the other hand, British-background compatriots may be reminded that one of the 1820 settlers was the prayerful Rev. Andrew Murray, whose sons also played a special positive role in the second half of the 19th century in the Cape Colony.  The Scottish Rev. Andrew Murray and his sons blessed this nation immensely, along with so many other missionaries from Europe and North America. Conversely, Andrew Murray (jr.) received a large portion of his spiritual empowerment from the Lord when he lived in the Western Cape. From here his thoughts, notably those on revival and prayer, fertilized the lives of believers across the globe via his many books.
To bring us up to date with the recent past, some of us witnessed – albeit often unawares – how prayerful Angolan and Congolese refugees helped to change the moral face of the suburb Woodstock for the better in the early 1990s when gangsterism and prostitution were still rife there.
            The philosophy and approach of the NPO Friends from Abroad stem from my personal experience and journey. Having been an embittered and angry anti-apartheid activist in exile, I became a returnee filled with hope.
            Back in Holland I was impacted and blessed by Hein Postma, a Dutch follower of Jesus who was the principal of the Moravian school in Zeist where we lived. He corrected me through his insightful, loving and positive criticism of my activist manuscript Honger na Geregtigheid (Hunger after Justice).
I returned to South Africa with my family in January 1992. My vision evolved during this time of exile, into one of hope and prayer. I was ready to be used in a similar way as God had used Hein Postma in my life. Back in my home country I wanted to be a blessing to foreigners.
I have also learned how great personalities impacted the countries where they were taken to involuntarily. In an appendix in this booklet I include a summary of contributions of the Moravian refugees and a few prominent Christian exiles, like Bishop Amos Comenius, who had to leave their home country.
During my own exile I was privileged to play some role in combating the darkness of the apartheid heresy from abroad. In my insatiable hunger for biblically-based justice we continue to fight religious hypocrisy, most clearly evident in the treatment meted out to Christians who have come from a Muslim background. The last few years this advocacy has focused on injustices perpetrated against foreigners by Home Affairs officials.
Various individuals nudged me to compile testimonies of foreigners who have been influenced in their faith struggle here in South Africa. One of those persons who requested this was the late Manfred Jung, who was the national co-ordinator of CCM (Christian Concern for Muslims). My wife, Rosemarie, was the other main encourager for me to compile these stories of people who became followers of Jesus.
Some of the impact these foreigners experienced has been through the ministry of Friends from Abroad here in Cape Town. We concentrate in this treatise on foreigners, but have included one testimony of a local believer who experienced personally that ‘whom the Son sets free is free indeed’ (John 8:36). This lady came into the light from the dark enslavement of drug addiction.
The above biblical references form the basis of the theological framework of the agency Friends from Abroad that was started in Cape Town in 2007. These references are excerpted from the chapter, “Jesus, the Homeless: A Refugee as a Baby and a Vagabond as an Adult in my unpublished manuscript “A Goldmine of another Sort - Southern Africa as a base for Missionary Recruitment”. This treatise, as well as other material that I have written, can be accessed at

I wish to record my sincere gratitude to to our missionary colleague Leigh Telli who did the painting for the front cover of this book and to Ms Donnelly McCleland of Incontext Ministries who edited the document. Similarly we want to express special thanks to Ms Gay French for the final proofreading and for writing the lines on the back cover. I am likewise very thankful for our son son-in-law Mike Mee for the lay-out of the book

I pray that this booklet might bless and challenge many readers at this time. Xenophobia and a negative view of foreigners, and refugees in particular, seems to be growing. Let us fight this scourge.

Cape Town, March 2017

1. A North African Berber impacted 
I come from a village close to the Atlas Mountains, stemming from a large, very close family of eight siblings. I have a very good relationship with every member of my family. Ours was a typical tribal, somewhat poor family. Yet, personally I never lacked anything materially.
            With regard to religion I was probably slightly above average in practicing Islam. We had lessons in Islam at school until standard 9 (grade 11), during which one learnt about the Koran (Qur’an) and tradition. I fasted during the month of Ramadan until university. Thereafter I started to rebel somewhat against doctrine and practices of Islam. I tried to speak to Allah, but he never showed up. I started investigating other philosophies at the university. My last of these books, by Friedrich Nietzsche, the German atheist, I later burned in the Cape suburb of Monte Vista.
At first I wanted to go to France, but this turned out to be rather difficult. When some of my Algerian Berber friends went to South Africa, this country came to the fore.
I arrived in South Africa in November 2003. I had been living for four months in the suburb of Sunnyside, Pretoria, when I got terribly homesick. I was seriously considering returning home to Algeria! At that point a friend suggested that I should visit Cape Town before flying home. I agreed, coming to the Cape, where literally a new chapter of my life started.
I found myself alone in Cape Town, far from the herd, from my beloved Berber brothers from Algeria. I did not have a job and my savings were disappearing slowly. I was unable to speak English properly, and felt very vulnerable. I got involved in a relationship with a British lady not long thereafter. She invited me to church repeatedly but my standard reply was, “No way, I am a Muslim”. In the meantime, she taught me English. As my fluency and vocabulary improved, I found a job as a waiter with Spur.
After persistent invitations, I finally agreed to go to church with my girlfriend. She also gave me a Good News Bible. This was my first English book, which I started to read. After being together with her for nearly six months, she decided to go back to England. Coming from the Berber culture where your friends are so important, I was catapulted into traumatic heartache, nostalgia, loneliness, frustration, anger and more vulnerability!
I continued working as a waiter, and moved into a granny flat in the Cape suburb of Monte Vista. I had some money now but the situation described above caused a vacuum of emptiness in my heart, igniting an intense desire for acceptance and love. In His infinite love and care, God used all this to minister to me. A few of the British woman’s friends, committed Christian people, had become valued acquaintances. They rallied around me, displaying love, care and support. They listened to my story.
Separation from the Berber culture combined with a sense of vulnerability softened my heart. When these Christians invited me to a course called ‘Alpha’, I immediately agreed to attend. This course started every week with a meal during which there was quite a lot of interaction. Spread over several weeks, they explained the whole faith in Jesus Christ. I more or less went through the motions, very determined to remain a Muslim no matter what they did.
Towards the end of the course there was what they call a ‘Holy Spirit weekend.’ We went to the Mispah campsite near Grabouw. By then I was humbled sufficiently to accept the love of Christ. One of the leaders asked me whether he could pray for me. I said “go ahead”, but I thought to myself “You can pray till tomorrow, but I will never leave my faith to become a Christian!” I did not reckon with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The next morning during the time of worship, a strange, warm feeling from within overwhelmed me. I could not stop the tears rolling down my cheeks. I could not understand what was going on as I felt a power come upon me. I went into the nearby bushes on the mountainside where I sobbed uncontrollably as never before in my life. After returning to the group, someone sat down with me, asking after a while whether I wanted to invite Jesus into my heart. With the overwhelming experience fresh in mind, I had no hesitation to agree to follow him in a prayer, whereby I would repeat the words. Later I came to know that this was what was termed ‘the prayer of salvation’. My tears turned into indescribable joy. I was obviously touched by the Holy Spirit.
Thereafter, I started my journey with Christ. One of the first verses from my Good News Bible that impacted me was 1 John 3 verse 7: “Let no one deceive you”. Soon after this special weekend, my friends from Pretoria came to Somerset West. I took the train to visit them. On the train I got into a conversation with a female passenger opposite me. She detected that I had a foreign accent. “Where do you come from?” was the natural question, with the almost axiomatic response to my reply: “Algeria? Then you must be a Muslim.” The lady seemed quite surprised when I said that I had recently become a Christian. I was perplexed by her response: “You must watch out. Even Christians are going to deceive you!” Immediately 1 John 3 verse 7 came to my mind, “Let no one deceive you.”
In Somerset West my friends from Pretoria were very surprised when they saw me. “You have changed so much”, was their conclusion. I knew that it was true. I had become gentle, even to the point of hugging people. Previously, I would never have done something like that.
For quite a few months I surfed on a spiritually ‘high’ wave. I was ‘in the clouds’, so to speak, as I encountered God’s love and enduring presence. However, a spiritual battle was also raging in my mind, soul and emotions. I could not forget the words of the lady on the train: “You must watch out. Even Christians are going to deceive you!” She sowed seeds of doubt in my heart.
I could not deny the Holy Spirit experience, but as I descended from the mountain experience, I began to doubt. To some extent I felt tricked and deceived because I was vulnerable. The Christian belief in the deity of Christ bugged me in particular. I could not accept that Jesus was equated with God. (It had also been deeply ingrained in me that “They did not kill Him and they did not crucify Him... wama kataluhu, wama salabuhu'” This indoctrinated verse from the Qur’an, Surah Nisaa (Women) 4:157, was still ringing in my head.)  I was not aware that I was mixing two Christian doctrines (Islam denies both the death of Jesus on the cross and his divinity.) Many a Muslim can surely identify with my dilemma.
Questions began to form in my mind. My mind was catching up with my emotions as I attempted to understand what had happened. I went to the Goodwood Library to fetch a copy of the Qur’an, the loan of which I would extend repeatedly. In the process, I built up a cordial relationship with one of the library assistants, who must have been a follower of Jesus. Qur’anic objections and strongholds were, however, now raging in my mind. Their weight was at times very heavy, causing an almost constant feeling of depression.
I ultimately concluded that the Christians must have bewitched me. I joined a church near to my home, but I felt very alone there. In that church there were only White people who knew nothing about Islam. There was nobody who displayed any understanding of the spiritual warfare that was going on in my heart. My head felt as though it could burst any moment. I felt so extremely lonely… It would have been great if they could have brought me into contact with believers who could assist me with my doubts and questions.
The fact that I was completely separated from the Muslim world, however, ultimately helped me to grow in Christ. Two Bible verses now played a big role in my spiritual growth. The first one was when I read “The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (Psalm 110:1).  I somehow came to understand something of the mystery of the divinity of Jesus. At the same time, I discerned something in the direction of the Holy Trinity. I trust that I will comprehend more of this as I continue my walk of faith in Christ. 
The issue of different Bible translations was the next problem, which caused a major obstacle. As a Muslim, one hears often that the Bible has been corrupted. The different Bible translations somehow fed this doubt in my heart. Then I ‘discovered’ Galatians 1:8, 9 – “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Light started to break through my darkened soul. I understood that there is after all only one gospel, with attempts made to change or corrupt it (it did not enter my mind at that stage that Islam could be such a distorted gospel). That Bible verse helped me to break free. It was nevertheless a hard and tough walk, but I did not give up – all Glory to my Lord!
One day a missionary from the mission agency Open Doors came to our fellowship. He showed special interest in me when he heard that there was a Muslim background believer in the church. This man introduced me to a pastor. When this pastor said that he had been in Algeria twice, it immediately caught my attention. The subsequent friendship with him took my faith to another level. What a pity that I didn’t meet him earlier, when I was battling so with my doubts and questions!
In closing, I wish to especially address all readers who have come from Islam and who have been converted to become followers of Christ. May I remind you that the spiritual battle between Christ and Islamic principalities has already been won! Take courage to serve Him! I furthermore dearly want the full truth of the Gospel to be brought to my people the bulk of whom is still ignorant of all these things.

2.       I felt like a Bird in a Cage
Tears rolled down my face! Almost a year and a half had passed and I was back in a residential suburb of Cape Town where I had been living in an abusive, religious cage. I now, however, had tears of joy as I looked back over what had transpired in the preceding months. I had been locked in a marriage that was only one in name.
I was born in Zimbabwe, from staunch Muslim Indian-Pakistani parentage.  Subsequently, we moved to two other countries in Southern Africa. I idolised my father who, however, destroyed my innocent, child-like trust, abusing me in different ways.
When I was about 17 years old my father said he would introduce me to a wealthy trader through the process of nikaa, an inspection for marriage purposes. I felt humiliated that a lady had to check if everything was ‘in order’:  I was put on view like an article to be sold. The scrutiny was fortunately rather superficial. Her report to the man was to his satisfaction. A week later I found myself married to a man who had been a complete stranger to me. In no time, I lost all self-respect as I became his slave in every respect.
Soon thereafter, however, I became pregnant, but didn’t know it due to a lack of any sex education. I did not even know that sexual intercourse was the route for babies to be born. I thought that I was getting fat because of food. Five months into the pregnancy I learned of my condition. I sought an abortion of the foetus, but was told that it was too late for this option.
The relationship with my husband, in the aftermath of the birth, was even more traumatic when the baby turned out to be a girl. He desperately wanted a boy to carry his lineage. A nurse assisted me in preventing a further pregnancy. My husband started hitting me when I could not comply with all his whims and wishes, initially in places on my body, which would not display visible scars. Later he even pulled my hair.  How often I heard him shouting: “You are stupid!” I felt so humiliated. He would also abuse me in the presence of our daughter.
My family was not in a position to help me. I talked to my mother about leaving my husband, but she pointed out the financial implications for my daughter and me. This was a catch twenty-two situation. I did not want to expose the child to a life ‘on the street’! I opted to continue to try and endure this terrible life of abuse of various kinds.
One day my husband choked me so badly that I thought I would pass out completely. Thereafter I was scared to death; I felt very much like a bird in a cage, with no way out. I went into a state of constant depression. 
I experienced a degree of relief when our daughter started to attend school. This was at least a way to escape the horrible, cage-like existence at home when I took her to school.  There I was allowed to assist as a volunteer in various ways. That helped me to regain some self-respect.
One day, a friendly gentleman approached me at the school which my daughter attended. I knew that he was a pastor who had an office at the school. He referred to the pink jersey I was wearing, saying that God had showed him that he should pray for a lady in pink. I was deeply moved by this gesture, following him to his office without any hesitation. At that time, I was completely covered in my Muslim garb. Without much ado he said: “Jesus loves you.” A warmth enveloped me as I sensed that this could lead to liberation from my constant misery, but simultaneously there also arose anxiety in my heart. His words ignited a spiritual battle inside me. I was very scared of the consequences of any move towards becoming a follower of Jesus. Even though I was eking out a cage-like existence, at least I had a roof over my head and my husband supplied the means for my daughter and me to survive, physically. I sensed that any change of my faith ‘status’ could lead to a loss of finances and accommodation for my daughter and me. This was bound to result, if I dared to proceed further on the road of becoming a Jesus follower.
The pastor gave my phone number to a female missionary who called me soon thereafter. When we met, I was so glad to be able to talk to someone. After a few informal meetings, I became increasingly interested in knowing more about the Christian faith. However, the fear of becoming destitute and homeless was paramount in my mind. I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, but my decision to become a follower of Christ was still more or less my secret.
I decided to make a prayer ‘deal’. In my prayer I said something like: “Jesus, if you are real, you must give me a home and stability for my daughter.”
The missionary invited me to attend a baptism service where two men, who had been Muslims, would be baptised. I looked forward to attending the baptism event with the Christians. But it was not to be.
On the Sunday afternoon when I should have attended the baptism event, someone told me that my husband was at the local mosque. I decided to go and check if this was the case. I was hardly there when he spotted me entering. He came out of the main auditorium, before I could make my way to the area assigned for the females. I had some difficulty getting one of my shoes from my foot. When he noticed that I still had one shoe on, he got very angry. He shouted at me five times “I divorce you ... I divorce you… I divorce you… You disrespect Allah.” Repeating that three times would have been sufficient for a divorce as this was happening in the presence of an imam
A row ensued between my husband and me as we continued on our way home. I retorted “I have had enough of Islam”. He was immediately ready to respond with “Get your things packed!  You must leave my house immediately! You are stupid!”  He hit me repeatedly when we arrived back home.
After packing some clothes, which we could carry, I left with my daughter. I went to the neighbours, to ask them for some money for the train.
We boarded the train for my ultimate destination, Mitchell’s Plain. I knew that other East African women are living there in a sort of dormitory-type accommodation. As the train neared the end of our journey my daughter and I were almost alone, with a single gentleman in the carriage. The young man looked like a gangster, with tattoos all over his body. He addressed me in Afrikaans. When I explained that I don’t understand the language, he continued in English: “Lady, you look very sad, but you must remember that Jesus loves you!” I burst into tears. He tried to comfort me, as I shared my sad fate … just divorced, and evicted by my husband.
The young man should have alighted at the station just before my destination, but he had decided to accompany us.   At a shop he bought a bread, a cool drink and eggs for us. My daughter was so happy because we had not eaten anything for many hours.  I was a bit overwhelmed and absent-minded by all this, as I made my way to the quarters where the East African females live. But, as we walked up the stairs, I was reminded that I hadn’t thanked the young man appropriately. I ran back for this purpose but he was nowhere to be seen. I also enquired at the shop, but they did not know him. Somebody later suggested that this must have been an angel in disguise. I am actually convinced that this was indeed the case because I felt so specially protected as we walked with him from the train station.
The next day I phoned the female missionary who met me at the school my daughter attended. I had been ducking and diving any contact with her. I am so thankful for her perseverance. I was quite desperate, so I finally accepted an offer of a week’s free accommodation, in a house where there were other people, who had become followers of Jesus.  
There, I experienced so much love that I immediately felt at home. I told the housemother much of my story, including the prayer deal with God. I was so happy that my daughter could go to school with one of the teachers who happened to live nearby. My daughter was clearly very content to live in that house with the other folk.
At the end of the trial week I was about to return to Mitchells Plain when the housemother reminded me of my prayer: “Didn’t you ask God for a home and stability for your daughter? Hasn’t your prayer been answered?”  I felt cornered because I had been feeling so much at home there and my daughter was happier than ever.
The first Sunday thereafter, everybody in the house went to church. I joined them. At the church there were some young girls doing ‘spiritual dancing’. I was shocked. How can one dance in a church? This was so disrespectful! My first thought was: “These girls will surely go to jannam, to hell!” At the first opportunity I shared my shock with the housemother, but she reassured me that this was not the case; the opposite was true because these girls had found peace with God; “they are on their way to heaven.”
Soon thereafter, people prayed with me as I joined an early morning prayer meeting on Signal Hill. There they engaged in prayers of deliverance over me. I also renounced all demonic activity that had been coming from my ancestors. These demons had a big stronghold over me. I attended a weekend ‘breakthrough’ camp. That camp turned out to be a real watershed in my life, a new start to spiritual growth. There I also recognised that I had to forgive my father. This was not easy, but when I could finally do this, there was such a release in my heart that I wanted to jump for joy!
            My daughter also came to faith in our Lord Jesus. In January 2014 both of us were baptised together. I give all honour and glory to God for such a big change in our lives. Spiritually we have grown tremendously. I have been able to share my new faith with so many people!

3. A Street Child becomes a Missionary
As an eight-year-old boy, born in Senegal to Muslim parents, I had hit my brother quite hard on his ear in a fist fight. I really feared the severe, cruel punishment that one could expect for such an offence – one’s legs would be tied together to a stick and then you would be required to sit in the crouched position in the heat of the scorching sun throughout the day for up to six hours, unable to move. To avoid that, I ran away and hid myself in my uncle's car (I had overheard that he was about to go to Mali).
When we stopped in Mali, my uncle discovered me in my hiding place. I got scared and ran away again. I had no clue where to go. But soon enough I learned to take care of myself. I have been on my own ever since. I went to Burkina Faso with a trading truck, where I lived on the street for a few months. I survived by helping traders and assisting on farms. I would get produce, which I would take to a town or village in the area to sell and get some money. I travelled from one country to another on vehicles that carry all sorts of goods. Through the years I travelled across the African continent in this way. I went to Niger and from there to Chad and the Central African Republic, staying in each country only a few months at a time. When I heard about fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I headed there, hoping that I would be ‘free’ at last. Through hard work, I managed to survive on my own. In due course, I learned many languages.

In 1996, I helped a lady to carry her goods, to her home. She asked me where I came from. She was very surprised to hear that I was a Senegalese and that I had no family in the city. Surely, the hand of Allah was on me, she concluded! She and her husband promptly ‘adopted’ me proudly as their oldest son, next to their four daughters. They even put my name forward as their chief heir. My new mom cared for me for four years until I was thirteen years old. She was more than a substitute mother to me. This changed my life. From then until now we are like family. Living with them, I got a new name. Eventually I ended up in Burundi where I linked up with my new mom's relatives. I lived with them thereafter.
I was travelling in a truck that brought goods from Bukavu (DRC) in 1998. Two other female passengers, the driver and I shared the only seat. We had some goods at the back when rebels with guns suddenly appeared in the mountainous area called Ngomo. I sat next to the driver when shots rang out from the hills above us. Both the driver and the two other female passengers were hit. The rebel soldiers used this tactic to rob vehicles containing goods that would pass their way.

I noticed that the truck was out of control. More or less sitting on top of the driver who fell forward, I grabbed the steering wheel as best as I could, trying to keep the vehicle on the road. Thankfully it did not need a clutch to change gears. I noticed that the rebel soldiers were following us on foot. Without any prior driving experience at all, I managed to take the vehicle to the next town, Uvira. There, however, government soldiers waved me to the side of the road. I was so relieved that I could steer the truck into a tree to bring it to a halt. We happened to stop next to the local hospital. There was blood all around me and spectators rushed to the scene, pulling the corpses out of the vehicle.
They took me to the hospital where I was thoroughly checked and X-rayed. There was nothing wrong with me. I had miraculously survived the attack. I sensed that God had spared my life once again in a very special way.

Back in Burundi I heard someone calling ‘Moudou!” (As a boy in Senegal they called me Moudou!) This time it was my uncle who recognised me. Out of ‘nowhere’ this uncle, from whom I had run away in Mali, suddenly appeared in Burundi. He wanted to re-connect me with my family in Senegal, but I told him that I was very happy with my new family. My uncle is an excellent tailor. He remained in Burundi thereafter, and taught me the trade of a tailor.
During this time, I was gradually becoming a very staunch Muslim. When I heard of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia around 2003, I wanted to go there to help the Saudis to live better, according to the guidelines of the Qur’an. I also wanted to help people everywhere in the world to become Muslims.
The house of my new family in Burundi became my home. A close relationship developed with the daughters who I came to regard as my younger sisters. I took a keen interest in their academic progress, since I never attended school myself.

I moved to South Africa in 2009 where I became self-employed.  I came to Cape Town the same year. I stayed in touch with my family, sending them money that I earned as a tailor.

One day I got a phone call from Burundi. My sister was admitted at a hospital due to a serious ailment. Quite promptly, they transferred her to the big hospital in Kigali, in the neighbouring country of Rwanda. My family needed money for an operation. I borrowed R3000 from a good friend for this purpose. I managed to earn some money and was finally able to remit the bulk of my debt.
On 22 June 2013, I was sitting on a bench at the Cape Town station en route to Fish Hoek, worrying about how I could help my sister. I was taking a substantial payment of my debt back to my friend when I saw an old, white man coming towards me. He asked me, “Can I sit?” to which I duly agreed. He then said, “Man of God, don't worry. You have a good heart. Go and send the money to your sister. She needs it and you will be saving her life.” I was shocked, and asked him, “How do you know that I want to send the money to her?” The old man replied, “In your pocket you have R2850 that you want to pay back to your friend. Go and send the money to your sister instead. You are a great man.  I want you to always be obedient to God.” I was so shocked that I could not say anything. Then the man asked, “Can I pray for you?” I said, “Yes, please.” He continued: “I am going to pray in my home language.” After the prayer he said, “You are a blessed man.” I then asked him where he came from. He said “Israel”, showed me his passport and then he left. I immediately proceeded to send the money to my family.
I then took the train to see my American missionary friend. We went to a beach restaurant in Fish Hoek. Before I could explain what happened, she said, “I have something on my mind. The money I lent you is now yours. You don't have to pay me back.” I asked her, “Are you sure about that?” She replied, “Of course, I am”. Then I told her what happened to me at the train station in Cape Town.
A few weeks later, my sister phoned to tell me that she was much better, but she also had something else to tell me. In the hospital, a Christian prayed with her. She decided thereafter, while still in hospital, to become a follower of Jesus (I had also accepted Christ as my Saviour, but I was still keeping that as a secret). Immediately I wanted to know whether our parents knew of her faith decision and how the family reacted. “They were very angry and wanted me to recant! They said that I am not their daughter anymore.” The family stopped paying her fees at boarding school, possibly hoping that she would reconsider. However, my sister stood her ground.

I was very sad to hear that she had to leave the boarding house and that she had not been attending school for a month. I was so happy that I could step in to assist her and thus get her back to school. (I was therefore especially sad to hear recently that the school had to close this year (2015) because of the political turmoil in the country.)
My sister’s decision to follow Jesus was an important nudge for me to go public as well, namely that I too had secretly accepted Jesus as my Saviour.
A few years prior to that, I had been invited to attend a weekly Discovery Bible Study (DBS) where a few young men from different African countries came together once a week to learn more of God's Word. Initially I only went there out of curiosity, regarding it as my religious duty to warn a young Muslim from the Ivory Coast, whom I had taken under my wing. I had a positive opinion about the group, but stopped attending.
At a later stage, the owner of the Soko Market, a shopping complex near to Green Market Square in the city, where we were trading, ordered us to leave. Christian missionaries assisted us in the negotiations. This helped to prolong our trading there. In the wake of this saga, I started taking English lessons with one of the missionaries. Thereafter I also resumed attending the DBS. Gradually I discovered that the Bible, when comparing it to the Qur'an, is true. I also became convinced that Jesus is the Son of God.
Two Christian missionaries had the biggest influence regarding my Christian walk when they taught me English. During these lessons I became hungry to know more about Jesus and the Bible as I witnessed the joy and commitment they displayed through their faith in God.  As I started to hear more about Jesus, God began to reveal himself to me through dreams and encounters with other Christians in the city.
My sister’s courage and the boldness of another believer who had been attending our DBS were important catalysts for me to come out of hiding. I realised later that the Islamic Ummah (community) had kept me in darkness. It had been so comfortable within this group of Muslims who had come to Cape Town from different African countries. Just after Ramadan 2013, the DBS colleague boldly and openly told other Muslims that he became a Christian. I had already secretly decided to follow Jesus. When my Muslim friends confronted me as a group about this decision, I stood my ground, not fearing anything nor anyone. I was baptized together with another brother who came from Islam on December 8, 2013.  I came into the light.
I am so happy that my sister and I now serve the Lord. We started praying that our other siblings and our parents would also become followers of Jesus. I started getting equipped to spread the Good News of God’s love even in other countries. To this end, I attended the Leadership Experience Course (LxP) in Jeffrey’s Bay. That made me even hungrier to know and spread the Good News. Subsequently, the Lord wonderfully opened a door for me to go and study at a Bible School. There I met my fiancée, who also has a heart for mission work. We hope to marry soon and thereafter we hope to serve the Lord together.

4. My Father was a Diplomat
My mother was born and raised in a Christian Catholic family. She married a devout Muslim, and subsequently became a Muslim herself. I was born in Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) as the first-born son from their marriage. 
While I was still small, my younger sister was born. I was about 13 years old when my mom became very sick. She died in Abidjan while being prepared for a transfer to a hospital in Lyon (France).
In that same year, my dad was appointed Cote Ivorian Ambassador in Kinshasha (Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo). There dad married a Ghanaian woman who had two children of her own.
In the meantime, our aunt (my father’s sister) came to care for us in Abidjan. I was suffering and hurting over the fact that I never got to know my mother’s family. When my father was around for a holiday he would take us on trips into the countryside, visiting other family or his friends. He put a man in charge of caring for me almost around the clock. He was called my ‘protocol’.
My father was very protective of his children, afraid that other people could influence us negatively. He also did not want us defiled by ‘the outside world’.  My uncle (my dad’s younger brother) often used this phrase - the outside world – disparagingly. I didn’t know anything about life outside nor could I get to know anything that happened in the world at large. My uncle had the responsibility to drop and collect me from the mosque, liaising with my ‘protocol’.
After getting my BAC (Matric), my uncle applied for me to go and study in LAUSANNE (Switzerland). However, my father and his advisors were afraid and nervous that Christians could possibly influence me there. I finally landed up at a Protestant university in Kinshasa, which had started originally as a theological seminary. For my second year I applied to get into the Boarding School and was duly accepted. I was very aloof in the beginning, viewing the other student colleagues as my enemies. They were not very charitable towards me, a Muslim. All too often, I was the victim of pranks. I remember vividly how a roommate cooked pork. Secretly he mixed cannabis into the food, and gave it to me to eat as a part of the meal.
Over the week-ends I initially went home. In time, however, one of my roommates befriended me. He lured me into drinking, immorality and other mischievous ways. I started avoiding the Friday noon pick up, lying to my stepmother that we had things to do at university. In the mould of the prodigal son, I started abusing the credit card that my father had given me. I enjoyed this new ‘freedom’. In retrospect, I recognise that there was a much better freedom available. Yet, the pseudo freedom I was enjoying with this lifestyle helped me to yearn for more of that, even though I was not a devout Muslim at all.
One day a theological student came to the boarding house on outreach, handing out Gideon New Testaments.  Soon thereafter the same student colleague, who had tricked me with pork, cooked cat meat, this time using the same drug ingredient. This made me sweat profusely. I started paging through the NEW TESTAMENT unwittingly.
Soon thereafter I was back in our room, having just returned from the market, when I found the TV running. My other roommates were chatting in the room next door. With one ear I listened to an evangelical message by a missionary couple who shared the Gospel. I was not consciously watching the TV programme, sorting out the food that I had bought. I picked up how the female preacher challenged viewers to “keep your lamp burning!” The couple also repeated the word REPENTANCE. This caught my attention.
I was somehow glued to the TV message about MATTHEW 25 - the parable of the ten virgins. After a while I switched the TV off and joined the conversation next door with my roommates. The word REPENTANCE was now however resonating in my head.
One day I noticed the theological student colleagues approaching, coming for their weekly outreach. I usually avoided them or sometimes I just conjured up some excuse to leave. This time I walked away, saying that I was going to the mosque. Outside I saw a neighbour. I asked him if I could spend a few minutes with him. I asked him what the word REPENTANCE means, explaining that I had heard it from an evangelist TV couple preaching about the story of the virgins. He said that he thought that it was a Bible story. However, he could not explain it to me. He suggested that I ask those ‘pastors’, the theological students, who might be keen to help me. 
A few days later this neighbour invited me to their church. He told me that he had passed my question to their intercessory group and that they had been praying for me. “WHAT?” I was alarmed, rebuking him angrily. They should never pray for me at their church because I was a Muslim.
Hereafter I didn’t want to touch any Gideon New Testament. I felt trapped because I had been reading it after eating cat meat. It also haunted me that the evangelist couple had referred to the need to repent and to be born again. Furthermore, the theological students also invited me repeatedly to attend the devotional service in the morning before the first class in the university chapel.
            *                      *                 *                       *
When my younger sister travelled to Luxembourg en route to Lyon in France I went home for two days. After my return from the airport, I found tracts and another invitation to attend the university Sunday service, in my room. The word REPENTANCE kept coming back to me.
Finally, I attended a church service in the university complex where some student noticed me. At the end of that service the pastor sent an assistant lecturer to invite me to come and speak to him. (Someone had told the pastor of my presence in the service.)  I was very nervous.
When the pastor asked me whether I had any prayer request, I mentioned my yearning to find my mom’s relatives. He then asked whether he could pray for me. I promptly told him “You can pray but I won’t close my eyes. But you are not going to touch me!”
After his prayer I asked him whether he knew anything about the word REPENTANCE. He mentioned John 3, replying that it boiled down to starting a new life - to be ‘born again’.
My resistance to all the Christian stuff grew. I attempted to find a single room, but this was very difficult. The pastor invited me to join the YMCA programme. The sports side of their ministry attracted me. In due course I was introduced to the chaplain, who was a lecturer and also a member of the YMCA. He was a devout Christian who showed a lot of interest in me. He became my tutor and spiritual father, guiding me through a YMCA Bible course.  I ended up attending a retreat where they prepared new believers for baptism. However, I left the group prematurely because I didn’t want to be baptized.
After my graduation I had to leave the student residence. Returning home was like a big mountain because I had accepted Jesus Christ in my life! Knowing that I was now a ‘kaffir’ (an infidel) in the eyes of my family, I was wondering how I would fit into the family again.
Things became very difficult for me. Generally, I was not permitted to go out without a chauffeur and by way of exception only for a very limited time. My pastor desperately wanted to come and visit me, but I repeated again and again that I could not allow him to come to our house.
My room used to have a framed picture of Mecca and a desk on which my Qur’an was the only visible book. But my desk now had only the laptop and flowers on it. I had given all the Islamic books and the Qur’an to my pastor. Fearing that anybody might discover my Christian magazines, books and my Bible in my absence, I hid them under my mattress. My father appointed an imam to lord over our house in his absence. This man acted like a boss.
One morning I put my Bible back under the mattress but one of my Christians books fell under the bed. The maid who went into the room to clean there, swept out the book with the title THE EMMAUS ROAD (in French). ‘Oh dear’! She took the book to my ‘protocol’, my protector-supervisor, who then brought it to my mom.
The following day I was told that I had to stay at home for two weeks.  I didn’t know the reason for this drastic measure. I asked my mom to allow me to visit a friend, but the imam didn’t want to allow it. He said I must speak to the ‘protocol’. 
The imam and my mom set up a meeting that I was expected to attend. The imam suddenly showed the book. He immediately asked me to explain why I had that book in my possession. I said that I was only prepared to speak to them after my dad’s return. The imam was very upset because he felt that I was undermining his authority. 
When my dad returned home, I was called in after the imam had reported the matter to my dad. They called my mom to hear what was happening. The imam asked me if anyone had forced me. They wanted me to tell them everything, but that was not an option for me.
The maid then went to show my mom and the ‘protocol’ where she had seen the book and the Bible hidden under the mattress. My dad was very disappointed. He raved, noting that after those three years, which he had invested in my studies, he now only harvested shame and disgrace. Was this now all for the benefit of the foolish religion that I had embraced? I was hereafter ordered to go and sleep in the room at the back of the house.
The following day the imam fetched me, requesting me to take them and the driver to the place where I had taken the Qur’an and the other Islamic books. I told him that I was not going anywhere until they would respect my new religion. He shouted at me, saying: “You don’t have any respect for me! Son, you are cursed and your dad is ashamed of you!”
My step-mom entered at that moment. I spoke to her about the issues and matters, which had been kept from me since my childhood after the loss of my mom. I emphasized that I was now in a good space because Jesus had given me back so much. At this point, the imam sent my mom away, asking her not to interfere. She left, saying that she would phone her husband, my father. 
Soon hereafter I went to see my dad in his office. Almost immediately, he exclaimed, “You must make a final decision. You can be either my heir or an apostate infidel. What do you choose?” I kept quiet. Then he added a spate of words, including “Is your infidel mother’s family taking care of you?”
I finally responded, telling him that he never showed my sister and me our mom’s siblings or our grandparents on that side. “How can I know them? We have been living in complete ignorance as your kids, but I am not that person anymore, thanks to Jesus. He showed me the light, the way and the life that saved my soul. It is my prayer that you might understand which side I have chosen.”  The imam interrupted angrily: “You are just a boy and you know nothing! We are wasting our time listening to you! Tell your dad what is your final decision, you loser?”
I stood up, saying to my dad that the freedom that I have is to know the LORD and to serve Him. If it were possible to see my mom’s family I would have preferred that, but seeing that this was not the case, I prefer to live in the back room of the house.
Dad hit the table furiously, cursing and disowning me.  “If you can’t accept my rules, or you abandon my religion, it is clear! My brother, the imam here and Allah are my witnesses that you are not my son anymore, nor the heir. You broke the rules. You disgraced the religion and you are under a curse. For such disobedience, you are sent to live in the wilderness. My religion can’t allow such disgrace nor can I or my family.”
I begged to have my belongings, but it was not the end.  Dad still wanted to know all my whereabouts while at the university. They retrieved my pastor’s phone number from my cell phone, and also threatened him. My pastor then organized other accommodation for me on church property. At this point I was baptized and got involved in ministry.
I finally got contact details of one of my uncles but I didn’t want to stay with them either because I did not want to jeopardise their safety. I gave my dad’s details to my grandmother who was still alive.
My sister had not yet heard about my predicament. I decided to relocate to my mom’s hometown because of the threats and persecution that followed my conversion. In this area, Bukavu, where I was working with the YMCA, I was arrested and accused of inciting children as well as training them in practical skills and martial arts. (I had been teaching them some of the scouting skills that I had learned with YMCA.) After my release from prison, I decided to leave the country for Zambia. Thereafter I came to South Africa.
During the initial three years while I was here, in South Africa, my sister got very sick. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol, finally dying in Abidjan.  The family contacted me to attend the funeral, possibly hoping that they could sway me to return to Islam. They arranged travelling documents for me and sent me a credit card.
After landing in Abidjan after a long flight via Nairobi, my aunt welcomed me home. I spent the nights at a guest-house because my dad wasn’t very happy to see me. He nevertheless brought me home for a few days thereafter.
On the day of the burial I was standing in front of my grandfather after whom I was named according to Baoule culture. As the eldest grandson, I was first in line to become the chief of the clan, a sort of prince. My dad wasn’t there. He had excused himself and left all the instructions in my uncle’s hands.
After the funeral I was however not allowed to stay in the big house in which we grew up. I was requested to take the back room. The family confiscated all my travel documents and my bag. My aunt told me that I had angered my grandfather too much in the first questioning session. I had uncharitably and possibly rather insolently told all of them: “Jesus loves you all and has this same plan for your life; to know Him and repent…. I am praying for you too, but I still love you as my family.”  My grandfather thereafter cursed me, telling my uncle that he does not want to deal with me anymore. He was offended that I, a youngster, was telling them about Nabi ISA. He raved that he had seen the sun before me. “I gave birth to your dad and who are you?”
In the evening I was told that I could have my bag back if I revert to Islam. If not, I would miss everything as a son of the family. They would throw me out onto the street and kill me; I did not deserve to be alive.
The next day my aunt and uncle asked me what my final decision was. Unfortunately, I finally had to leave the compound. Now without any possessions, a cousin took me to his place. After a few days he took me to his brother-in-law’s pastor who gave me a place to stay and who prayed for me. I went to an accommodation facility for Muslim background believers. I heard in December 2011 that my aunt had collected some cash for me. I managed to get another passport, changing my name.  
I was really quite confident now and not afraid at all, but I didn’t want to expose my parents.  I applied for a South African visa, which took quite a while. In the middle of January 2012 I was finally granted the visa and made my way back to the Cape.  I am thankful that I still have ongoing contact with my family. Via occasional skype sessions with my father I still sense a strong bond. Invariably however, every time the question from him would come up which  then ushers in the end of our skype conversation. It is so difficult for him to accept that I choose to continue following Jesus. 

My uncle always tries to bring me back into the Islamic fold. But how can I go back to a twilight existence after having experienced the life with Him who said 'I am the light of the World'?

I am so happy with my new family that also consists of Christian siblings who have been coming from my previous religious background. Some of them are from the Cape and others have come from other countries. I continue to grow in my new faith and I am also happy to be a blessing to others.

                            5. My Mother was no more…
I grew up in Saudi Arabia from East African parents. Thus, I became fluent in Arabic. On the negative side, however, the glaring sun there affected my eyesight. I developed a serious defect in one eye, which would affect me ever since.
After returning with my parents to their home country in East Africa, it soon became mine too.  There I became a staunch Muslim teenager in the capital city. It was only natural that I would try and convert a Christian volunteer from the UK who was working there. The white man often stood there outside the mosque. I habitually warned him that he would go to hell if he did not become a Muslim. That was my firm conviction.
We ultimately became friends, albeit that there was an age difference. My Christian friend knew Bible stories which I liked. I gladly gathered a few of my male compatriate peers, to form a youth club. We played football and listened to some of those Bible stories, many of them about Jesus. After a while, I decided to become a follower of Jesus.
When my father heard this, he was very angry. He was especially enraged because parents of the other children complained that I had been influencing kids to join the Christian club. I overheard in the evening how my parents had a loud and fierce exchange of words. My mother attempted to defend me in this altercation. To my father it was completely unacceptable that I had influenced other children to attend the Christian group.
The next morning, I heard that my mother was no more. She had obviously become the victim of my father’s rage. I knew that I would be the next target. Therefore, I set off as fast as I could and as far as I could. I knew my father well enough to know that he would blame me for his rash and brutal reaction. I fled to a neighbouring country.
I heard that my missionary friend had to flee too, returning to the UK, when life became too difficult for him in our city.
I was used to walking long distances; so I thought that I might as well walk to South Africa. I knew that an uncle was living there in Johannesburg with his family. On a very adventurous trip, which included using many different vehicles, but also a lot of walking, I headed for the South African metropolis of Johannesburg.  I had no idea how far it was, but simply enquired along the way, making use of Islamic hospitality. I treasured my secret that I had become a follower of Jesus.
After a few months, I succeeded in reaching the house of my uncle where I thought I would finally be safe. A few days later however, my uncle said I must urgently leave for Cape Town. He reported that my father had posted my name and picture on the internet.  Anyone who killed me in the context of an Islamic honour killing would qualify for a substantial financial reward. My uncle concluded that he could not keep me in his house any longer.
He bought me a plane ticket for Cape Town, instructing me that on arrival I should find my way to Mitchells Plain where there were other compatriots.  I had hardly arrived in this Cape suburb, when I discovered that even there I was a hunted person, because compatriots discovered my face on the internet, along with the reward for someone who would kill me.
I became suicidal, with no reason or motivation to live any longer. Through the grapevine, I heard about a church in the suburb Sea Point where the pastor was said to be sympathetic towards people like me who were persecuted because of their faith. I grabbed at this last straw. The late Reverend Mirjam Scarborough[1] listened patiently because I could barely express my story in English. But she understood enough to phone a missionary who had been working among Muslims for many years. The man came to meet me at the Sea Point Congregational Church. I tried to explain my predicament once again. Subsequently the man and his wife took me to their home. There a young man happened to live at that time who had been working as a missionary in North Africa. He could speak Arabic fluently and he had some Christian written material to boot. The young man used that not only to teach me in my new faith, but he also taught me English.
In the family I was treated like a son, although it was not easy to live in a culture that was so strange to me. The family understood that I could only eat with my hands, but they also expected me to take things to the kitchen.  I found this quite a challenge. It had been drilled into me that the kitchen was the place for women! But I enjoyed playing chess with the father of the house and the children. I would usually beat all of them!
I was not used to staying very long at one address. After a few weeks I therefore sensed a desire to take to the road again. At this time, I started attending the Church of England congregation of St James in Kenilworth occasionally and I also visited Livingstone House in Rondebosch frequently. The mission agency Frontline Fellowship has their offices there.
The missionary couple of Friends from Abroad kept contact with me during these months.  I was not so keen to take up their invitation to join them again because they had close contact with another compatriot (they said that he had also been baptised). I had great difficulty trusting this convert initially, because I was afraid that he would inform other compatriots of my whereabouts and thus endanger me. After much hesitancy, I finally agreed to receive more on-site discipling and accommodation from the Friends from Abroad folk.
When mob xenophobia broke out in May 2008 I felt very unsafe in Cape Town. When I heard that conditions in Port Elizabeth were better in this regard, I went there with the financial assistance of the Wynberg Refugee Centre. I am very thankful for connections with Christians via friends from the Church of England.
I missed my compatriots a lot during this time. After a while I moved to a family in another part of South Africa. Thereafter I could not attend any Christian fellowship again. I look forward to the day when this will change, and when I can hopefully worship freely.

6. A Bicycle 'Taxi Driver' starts following Jesus

As one of five siblings, I grew up in a village near the town of Zomba in Malawi. Almost everyone from the Yao tribe, to which I belong, is a Muslim.  I attended mosque as often as I could, sometimes five times a day.
            When I was eight years old, I went to live with my grandfather in Lilongwe, the capital of the country. Because of the lack of finances to pay the school fees, I had to leave school after grade 8. During this time, I attended madressah (Qur'an school) regularly. Ramadan was the time of the year that I loathed a great deal. Because our country is in the tropics, it was really a big deal to have to fast during the day, especially the expectation that you were not permitted to take in any fluid. This was an aspect of the religion that I experienced as very burdensome.
            As I grew up, more questions started coming to mind, from a religious point of view. It seemed to me that next to Allah, our folk were also worshipping the sun and the moon. A stick represented Muhammad. I asked myself: ‘Was he also a god?’ In our village our religion was steeped in superstition. Islam furthermore seemed to me like a religion for older people.
            By this time, I did the manual work related to farming, to help feed the family. I was able to save some money to buy a bicycle. In areas where poverty abounds, a bicycle is a luxury. With this vehicle, I could transport people for three years, earning money as a kind of taxi of the African village.
            All these years I had no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One day a Christian man came to our village, sharing the Gospel with me. I listened eagerly to the Good News of God's love, responding without any hesitation to the invitation to accept Jesus as my Saviour. Soon thereafter a Christian lady gave me a Bible in our language, Chichewa, which I 'devoured'. I was so drawn to the wonderful words which I understood so much better than the Islamic teaching of my childhood and youth.
As I understood the message of the Bible better and better, I no longer had a desire to attend the mosque services.
I used to be a zikiri dancer. This is very much part-and-parcel of our culture. I, however, stopped attending these gatherings. I sensed a clash in my spirit, although no one had taught me that these elements of our culture are in opposition to the Gospel.
Soon the townsfolk complained, saying that they missed me at these occasions where I had been one of the dancers.  My father was very angry that I disgraced the family by not attending mosque. He alerted the sheikh who came to visit me, with a group of other village men. They interrogated me, wanting to know why I was not attending the mosque any more.
I had been reading the Gospel of John quite a lot. It was almost as if I had become 'addicted' to it. I had been reading that Jesus is the Son of God and that He and the Father are one. I believed that this was the truth and not what I had been hearing again and again in the madressan (Qur’an school). When I mentioned this to the sheikh and his companions, the men were very upset.
At home, my mother was quite understanding towards me. This caused major conflict between her and my father. She suggested to him that he should just leave me alone with my new faith. However, arguments at home intensified to such an extent that I feared my parents would get divorced because of their differences about me, their first-born son.
I deemed it wise to leave home so that peace could return. I left and went to live with a friend. He was a Muslim. Quite soon we had arguments about our different beliefs. But, after a while he also became a follower of Jesus.
After a few months I moved from the village to the trading centre of Zomba. There I could earn more working as a bicycle 'taxi driver'. There I also started fellowshipping with other followers of Jesus and learn more about the Christian faith. I had been feeling very lonely in the village.  In due course I saved enough money to get a passport and fare for travelling to South Africa. In mid-2011 I came to Cape Town, where I started working as a trader and where I also linked up with other followers of Jesus. Here my faith in Jesus grew stronger.

                   7.  Jesus Christ Transformed My Life

I grew up a devout Muslim, in Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Since the eighth century all my ancestors have been Muslims. My grandfather was born in Western Darfur where he married my grandmother. He had four wives. My grandmother used to travel a lot because of her business as a trader.
When my father was eleven years old, he started his own business. He learned his trading skills from his mother. He thus became a travelling businessman as well. In Western Darfur there are several markets located in different towns, rotating on a weekly basis. My grandmother and my father had to travel to the various towns to sell their stock. Then my grandmother and my father moved to Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, looking for better opportunities. After a few years, in 1975, my father moved to Saudi Arabia where he ultimately achieved most of his goals. He returned to Sudan after some time, and got married to his cousin by arrangement.
I was born in Khartoum while my father was in Saudi Arabia. My mother and I joined him there where three more brothers and a sister were born. After a few years my mother returned to Sudan, while my father remained in Saudi Arabia. In Khartoum we continued our secondary education and I also proceeded to university. I became interested in politics when I started listening to the news on the radio. I also attended seminars and other meetings. My main goal at that time was to be successful at university. After finishing my degree studies I wanted to help improve the lives of our community in Darfur, and other people in general. In the beginning of 2005, I joined the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) that was led by Dr John Garang de Mabior. I was inspired by and amazed at the leadership of that great man. He attempted to bring all Sudanese together as a united, democratic nation.
The SPLM signed a peace agreement with the government of Sudan on January 9, 2005 after 21 years of war. According to the agreement, all Sudanese nationals would be united in a democratic country. It stated that if the police and security forces of Sudan and the SPLM would differ seriously on any issue, the SPLM could set a process in motion that would lead to separation. In the beginning of 2011, the negotiations between the Sudanese government and the SPLM failed completely. In a subsequent referendum, the majority of South Sudanese chose to separate from Sudan mainly because of the Sharia law that had been introduced. However, many Sudanese people such as from Northern and Eastern parts of Sudan and Darfur in general wanted to be united with the South Sudanese.  This was especially the case among those people who had been involved in the SPLM.
Eventually, President Omer Albashir declared that all those who were members of the SPLM party would be arrested according to Sharia law after the separation of South Sudan. Hereafter I was afraid of being arrested by the Government of Sudan. In the beginning of 2011, I started thinking about immigrating to Australia because of the political circumstances that had emerged from the government of Sudan, together with the declaration of President Omer Albashir.
I intended to apply for political asylum in Australia, hoping to further my education there. At that time, my English was still very poor. I applied to study for a Master’s degree at an Australian university in Sydney, but my application was turned down. Then I decided to travel to Egypt in an attempt to get a visa from the Australian Embassy. I hoped to explain to them my situation in Sudan. I received a visa to travel to Egypt, but I could not travel there due to the upheaval against the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak. I waited for more than a month, but the situation in Egypt remained very difficult. I could not wait any longer as the government of Sudan had started to arrest SPLM members randomly. I thought about South Africa as a second choice.
During that time, I had a very clear dream about a certain place, which I later recognized as Leeuwen Street in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town. In March 2011, I changed my plan, after looking at an atlas. I hoped to identify a country from where I could proceed to Australia. I started thinking about coming to Cape Town and then immigrate to Australia. I went to the South African Embassy, and got a visa very quickly. After three working days I had the visa stamped in my passport. (I would have had to travel out of Sudan to get an Australian visa because that country does not have an embassy in Sudan.)
When I arrived in Cape Town for the first time, I initially stayed in Green Point and thereafter I moved to Bo-Kaap. It was there that I recognized the place I had dreamt about, while I was in Sudan. I had heard the Islamic call to prayer in the dream. I discerned at this time that it was coming from the Auwal Mosque in Dorp Street. In Cape Town I applied for political asylum, while I hoped to have better opportunities and continue my education, which I trusted would benefit African rural communities.
In the beginning of June 2011, I met a lady from Kenya. We chatted about education and political issues. The lady told me that she could introduce me to a couple if I needed any assistance regarding my education (I learned later that the couple is linked to the agency Friends from Abroad). She took my cell phone number. After a few days, I received a phone call. I met the husband of the couple she mentioned for the first time near Green Market Square. Soon thereafter, the couple invited me for supper at their house. The husband, furthermore, started assisting me with English lessons, which I took at the central library of Cape Town. When he asked me if I would like to attend a Bible Study with a group of young Africans from different countries, I told him that I did not know what a Bible study group is. He then explained this to me.
At that time, I was still a staunch Muslim, attending prayer occasions in the mosque five times a day, if at all possible. I started attending the weekly Bible Study, doing this for about six months. Now and then I also visited the home of the couple in the suburb Vredehoek, where they treated me like their own son.
I soon came to realize that the Bible Studies were actually bringing me in conflict with my Muslim faith. At the beginning of 2013, I wrote to the couple: ‘I love my religion too much’ and that I would stop attending the Bible Studies. They accepted that without any ado, encouraging me to continue visiting their home whenever I wanted, which I did.
One day not very long thereafter, the missionary couple invited me to a meal together with an Egyptian Christian. She was a Bible School student. The Egyptian lady had a Bible story in Arabic on her mobile phone which impacted me so much that I decided to resume the Bible Studies.
Soon I was reading and studying the Bible even more avidly than before. Quite naïvely, however, I also walked openly with my Bible in my hand. Another Muslim student who noticed this, approached me. I knew that we Muslims are generally not permitted to read the Holy Bible, but I thought that since we were living in a free, democratic country, this was not a problem. However, I became quite fearful when he showed me what they would do to me if I carried on with this practice. His finger, dragged across his throat, was frightening in the extreme. I can now discern clearly how Islam is keeping people restrained; unable to even display or carry a Bible openly. Furthermore, as a Muslim, there are many rules and regulations that one is expected to adhere to. For instance, we have the five prescribed daily prayers that one should preferably observe in a mosque. One is required not to miss or ignore anyone of these prayers because you would then miss 27 points.
When I became a Christian, I came to appreciate so much that Jesus Christ - through his death on the cross for everyone – gives us the gift of salvation and ‘unlimited points’ of eternal life. One does not have to attempt to achieve anything. On the other hand, I know so clearly that even if you pray 1000 prayers, you are still a sinful man. Christ is the only way to the Father.
After another half a year in the Discovery Bible Study (DBS) fellowship, I discovered the name Cush in the Bible through reading Isaiah 18. In the modern translation that I was using, Cush was translated as Sudan. Thereafter, I started intensely researching Cush in the Bible. I discovered that what is written in the Bible about Cush was completely correct. I knew Cush from a historical viewpoint, but I didn’t know that Cush was mentioned in the Bible so often. I found furthermore, to my surprise, that – from a chronological point of view - the Bible was the first source. (The bulk of the information in the Qur’an was derived from the Holy Bible.) This bewildered me intensely. When I discerned the truth of the Bible, I decided to become a Christian and to follow Jesus and was baptised on 8 December 2013. I decided to change my name to symbolise the recognition of my life reborn. Immediately I went about telling all and sundry of the joy of being born again. Thereafter I received many threat and malicious criticism. Thus my grandfather phoned me and said, “People are planning to kill you.” Since then I have been changed because God opened my eyes and my heart.     Furthermore, what I have learnt in the Holy Bible transformed my life, as Jesus said “I’m the way, the truth, and the life, no one goes to the Father except by me” (John 14: 6). 
I wrote this story to share with all readers the love of Jesus Christ and to encourage all seekers to find the true God that will give them eternal life.

8.      God delivered me from Drugs
I grew up in a Muslim home, in Cape Town, where the Muslim faith was basically only practiced during the holy month (Ramadan) and understanding thereof was limited to respect for the religion and doing the right thing (as far as one knew). I knew very little about Islam.  When I became a teenager I no longer wanted to attend madrassa (Muslim school), I honestly had no interest in this religion, but had reverence for God, whom I knew as Allah.  Growing up, life was not easy for me as I grew up in a very broken home where my mom and dad were always fighting and there was no love displayed.
            At age 14 I was introduced to a drug commonly called “Tik” in our community, which I used for a long time, becoming addicted to it quite soon. I left school and could be found at the drug merchant’s home almost always.  My mother, who believed in me, and who believed that there is a God who can do something, started asking people on the trains to pray for me.  (Various followers of Jesus minister to people on the commuter trains at the Cape, inviting people to share their prayer requests.) My mom knew many Christian people and believed that she should ask for prayer. She also asked Muslims, but the bulk of those she approached were Christians with whom she worked and those on the trains that were involved in the public ministry.  Through prayer in Jesus’ name I was set free from drugs and went back to school. (I learned later that the Christians often pray in Jesus’ name.)
After this amazing experience of being set free through prayer, I was eager and willing to see things change in my life. However, there was still something missing. During this time, my mom and dad were going through a divorce, which was not easy at all to handle.  My life changed after a further year of school, when I prayed and asked Allah, to help me get into the College of Cape Town to study Travel and Tourism. I could never pray Arabic prayers and instead began talking to God in English. More so, since I believed He had delivered me from drugs. A glimmer of faith began to stir within me, as deep down I just knew there is a God who hears. At that stage I still believed that the God of the Christians was identical to Allah.  It worked out for me to pursue my college studies, but with that came many changes: new friends, parties, alcohol clubs and all the “pleasures of the world”.  I found myself right back in another mess; clean from drugs, but using other things to fill that void.  On this journey while studying at college, I met a guy and fell in love. 
            I spent just over three years in this relationship, during which time I experienced much heartache and many tears, especially for a young woman of only twenty-one.  After all these experiences I was at a point where I truly started seeking God/Allah, for help.  I felt emotionally destroyed; I did not think I would be able to make it. My life was a mess. I was broken and lonely; everything seemed to be falling apart.  I started praying more. At the time I called this ‘talking to God more’. I would cry out to Allah all the time for help. Strangely though, it was Jesus who started talking to me through people. 
It began when I got a job after graduating. The first few months I travelled to work by train. I had similar experiences as my mom through the train ministry, namely listening to testimonies, worship, praise and the word of God.  I experienced this almost every day as I travelled between work and home.  I felt an enjoyment rising within me for the praise and worship, and even more so for the testimonies of people, how Jesus saved them from a wretched life. I began to think: “Who on earth is Jesus?”  I had never heard of Jesus and never understood why Muslims did not believe.  At that time, I found out that the mother of the guy I was dating (a Muslim) was an “undercover Christian”. I did not know that my boyfriend’s mom was a secret follower of Jesus, until she slowly started sharing with me. She testified about what Jesus had done for her daughter in the midst of her family being Muslim. She believed in Jesus and also trusted that her whole family would come to faith in Jesus one day.  I was amazed, but at the same time I also thought that this lady was crazy to say that my religion is not right. 
Day and night I cried out to Allah, but every time Jesus would send someone to answer me. It was as if Jesus answered me, whenever I cried out for help.  I began running to any church in the Cape Town CBD for help, hoping to get to know more about this saviour about whom everyone was preaching. One day a lady in the train testified about Jesus’ goodness and faithfulness. She was so excited she almost jumped to the ceiling of the train. I became very curious about who this Jesus is. I desperately wanted to get to know Him, if this is what He does.   I was at such a low point in my life that I did not want help from people. I needed help from above.
A desire was growing in my heart, and at that point I received a gospel song from someone called The Power of Love. I fell in love with this song and listened to it every day.  As more people ministered to me God used this song to constantly remind me about Jesus. Then one day, the mother of one of my best friends died. I attended the funeral, hoping that they would sing this song and they did. I sang so loud; it was like giving expression to that deep desire within me that I did not fully understand myself.  As I sat in that funeral service I felt like the pastor was talking to me personally. It was as if God was answering all the questions I had through him. Thereafter I had no objections or arguments remaining. I believed now that Jesus is the Saviour of the world and that He is the way, the life and the truth.  All my questions and thoughts were answered. All that remained for mewas to take the step of getting saved.
            As I left that funeral I knew in my heart what I had to do. I had to take this next step of faith.  I sent a text message to the mom of my boyfriend, asking her what I should do to accept Jesus in my life.  She replied that I should say a prayer and asked if I could meet with her the next day, which was Sunday 18 June 2012. We met and she took me to people who explained the message of salvation. I said the prayer and from then on God moved mightily in my life.  I have been saved for three years now. Immediately hereafter I moved out of my mom’s home into a house of discipleship. From there it has been such a beautiful journey.
            I stayed in Moriah House (a place of discipleship) for three years. The first few months were a bit challenging as I was unfamiliar with the Christian environment, and I missed my family, especially my mom.  Learning how to walk on my own with the Lord and a new family was quite a different experience, but it wasn’t a mistake.  The Lord spoke to me through His Word (the Bible) and many other ways, regarding things in my life, which I had to surrender to Him. That was not easy, but it has been worth it.  It has all worked for my good. As I walked with the Lord for the first time in my life, I felt a strange warmth that I had never felt before. Life began to have meaning; it was not just about living, but living for a purpose, as God’s Word spoke to me clearly regarding my purpose for being on earth.  I started loving myself as a person and was not left wondering why I was born. Realising that the Almighty is a forgiving God was truly amazing (in my previous religion all I knew was that I would get punished for all the wrong things I did). The most wonderful part of it all was getting to know Jesus in a personal way. I had somehow met a divine Being who was willing to take me with all my faults and failures and help me. Daily, my eyes opened more and more, with the help of the ministry at Moriah House, and a lot started to happen in my life.
            It was not long after I moved into Moriah house that I was baptized. After baptism the Lord began to do amazing new things in my life; my family became open to my decision, though they had never really pushed me away, they just became more open as time passed. I was also freed from a relationship that had kept me in sin.  A lot of cleaning and shaping has taken place in the past three years of my journey with the Lord; especially in the area of self-esteem.  I experienced a lot of persecution during my first year as a follower of Jesus, since there were many Muslims at the company where I worked, and they could not understand why I would “betray my faith for Christianity”. But then the Lord incredibly opened a door for a new job where I could practise my faith openly.  The Lord also worked in my family. My younger sister also came to faith in Jesus and my mom and other sisters have also become more interested in our faith.  The Lord has done so much for me. I can now help others on this journey, encouraging them to hold onto Him, wherever He will lead them.  

Excerpts from Moravian History showing how Exiles were divinely used
Jan Amos Komensky (latinised to Comenius) was one of the greatest refugees of all time. In 1614 he became a teacher at the Moravian school in Prerau. It was there that he introduced revolutionary teaching methods that would change the world. The inspiration that fuelled Comenius’ insatiable search for knowledge was his belief that all things were made through Christ. For Him, Christ could be seen in everything (Colossians 1:16). Nature is God’s ‘second book’.
            Comenius’ notes about this period did not survive long. The war clouds turned dark over Europe. For thirty years, from 1618 to 1648, murder, violence and hunger were the order of the day. The population of Moravia was reduced from three million to one million. Apart from his precious library and all of his writings, Comenius lost his wife and only child, after he had refused to renounce his biblical convictions.  Hereafter he felt that he now understood better what a great sacrifice the Father had made in giving His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
            This was only one of many calamities to follow. However, each time a calamity struck, he would just formulate an even greater plan to be implemented. In 1624 the ever faithful Pastor Komensky of Fulnek led a small band of exiles out of their native land to seek a safe haven. For the rest of his life Comenius remained a refugee.
             As the last bishop of the old Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren) he not only lost almost everything through fire and persecution, but he was again forced into exile, first from his home country and on his 64th birthday, also from Poland, his adopted country. From his new home country, Holland, he became a blessing to the nations of the world through his writings, notably on education.
Denmark leading Protestants in Missionary Sending
Denmark Protestants led  the way in sending missionaries to the rest of the world in the early 1700s. The Germans, Plütschau and Ziegenbalg, sent as missionaries to India by the Danish Lutheran Church, were used by God to influence Count Zinzendorf decisively when he was still a teenager in the boarding school at Halle. The missionary endeavour of Denmark in Greenland by Hans Egede was decisive in getting Herrnhut young men trained for missionary work. The slave Anton, working at the Danish royal palace, was to be God’s special instrument in mobilising the Moravians to action when he challenged Zinzendorf to bring the Gospel to his people on the island of St Thomas.
Count Zinzendorf ‘stepped down’ to speak to the slave, Anton at the occasion of the coronation of Christian VI of Denmark in 1731, after the mediation of one of his team from Herrnhut. Anton, the slave, challenged Zinzendorf, the aristocrat, in no uncertain terms. The Count responded positively, inviting Anton to come over to Herrnhut and repeat his challenge to the congregation that had already been informed of the need of a worldwide mission.
In Herrnhut Anton did not mince his words. He stated unequivocally that any prospective missionary to St Thomas, the island in the West Indies from where he originated, should be prepared to become like one of them; the missionary candidate had to be prepared to become the equal of a slave. The Moravians of Herrnhut, through their child-like faith in Jesus, accepted the challenge spontaneously. In the next few decades they left the little village in their hundreds to places all over the world. We note that the above-mentioned challenge to missions of February 1728 occurred already half a year after the widely reported revival of 13th August, 1727. Although the Herrnhut believers were apparently still very much in the revival mood, they needed the slave, Anton to get them moving to the mission field. What would the reaction of wealthy South Africans be I wonder, if their poor com­patriots challenged them to share their lives and to become servants, the equivalents of slaves[2]?
A Danish colonial pastor – working in the Gold Coast (today known as Ghana) has the distinction of spreading the vision in Europe to train Africans on an equal footing. He took along Christian Protten, an African from mixed parentage, to Kopenhagen. Christian was the son of a European soldier and the daughter of a tribal chief, one of the first persons from the third world to become a Moravian in Herrnhut in 1735.  
Christian Protten was probably the first indigenous person to minister in his home country as a missionary since the Eunuch of Ethiopia (Acts 8). Christian landed in St George del Mina (Elmina) on 11 May 1737. The initial work had to be aborted when his companion, the German Huckuff, died a few days after their arrival. His death caused the governor-general to change his attitude. In a second attempt Christian Protten started a school in Elmina, but because of conflict with the authorities he was imprisoned for one and a half years. He then became seriously ill. After his recovery he was recalled to Herrnhut.
Christian Protten married Rebecca, the ground-breaking mulatress and the widow of Matthäus Freundlich, one of the St Thomas island missionary pioneers. He returned to the Gold Coast, albeit without his wife, starting a school there (Beck, 1981:110). After a sad incident when he accidentally killed a child when cleaning a rifle, he was recalled to Europe once again. His bad temper and alcoholic habits prevented him from receiving a hero’s place in the annals of the Moravian church. Nevertheless, as a pioneer in Ghana he should be remembered. He returned with his wife to the Gold Coast after a disagreement with the church leaders. There he translated Luther’s Small Catechism into Ga Fante (Beck, 1981:111), probably the first African language translation of that work.
Vagabonds of a higher Order
Christian David, the first Moravian refugee who found solace on the estate of Count Zinzendorf, was challenged when he heard about Christians who were imprisoned for having religious services in their homes. He started reading the Bible, something which he was not supposed to do as a born Catholic.[3] He was convicted by the Holy Spirit, but no Lutheran pastor wanted to have anything to do with an apostate. Subsequently, Christian David roamed through Bohemia and Austria before he finally came to Leipzig in Saxony. But, there too, he was ridiculed and told to go back to where he was born and bred. He moved to Berlin and from there to Breslau. But, he also had to flee from that city, when Jesuit priests got to know about him. This brought Christian David to Görlitz, near the border of his home country, from there he started on trips to encourage the persecuted believers.
The Neissers were one of the evangelical families he visited in 1717. He challenged them, speaking about a complete commitment to the Lord, even to the extent of leaving their homes in faith; that they would be returned to them a hundredfold. The clan had already indicated that he should look for a place across the border where they could be taught in the Scriptures. On Easter Monday, 1722, Christian David brought them the good news that he had met the young Count Zinzendorf, who was not only a follower of Jesus himself, but who also endeavoured to lead souls to Christ. Just after Pentecost two Neisser family members fled adventurously over the border into Salesia, to Görlitz. On 22 June 1722 Christian David felled the first tree for the start of the village, Herrnhut, on the estate of Count Zinzendorf.     
When the flight of the two Neisser family members became known, the three remaining family members were called to book. Imprisonment ensued. After their release, they decided to join their family in Herrnhut, where only one house had been built by the summer of 1723.
            Christian David continued with his missionary forays into Moravia. In the village of Zauchtenthal Martin Schneider had been treasuring the heritage of the old Unitas Fratrum (Unity of the Brethren), holding secret cottage meetings where he taught young people reading and writing. They were also taught the catechism written by Amos Comenius. After the death of Martin Schneider, a spiritually lukewarm attitude set in. Christian David met the grandson of Martin Schneider, going from there to Kunwald, where the Unitas Fratrum had started in 1457.
A spiritual revival broke out in Moravia in 1723 that was ignited by the preaching of Christian David. This happened in both Zauchtenthal and Kunwald. The revival was followed by fierce persecution. Just as in biblical times, this was the fuel the believers needed to leave their home town. Many of them came to Herrnhut and later to other places.
As a carpenter Christian David helped build houses in Herrnhaag, Wetteravia, Heerendijk (Holland), Greenland, Pennsylvania and Latvia. He conceded that his major ‘weakness’, was that he was so powerfully used in the service of the Lord: "I do not think that it is my calling to stay long in one place... Once things get started at one place, I love to hand it over to others” (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:16). He would work only for something to eat.
Itinerant Preachers
            The 18-year old David Nitschmann was one of the clan that would impact Herrnhut immensely in the next few years. He went around the Moravian environs of Kunwald with others of his age, speaking about what they had experienced, spreading the fire further. Everyone who attended the meetings were imprisoned and some were locked up in the tower of a castle during the hard, winter conditions. The authorities hoped to get information about the books they were reading and how often the bush preacher (Christian David) visited them. Three young men with the name David Nitschmann, along with two peers, Melchior Zeisberger and Johann Töltchig, appeared before Judge Töltchig. He was the father of one of the five young men. After they had been given heavy sentences and prohibited from having religious services in the homes, they went together to stage a prayer meeting in a meadow outside town, concluding their service with a song that their ancestors had written. It was sung a century before them when their ancestors had to leave their fatherland (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:19).
            The younger generation were, however, not solely used as itinerant preachers. In 1740 they prepared a plan to use older couples whose children were not young. Fifty ‘anchorites’ as they were called, would go from place to place as witnesses of the Gospel (Nielsen I, 1951:44). From this source Zinzendorf also developed the idea of a Diaspora Church where members could visit Herrnhut every five years.
            Another variation of the theme is found in the practice of sending artisans from home to home. The habit was grasped spontaneously in Herrnhut to send these men as missionaries and witnesses, even to the ends of the world – albeit not before thorough preparation. During the daytime they would work in their respective trades. In the evening they received training in the Brethren’s house that would become the forerunner of a mission seminary (Van der Linde, 1975:29). It is interesting to note that, Comenius had taught in the Old Unity of the Brethren and in the Reformed church that artisan work was a noble calling. Students in Theology were, therefore, taught practical subjects from the beginning.
            Because of his support for the refugees, the Count encoun­tered problems with his authorities. When Zinzendorf returned from Holland in 1736, it was conveyed to him that the government of Saxony had banned him. He thus became a temporary exile himself. God used the period of exile from Herrnhut for the extension of the Kingdom. During these years, missionaries were sent to many parts of the globe.
            The Moravians in Herrnhut in the 18th century most prob­ably also thought about the refugee ‘problem’ in a positive way. It is surely no co-incidence that the first mission­aries who left Herrnhut after 1732 were predominantly former Bohemian and Moravian refugees. Their preparedness to leave home and hearth to spread the Gospel, soon ‘infected’ the Germans. I dare to put it even more radically and it is not difficult to prove: The history of missions would have been completely different if Count Zinzendorf had not allowed himself to be impacted by the Bohemian and Moravian refugees.
A Pilgrim Church      
Like the first generation of Christians, which was dispersed by severe persecution (Acts 8:1), the persecution only served to change the Herrnhut Moravians. Count Zinzendorf’s reaction when he read the notice of their banishment in 1736 shows that he had learned the lesson well: ‘Then we must gather the Pilgrim Church’[4] (Nielsen I, 1951:44). The hardship was soon overturned into a divine opportunity. As a travelling church they went from place to place where Zinzendorf would preach. Sowing seeds of the Gospel, he regarded it as the privilege of the Pilgrim Church to be salt and to anoint, and bless other churches. The reason for this activity he expressed thus in 1745: ‘For thirty years I have yearned that all may be one in the Lord’ (Nielsen I, 1951:44). Zinzendorf used the acute threat of new persecution in Saxony as a catalyst. He relocated a part of the Brethren to North America. True to the biblical principle, the mission to the American Indians started, spear-headed by the fearless David Zeisberger. When Zinzendorf was accused of only sending others to go and sacrifice their lives in the tropics, he went there himself and subsequently almost died as a result of a disease he contracted there.
            The community had to leave Saxony mainly because of their support for the Bohemian refugees. The opposition did not quite succeed in this because hereafter almost the whole community joined him in the Wetteravia area, some 50 kilometres to the northeast of present-day Frankfurt (Main). For a start, the group that called themselves the pilgrim congregation, moved into the Ronneburg, a dilapidated castle that was inhabited by the despised of their society, ‘thieves, gypsies, sectarians and Jews’ (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:68). Significantly, the whole family of the Count was involved with the Pilgrim Church. Zinzendorf proudly testified a few years later that after 25 years of marriage, his first wife Erdmuth, was a suitable partner for his calling. She did not allow herself to be overwhelmed by the needs of the large Pilgrim Church. In fact, it had been the practice of the original occupants of the Ronneburg to beg on Tuesdays and Fridays. Instead, bread was handed out and they were encouraged to work. Although Erdmuth was quite sickly, her room was seldom empty between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. She counselled many in the community, since her husband travelled often. Other emissaries of the Gospel were also constantly on the go. At the Ronneburg almost everything was shared and nobody worked for wages.
            In the ‘New World’ the notion of the Pilgrim Church was also meticulously adhered to. The settlements at Bethlehem and Nazareth (Pennsylvania) were started for no other purpose, than that the work of the Lord would be rendered a hand not only there, ‘but in the whole of America’ (Uttendörfer and Schmidt, 1914:122). Bethlehem only had to be a barn, a Pilgrim house, a school for prophets and the smith for producing the Lord’s arrows, from where workers would be sent into the rest of America. (At any time, a third of the adults would be on the road somewhere spreading the Gospel.)
South Africa as a Beneficiary of Banishment
It is interesting to note that South Africa became the special beneficiary of banishment. Georg Schmidt, the first missionary to our country, was ‘banished’ to the Cape in 1737 as punishment for a perceived serious misdemeanour. Schmidt had been imprisoned in Moravia because of his faith. After his release, he was slandered. A rumour was spread - which the Count Zinzendorf believed as the truth - that Schmidt signed a document in which he supposedly recanted his faith to regain his freedom. The truth was that Schmidt was hardly back in Herrnhut when he returned to the Roman Catholic areas to encourage the Protestants there, risking a new imprisonment or even worse. Schmidt was ‘banished’ by Count Zinzendorf to work amongst the primal Cape ‘Hottentots’ to compensate for the perceived damage he had done to the cause of the Gospel.
            Without any apparent grudge, Schmidt accepted the unfair punishment to be ‘banished’ innocently to the distant, Cape of Good Hope, to minister to the ‘Wilden’, to the resistant ‘Hottentotten’.  In the spiritual realm this could be seen as a divine response to the Islamic foundations laid by the exiled Shayk Yusuf who had likewise been banished to the Cape in 1694.  
The Seed sown by Schmidt germinates
The seed that Schmidt had sown at the Cape germinated, both at the Cape and in Baviaanskloof, the later Genadendal. Schmidt was known to have been ‘n man van sterk geloof en ‘n bidder, a man of great faith and a prayer warrior. In fact, colonists told admiringly how Schmidt succeeded ‘to teach a Hottentot to pray as he has done.’ Apparently, this example rubbed off on Vehettge Tikkuie, who got the name Magdalena. Khoi Christians, with whom later missionaries had interaction, reported that she was found ‘dikwels biddend in ‘n knielende posisie’, often in prayer on her knees.
             Cape colonists described the impact of Schmidt’s ministry in 1742, sayng that Schmidt accomplished in three and a half years ‘what others would not have affected in thirty years’. Magdalena taught the believers from the New Testament, which she had received from Georg Schmidt. On Sundays ‘de oude Lena’ would walk to the pear tree where Georg Schmidt had preached, to read the New Testament and pray with her folk. Almost 50 years after Schmidt had left, Khoi witnesses said that they came together at her home every evening where she prayed with them. She was the first known indigenous female church planting evangelist of all time.
             'De oude Lena’ had the New Testament on hand that she received from Georg Schmidt when three new Moravian missionaries arrived in 1792. Lena herself could no longer read, due to failing eyesight, but the woman whom she had taught ‘opened … read the second chapter of Matthews’s gospel with considerable fluency’.
Deep Impact of Schmidt's Ministry
Schmidt impacted the lives of his Khoi congregants in Baviaanskloof deeply. His remarkable personality, continued to influence events at the Cape almost fifty years after he was all but forced to leave. Schmidt continued to pray for his Khoi flock until old age in the East German village of Niesky where he went to be with his Lord in August 1785. 
          Quite soon after the arrival of the dynamic Ds. Helperus van Lier at the Cape in 1786, the legacy of Schmidt worked through when Van Lier was present at the deathbed of one of the male converts of the missionary pioneer. He saw how the Khoi believer died ‘in volkome rus en vrede van sy siel en in vertroue op die Here.[5]
             Van Lier became a special catalyst of the Gospel not only in getting the Moravian missionaries back to the Cape in 1792, but he was also instrumental in sowing the seed for the first mini-revival at the Cape.  
A Cape spiritual ‘Revolution’
The youthful Dr van Lier was appointed as the third minister of the Groote Kerk. He found fertile ground among a group of Christians at the Cape, the spiritual descendants of those believers, who had been impacted by the short stint of Georg Schmidt. As a result of the vision of Van Lier about 60 Christians in Cape Town and its surroundings set aside one day in the week for teaching and evangelising slaves.
            A spiritual ‘revolution’, in which the Lord used Dr van Lier, was the change in the attitude of many White believers towards slaves and other people of colour.

[1] She was the executive editor of the International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF). She thereafter contracted cancer and died in 2013.

[2]     In Greek the word doulos is used for both slave and servant.
[3]     This was the domain of priests. Until the Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Latin had until then been retained as the prime language in the Roman Catholic Church. The second Vatican Council permitted ordinary church members to read the Bible for themselves.
[4] He might have been influenced by the Waldense of France who had also called themselves a pilgrim church.
[5]     Died in complete rest and peace and in trust in the Lord (Schmidt, 1937:6)


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