Monday, June 5, 2017

I WILL NOT DIE BUT LIVE June 2017

I WILL NOT DIE BUT LIVE


Content                                   
  1. Childhood and Teenage Challenges
2.      A young Teacher and Missionary
3.      A Theological Student in District Six
4.      Back in Germany!
  1. An Anti-Apartheid Activist
  2. Continued Activism
7.      Skirmishes in Church Ranks
8.      Activism for racial Reconciliation
9.      Uncompassionate Activism

      10.  Leaving our Jerusalem?

11.  Employment Instability … and Blessing
12.  Fighting Communism and Islam
13.  Movement on the Mission Front
14.  Africa beckons
15.  Missionary Preparation
16.  Missionaries at last!

      17. Swimming against the Stream

18.  Whippings as a Blessing
19.  A Global Impact from the Cape
20.  Divine Nudges towards an Increase of Prayer in the City
21.  Descendants of the biblical Isaac and Ishmael Highlighted
22.  The Isaiah 19 Prayer Room comes into being
23.  Time to Apologize?

Appendix - A fresh breeze is blowing

Foreword

Through my studies and research I discerned that the establishment and spread of Islam in general - and very much so also in South Africa - could be described as the unpaid debt of the Church. The feeling of guilt became even stronger when I discovered to my dismay that there was hardly any doctrinal tenet in Islam which had not been derived from the bickering of Christians in the centuries prior to the establishment and rise of Islam. At a later stage the theological ‘debt‘ towards Jews (and Judaism) came back very strongly. [1] I deemed it high time that we as Christians should start attempting to paying off at least some of this ‘debt‘.  
Very much inspired by the Stuttgart Confession of 1945, I considered writing a rather lengthy ‘open letter’ a number of years ago when I was very strongly impressed by the guilt of Church theologians. The Stuttgart Confession of Guilt was issued by the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) on 18/19 October, 1945 (The historical roots of the Stuttgart Confession go back to the period following World War I.) The declaration itself, as a confession of guilt, enabled a new beginning for the Evangelical Church in Germany and for the German nation at large after 1945.)  
The question was: how could I convey the need for confession to the global Church in respect of Islam? The idea of an open letter was birthed. After some time I decided to drop the concept when I could not discern any good avenue to channel such a confession.
Another part of the background of this book is my own attempts since 1978 to get Dutch Reformed Church leaders in South Africa to do something similar. Two professors of theology, Willie Jonker and Johan Heyns, were among those with whom I interacted. Therefore I was blessed to hear of the role of the former in confessing that apartheid was a heresy at the Rustenburg meeting of church leaders in November 1990. (Delegates from 97 denominations had gathered there. That conference sent signals of reconciliation throughout the land, ushering in our democratic era.)  Prof. Heyns would become a major catalyst for change in the Dutch Reformed Church and ultimately becoming a martyr, assassinated in November 1994 probably because of his role in that process.
It is nevertheless my thoroughly considered opinion that remorseful confession by Church leaders for the establishment and spread of the problematic Islamic ideology is needed, rather than the slamming of the religion. This should ideally be followed up by concrete steps of restitution.
The first draft of this book - initially written as an ‘open letter’ - was still on my computer when I had a biopsy for prostate cancer. At that time – on 8 October 2003 to be exact – I was encouraged by the ‘Watchword’, as the Moravians have been traditionally calling the 'Old Testament' Scripture for the day: ‘I will not die but live and proclaim what the LORD has done’ (Psalm 118:17).  This became the cue for me not only to update the ‘open letter’, but also to change the original title - My spiritual Odyssey - to the present one, namely I will not die but live. God’s Word obviously had to get pre-eminence over Greek mythology.  My wife Rosemarie nudged me to get some order in my writing efforts, saying something like “If anything would happen to you, all your years of writing and research would have been in vain”. I could not disagree with this view. I knew that I should at least try and finish some of the manuscripts that were incomplete. Concretely, I discerned in the word from Scripture an invitation and summons to attempt finalising manuscripts.[2]
The first draft of I will not die but live was already finished by November 2003. During the post-operative period in Kingsbury Hospital at the beginning of December 2003, after the removal of my cancerous prostate gland, more progress followed with various manuscripts. Because Search for Truth 2 was more or less complete already, I proceeded to get that printed.
The death of our revered President Nelson Mandela in December 2013 brought back many memories. It also inspired me to make our love story available in hard copy for our grandchildren. This kick started the low-key publication of WHAT GOD JOINED TOGETHER in 2015. The present book is in some sense a follow-up of WHAT GOD JOINED TOGETHER. I am like-wise attempting to tell (the rest of) my story to my grandchildren. Naturally some repetition cannot be avoided.
I continued working on I will not die but live in November 2015. However, other material kept me busy throughout the bulk of 2016. Once again I will not die but live was more or less forgotten.
Towards the end of 2016 I resumed improving Honger na Geregtigheid (Hunger after Justice), a manuscript which our daughter Tabitha had scanned in from a cyclostyled A4 version a few years ago. (During such a process the original text gets quite distorted, needing substantial correction.) On 29 December 2016 I discovered to my dismay that some pages of the scanned version of Honger na Geregtigheid were missing.
When I went to try and find a better copy of Honger na Geregtigheid - searching for the missing pages in our garage in a carton that we had almost dumped - I found the first printed draft of I will not die but live. (Psalm 118:17 had been the challenge that I was given in 2003.) I sensed some rebuke. I had to proclaim what the LORD has done and stop harping on the negative activism of Honger na Geregtigheid.  
On my 71st birthday on New Year’s Eve 2016 a relative who had no clue of all this, felt an inner urge to give to me as a special word for the occasion Psalm 71:18 (Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come). I perceived this as confirmation to press on towards publishing I will not die but live, i.e. to proclaim what the LORD has done’.
            One will find the biblical Jonah mentioned in this book quite frequently. The reason for this is that I took much of the material from the autobiographical manuscript I was like Jonah. As in all my other manuscripts and books, I refer to my race as 'Coloured'. In a country as ours where racial classifications has caused such damage, I am aware that the designation 'Coloured' has given offence to the group into which I have been classified.  For this reason, I attempt to put ‘Coloured’ consistently between inverted commas and with a capital C when I refer to the racial group. To the other races I refer as 'Black' and 'White' respectively, with a capital B and W, to denote that it is not normal colours that are being described.


Cape Town, June 2017
  1. Childhood and Teenage Challenges

    I take liberty to introduce myself as a ‘Cape Coloured’, who has been living among Capetonian Muslims for a number of years. Growing up as a little boy in the slum area of Cape Town called District Six in the late 1940s and early 1950s I had no idea that District Six was the hub of resistance against all forms of racial segregation.[3]
            Soon after coming to personal faith in Jesus as my Saviour in September 1961, I thought as a teenager that the most effective opposition to the heretical apartheid ideology would be to assemble followers of Jesus from different racial and denominational backgrounds as often as possible - to demonstrate Christian unity in this way.  The disunity of the Body of Christ would bug me for many decades.
           
The old District Six – a cultural Conglomerate
I was born in St Monica’s Maternity Clinic in Bo-Kaap[4] just over 70 years ago and bred as an Afrikaans-speaking Moravian Christian in the hey‑day of District Six. I attended the Zinzendorf Primary School in Arundel Street when there were still quite a few Jewish shop owners in Hanover Street, the hub of the slum-like suburb. (I learned later that many Jews were actually living in District Six.) 
At a later stage of my life, I enjoyed my theological education at the Moravian Seminary in Ashley Street ‑ likewise in District Six ‑ at a time when many buildings of the cherished environment of my childhood had already been demolished, all the Jews had left and many Christians had (been) moved to the Cape Flats. (District Six was declared a ‘White’ residential area on 11 February 1966 by governmental decree. The Jews of District Six had moved voluntarily to ‘White’ residential suburbs like Sea Point and Vredehoek.) 

An Errand Boy in Elim                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a retired Moravian school principal and minister, my grandfather, Oupa Joorst, asked my parents from the Elim Mission Station whether I could come and help them as a ‘stuurding’. As an errand boy I was required to fetch water, go to the shop for them and empty the toilet buckets (together with another boy I had to carry the bucket to a big hole that were dug twice every day outside the village.)
            On the mission station quite an amount of Gospel seed was sown into my heart in various ways. The memorizing of Bible verses would come in good stead in later years. A special Scripture portion was the first verses of Isaiah 53. We had to memorise how the prophet wrote about an unknown suffering person who was compared with a lamb taken to be slaughtered. I understood this as a prophecy about Jesus as the Lamb of God. He, the Lamb, did not open His mouth when He was falsely accused.
            Towards the end of February 1958 ‘Oupa Joorst’ became very ill. The doctor stated that he would not live very long. When I returned from school for the noon break on 8 March 1958, I went straight to Oupa’s bedroom, where the neighbour, Ta’ Stienie Daniels, tried to push me out of the room, but it was too late! She could not stop me experiencing something very special! I was privileged to see the radiant joy on the face of the aged saint going ‘home’. He evidently saw something which nobody else of us at his bedside saw. He stretched out his arms expectantly, as if he was being fetched, with his face lighting up for a moment. And then it was all over... This left an indelible mark on me as I saw that Oupa obviously rejoiced to be ‘taken’ along by some celestial being unseen by the rest of us.         

Changes in Tiervlei   
The situation back home in Tiervlei changed when our Dad had lost his job as a blocker at a milliner factory where they produced female hats. After Daddy had become unemployed in 1957, no factory in the clothing industrial union was inclined to employ a middle-aged worker on top wages. Mommy took employment as nanny of the children of a Professor Beinart from UCT.
            Even when Daddy eventually did get work as a night porter at Mupine, the hostel for workers of the insurance company Old Mutual, the total earnings were still not sufficient. My parents saw no other way out than to take our sister Magdalene out of school as the eldest of the four siblings.

A clear Faith Challenge
For my secondary schooling I returned to Tiervei. Mr. Braam, our English-speaking Vasco High School principal who hailed from Methodist stock, was God’s instrument for giving us as learners a clear challenge. That he could say with such emphasis in the weekly assembly time ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine’, struck at my deepest emotions. I lacked that inner assurance.
            I was still a fifteen-year-old teenager when my close friend Nicholas Dirks invited me along to the Goodwood Showgrounds on Sunday 17 September 1961 where a Canadian, Dr Oswald Smith, was the preacher. Quite dynamically the evangelist challenged everybody during the service to ‘come to the Cross.’ For the first time in my life I realized that it was not good enough to know in a general way that Jesus died for the sins of the world. I responded positively, accepting Jesus as my personal Saviour. There was sadly no follow up discipling. (This had happened at two previous similar occasions.) I had an inner peace which was completely different this time.

My Ways are not your Ways...

During 1962 our mother had to stop working because of arthritis, aggravated by the factory work where she had to be on her feet all day. I matriculated at the end of that year, with the understanding that I could proceed with my teacher training after a break of a year. In the interim I would take any employment that I could find.
After a few unsuccessful attempts at trying to get clerical work (that was as a rule more or less reserved for ‘Whites’), I settled for a menial job at the printing factory of Nasionale Boekhandel, where I was required to clean the machines.
            Returning to our Tiervlei home from the Nasionale Boekhandel prin­t­ing works in nearby Parow in the late afternoon of early January 1963, I learned that I had been accepted as a teacher trainee at the prestigious Hewat Training College in Crawford.  I was pleasantly surprised when my parents disclosed that they felt that I could go to ‘Hewat’ straight away, thus without the gap year of secular employment. They had been challenged by the ‘Watchword’ from the Moravian textbook for the day, Isaiah 55:8: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord....
            After a short period of gradual spiritual backsliding ‑ while I nevertheless remained active in church youth work ‑ God used Ds. Piet Bester, an Afrikaner Dutch Reformed pastor, who came to Tiervlei in 1962 (The ‘Coloured’ sector of Tiervlei was later renamed Ravensmead) to show me that I was ‘addicted’ to sports. I was deeply challenged because sports had become the equivalent of an idol to me. Dominee (Reverend) Piet Bester’s testimony of his deliverance from folk dancing pierced my heart: ‘Was I actually idolizing sport?I was set free from that addiction on that day.

An ecclesiastical Misfit
In our church I did not fit the mould. Along with two young Sunday School colleagues with the name Paul who had the typical Cape Moravian surnames Engel and Joemat,[5] I would often launch out in an arrogant way to ‘get the Moravian Church back on track’ with regard to biblical conversion. The two Pauls and I sometimes used unconventional means. Bible choruses were regarded as sectarian in those days.
            At the youth services in our local church I went a step further than my sister Magdalene. I  also invited not only experienced (lay) preachers from other denominations, but also teenagers like myself to come and preach. Attie Louw, who was with me in our Matric class, had contacts via the Christian Students Association (CSV). (The Lord used him to bring new life into the CSV of our school. Attie subsequently proceeded to become a dominee, a Dutch Reformed minister.) He came to preach at one of our youth services and he also recommended his theological student colleague Allan Boesak, who had started preaching already when he was ten years old.
Allan came to preach in our fellowship soon after he had started with his theological studies. Coming from what we regarded as far away Somerset West, Allan slept at our home the Saturday evening ahead of the youth service the following day. This gave me a good opportunity for some theological discussion. I eagerly grabbed the occasion to sound Allan out about the christening of infants.  (On the issue of believer’s baptism a Pentecostal friend had been influencing me.)
Allan couldn’t really convince me, but I was satisfied that he was honest, that he believed that christening of infants is the sign of the new covenant that our Lord had ushered in. This was the equivalent and substitute for the Jewish ritual of circumcision. He explained that the latter is the visible sign of the old covenant of God with Israel.

A Challenge to Mission Work

God used Ds. Bester, the new local Sendingkerk minister not only interested in sharing the Gospel with all and sundry, but also in missions. As part of a new commitment to the Lord, I abruptly decided to stop playing cricket for Tigers, the local club. I attended the Dutch Reformed Sendingkerk now quite regularly on Sunday and on Wednesday evenings.
            The next few years were formative in my spiritual development. Here my faith was really built up and a basis laid for involvement in missionary work. Since I was racially classified and raised as a ‘Coloured’, I however never even considered remotely that I would ever go to another country for missional purposes. We thought that missionaries had to be ‘White’. Soon enough I got involved in local mission work.

Mission Work in Rebellion
In the Sunday school of our congregation, I had led a few children to a personal faith in Jesus as their Saviour. I also encouraged the children to tell others about their decision to follow Jesus. One of the children from the Sonnenberg family did just this at their home. The staunch Moravian parents promptly complained to the church leadership about the 'un-Moravian' way in which I was conducting the Sunday School classes. To get ‘converted’ to faith in Jesus was regarded to be sectarian by the rank and file Moravian Church member at the Cape, also on the mission stations. (Sadly, our denomination had thus drifted far away from its blessed evangelistic and missionary beginnings.)
         When I was called to book, I was not prepared to budge, deciding to rather stop with Sunday school teaching there. This typified the defiant, rebellious and arrogant spirit of that era of my life. I went to serve as a volunteer at a small open air Wayside Sunday School in someone’s backyard.
I served as a volunteer at a small open air Wayside Sunday School in someone’s backyard.

Spiritually revived
A link through Paul Engel (my rebel teenage colleague of the Moravian Church) and Allan Boesak separately brought me to a major turning point in my life. They invited me to the evangelistic outreach of the Christian Students’ Association at the seaside resort of Harmony Park. That was due to start just after Christmas in 1964.
            At that time however, I felt spiritually empty and bankrupt. How could one go and share the Gospel with others in such a condition? I cried to the Lord to equip me! He heard my heart’s cry, divinely touching me. I sensed the power of the Holy Spirit taking hold of me. I was thus better equipped for the outreach there in Harmony Park, taking that evangelistic zeal into my first teaching post at Bellville South High School!
A special friendship and partnership developed there in Harmony Park with my evangelical tent mates David Savage and Ds. Esau Jacobs (the latter was generally known as Jakes). I corresponded thereafter quite intensely with both of them.  (At that time Jakes was a young pastor who had just started off in his first congregation, in the Transkei, residing in Umtata.)
After one of the Harmony Park open air evening services I received my introduction to ‘spiritual warfare’. When Jakes entered the tent after he had a long conversation with a Muslim camper, he exclaimed despondently that we would not be able to make any head‑way without prayer and fasting in outreach to Muslims.  Next to Ds. Piet Bester, Jakes, the young pastor, became my role model and mentor for the next few years. Over time our friendship grew into a David and Jonathan relationship.

Unity in Christ across the racial Divide?
The Harmony Park evangelistic outreach influenced my life in yet another way: There I received an urge to network with people from different church backgrounds, more than before.
            I naively tried to break through the unwritten prescripts of our society with regard to racial separation. I was looking at all sorts of ways to express the unity in Christ across the racial divide. (My only opposition to the apartheid regime until this time was the occasional disregard of petty apartheid sign boards such as the prohibition to go through the ‘Whites only’ subway at Crawford station in the afternoons, along with my Hewat Training College student colleagues.  We were always careful however that there were no railway policemen around who could arrest us.)

Trained for the Ministry?     
As I went into my final year of teacher training - in those days two years of such training were the norm - I did not feel comfort­able and capable at all to go and teach straight away the following year. I still looked like a juvenile myself. I feared that the learners would run over me.        (My ID card, which one coul receive after turning 16)
While I was still a teenager, the above‑mentioned Chris Wessels, who was by this time an assistant pastor in the Moravian Church, challenged me to enter theological training. However, I hoped to be more clearly and divinely called. When I was due to start my teaching career, I felt also that I should be trained for the ministry. But I sensed no peace to follow a ‘call’ to the Moravian Theological Seminary at that point in time. Therefore I applied to do a third year of teacher training. That was the big exception for ‘Coloureds’ at the time. This excuse was very handy when our Church Board offered me a teaching post in Port Elizabeth, albeit with the proviso that I would also attend the extra-mural theological seminary classes there.
            I was not opposed to theological training as such. In fact, before my conversion to Christ I had already envisaged myself as a teacher and preacher simultaneously. That was quite customary among our relatives. (My grandfather and a few uncles had been practising two professions simultaneously - as a school principal and church pastor.)

Pushed into Teaching
Quite surprisingly, the third year “academic” teachers’ training course at Hewat for 1965 was cancelled. Thus I had to try and find one of the rare primary school teaching posts. (For ‘Coloureds’ there were far too few school buildings. Many of the township schools had two teaching shifts for the lower classes, one in the morning and another one starting around 1 p.m.)

Very unbalanced       
With an evangelistic team of Ds. Bester I got engaged in one evangelistic initiative after the other. The evangelist Chris Cronje from Springs in the Transvaal was a favourite speaker in these public campaigns. The conviction had grown within me in the meantime that I should experience a clear call from the Lord before diving into theological studies.
            After my encounter with the Lord before my first Harmony Park beach outreach, I started to attend the prayer meetings every Sunday morning at six o’clock at the Moria Sendingkerk of Tiervlei.  
            One Sunday morning a mini-revival erupted there when suddenly everybody started praying simultaneously. That was quite revolutionary for the time, causing some disquiet among the traditional reformed believers. It was significant that women from different local churches were meeting each other regularly for prayer hereafter. This confirmed for me the special blessing of united prayer across denominational barriers. (Years later we would put this to good effect in Zeist (Holland) in the 1980s and back in Cape Town after our return in 1992.)

            Yet, I was also very much a child of my surroundings and completely unbalanced. Not long before starting my teaching career, I frowned upon extended degree studies because I really expected the Lord to return very soon. However, when I heard that extra-mural lectures would be given at the University College of the Western Cape (UCWC), I jumped at the opportunity to start degree studies, conveniently pushing aside my earlier disdainful reservations to study at a ‘Bush’ college. Soon I was cycling to the school in the morning, and from there to the afternoon and evening classes at UCWC. Often I utilised the time on the bicycle - e.g. holding a book on the steering bar while I memorized the various forms of the German strong or irregular verbs. (Not knowing that it would come in good stead one day, I had included German Special as one of my degree courses.)     
            I was somewhat disappointed that the tertiary institution could not offer Mathematics as a subject extra-murally straight away. Only in my final year of the degree I included Mathematics in my curriculum, doing it by correspondence with UNISA.

            Being thoroughly materialistic at this time, I only had eyes for the opportunity to get in line for promo­tion as a teacher in later years, so that I would be able to earn more. But there was also the academic field that beckoned. Posts at the new fledgling 'Coloured' University were waiting to be filled by people from our racial grouping. As one of the better and also the youngest of the extra-mural students, this was a rather tempting option. From our pioneering first group of students - where we also had certain lectures together with the day students - many would proceed to become school inspectors and prominent academics.[6]
           


2.      A young Teacher and Missionary

            I was seriously considering God’s call to full time service. Almost routinely I repeatedly put it before the Lord at the prayer meetings every Sunday morning at six o’clock at the Sendingkerk that I was completely willing and prepared to proceed towards theological studies. But I wanted to be absolute­ly sure that it was His calling.

A significant Moravian Funeral        
Next to Jakes, Reverend Ivan Wessels was my other hero. He contracted leukaemia at the beginning of 1968. Ivan Wessels passed on after a few weeks in Groote Schuur Hospital, not very long after Professor Chris Barnard had just performed his first heart transplants there.
         Instead of the weekend Sunday School Conference at the Pella Mission Station that had been scheduled, almost the whole Moravian Church establishment gathered in the suburb Lansdowne on the Saturday for the funeral of one of its most prodigious sons. Although very principled and out­spoken against any form of racism, it was characteristic that the highly gifted Rev. Daniel Ivan Wessels was never jailed or banned because of his opposition to apartheid - in contrast to so many other members of the Wessels clan. When Bishop Schaberg challenged the congregation: ‘Who is going to fill the void caused by our deceased brother?’  I discerned God’s voice in my heart. Back home in Tiervlei after the funeral, it was not difficult at all to say ‘Yes, Lord, I’m prepared to be used by you to fill the gap.’
         The next day we went to the Pella Mission Station for our condensed Sunday School conference. I was completely surprised when Reverend August Habelgaarn, a member of the Church Board, approached me with the question whether I was interested in a bursary for two years of theological studies at the Johanneum in Wupperthal (Germany).[7] I had no hesitation to reply that I saw this as clear confirmation of the call of the Lord the previous day. Another few months down the road, preparations were well advanced towards my leaving for Germany at the beginning of 1969.

A Missionary in Germany?   
I regarded the stint in Europe from January 1969 in the first place as an opportunity to study, but it was also combined with quite a dose of missionary zeal. From the outset I regarded myself as a ‘short term missionary’.  (In those days such terminology was however still unknown.) The notion of a missionary coming from Africa to ‘Christian’ Europe was unheard of. But I was just as determined to return to my home country thereafter to serve the Lord.  The almost two years in Germany, during which I learnt much about youth work in the first year, were very enriching. (It was however not one-way traffic at all. I was pleasantly surprised that our own Moravian Church youth work of the late 1960s was quite advanced. It compared quite favourably with what Germany had to offer at that time.)
            My first year was devoted to studies in the biblical languages Greek, Hebrew and Latin.[8]      Fairly at the beginning of my stint there, I once opposed Marxist theological students even though I still could not yet express myself sufficiently in German, thus needing a translator. A German lady from the audience exclaimed quite shocked that their ‘Christian’ country was apparently now in need of mission­aries from Africa!

A Bachelor Boy?
 I had just turned 23 when I left South Africa. All around me my peers were getting married. The music of the Beatles and Cliff Richard was influencing young people everywhere. I was not happy however with the message Cliff Richard was spreading, that to be a bachelor boy was the way to stay.  (I was nevertheless determined from the outset not to marry a German girl because that would have prevented me from returning to South Africa due to of the laws of the country at the time.) I had to learn the hard way (well, really?) that also my emotions had to be brought under God’s rule! His ways were indeed higher, also with regard to my future marriage partner. I had to learn that it was not fitting to prescribe to the Lord the race of my future wife. 

Enraged in Europe
Before I left South Africa in January 1969, Bishop Schaberg had warned me to stay clear of politics, because spies from the apartheid government were also well represented overseas. I initially heeded this warning without however really making any conscious effort.
            This changed when I received a letter from my parents with shocking information. They had been served with a notice of the expropriation by the Parow Municipality, expected to move from our property in Tiervlei They would receive an amount for it with which they could not get something substantial in return.
            What really enraged me was that my mother mentioned in her letter something about ‘the will of the Lord’. I stopped just short of considering joining the armed struggle against the apartheid government. This act was to me just another brutal example and extension of their racist policies. I hereafter wrote quite a strong letter of protest to the Parow Municipality, with copies to some people in Tiervlei. Hereafter, I became almost reckless in my opposition to the South African government. I was now very critical of the regime, also in public utterances.
            My protest letter after the expropriation of our house in Tiervlei did not have much of an effect. My parents moved to the vacant house of Oupa and Ouma Cloete on the Elim Mission Station. Daddy became a migrant labourer, going to Elim one weekend per month.
            Health-wise it all became too much for him. It affected his heart. At the age of 58, he was forced to go on early retirement.

My missionary Zeal decreased         
When my parents moved to Elim - thus without visible reminders and news from me - the support from the Tiervlei prayer warriors diminished. Parallel to it, much of my initial missionary zeal all but vanished. My opposition to the government of my home country got a personal touch when I fell in love with Rosemarie Göbel in May 1970. When I returned to South Africa in October of that year, I knew for certain that this was the girl whom I wanted to marry. The prohibition of racially mixed marriages was however a huge stumbling block.
            I was terribly in love, soon telling our wonderful love story to all and sundry. At one of the occasions when I blurted it out, my cousin John Ulster, who was the minister of the Elim Mission Station at the time, pointed the obvious out to me, namely that I had to choose between South Africa or Rosemarie. (His sister had been exiled to all intents and purposes after her marriage to a sailor from Britain who had been based in Simon’s Town.) I wanted both South Africa and Rosemarie. This must have looked really stupid and naive at that time because a marriage to a (White) German was just not a runner. But I was too much in love to accept that. I was determined to marry Rosemarie, resolving to fight to get her into South Africa.

Fighting Apartheid among young People
After my return to Cape Town, I was swept along by the politics of the day. Ever since reading books from Martin Luther King and Albert Luthuli during my stay in Germany- literature that were either unavailable or declared banned in South Africa - my interest was more than merely aroused. I was ablaze in opposition to apartheid, seeing this as my Christian duty. One of the first things after my return was to join the Christian Institute (CI). Here I linked up with Paul Joemat, my old rebel soul mate in the Moravian Church. He also had the vision that Christians should be actively engaged in opposing the unchristian apartheid ideology.
            We were quite disappointed when we discovered that the young ‘White’ members of the CI were not prepared to fall foul of the immoral apartheid laws. I suggested that we could board a train together and then walk through the different racially designated train coaches. The idea was that all of us might then have been arrested for the infringement. Paul and I were quite prepared to embarrass the government in that way. However, the ‘White’ members opined that it was not CI policy to do illegal things. Paul and I decided to stop going there. This was perhaps not the wisest thing to do because the two of us were the only young CI members sporting a darker shade of pale in terms of skin pigmentation.[9]

Addressing the Communist Iron Curtain
Just before I left South Africa in January 1969, I bought a booklet at the Christian bookshop of Nic de Goede, the leader of the Wayside Mission in Parow. The booklet ‘Tortured for Christ’ by Richard Wurmbrand, in which the author describes how he had been maltreated in Communist Romania, made a deep impression on me. In Germany I soon had the opportunity to listen to the testimony of the Romanian pastor himself and hear about the experiences of Christians in the Communist countries.
            Hereafter I received the periodical of the organization founded by Richard Wurmbrand every month. I also started practising fasting on Friday mornings and praying for imprisoned Christians behind the ‘iron curtain‘.  Initially this was actually more or less faceless untargeted praying, but it would change in later years when we received photographs of the persecuted Christians. Nevertheless, although I learned through experience the power of prayer, I never really proceeded to become a prayer intercessor in the best sense of the word.
Efforts to ‘assist God’
A major problem had arisen in Germany after Rosemarie and I had fallen in love with each other. She confided with her mother who was not happy with the match.  She allowed Rosemarie however to correspond with me without the knowledge of Mr Gȍbel, her husband. She was probably not the only one who thought that our friendship would peter out after some time.
            On this side of the ocean there was the ominous ‘Mixed Marriages Act’, the prohibition of any marital bond between a ‘White’ and someone from another race. After reading in a local newspaper about someone who had been racially reclassified, this looked to be my big chance. I could not accept the ‘realistic’ options of either Rosemarie or South Africa.
            My parents magnanimously declared their willingness to release me to return to Germany, rather than allowing me to bring Rosemarie into the humiliations of life that were associated with the apartheid era, knowing that Rosemarie had not grown up here. I was too madly in love to appreciate their sacrificial wisdom.
My effort to get Rosemarie reclassified as a ‘Coloured’ only created more problems.  Instead of waiting on God’s intervention to enable a possible marriage, I decided to ‘assist Him’.
            I wrote to the Prime Minister to enquire about the pro­cedure to have someone reclassified. Objections from Wolfgang Schäfer, our Seminary lecturer - that I would give recognition to the immoral racial laws of the country with such a reclassification - could not deter me.
            I desperately wanted Rosemarie to come to South Africa, instead of me going to Germany again to marry her. Knowing the objections of her family, Rosemarie was as yet far from free to come to Africa. In one of her letters she actually requested me to pray for her inner liberation in this regard. I had no problem with this, trusting God to change that in due course. Didn’t she tell me when I invited her on our first date to an evening with the Wycliffe Bible Translators that she wanted to enter missions already since her childhood? Thus I just pushed ahead with my ideas.

Secret friendship by Correspondence
Our secret friendship by correspondence – without her father knowing about it - caused tremendous tension in the Gȍbel home in Mühlacker.  This ultimately hospitalised Rosemarie’s mother. When my darling could not handle the secrecy anymore at this time, a tearful clash between her and her father followed. This led to an exchange of a few letters between me and Mr Gȍbel.
            I ‘negotiated’ a deal – turning his arm insolently - whereby I suggested that Rosemarie and I would hereafter only write to each other at festive occasions. He was too furious to reply, instructing her to write to me that I should stop the correspondence, period. This she did not communicate to me, neither immediately thereafter nor in her ‘Passover’ letter. I started writing my multi-paged Pentecost epistle in the meantime, continuing with it during the subsequent weeks.

Separation by Choice
I took a teaching post in the township-like suburb Elsies River, studying part-time at the Moravian Seminary in 1971. Paul Joemat, my old stalwart rebel fighter of the Sunday School conference days, started there with us.  
            A confession on my part, namely that I kissed another girl in Cape Town, paved the way for Rosemarie to start a friendship with a handsome young man in Germany. This brought peace back into their home in Mühlacker. When I did not hear from her at Pentecost – which I had elevated to the next occasion for an exchange of love letters - I assumed that the South African government had intervened. (There had been occasional fiddling with letters and I had of course also attempted to get a reclassification process going so that we could get married). I was so sure that the government was responsible via postal interference that I did not even consider other possibilities.  But I was also not prepared to accept this without a fight.
            The refund of money that I had paid into the Pension Fund when I was operating as a teacher before my resignation to go into full-time theological studies was very timely. This enabled me to book flights for the June vacation of 1971. Prayerfully I could put this as a ‘fleece’, a test. The Lord had to open another door because the cheap Luxavia flight which I wanted to take was already fully booked.
            What divine intervention would transpire in these weeks! It started with a phone call from the airline Luxavia just one day before the closing of schools for the term. There had been a cancellation! I grabbed that seat eagerly of course.
            But there would also follow some surprise and disappointment. Only when I was in Germany I had to face the hard fact that I had a rival. Rosemarie ultimately decided to part friendship with both of us, leaving it over to God to bring us together again if that was His will that we should marry one day.

  1. A Theological Student in District Six

            For the second year of my theological studies I moved to District Six. Now I was one of three Moravian Seminary full-time students, along with Gustine Joemath and Fritz Faro. A big dose of cross‑cultural pollination was administered to us as students during our time at the seminary in Ashley Street in District Six. Not only the formal theological studies, but also the extra‑mural activities, with which our German lecturers Henning Schlimm and Wolfgang Schäfer brought us into contact, enriched our lives tremendously. The Seminary was very much involved with the activities of the Christian Institute. Both Bishop’s Court, the residential area where the richest of the Cape Town affluent live and Black townships,were places that I had not visited before.
            An article in Pro Veritate, the periodical of the Christian Institute, depicted how South Africa is a micro-cosmos – a sample of the world at large.  This presented me with a challenge. If it were true that all the problems of the world are present in a compact way in our country, why couldn’t the Republic of South Africa give an example to the world to the solution of these very problems? Without any ado Henning Schlimm allowed me to examine ‘Poverty in the 'Old Testament' for a mini thesis in that subject.

Low-key Activism      
I had made no secret of my sentiments regarding justice in South Africa, posturing a self-written T-shirt with “Reg en Geregtigheid” (A call for justice and righteousness) at the front and “Civil Rights” on the back. One had to reckon with it that such provocations would be registered in police circles to one’s disadvantage.
More Divine Intervention
Returning to the Seminary in Ashley Street from a political demonstration in June 1972 that had been dispersed by police using teargas, there was a special letter from Germany. I received one directly from my ‘Schatz’(darling)!
            I was startled at what I could read there. Through the 'Old Testament'[10] Watchword on her birthday ‘love the stranger in your gates’, Rosemarie’s mother had been challenged to give us permission to resume our correspondence. As Rosemarie’s 21st birthday was approaching, the Lord spoke to Mama Göbel through another word from Scripture: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  She knew that it meant for her that she had to accept me as a possible future son-in-law. She reacted positively, giving Rosemarie permission to write to me again! This was very courageous of Mrs Göbel because she knew that this was definitely not the wish of her hus­band. With the aid of Henning Schlimm, our seminary director and my confident, a teaching post for Rosemarie was secured at the (German) Kindergarten of the St Martini Lutheran Church in the Capetonian Long Street. Pastor Osterwald displayed quite a lot of courage in appointing her, albeit that he had to do it secretly, making sure that there would be no copy of a covering letter. 

Playing with Fire
Rosemarie tried to send me a tape cassette with a ‘Coloured’ South African from Gleemoor, a part of Athlone, a suburb of Cape Town. On this cassette she included Pastor Osterwald’s advice: ‘I want to tell you that your decision to start on this daring venture will lead you into many a conscientious conflict...’
            Early one October morning of 1972, while I was praying for the country, I felt constrained to write a letter to the Prime Minister. In this letter, I addressed him with ‘Liewe’ (dear), with affection implied. (‘Geagte’ – Honourable - would have been more appropriate.) That was definitely something extraordinary. My natural feelings towards Mr Vorster were not that charitable. In my letter I challenged Mr Vorster to lead the nation in the ways of God. Basically, it was however a letter of criticism that could have catapulted me into hot water. I was fortunate that I only received a formal repri­mand from Mr Vorster. His letter was actually a standard circular in which only the name of the recipient was inserted with an electric typewriter.
            In a sense Prime Minister Vorster was not completely off target when he accused me of ‘making politics under the guise of religion’. (This was apparently his standard reply to religious objection to the racial policies of the country.) I had challenged him in this letter to be used by God like President Lincoln to get our country out of the catastrophic direction of the apartheid politics, heading for disaster. Yet, prayer had inspired my letter.
I was far from careful when I stated openly in a news­let­ter to friends in Germany that Rosemarie would come and work in Cape Town in February the following year. That was courting with trouble.

A direct Call from Germany 
I was still counting the days to the beginning of March 1973 when Rosemarie was due to arrive. Great was the disappointment when the first of March came and went without any news of her visa. We had thought that this would be a mere formality. I was completely stunned when my ‘Schatz’ phoned me on the direct line from Germany which had just come into operation. She wanted to share the content of a letter that she had received from the South African Consulate in Munich:
          ‘I regret to have to inform you that your application for permanent residence in the Republic of South Africa has been turned down...’ No reason was given although it was fairly obvious to each and everyone who knew the country’s race policies.
          Anticipating the visa, Rosemarie had resigned from her work at the children’s hospital in Tübingen. But she fortunately soon procured a post thereafter at a school for mentally retarded children where Elke Maier, her close friend, was teaching.
         
Spiritually Miles apart          
Looking back, we saw that the Lord was very gracious to us. Our brittle love would have been put under immense pressure by the compulsory sphere of secrecy as a result of the apartheid laws. But also theologically and spiritually we were miles apart at that moment. I had become rather liberal, theologically influenced by the emerging Black Theology and the teaching at the seminary. The lectures were definitely not evangelical. Black Theology had an air of negativity and resentment towards Whites around it.
          The spiritual environment in which Rosemarie was operating in Tübingen at the time was very conservative, not in the best traditions of that word. The predominantly student congregation that she had joined had close contacts with Bob Jones University in in the USA where the full individual freedom in Christ was not always practised. It is doubtful whether our sensitive relationship would have survived the double tension if Rosemarie had been able to come to South Africa in March 1973.

Contrasting Influences
Under the influence of Black Theology, I had been gradually moving away from my walk with the Lord. But God was working in my life as well. Our student colleague Fritz Faro was greatly influenced by the Jesus People, a group of young men and women who came out of the hippy movement. A spiritual revival had broken out among them. We appreciated that these young people were radical like us, although we had problems with their a-political stance. We seminarians could definitely not accept any situation where despicable apartheid practices were uncritically taken on board.
         We also sharpened our axes for White liberals who professed to be against apartheid but who were not prepared to suffer for their convictions. The renowned St George’s Cathedral and the Jesus People failed our test when we noticed how the congregants were still sitting separately along racial lines. Spiritually however, the radicalism of the Jesus People did rub off. It reminded me of my days with the SCA young people. I had become somewhat estranged from the latter group, possibly because of the liberal phase through which I was going.
            Gustine Joemath and I, the other two full-time students, tried to accommodate what we regarded as an overdrawn evangelistic zeal of Fritz Faro and the Jesus People.  At the same time we deemed it necessary to challenge the apparent Jesus People acceptance of the racist South African way of life. Thus we invited a student from Rhodesia - as Zimbabwe was called in those days - to join us in evangelistic outreach on Muizenberg beach. The idea was just to go and sing choruses, using our instruments. Gustine and Fritz were good guitar payers and I had a trumpet.) As this beach was denoted ‘for Whites only’, the three of us were liable to be arrested. After having been probably ‘advised‘ by South African Whites, our Rhodesian friend copped out with a flimsy excuse.

All Races welcome!
When we walked past a city church one Sunday afternoon we decided to challenge this congregation that also displayed prominently that they welcomed all races. Reverend Douglas Bax and his St Andrew‘s Presbyterian Church passed our test with flying colours. Thereafter Douglas became a close friend of our seminary.       
            The two years of full-time study at the seminary however also included a good balance with evangelistic activity. Now and then Jakes would come and pick me up on a Friday evening to join evangelistic outreach like that of Ds. Pietie Victor’s Straatwerk.
        
Visa Refusal
We regarded it important that Rosemarie should at least get acquainted with South Africa and my family. Therefore she applied again, this time for a tourist visa. Rosemarie was however refused a visa again, without any proper reason given. Instead of coming to South Africa, she went to Israel with other Christian friends. During this time in Israel, her love for the Jewish people deepened.
         After Rosemarie’s latest visa refusal, I had to face the only option left for a possible marriage: It looked inevitable that I would have to leave South Africa permanently. At this time a real struggle raged in my mind and heart between the love for my country and my love for Rosemarie. So much I wanted to make a contribution towards racial reconcili­ation. I thought, perhaps a bit too arrogantly: “I can serve God here in my native country better than anywhere else.” God still had to be bring me down from that presumptuous pedestal. Rather ambivalently, I prayed that He would let me fall in love with a ‘Coloured’ girl who would be ‘the equal’ of Rosemarie. I still hoped that it would not be necessary to go overseas to marry my bonny over the ocean. God still had to humble me to accept his choice of a wife because I still somehow did not want to leave South Africa permanently.
         There seemed to be only one way out: I had to choose between the love for Rosemarie and my love for the country.  My cousin John Ulster was apparently right. Hesitantly I opted to leave South Africa, with little realistic hope of a return.
        
Deep Soul Searching
The South African Council of Churches initiated a new tradition in 1973. August was dubbed as the month of compassion. Operating predominantly within the confines of the ‘Coloured’ community, we knew that there was a definite need to address the superiority complex towards Blacks. To this end we invited one of our CI friends, the Congregational Church minister Bongonjalo Claude Goba as the speaker for our youth service in District Six.[11] This was possibly one of the first occasions where there was a Black South African on the pulpit of Moravian Hill Chapel.
            It was not surprising that an honest congregant left the sanctuary demonstratively the very moment Claude Goba walked to the pulpit. (We three full-time seminarians had done something similar, leaving a church service quietly but agitatingly when a local pastor persisted with segregated seating for visiting Moravian Germans the previous year.)                 
         Claude Goba’s sermon brought about some deep soul searching, bringing my inner tussle to a head. Was I not like Jonah, running away from the problems of our revolution-ripe country? To cop out cowardly was the very last thing that I wanted to do! The result was an intensification of my inner struggle between the love for my country and my love for a foreign girl which could turn me into an (in)voluntary exile.        
            My inner voice told me that I should apply for the extension of my passport well ahead of its expiry on January the 16th the following year. I considered that I could get peace at heart before my departure if I would apply timely for an extension of my passport. But I couldn’t muster the courage (or faith?) to apply! I just couldn’t stand the real possibility of a negative response. I knew this could have been the test to discern God’s will for me. But I feared that the semi-political involvement of the recent months could have jeopardized such an extension. 
         Our Church Board co-operated optimally. (There might have been some heated debating internally until they got there.) The Board came up with the suggestion that I could go and work with the Moravian Church in Germany at the end of the year. Offically this was called pastoral exchange. For the one or other of the Board members it might have boiled down to good riddance of a rebellious young minister.

Other Things that kept us busy
But there were also other things that kept us busy at the seminary, e.g. preparations for a youth rally with the theme Youth Power in the Old Drill Hall.[12] The theological seminary played a major role in the organizing of that event. Dr Beyers Naudé, the leader of the CI, was our high-profiled speaker who was invited to address the youth rally. This was typical of the position of our institution in opposition to the regime. As Dr Naudé was lodging with the Schlimm family, he heard about my pending departure for Germany to take up a position as assistant minister and about the link to my darling Rosemarie, the real reason of my departure. (Henning and Anne Schlimm had been my confidants during the three years of my studies at the seminary.)
            Apart from playing the trumpet in our small band, I was not as deeply involved in the run-up to the event because of my pending departure for Germany. There were all sorts of other things to see to like greeting many people like friends and relatives prior to my departure. Fol­lowing in the footsteps of a cousin who married an Englishman around 1950, many from the ranks of family and friends expected this to be my final fare­well to South Africa. I was about to become an exile!


4. Back in Germany!

 

             Once in Europe, I applied as soon as possible for the extension of my passport. My anxiety was thankfully dispelled when I received my passport, extended for a further three years. However, I still yearned to return to Africa, preferably to Southern Africa!

Rosemarie and I became engaged for marriage in March 1974, albeit with no family from either side present. A week later I was due to leave for West Berlin, where the main part of my vikariat (assistant ministership), was due to take place.

Practical Ministry of Reconciliation

In my correspondence with the church back home and with the South African government I still tried to fight for my return to the country.
          At a German Moravian pastors’ conference in May 1974 I shared the room with Eckard Buchholz, a missionary from the Transkei. He was not sceptical at all - like so many other people - about the fact that the South African government intended to give proper independence to the homeland. In fact, Eckard challenged me to come and work there after the commencement of the independence of the ‘homeland’, due to follow in 1976. He was confident that Transkei would not take over the racist mixed marriages prohibition. I gladly accepted the challenge.
I grappled seriously with the idea of ministering in the Transkei.  To this end I started learning Xhosa with the aid of audiocassettes that Eckhard had sent. However, I did not discuss my intentions in this regard with Rosemarie fully. Taking for granted that she wanted to be a mission­ary one day, I expected that she would join me to go and serve in the Transkei.

The End of our Engagement?           
During her visit to West Berlin in mid-1974, where I was serving, I casually communicated my intention to return to Southern Africa.  I was completely taken by surprise to hear now that she was not ready at all to go to ‘Africa’ with me. The termination of our engagement was on the cards, because I was quite determined to return to the African continent as soon as possible. I didn’t feel like ‘hanging around’ in Europe for any length of time. It is quite strange that we never discussed this matter thoroughly before we got engaged!
         Neither of us was prepared for this turn of events. What could we do now? On the issue of our future abode, we seemed to be miles apart! In our utter despair, we cried to God for help! We loved each other so dearly. We didn’t want to part, but about such an important matter we had to agree of course. It had to be sorted out immediately. We loved each other far too much. In complete desperation we prayed together, asking God to guide us through His Word.
         Divine intervention seemed to be the only possibility to save our union. Both of us knew that it would not be the proper way to handle Scripture, but we decided to seek ‘God’s mind’ by opening the Bible at random, but prayerfully. When the Word of God fell open at the verse where Ruth said to Naomi, ‘I shall go where you go’, we were filled with awe and thank­fulness. We were extremely elated as we sensed that this was God’s special word for us. We could go into the unknown future together, and that’s what both of us really wanted!
         It could have been a problem if we had discussed the issue further, because both of us interpreted the Bible verse from the own perspective. I trusted that Rosemarie would join me, going to Southern Africa. She thought that I would now stay in Europe. Thankfully, we didn’t pursue the matter further. For the moment, parting was not necessary. We were overjoyed at this confirmation that we would be serving the Lord together, wherever He would lead us!

A Visa at last!
We still deemed it important enough - if possible at all – for Rosemarie to get to know my home country and my relatives. Because I was now in Germany, a major obstacle to a tourist visa should have been eliminated. At least, that was how we reasoned.
            We wrote to the Moravian Church Board in South Africa, asking whether Rosemarie could come over to do voluntary work for a period of two months at the Elim Home, an institution for spastic children on the Elim Mission station. (My parents had relocated to Elim after they were more or less forced to leave our home in Tiervlei by municipal decree, to go and live in the small Moravian settlement from where they had hailed originally. With increased hope Rosemarie applied for a visa for the third time. Along with the application she sent an explanatory letter, mentioning the fact that she wanted to get to know my parents better.
We were quite encouraged when we heard from my parents that the Special Branch (of the police) had left a note in Elim: Rosemarie and I could come to South Africa together, on condition that we would not contact the press.
             
The Moravian Church Board in South Africa co-operated optimally once again. Rosemarie was invited to come and work as a volunteer at the Elim Home for chi*ldren with severe disabilities for a period of two months. We were encouraged by the message of the Special Branch. At that point in time we had no intention whatsoever of going to South Africa as a couple. Therefore it really took us by surprise when instead of the requested two months, Rosemarie received a visa for only two weeks. A ticket for only two weeks would have been exorbitant and defeating the very purpose, namely that Rosemarie could get to know my parents and my home country at least a little bit.
I was in no mood to accept the slap in the face passively. The Special Branch had given us an idea, the possibility of spending our honeymoon in South Africa! This notion was something that would give us severe hassles.
 The political activism which had taken hold of me ever since my return from Europe in 1970 and which had been substantially fed during my seminary days, was fuelled anew. We requested the visa to be extended to four weeks. We also brought forward our original wedding date, to be in South Africa for the Easter holidays and spend our honeymoon there.

A Honeymoon in Separation?           
An adventurous but nerve-recking correspondence plus a visit to the South African consulate in Munich followed. The result was that Rosemarie actually received a visa for four weeks, albeit under the condition that she would “not travel accompanied by your future husband.”  The lady at the consulate warned us not to circumvent the condition.
Initially I didn’t see any problem with the condition. I was so elated that Rosemarie received a visa at last to visit my home country! But in the car on our way back from Munich, Rosemarie had a poser for me. She didn’t want to go to my “heimat” (fatherland) alone any more. All the arrangements for our wedding had more or less been finalised already by this time. Rosemarie’s apt vexing question was “What sort of honeymoon is this?” I had no reply ready. With a fearful heart I agreed that we would travel separately, in spite of the warning. The prospect that I would now still see my family and friends was so enticing. Originally I did not expect that as a possibility so soon! In fact, I had already accepted that I might never seem them again.
           
A Honeymoon with a Difference
Rosemarie and I got married in March 1975.  Her first visit to South Africa was surely a unique honeymoon journey.[13] We took considerable risk, circumventing the condition of the visa by travelling into the country with different airlines. I felt terrible that I had to mislead everybody in South Africa, giving the impression that Rosemarie would be coming alone. I did not dare to inform anybody that I intended coming as well, fearing that our plan would be wrecked on my arrival. I was not supposed to enter the country at that time. By government decree it should have been a ‘honeymoon in separation’.
            It was not easy at all for Rosemarie - travelling two days after me and not knowing whether the police had not perhaps arrested me in the meantime.
            Initially we intended to stick to the strange condition of the visa, even making preparations to sleep in separate homes in Elim, the mission station where my parents were living, as well as in the Mother City. We changed our tickets so that we could travel back in the same Lufthansa machine, flying straight to Frankfurt. Having fulfilled the condition of the visa, not to enter the country together, we returned with thankful hearts that nothing seriously happened that could have marred the wonderful honeymoon.


5. An Anti-Apartheid Activist

          I was ordained in September 1975. After the ordination, Rosemarie and I returned to the divided city of Berlin. There we lost our unplanned ‘honeymoon baby’ less than two months after our arrival, prematurely dead-born. Through my studies my enthusiasm for evangelism suffered a lot, although I was still fasting and praying on Fridays on behalf of the Communist world.

Low-key Protest against Church Tradition
My personal protest against senseless church tradition was quite low-key. In the West Berlin Moravian congregation – that was notorious for its ultra conservatism - where I had ministered from 1974 as an assistant minister and where we returned to in September 1975 after the ordination, I was nevertheless fairly successful in breaking down barriers of tradition and prejudice such as against foreigners.
In Berlin itself I straddled the Christian world. Because of my socialist stance, some really leftist pastors invited me as a speaker at vaarious occasions. On the other hand, I worked alongside the organisers of an evangelical campaign with Ulrich Par­zany, who was up and coming as an evangelist. In those days it was rather unusual to be evangelical and at the same time radical in one’s opposition to apartheid. Not everybody had understanding that this was perfectly possible. Some people might have been shocked if they knew that I also attended the Pentecostal services with Volker Spitzer at Nollendorfplatz occasionally.
        
An Africa-styled Wedding in Berlin  
The congregation had no qualms however when Eckhard Buchholz, our Transkei missionary, wanted me to marry him and Cathy Ncongo, a Zulu language teacher. The authorities in Pretoria would surely have fainted if they had attended the Africa-styled wedding in Berlin in October 1976. Not only was it very special to see the beautiful black bride narrate the African customs with great composure, but also to hear a racially mixed group of South Africans - including a few political exiles - singing Nkosi sikelel i’Afrika. In those days that anthem was regarded as subversive inside the beloved country.
         The West Berlin Moravian congregation soon discovered that Africa also had a lot to give. With Cathy’s Roman Catholic background, it was fitting that Alan Boyles, a ‘Coloured’ Natalian who studied for the priesthood when he met his German-background wife Helga, translated my sermon into English for the sake of the bride.  The church people had no inkling how meaningful it was for the South African contingent to sing ‘Nkosi Sikelel I’Afrika together as a racially mixed choir. But they did enjoy the ‘bring and share’ church celebration, a community occasion which was unknown over there at that time. This was a completely new experience for the German congregation, but apparently thoroughly enjoyable for everybody.

Birth of Danny
A really emotional experience followed soon after our move to Berlin. At the very first time Rosemarie went to the gynaecologist there, he discovered problems, diagnosing placental insufficiency. She was sent to a hospi­tal, but the baby couldn’t be saved. Even though we had not ‘planned’ to get a baby in the first year of our marriage, we had really looked forward to the birth of our first child. Our little David came stillborn into the world.
Even more traumatic for Rosemarie was that she was alone in her grief. I had to preach on the Sunday when the hospital gynaecologist decided to induce the birth of the lifeless foetus. The staff of the institution, the ‘Neuköllner Krankenhaus’, was hardly interested in her as a person once it was known that the baby had died. Only the Turkish lady cleaner showed compassion to a young mother who had lost her first baby!
            Great was the joy a little while later when we had my parents with us in Berlin. They had originally planned to visit us after the birth of our child. Soon thereafter, Rosemarie was pregnant once again. Tension arose when a complication set in. She was therefore closely monitored in the highly rated Steglitz Hospital. All the more we were happy when Rosemarie gave birth to Danny on 4 February, 1977 via a caeserian operation.  

A Movement for peaceful Change?  
Clarion calls were going up in 1976 for action against South Africa in the wake of the June 16 Soweto killings.  I was asked to address a protest meeting in the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church of West Berlin. The general feeling was that the beloved country would soon be going up in flames. I believed that Christians should do all they can to stop the rot.
         My ‘Soweto’ speech in the ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis’ Church in Central Berlin catapulted me into the role of mediator in a dispute between foreign African students and the local authorities. After listening to my effort of mediation, Heinz Krieg, who was connected to the Moral Re-armament (MRA) movement,[14] came to see me. A friendship ensued to Heinz and his wife Gisela.
         When we were about to leave for Holland in September 1977, the Kriegs gave me a challenging book as a parting gift with the title: South Africa, what kind of change? When I read about personal friends from the Cape mentioned in the book, I was challenged once again to become even more of an activist for racial reconciliation in my home country. This signalled the start of a stint with the Moral Re-armament movement and more activism than ever before.
            I now set out to start a front for peaceful change, attempting to use non-violent means to get the racist structures in South Africa changed. I wrote many letters to this end. But support was not forthcom­ing. Almost all the friends whom I approached had given up on the possibility of a non-violent end to the racial conflict in South Africa. Only Rachel Balie, a compatriot from the Southern Cape and who was studying in West Berlin, supported me as I attempted to start this front for a peaceful change from the racist set-up in my home country.
            The initial reaction of the West German government to the peaceful protest of the South African learners was to all and sundry the proof that the days for boycotts and the likes were over. It appeared on the cards that Willy Brandt’s government would now also support the armed opposition. At this point in time I saw boycotting South Africa as one of the few remaining options short of the violent struggle that I opposed. Yet, from within I was not completely happy. How could I support boycotts where others back home would have to bear the brunt? It would get a personal touch when my brother Windsor subsequently lost his laboratory job in the fruit industry as a result of the boycott of South African goods in Europe. Of course, there were also Christians who were opposed to boycotts for different reasons.

Opposition in full Force
We encountered opposition in full force in our congregation when we wanted to dedicate our infant son Danny instead of having him christened during the Passover (Easter) week-end. We had a battle with the local church council. The Church Order allowed for this mode, so that the child could be christened at a later age when he/she could understand what was done. The stance of the church council was that we as the pastoral couple were now upsetting the apple cart, because child dedication turned out to be only a theoretical possibility.
            Our request caused quite a furore. A church council member put it quite bluntly: ‘How can the son of the minister walk around as a heathen?’ Normally I would have fought the issue to the hilt, but at that point in time we didn’t want to blow up the matter out of proportion.
            When another couple wanted to have their infant christened during the same Passover (Easter) weekend, we decided to settle for a compromise. We did not want to play the two modes off against each other. (Two and a half years after the birth of Danny we did rock the boat in the Moravian Church on the issue of infant christening.) We had Waltraud, Rosemarie’s sister, Elke Maier, our bridemaid and Rachel Balie, as the godparents of Danny.
           
Off to Holland!
My denomination needed someone to pastor the congregation in the city of Utrecht who could learn Dutch quickly. As the related language of Afrikaans is my native language, the Church Board approached Rosemarie and me. (Prior to this I had indicated that Rosemarie and I were open to work among the Surinamese people in Holland.) With little hesitation we accepted the call.
            During my last Resurrection morning sermon in Berlin in 1977, I challenged the very conservative congregation on the use of female preachers, by pointing out that Mary Magdalene was the first ‘evangelist’, the carrier of the message of the risen Lord according to the Gospel of John. I could in this way prepare the way for my successor, Karin Beckmann - to become the first female pastor of the congregation.
            It was furthermore agreed with the Church Board that we would initially live on the Broederplein of Zeist, at the historical Moravian settlement where the Count Zinzendorf had held a revolutionary synod centuries ago.


                                                                                                            6. Continued Activism
           
          Soon after our arrival in Zeist (Holland), Rachel Balie, who had returned to South Africa after her studies in Berlin, wrote that Chris Wessels, a long-time minister friend whose home Rosemarie and I had visited on our honeymoon journey, had been imprisoned.  His main ‘offence’ was that he helped to care for and assisted with advocacy on behalf of the families of political prisoners. Furthermore, Chris was never formally accused or brought before a court of law.
According to Rachel, the wife of Chris did not even know where the police was detaining him.

My activist Spirit aroused
My activist spirit was easily aroused, egged on by Rosemarie when she pointed to the death of Steve Biko. I promptly phoned our church authorities in Germany, urging them to intervene on behalf of Chris Wessels.
          Shortly before this, Steve Biko died while in police custody. We feared that the same thing could happen to Chris Wessels. Worse followed when the Minister of Police publicly exclaimed that the death of Biko in custody left him cold. This was the stuff that made headlines - but it was not reassuring for us, aware that the same thing could happen to our friend in some forlorn place.
          My understanding of Scripture was that the least I could do was to try and get Chris released. The news of the death of Steve Biko helped our cause. I moved forcefully to get the Moravian Church of Europe in action on behalf of our brother in detention. Initially it involved quite a battle to get the church authorities in Bad Boll (Germany) on board, but they finally also nudged their colleagues in other countries to write to their respective South African Embassies or Consulates. Later we heard that this action possibly saved Chris Wessels’s life.
            We were still settling down in Zeist when all of us were shocked by more bad news from South Africa. Dr Beyers Naude, who had been their guest, not long before this, was banned along with the Christian Institute and a few organisations. Just over a year later I was involved with advocacy on behalf of Dr Beyers Naudé, urging Dutch Reformed church leaders to get his ban lifted.
Unhealthy Activism                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A flurry of letters to different government departments that I wrote in a rage of activism was basically quite naive. However, the one or other of these letters turned out to be quite strategic. Instead of a humble servant of reconciliation, I had become an activist.
            I started collating all the documents and correspon­dence pertaining to our struggle with the authorities in South Africa. Driven by an unhealthy activism, I got up at two o’clock in the morning after perhaps three hours of sleep. I would then return to bed at five a.m. for another round of sleep. By 8 o’clock I was usually again behind my desk. I believed firmly that I did not need more than six hours of sleep per day anyway.
The unsound Premise of my Call to Utrecht 
The premise of my call to the Moravian congregation of Utrecht was not sound. A Surinamese brother representing the Utrecht congregation, had heard me attacking the South African Moravian Church for its double standards at a synod of the Moravian European Continental Church Synod in May 1975. Rev. Hansie Kroneberg, a member of the Broederkerk[15] Church Board of South Africa had addressed the public synod meeting that took place in Bad Boll.  I embarrassed Rev. Kroneberg uncharitably, by exposing the lack of support of the South African Church Board given tohri the banned Reverend Wessels in the mission station Genadendal (On our honeymoon we had visited the old pensioner).
         The Surinamese brother thus thought that they would get a young ‘political’ fire-brand pastor. He didn’t bargain for one who also had a strong evangeli­cal leaning, one who was on top of it deeply influ­enced by a moral radicalism. Later this would cause quite a lot of tension in the Utrecht Broederraad (Church Council).
After merely three months in office I was involved in a head-on collision with my Utrecht church council, because I didn’t mince words in my sermons. I challenged the congregants on moral issues, as well as inviting them towards complete sub­mission to the claims of Christ. Once I used evangelical terminology of Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Renewed Moravian Church - winning souls for the Lamb.  This was maliciously interpreted as something tantamount to sheep stealing. After I had used testimonies of Moral Re-armament folk from South Africa in a church service on Christmas Day, it was equated with the practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses.[16] But I was determined, not willing to budge. In fact, I revelled in fighting for biblical truth. I was rather unwise to go to such extremes almost at the outset of my tenure in the congregation.
Initially Rosemarie also attended the meetings of the ‘Broederraad’, the church council that took place in our home. But soon it became too much for Rosemarie. Unable to take the unfair attacks on me anymore, she decided to rather stay at home when the meetings were relocated to the church building of the Vrije Evangelische Gemeente in Ivoordreef, Utrecht.

Another Visit to South Africa                                                                                                                                                                                                        Already at the beginning of 1977 we had started planning another visit to South Africa in February the following year. The call to serve a congregation in Holland necessitated re-planning. In due course our visit was scheduled for the end of September 1978. Soon after commencing our ministry in Holland, we arranged with the church board that we could add the two weeks of holiday still due to us to that of the next year. All in all we would be away for six weeks.
A terrible Fright
We had started making preparations for the second visit to South Africa when we got the fright of our lives. Rosemarie went to Dr Wittkampf, our family doctor in Zeist, because she had noticed a lump at her throat. He immediately phoned the hospital - he suspected a tumor! We were already over-sensitive after a series of terminal cancer cases had been occurring in our circle of friends. In this atmosphere it was all gloom. Tears were flowing freely.
         I hurt Rosemarie immensely when I was so insensitive to clearly verbalise her possible passing on as an opportunity to return to South Africa. What a strain this brought to our marriage, the first really serious disagreement in our blissful union because I dared to express this so crudely. After the traumatic experiences in the run-up and aftermath of our honeymoon trip, Rosemarie had come to resist the idea fiercely to return with me to my home country. She did not want to raise children in such a racist environment. Her prayers thus went along the line of “Lord, I’m prepared to serve you anywhere in the world, but not in South Africa!”    
         The Lord somehow spoke to Rosemarie through the traumatic experience with the tumor. She vowed that she would be prepared to join me to my native country if the Lord would spare her life. But she did not share this with me.

Reprieve from an unexpected Source           
Though we had few problems during our honeymoon, some experiences had frightened her terribly. She did not want to live in South Africa permanently.
          A positive element of the detection of the tumor in Rosemarie’s throat was that we were given some reprieve from the malice and accusations in our Utrecht church council, which was inappropriately called Broederraad.[17] Suddenly it seemed as if everybody rallied around us. In those days being diagnosed with any form of cancer was like getting a death sentence.

Our Grief turned to Joy!      
At the height of the crisis we were encouraged by a word from Scripture. In our utter despair we turned to the Lord in prayer. At this stage John 16:20 comforted us extremely: “Your grief will turn to joy!” A few weeks later the tumor was removed in an operation - the subsequent report showed that the tumor was benign! Indeed, our grief turned to extreme joy!
            How we rejoiced at the new lease of life together as a couple! Our next newsletter - in which we testified of the bless­ings of Rosemarie’s recovery - caused ripples in many a quarter. I had written the newsletter in parts. The first part of the newsletter was penned before it had been discovered that the tumor was benign and the last part reflected the joy we experienced.
            Copies of the newsletter landed at the African National Congress (ANC) head­quarters in Lusaka and at the offices of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London. (Our personal newsletter was possibly relayed to the various bodies via people from the Moral Rearmament ranks.) I was neither interested in scoring political points nor was I prepared to be pulled on to a political bandwagon. Instead, I challenged the folk on some issues, writing the Anti-Apartheid folk a critical letter. Referring to the root of the word protest in Latin pro-testare (to testify for something), I noted that I preferred to fight for something good - rather than protest against something bad.
            Reg September, one of the African National Congress (ANC) leaders wrote from the head office in Lusaka. (He would visit us in Zeist the following year.) Reg had detected that I used the word Azania in my correspondence. I was not aware that this was Pan African Congress parlance, the vocabulary of the bitter rivals of the ANC. All of that were trivialities to me. Much more important was that we could resume our preparations to visit South Africa again!

Hunger after Justice             
As a radical activist I had started collating the documents pertaining to oumy own struggle with the authorities in South Africa, giving the manuscript the title Honger na Geregtigheid [18] (Hunger for Justice). In this manuscript I included and commented my correspondence with the rulers of the day. As a matter of ethical principle I wanted the work published in South Africa first, and in view of good strategy, in Afrikaans.
         Also our Moravian Church authorities at home came under fire. I challenged the leaders to be more pro-active towards racial reconciliation and equality between the privileged ‘Coloureds’ and the ‘Blacks’ in the denomination. Thus I challenged the leadership to use the same pastor for the ‘Coloured’ congregation of Manenberg and the Xhosa one of Nyanga just over the railway line. I relished this challenge, having started to learn Xhosa already.
We received special permission to visit my home country in September 1978. I regarded it as a victory for quiet diplomacy that this visit with my wife and our one and a half year old son was possible. We had written an accompanying letter to the government. I hoped that we could bring the Cabinet to change petty apartheid laws gradually so that I could return from exile sooner rather than later. (This philosophical approach of gradual change in attacking petty apartheid would change substantially in due course.)
         In September 1978 we left for South Africa on a six-week visit. Experiences with the Moravian Church leaders at the Cape and with the folk of Moral Rearmament would however not be amicable.
After getting details of the time and venue of a meeting of the Church Board of the Moravian Church, I phoned the chairman, requesting to attend it. When I challenged the lack of advocacy of the Church Board at this occasion on behalf of our friend Chris Wessels (when he was detained the previous year), I naturally got the members in opposition. When I furthermore also suggested to come and serve in South Africa for three years and thus cause another crack in the apartheid wall, I was put in my place in no uncertain terms. My activism was evidently too much for the Moravian Church Board. My subsequent disappointment and anger thereafter was misplaced, it was actually caused by my provocation.
  
Apartheid had the Beating of me
With our cash running out towards the end of our stay, we decided to go and inquire at the Cape Town central train station when we noticed an advertisement for cheap train fares. Our pride was still very much of a deterrent to approach our family for money to fly back to Johannesburg. Going into the White part of the train station to enquire – and thus trespassing one of the prevalent petty apartheid laws - was much less of an obstacle. However, our request to travel to Johannesburg by train as a family in the same compartment had to be dealt with at Cabinet level.
         Perhaps the Prime Minister and his colleagues wanted to appease us in this way and at the same time preventing us from telling bad tales overseas about the country. But it ignited the opposite effect in my heart. I did not feel honoured to be treated as a VIP at all. I fumed in anger! When we heard that the required permission had been given, I had already made up my mind never to return to South Africa again!

Apartheid Bureaucracy added Insult to Injury.
Petty apartheid bureaucracy added insult to injury. A Cabinet decision was necessary to give clarity whether we could travel in the same compartment as a family. I thus became an honorary White for the duration of that train trip. Incidents of blatant racism on the long train trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg rubbed more salt into the wounds.
Terribly angered by the Moravian Church Board meeting a few days earlier and thereafter by the government handling of what I regarded as a trivial matter, I was now determined never to put my foot on South African soil again. I was not fair in my judgment, very much in the mould of Jonah who sulked when God ‘changed his mind’ after the repentance of the inhabitants of Nineveh.
         Howard Grace, a British Moral Rearmament (MRA)[19] full-time worker, fetched us from Park Station in Johannesburg. He had to bear the brunt of my anger. When I was still fuming, Howard suggested on the car trip to Umdeni (the villa of the movement, where we would lodge in the rondavel for the next few days) to introduce me to the influential Professor Johan Heyns. The moment of his kind gesture was the worst one the MRA brother could have chosen. At that point in time I was definitely not prepared and interested in meeting the chairman of the Broederbond, the apartheid think tank!

Extreme Disappointment and Anger                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           On that November Saturday the MRA folk of Johannesburg were definitely not encountering a happy Christian. There was little wonder that Howard and others suspected that evening that I was after sensation when I phoned Dr Beyers Naudé, the banned leader of the Christian Institute, to find out where he was worshipping. There was ample reason for them to suspect that I was not sincere in my wish to worship with Dr Naudé as one of my last actions in the country I loved so passionately, but that I was about to leave - never to return to again! Rosemarie was not discouraging me whatsoever. (I was unaware of the secret vow she had made when she had the tumor that turned out to be benign.)
         There was only one thing that I still wanted to do before departing from South Africa! I yearned to worship with Dr Beyers Naudé, who had been put under house arrest. Someone - or perhaps even more than one person - must have been praying for me.

A Farewell Gesture of Solidarity      
I intended the visit to Dr Naudé’s congregation to be my farewell gesture of solidarity with the politically oppressed of the country.
         Rosemarie and I, along with a few believers linked to Moral Rearmament, were privileged to visit the congregation that the Naudé couple attended regularly. He entered there as the last person just before the bell would toll as a signal for the minister and his church council to step out of the vestry in procession. Dr Naudé then had to leave as the first congregant at the end of the service by government decree because he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time.
         What a welcome we received at the church! Dr Naudé had phoned his pastor, Dr van Rooyen. The latter asked Ds Cloete uit Duitsland after the formal welcome to introduce the rest of our group. (Dr Naudé obviously merely remembered that I had left for Germany in 1973, surmising that Rosemarie and I came from there. Or did he want to make sure that we would not be refused entry at the church?) The courageous sermon of Dr van Rooyen, critical of government policy, was so encouraging - almost unforgettable!
         Tannie Ilse, the wife of Dr Naudé, came to us after the service, having organised that we could follow Dr Naudé in his car to their home because she still had to teach at the Sunday School.

Changed from within
The Father hereafter used the well-known Oom Bey Naudé - who was loved by many who were not ‘White’ and hated by those who supported apartheid - at their home in a special way.
         A miracle happened that Sunday. A supernatural change deep inside me started to grow through the visit to the Naudé home. During the private interview I had with him, a parallel process operated. It sruck me that he had no anger or bitterness. And he had so much more reason to be angry or bitter! A determination was ignited in me to work towards reconciliation between the races of the beloved country.
            In the evening Rosemarie and I visited the Dutch-background family of Ds. Joop Lensink whom we had met at the church. He ministered to Blacks in the mining compounds. When I heard how the Lensink family was courageously harbouring Black street children illegally, it inspired me towards a radical new commitment. The secret meeting with Dr Beyers Naudé at their home - in combination with the visit to the Lensink home - changed my attitude completely. I now wanted to resume my fight to return with my family to South Africa as soon as possible! I was changed from within!
            The next day I even phoned the office of the State President, with the intention of trying to console the embattled President Vorster. (The ‘Muldergate’ scandal, in which the maladministration of a Cabinet Minister, Dr Connie Mulder, was implicating Mr. Vorster, had all but floored him).

Cured of my Bitterness and Anger
God used the banned Dr Beyers Naudé and the congregation where he worshipped to bring me to my senses. Without them even knowing it, God used them to cure me of my intense bitterness and anger towards the country that I was loving - paradoxically - so dearly. A miracle happened that day.
         In fact, after the red-letter Sunday I desperately wanted to make amends for my racist bias. Hereafter, I set out to work quietly for the lifting of the ban of the Dutch Reformed minister who had meant so much to me.[20]
            I returned to Holland with a new resolve to work towards racial reconciliation in my home country after the six‑week visit to South Africa.  I now regarded a ministry of reconciliation even more as my duty to the country of my birth from abroad.  

Greater Determination to fight Apartheid
The Moral Rearmament practice of writing down thoughts fuelled my activist spirit. Yet, I wanted to win the government over rather than expose their evil practices abroad. As a means to this end I targeted the Dutch Reformed theologians. I believed that they could play a pivotal role in any change of government policy.
          After reading that a church delegation from the influential (‘White’) Dutch Reformed Church - including the Professors Johan Heyns and Willie Jonker - would attend some synod in Lunteren (Holland), I took the initiative to go and meet them there. I saw this as a chance to make amends for my headstrong refusal to meet Professor Heyns the previous year when Howard Grace wanted to introduce me to him. However, the only possibility that Dr Heyns and his colleagues could offer me was to meet the delegation at Schiphol Airport, just before their return to South Africa. This I did, hoping to send the draft of Honger na Geregtigheid to Dr Naudé with the delegation[21] because of the well-known government tampering with post. (I had experienced this myself.)
         I urged the clergymen to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted, challenging them also with regard to membership of a secret society. Prof Willie Jonker, whom I still knew from my District Six seminary days, took me aside to explain that he was not a member of the Broederbond.
            I made the DRC church leaders evidently very uncomfortable by referring almost at the outset to Dr Beyers Naudé. I stated quite bluntly my hope and expectation that they would attempt to get the ban lifted. I had brought with me the draft of ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ in an open envelope. Taking for granted that the mail of the Naudé’s was being tampered with, I naively requested them to take the envelope along with them and hand it over personally.  Just as naively I expected that theologians would be open to take the lead in repentance of the apartheid practices. Somehow God nevertheless blessed my naive attempts.

Aftermath of the 1978 Visit
A ‘result’ of our visit to South Africa the previous year was that Rosemarie was pregnant. We eagerly wanted more children. It was quite fitting that a child was conceived just before our return to Holland and after I had been reconciled to my home country.                                                                         
But Rosemarie and Danny also picked up jaundice at this time. The doctor intimated abortion as advisable because of the great risk to the foetus. Rosemarie and I would not have anything of that. Instead, we had to live for the next six months with the real fear of a handicapped child to be born in August 1979.
           


7. Skirmishes in Church Ranks

It seemed almost inevitable that my views on biblical stewardship would cause problems in church ranks. When I suggested a reduction of my salary in order to have time free for my fight against apartheid, the bomb exploded. I explained in my defence that I would not use ‘church’ time to work on my treatise “Honger na Geregtigheid”.  I was getting up at two o’clock in the morning to work on that document. This made the Broederraad members only more furious. They had hoped that I would rather make advocacy sacrifices for the Surinam cause in Holland.  My involvement with the Moral Rearmament folk worsened matters.

Almost unbearable Tension   
The tension between the other church council members and me became almost unbearable. When I saw an advertisement for a post with Scripture Union, I applied promptly. On a Saturday at the end of January 1979, I was already on my way to an interview for this post when a slippery condition on the roads set in that we never experienced in the Netherlands before or after that day.
            The interview never took place. I knew that this was a clear ‘Jonah experi­ence’ because I was basically trying to run away from the problems in my church! God apparently wanted me to prod on in my ministry in the Moravian congregation of Utrecht.

A kindred Spirit
Hein Postma was the principal of the local Moravian school whom I got to know a little better when he addressed the congregation at a love feast soon after our return from South Africa. He belonged to another church fellowship, but since I had always put a high premium on the unity of the body of Christ, Rosemarie and I soon attended a weekly Bible study together with local Christians at this time under the leadership of Hein Postma and Wim Zoutewelle, a Biology teacher at a local Protestant school.
            I sensed that Hein had a kindred spirit, the servant attitude of the 18th century Herrnhut Moravians. After a few months I gave him a copy of the A4 version of Honger na Geregtigheid’.

An untenable Position
My radicalism made my position untenable in other ways. In my view the South African Moral Re-armament people and the Moravian Church were too compromising in their opposition to apartheid. In Holland I collided with my minister colleagues when one of them aired that Europeans had no right to oppose occult Surinamese traditions. I was appalled at how it was relativised: ‘They have their occultism and we have our materialism!’
            However, I was also hoping to get church congregants more or less on the same page with Rosemarie and me regarding the importance of corporate prayer. (I had witnessed in the early 1960s when Ds. Piet Bester came to Tiervlei how prayer changed the situation in a congregation quite dramatically.)
I put to the Broederraad quite strongly that we should start a weekly prayer meeting. But the rift between my Broederraad and me was too wide already at this point in time. The members agreed that I could go ahead, but they would not participate. There were two other church members with whom I could have started. But I still hoped that I could also get the members of the church council to join. It was a serious mistake that I waited on them instead of starting the prayer meeting as a threesome. (Rosemarie was of course time-wise completely engaged by the care for our two-year old Danny.) Ultimately a serious schism developed between my Broederraad and me that seemed almost unbridgeable.
            Various efforts were made to reconcile me to my church council. Also the ‘Centrale Raad’ of the denomination launched an effort to this end. In a meeting with Henk Esajas, the mediator, who was also a member of our congregation, I suggested as a way out of the impasse that we could start our church council meetings with an hour of Bible study. It looked as if we had all won, when it was agreed – as a compromise - that we would thereafter start our Broederraad meetings with a devotional half hour. But the truce was only short lived!

The last Straw                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On August the 4th, 1979, our second son was born, perfectly healthy. Fittingly, we gave him the name Rafael which means God, the healer. My brother Windsor visited us at the time with his wife Ray and their baby Kevin. An infant christening service was scheduled for a September Sunday. That was the last service of this nature that I conducted. A dispute with a church member just prior to this occasion made me very sensitive to the issue of the christening of infants. (The person concerned expected me to do my duties to christen their child without asking any questions. My Broederraad was very supportive however in the matter, as were my minister colleagues.)
The issue of infant 'baptism' flared up soon thereafter. I was seriously challenged from Scripture regarding this church practice. This was happening at the very time when I was suggesting that stewardship should also include the scriptural testing of all church traditions. During a Bible Study with Hein Postma and other believers, Colossians 2:11,12 was read: “In him you were also circumcised... with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith...” Although baptism was not discussed at all at this occasion. I was rattled for other reasons than had been discussed in our church.
My own Argument pulled from under me
My own argument for practising the tradition of infant christening was pulled from under me. Subconsciously I was still somehow influenced by a Calvinist argument in defence of infant christening. According to this view, infant christening as the sign of the new covenant was a substitute for the very highly revered Jewish ritual of circumcision, the sign of the old covenant of God with Israel. I was now reading there in Scripture about the circumcision of the heart. Aware that we were speaking of infant christening as having come instead of the practice of circumcision, I was hit for a six. From the biblical context it was clear that conversion through faith in Jesus was meant. In the course of my participation in a liturgical commission of the church I had already been troubled by the formulation in the Moravian (infant) christening liturgy whereby eternal life is apportioned to babies at their ‘baptism’. In theological parlance it is called baptismal regeneration.
            In the preceding years and following in the footsteps of Count Zinzendorf, I somehow came to love Israel and the Jews. When I now had to consider infant christening more deeply, the lack of a scriptural basis struck home. How could we replace a practice so dear and sacred to the Jews? As I now also studied the liturgy used at the christening of infants, I knew that I couldn’t carry on with a practice that had indeed become a tradition that in my view nullifies the power of God (Mark 7:13). The seed was simultaneously sown in my heart for opposition to replacement theology, whereby the Church is said to have substituted the nation of Israel. I was shocked to discover that ‘circumcision of the heart’ - conversion to faith in Jesus Christ - was the actual basis of baptism according to the above-mentioned Bible verse.

Initial Understanding and Support
This was now really the last straw to me. How could I continue the practice with a good conscience? I promptly put the problem to my Broederraad. The members were very sympathetic, especially after the sad common experience only weeks prior to this. They suggested that I should discuss the matter with my minister colleagues.
I initially found understanding among the minister colleagues because they also experienced irresponsible fatherhood among the Surinamese church members. It was decided that we would organise a weekend to discuss the issue in depth with all various church councils in the Netherlands because also in other congregations there were similar problems. A main difficulty was the lack of responsibility by men who fathered children outside of wed­lock.
           
Taken to Task
All my efforts to remind the minister colleagues of our decision were in vain. It was soon evident that they procrastinated on purpose. Nobody wanted to rock the boat, which could have had international denominational repercussions.
            Before such a weekend could take place, my problem with infant ‘baptism’ was maliciously conveyed to the church board in Germany. I was completely taken by surprise by a phone call from the head office: ‘What is this that I hear that you don’t want to baptize children anymore?’ I deduced that at least one of my pastor colleagues had decided that I was too uncomfortable. I was taken to task and finally referred to the bishop for counselling. This encounter with Bishop Helmut Reichel transpired in a very cordial spirit. I was appreciating that Bishop Reichel was treading in the footsteps of Zinzendorf on the issue. He was convinced of the matter as he looked at the grace of God operating ahead of us. But it didn’t solve my problem. In the end we found a compro­mise: I would continue as a minister without having to christen infants.
         Rosemarie and I now experienced the opposition and ostracism in the church quite intensely. But the Lord encouraged us supernaturally. We received a telegram from South Africa from our dear friend Kathy Schulze, who was working with Scripture Union in Cape Town at the time. She had no idea what we were experiencing. Kathy felt an inner urge to send us a telegram with the message: ‘I pray for you!’ What an encouragement that was to us!
        
Heaviness in our Congregation
I still sensed a strange heaviness whenever I preached in Utrecht. It was as if I was speaking against an unseen wall of dark opposition. Yet, the Holy Spirit must have spoken to some people because a complaint came in via a Broederraad member. He deemed it important to convey that my sermons had ‘no content’. I retorted that I could not understand why they got so upset if my sermons were without any content. There must be something which troubled the person in question. Then he replied: ‘Well, your sermon had the wrong content’. As I probed further, it surfaced that it was the Bible reading on Ephesians 5 which had been challenging sexual immorality. This was no new revelation. I was however not prepared to dilute my sermons to satisfy sinful habits and desires.
Someone warned me to be careful what I would eat when I was attending the various celebrations in the homes of the congregants. We knew that this danger was real, because poisoning was some­thing that did happen in the cul­ture in which we were moving. (In fact, in 1979 we took an old Surinamese widow, into our home. Her husband had been poisoned.) But I decided that I would not allow fear to govern my life, disregarding the warning and just carried on with the ministry. We never heard whether someone did in fact try to poison me.            

An Overdose of Medicine?
Around this time our friend Hein Postma hereafter commented on my manuscript ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’. He said quite lovingly that he missed love, forgiveness and compassion towards Afrikaners. In his asessment the manuscript was tantamount to an overdose of medicine to a sick patient. 
            In my spare time - i.e. during the early morning hours - I started working at the revamping of ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ in three parts. The first part would focused on the Mixed Marriages Act, the legal prohibition of racially mixed marriages, i.e. between a White and someone from one of the other races. I gave it the title ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het.’ (What God joined together)
            There were also other people who were not happy with ‘Honger na Geregtigheid’ such s my close friend Jakes to whom I had sent a copy. He was unhappy for a completely different reason. Jakes felt that one should not correspond or communicate with members of the apartheid government at all. In his view the government should be isolated and treated like outcasts! We agreed to differ, but it was not easy to discern that apartheid was causing a strain on our friendship. His ‘second best friend’ was Allan Boesak. Jakes’ views were apt to rub off on our common friend, who had become quite influential by this time.[22]


8. Activism for racial Reconciliation

            Rosemarie remained sceptical of my correspondence with the apartheid authorities. She thought that I was wasting my time, convinced that my letters would never reach the likes of Mr P.W. Botha who had succeeded Mr John Vorster as State President.
            This effectively put a break and a damper on my spirit. Indeed, I had very little to show for all my efforts.  Looking back, I am nevertheless thankful for Rosemarie’s criticism. It kept me humble. I don’t know whether our family life would have withstood the pressure of the prejudicial South African society in the 1980s if we had returned to S.A. at that time.
            One of the issues of which Rosemarie was very critical was my emphasis on confession. Through our contacts with Moral Rearmament - where I was clearly influenced - we had also seen that confession could be abused and that it can become cheap, such as when folk use it to manipulate people. We learned that remorse was a pre-condition and that it - as a rule - had to be followed with genuine restitution. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by isolated positive news snippets from S.A. that I picked up as I remained updated via the weekly international edition of The Star.
Yet, I believed that some seed had been sown. Occasionally I thought to have thankfully detected some change in outlook by the one or other Cabinet minister.

An activist Pen
One of the most dramatic developments transpired when Mr P.W. Botha, the Prime Minister, made it plain that he was ready to scrap the (prohibition of racially) Mixed Marriages Act. Hoping that this could prepare our return to my home country, I was therefore quite disappointed to hear that the Dutch Reformed Church effectively pulled the break lever at their General Synod of 1978. I wrote a letter to the editor of Rapport, a Sunday newspaper in response. [23]
            After our return to Holland in 1978, I also wrote an article about our visit to South Africa in Nieuw Wereld Nieuws, the Dutch Moral Rearmament (MRA) period­ical. Hereafter, discouraging news came from South Africa with politi­cal implications. Howard Grace from the South African MRA, who had tried to introduce me to Professor Heyns, wrote that the authori­ties had intercepted the Dutch periodical with my article. In the same issue there was also a radical article that sharply attacked apartheid as an un-Christian policy. It was written under a pseudonym by Kgati Sathekge, one of the youths from Atteridgeville, whom we had met on our previous visit to South Africa. (In January 1979 Kgati was living with us in Zeist for a few days.) It was a sad tes­timony to the slow pace of change that articles like his were viewed with distrust.
            Because different Cabinet ministers had openly expressed their intention to move away from discrimination, I secretly hoped that the government would agree to the publication of Honger na Geregtigheid.
            I noticed how influential people got damaged spiritually when they came into the limelight prematurely. Very much wary of this, I wanted to be certain that my autobiographical material would be published in God’s timing and that he would be glorified by it. A letter to Dr Schlebusch, the Minister of the Interior, was one of many ‘fleeces’ (Compare the story of Gideon in Judges 6:36-40) to ascertain whether I should have my autobiographical material published at all. The curt reply of Dr Schlebusch was to me the sign that the climate was not yet ripe for the venture. I decided to abort the publication attempt.

Drafting of Synod Resolutions
I also got involved in the drafting of synod resolutions and reports in 1979. Thus I also participated actively in a small lobby to nudge the Moravian synod to boycott Shell, a Dutch-led multinational company, because of its perceived role in supporting apartheid structures and practice. It was no surprise that I was now regarded by many in the church as an infante terrible in many quarters. Strange things happened like the disappearance of draft resolutions that we had prepared for the synod in Driebergen.

Correspondence with NGK ministers                                                                                                                                                                                         On another track, I took the initiative to correspond with a few ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa about the race theology as laid down in their church policy papers on “Church and Race”.            
            After the airport ‘rendezvous’ with the NG Kerk church leaders, some correspondence followed with Professor Heyns. I challenged him to include theologians of colour like Dr Allan Boesak in the revision of a publication on “church and race” of which Dr Heyns was the coordinator. Indirectly I hoped to reconcile the two theologians, who were such influential church leaders. They were respectively leaders of the Afrikaner ‘Broederbond’ and the ‘Broe­derkring’ (The latter institution consisted of Dutch Reformed ministers and academics that came mainly from the disadvantaged race groups. These ministers and academics opposed apartheid). I knew from our student days how Allan had been raving about his lecturer, Dr Johan Heyns. However, I was also aware that Dr Boesak had lashed out publicly at his former lecturer, e.g. in the Christian Institute journal Pro Veritate. In the meantime I continued to target Dutch Reformed theologians of South Africa whom I believed could play a pivotal role in change for the better in my home country.
Some reports in the press gave the impression that the government wanted to abolish the “Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act”, but that the Dutch Reformed Church would not agree to it. My corres­pondence with some of their prominent theologians did not seem to make any headway.
An Activist for racial Reconciliation                                                                                                                                                                                          In 1980 I was especially activist with my letter writing. It started with a letter in reaction to an editorial of the Star in February of that year after a kidnapping incident in Silverton on the Reef, purportedly perpetrated by ANC ‘terrorists’. I wrote: “I missed in your editorial any discussion of the merit of releasing political prisoners like Mandela”, adding “Don’t you dare to condemn the attitude of the ANC when its officials are being quoted as saying ‘they will kill all the hostages next time’?” It seemed as if the ANC had decided to go for all-out insurrection, including the taking and killing of hostages.
            In March 1980 I posted a copy of my letter to the editor (of The Star) to Reg September of the ANC head office in Lusaka who had visited us in our home in Zeist, as well as to Prime Minister Botha. In the letter to the ANC office I challenged the Lusaka ANC leader: “I pray that (at a possible release of Nelson Mandela and others?) the ANC can be brought back to the original course set out by people like Chief Albert Luthuli - a course of racial reconciliation, together with the appreciation of the intrinsic value of every human being... Oh, I do want to pray that South Africa might become a driving force for God’s justice and peace!” He replied in August 1981, expressing disappointment ‘that a man with your talent fails to help people to fight back, to struggle for that which is right. For after all, it must be clear that there is really no alternative to the complete dismantling of the present regime in S.A. It must be destroyed so that something clean can be born, a new S.A. in which all our pecple can live in peace and harmony. To plead with the fascist is to plead with the devil himself. He has to be isolated and in the process we have to find, and shall find more and more people who see through the futility of talking to these murderers.“ This depicts fairly accurately the opinions of my counterparts in the Church who had given up on any dialogue with the rulers of the day.
            In early April my next letter went to Mr Botha, the Prime Minister. It was a mild protest against the confiscation of the passports of Bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak. I was tempted to relinquish my own passport, but thankfully refrained from doing it. That would have been a carnal reaction based on anger. I was nevertheless quite happy that the passports were returned to both of them soon thereafter.

Love drives out Fear 
My previous idea that apartheid could be reformed had undergone a complete metamorphosis by this time. It probably started already on June 16, 1976. In July 1980, I was driven into action once again after I had read about the arrest of friends like Paul Joemat, my old Moravian musketeer soul-mate. I was now convinced that the country was being led to a catastrophic precipice through actions like these. I wrote a lengthy article with the title Liefde dryf die vrees uit.[24] This article was originally intended as a challenge in which I critically discussed a few of the government policies, with the aim of getting it printed in one of the big Afrikaans daily newspapers.
            Using 1 John 4:18 as my point of departure, I opined in ‘Liefde dryf die vrees uit’ that the apartheid laws were based on fear and they therefore had no future. Instead, the authorities should give love and trust a chance. The article was possibly too lengthy for anyone of the Afrikaans papers to consider it seriously, unless possibly as a series. Seeing that it opposed government policy diametrically and drastically, not a single one of the big four Afrikaans daily morning papers to which I had sent the article, showed any interest. I was possibly too radical, referring to the (traffic) sign of the cul-de-sac as a deformed cross. I stated that apartheid opposed the message of the cross; that it was basically diabolic and a cul-de-sac because it was separating people, whereas the nature of God is to join human beings. In this article I also suggested confession to be a pre-requisite to reconciliation.
            When I also read that Mr Botha would have a meeting with church leaders on 9 August 1980, I pointed out to him in a letter dated 22 July 1980 that some of those people who had been arrested were friends of my youth days. They were committed Christians who never would have considered violent solutions for the political problems of our country. I also referred to some of the young people who had fled the country after the 1976 and 1977 clampdown of the government. I surmised that the increase of sabotage and insurrection was a result of these government actions. I also included with that post a copy of ‘Liefde dryf die vrees uit.”
            A copy of that document was also posted to Bishop Tutu, who was the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches at that time. In the accompanying letter to Bishop Tutu I wrote: ‘It is my conviction that the South African churches in general should confess their collective guilt with regard to racism, as an aid to the government to do the same’

Attempts at Mediation
As a part of my perceived ministry of reconciliation I also aimed at trying to heal rifts where I discerned them. In the international weekly edition of the ‘Star’ I was reading one day about a major rift between Allan Boesak and Bishop Desond Tutu. The camp of Boesak was angry at the likes of Tutu who were still prepared to talk to President Botha. I promptly attempted to reconcile (the later Arch)bishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak.  In letters to both church leaders, I appealed to them to get their act together because it was absolutely counter-productive in the opposition to the abhorrent race policies. I did not get an answer from either of the two, but I was quite happy to read later that they were on speaking terms again. In fact, in due course they were seen sharing the same platform.
            The issue at stake however also affected me personally when my correspondence with the government estranged me to some extent from my close friend Jakes.
            My effort to bring Boesak and Heyns together was unsuccessful. However, my letter to Allan and correspondence with the government not only earned me the wrath of Allan. In April 1980 I apologised to Allan for bringing the Broederkring and Broederbond in such close proximity, but I did not receive any reply. I had no remorse about that initially, but I only discovered the hurt that I could have caused by my critical remarks in March 2007, when I looked again at the content of that letter. I possibly deserved to be cold-shouldered. (Later I remembered another incident with which I may have also angered him.)
            Dr Heyns went on to become one of the instruments of change in the 1980s, leading his denomination away from apartheid thinking and attitudes. It is generally accepted that a right wing extremist, who could not come to terms with Heyns’ role in the dramatic turn-around of the denomination, was responsible for his assassination in November 1994.
           
Stay put in ‘Jerusalem’!
On a personal level, I was allowed to continue operating as a minister due to the intervention of Bishop Reichel, without having to christen infants. This could of course not go on for any length of time. I was offered another post, but the issue of radical stewardship had become quite important to me. I could not accept a post where I perceived that I would be required to compromise significantly on that issue. I decided to terminate my services in the Moravian Church at the end of 1980.
            At this stage we called to the Lord for a word as guidance. We were surprised when Luke 24:47 came through. The verse mentioned ‘stay in Jerusalem’. It was not clear to us how to interpret it. We thought to understand it to mean that we should remain living in Zeist. But that seemed impossible! From two other groups we had firm promises that we could join them if we would have no place to go to. But nothing was forthcoming from either of them when push came to shove. My work and residence permit for Holland was valid until September 1981. However, if someone would have suggested that we would still live on the Broederplein of Zeist a year later (in fact, finally until January 1992) I might have been tempted to regard that person to be insane.
            Other developments led to preparations for another trip to my home country. In due course the second draft of ‘Wat God saamgevoeg het’ was cyclostyled in English translation with a limited number of copies, although my hope was still to get an Afrikaans version printed in South Africa first.

Nerve-wrecking Weeks
Something else had happened in the meantime. Rommel Roberts, whom we had originally met at Caux, the main centre of Moral Rearmament in Switzerland in 1977, had just fled the country. The S.A. police was hunting him because of his involvement with the bus and school boycotts at the Cape earlier that year (1980). After Rommel’s studies to become a Catholic priest, he sensed a calling to engage himself in social work with the Modderdam ‘squatter camp’ (informal settlement) community. In the course of this involvement he met Celeste Santos, a ‘White’ nun. They fell in love with each other. Yet, unlike other couples in the same predicament, they did not go and marry outside the country. (Such couples would thereafter either live in exile or in a double life of secrecy). Rommel and Celeste got married in the Holy Cross Church Roman Catholic Church in District Six, thus flouting all local customs and the law that prohibited marriage between a White and someone from one of the other races. Their marriage was thus of course ‘illegal’.
            Rommel and Celeste were very courageous, defying many prevalent South African mores as they continued their ministry, resisting the apartheid government. When Rommel was imprisoned in the course of the struggle, Celeste would just go and visit her husband at the Victor Verster prison in Paarl as if this was the most usual thing to do (This is the same prison from which Nelson Mandela was released in 1990).
            When the couple came to visit us in Zeist, Celeste was pregnant. While they were with us, she became seriously ill. A complica­tion in the pregnancy not only extended their stay in Zeist, but Celeste also came close to losing her life because of it.
  Due to her illness and hospitalization, Celeste lived with us much longer than they had originally intended. That was the factual situation in August 1980 when we received sad news from South Africa. My sister Magdalene had contracted leukaemia.
We started enquiring after the cheapest possibility to go to South Africa as a family.  (We initially thought that I could go to South Africa alone to be there simultaneously for my mother’s pending 70th birthday on 28 December. But the date was far from convenient. There were so many other complicating factors militating against it. I still had two weeks of holiday due to me. But one could hardly expect any church council to allow their minister to leave just before Christ­mas. 
            We decided finally to go to South Africa as a family as a step of faith. The special circumstances around my sister’s condition changed matters so much that the Broederraad released me compassionately from duties at Christmas time. We booked in faith with little left in terms of savings. Another problem cropped up. The visa for Rosemarie did not arrive in time.        

Agonizing Days         
Celeste was back with us after visiting some other people in the Netherlands. Together we experienced the agonizing days of waiting in vain on the visas for Rosemarie and the children. We shared our uncertainty with Celeste in respect of our going to South Africa. We would be using just about our last savings for the trip and I still had no employment after our return from South Africa. The day on which we were required to pay the deposit to reserve our seats, I phoned the Embassy once more. The official suggested that I phone someone in South Africa to contact Pretoria. The travel agency gave us an extension of an extra day to procure the visas.
I couldn’t phone my relatives of course, because we didn’t want to cause any more anxiety there. But we were happy that it was a Thursday. Now we could share our burden in the evening with Hein Postma and the other believers of our Bible study and prayer group in Zeist.
Our friend Jakes, whom I phoned, used a method with which I would not have been happy if I had known what he would do. The phone call of Jakes to Pretoria went along the following lines:
I am a friend of Reverend Ashley Cloete in Holland. I want to contact the press straight away, but I just want to check out whether it is true that you don’t want to allow him and his family to come and visit his sister who has contracted cancer...”
Of course, the government could not allow such an embar­rassment without any ado, especially since we were still abroad. Therefore it was not surprising when the answer came promptly:
“Sir, I shall investigate the matter straight away. I’m sure it will come in order.”
  
Visas granted                                                                                                                                       
We received the visas for Rosemarie literally on the last minute. We could hereafter finalize our travelling plans. But it was too late to get booked on an onward flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
         Although we knew by now that strange conditions could be attached to visas, we were overjoyed. And it was so special that we could share our joy with Celeste. The preliminary knowledge about the granting of the visas was already such a special gift to us. At the same time it was also a confirmation to venture out in faith into the unknown. We were encouraged to trust God for our future and for our everyday needs.
The only conditions attached to the visas turned out to be that we had to pay the telex costs and that we had to obtain a letter from the travel­ling agency to certify that we had bought return tickets. The stage was set for our next trip.         
In the following three weeks the big priority was to get employment. I hoped to take up teaching again after our return from South Africa. Some posts for Relig­ious Instruction seemed fitted to my previous experiences, but expanding unemployment was also taking its toll in Hol­land. When we left for South Africa, my hopes were pinned on one single application where I had survived the first round of nineteen applicants. But it was not cut and dried at all. There were still nine other applicants in the running for the vacant post.

Temporarily back in South Africa    
We had no option than to sleep over in Johannesburg.  The conditions under which our visit to the Cape would took place, were nevertheless far from pleasant. We were basically going to see my dying sister and we had no idea what would happen on our return to Holland.
            It suited me perfectly that my seminary colleague Martin October, with whom we lodged in the Moravian parsonage, was quite willing to take me to Dr Beyers Naudé on our return to Holland.
I phoned Dr Beyers Naudé fairly soon after our arrival in Johannesburg. When I heard from the illustrious banned brother in Christ that he had never received the manuscript that I had sent with the delegation of DRC theologians the previous year, I was all the more keen to discuss my manuscript with Dr Naudé.
On arrival at D.F. Malan Airport (the name of the international airport of Cape Town at that time) we heard that my sister had died the previous evening.
In a series of events prior to our scheduled return to Holland, we discerned God’s hand clearly. This happened especially during the evening devotion of 19 January 1981 in Elim. My late father was reading the scriptural Macedonian injunction: ‘Kom oor en help ons!’ (Come over and help us.) The immanent passing on of our dear mother, who was quite ill at that time, was anticipated. Rosemarie was also deeply moved when she saw how our brother‑in‑law Anthony was struggling after the death of his beloved wife, our late sister.  Very much against my own selfish will, we decided to stay in Cape Town for another week.


9. Uncompassionate Activism

            By this time I had become a hardened anti‑apartheid activist. The only constraint was that I waged my opposition from a religious platform. I had been believing for some time already that the unity of the body of believers in Jesus Christ would be all‑important in this struggle against apartheid. I was encouraged very much in this regard by the unity of a multi‑racial group from different churches in Stellenbosch that had been started by Professor Nico Smith and a few pastors. On the other hand however, the activist anti‑apartheid spirit made me uncompassionate.

Another Jonah Experience
When people at the Cape heard that I had no employment in Holland, they asked me why we did not stay longer.  With my reputation as one of the better Mathematics teachers in ‘Coloured’ schools and the dearth of qualified people in that subject, many thought that I could easily get a post.  But I was not to be moved to stay longer in Cape Town. I wanted to move on to Johannesburg to meet Dr Beyers Naudé. Not even the possibility of my mother passing on soon could move me ‑ and the real possibility that I would not see any of my parents alive again. God had to step in.
And that he did. On the afternoon that would have been our final time together, my dear friend Jakes was at hand to take us to the Strandfontein beach. A strong South Easter was blowing there.
We were due to take the train to the Reef in the evening. This time we had been given permission to travel in the same compartment as a family without any ado, contrary to the previous occasion when our little son and I had been made honorary ‘Whites’. (This was one of the major factors that had embittered me so much in 1978 that I did not want to return to the country again).
After we had arrived in Sherwood Park at the home of the Esau family, we got ready to go to the train station. However, the train tickets were nowhere to be found. I must have lost them in Strandfontein. With the strong wind that had been blowing there, it would have been futile to go back and try to find them. I knew that God had caught up with me. Just like Jonah once, I was trying to run away from the responsibility to my parents and the bereaved Esau family.
The Holy Spirit had thankfully softened me up by now. Hesitantly I agreed to stay in Cape Town for another week. My parents were pleasantly surprised when we pitched up in Elim once again. This time we had interesting news for them. We had decided to extend our stay in South Africa, unless I was successful with my application for the Religious Instruction teaching post in Utrecht (Holland). 
After the extra week in Cape Town, everything was cut and dried. God had confirmed that we should try and stay for another six months. The church in Holland graciously agreed that we could leave our furniture in the parsonage in Zeist. A new pastor had not yet been appointed as my successor. The air tickets we had bought could not be changed or reimbursed. I had to take a teaching post in order to earn some money with which we could buy new tickets.

Teaching in Hanover Park

I knew that Mount View High School was one of the two schools where the boycotts had started the year before. I felt uneasy however when the ‘Coloured Affairs’ regional authorities expressed some satisfaction to place me at that school. I felt abused when it seeped through that the Department thought that the use of a clergyman could perhaps quell the unrest at the school where a colleague had been dismissed for ‘unprofessional conduct.’
            After my appointment at Mount View High School my presence almost caused ‘tangible’ tension. Understandably teacher colleagues and learners were possibly thinking that I was a government informer. The fact that the school was confronted with the strange story of a teacher who came from Holland and a sister who had passed away must have sounded very suspect.
            The teacher I was replacing had the fairly common surname Cloete. The reason became all too soon. The Cape Herald reported how my predecessor had been sacked for disseminating ANC pamphlets.  It was therefore almost logical for everyone at the school to see me as an informer, a collaborator with the hated regime.
Initially we slept in the backyard of the bereaved Esau family in a caravan that belonged to our friend Richard Arendse, my classmate of high school days and a later teacher colleague. From the Esau backyard we tried to render some support to the family. My brother Windsor from Grabouw generously put the use of one of their two cars at our disposal so that we could visit my sickly and ageing parents in Elim frequently. It was very special to see our mother recovering slowly and the diminishing strain was evidently also doing our Daddy a lot of good.

A Close Call
The Mount View Sendingkerk was started to serve the members of the Hanover Park township.  The home of Jakes and Ann Jacobs, the manse of the congregation, was situated in Penlyn Estate. Over the week-ends it was a bee-hive of activity.
         Two Moravian minister friends Chris Wessels and Henry Engel, who were studying at the University of the Western Cape, would come there on many a Friday afternoon where I often joined them.[25] The Broederkring met there quite often on a Sunday evening. I was rather naive not to consider that the Special Branch of the Police, the equivalent of Hitler’s Gestapo, could be monitoring who was attending these meetings at the manse in Penlyn Estate. We had to  expect that attendees would be harassed at the very least.
         I did not notice that I was followed when I drove back to Sherwood Park where the Esau family lived from one of these Broederkring meetings. (Sherwood Park is located adjacent to the notorious township Manenberg). We were still awaiting the outcome of our request for the extension of the visas of Rosemarie and the children. That could still be turned down. With my track record of opposition to the government, the granting of visas for them could not be taken for granted.
The next day Rosemarie noticed a strange car parked nearby around the time when I would usually come home from school. My movements were obviously recorded by shady folk. Just on that particular morning however, the car of my brother Windsor that we were using, would not start. I took a lift with my brother-in-law Anthony who was lecturing at Hewat Training College. I came back by bus in the afternoon, much later than usual. The Special Branch driver possibly lost patience when I did not arrive at the usual time. Who knows what one of the cronies of notorious Spyker van Wyk might have done if I had done so. (It was transpiring at a time when his torture methods were known. Furthermore people who opposed apartheid could disappear mysteriously. That happened initially to our friend Chris Wessels who thankfully survived the ordeal. ).
Accommodation Challenges
As the nights became colder in March, it became imperative to move out of the caravan. Our one-and a half-year-old Rafael suffered from a constant cold. However, the politics of the day prevented us from finding accommodation in a ‘White’ residential area for three months. Not even our church was prepared to risk letting us live in a vacant parsonage in Newlands, a ‘White’ residential area where the church had been accommodating White families, e.g. missionaries from overseas. (Given my rebel record of defying authorities, the reticence of the Church Board can be easily understood. They could never be sure whether we would later decide to embarrass them by wanting to stay on! We were by this time also known to have been often in the company of Rommel and Celeste, the political ‘rebel couple’. I had become a liability to the denomination, perhaps making it difficult for the leaders in their dealings with the government. That I had resigned because of the christening of babies was of course also a hot patatoe. Helping us could have been interpreted as support for a prime dissident.)
            We declined the repeated invitation of Rommel and Celeste to come and share their house with them. They were however not only known as political activists, but just like us they were also a racially mixed couple. To accept their offer would have meant inviting trouble with the police. All other efforts to get temporary accommodation failed. We finally had no other excuse available to turn down their generous offer. Very hesitantly we moved into the three-bedroom cottage in Haywood Road, Crawford with our two small boys, to join Rommel, Celeste, Alan and Wally. (The latter two are brothers of Rommel.)
                       
Cross‑Cultural Contacts
In Crawford I was now living for the first time in my life in a ‘White’ residential area. We started attending Living Hope Baptist Church, a fellowship that I would possibly not have chosen voluntarily. That it was purported to be non-racial attracted us initially but it was quite a struggle for me to remain there, especially during the first few weeks when I felt rejected at this so-called non‑racial fellowship. I turned out to be the only person with a darker skin pigmentation. It became nevertheless a spiritually healthy personal experience when I had to discover that I was not yet completely free from my own racial prejudice.
            At the very next Sunday I decided to drop my family there and then attend the Moravian Church in Bridgetown where my seminary student colleague Kallie August was the pastor. When I wanted to drop Rosemarie and Danny at the St Giles premises in Mowbray, where the Living Hope Baptist fellowship congregated, our four-year son Danny cried bitterly. I sensed that the Lord was speaking to me. This time I was obedient, staying with my wife and son.         
            I missed out on a golden opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to racial reconciliation via the Living Hope Baptist Church through my disobedience in the following weeks. Had I attended the mid-week prayer meetings of the fellowship it would have been more convincing that my political stance was not my main driving motive. 

An Expression of Contextual Theology
During the short spell of teaching at Mount View High School (Hanover Park) in 1981, I had quite a percentage of Muslim learners in my classes.
            Just after Easter, Mr Cassie, the school principal, asked me to address the school assembly in the weekly devotional exercise. In my mini sermon I stressed that Mary Magdalene had previously been an outcast, demon‑possessed before she became a follower of Jesus. The learners of the despised township could obviously fully identify with the message that I shared. I furthermore highlighted in my sermonette that the outcast Mary Magdalene was the first evangelist of the resurrection of Jesus according to John’s Gospel. This was solid Contextual Theology.  In my talk I challenged the township learners and teacher colleagues, stressing that this could only happen to Mary Magdalene because she had first committed her life to Jesus as her Lord. Of course, that was down to earth evangelical stuff. Be it as it may, this sermonette harvested for me acceptance from the learners in the highly politicised school.  I was quite deeply touched to see how open the Muslim learners were to the radical claims of Jesus.

Risks galore
Celeste approached Rosemarie to assist a Black teacher as a volunteer with the teaching of retarded children in a Catholic school in Nyanga. In those days it was illegal for a ‘Coloured’ or a ‘White’ to go into the ‘Black’ areas without a permit. Expecting that it would have been refused any way, we never even considered requesting for one.  (It is highly debatable at any rate whether one should apply for a permit under such conditions.) Rosemarie obliged after some deep contemplation, but sensed ultimately that she had to be obedient to an opportunity for special service. She felt that she had to make a choice between being obedient to God or the government. She chose for the former but every day she was intimidated by a red car that would be following her close enough to make her aware of it that she was being watched.
Because of my own involvement at school or in the volatile Crossroads community where we supported Rommel, Celeste and Alan Roberts with harassed ‘illegal’ Black women,[26] there was the real possibility that any one of us could have been arrested by the police. Of course, we were basically working towards racial reconciliation. We were nevertheless walking on a dangerous tight-rope!
Our personal experiences and involvement in political turmoil during the first half of 1981 caused intense resentment in Rosemarie towards South Africa as a possible country to reside in. On more than one occasion we experienced from close range how the political climate in the country would heat up to near boiling point.
            At Mount View High School my ability at teaching Mathematics gradually became evident to all and sundry. Some of the teachers and students also noticed by now that it was ‘possibly true’ that I had a German wife.  (Now and then Rosemarie would pick me up at the school with the car that my brother Windsor and his wife had put at our disposal. Normally I commuted to school from nearby Haywood Road in Crawford by bicycle. I had bought myself a cheap second-hand one.)  She also joined me to Hanover Park in protest when I decided to stand with students on June 1 - in quiet protest with a programme of alternative teaching on the ‘compulsory holiday’ (On this day the police actually stepped in when a few learners entered the school premises, defying the threat of the school inspector that anybody found on the school premises that day would be heavily fined.) It was quite satisfying to discern that the teacher colleagues and the children had started to trust me.
            Before long I got politically embroiled in the volatile situation at the school during the June 16 commemoration. We as teachers who stayed away were required to write letters explaining our absence. I was I in no mood to write an apologetic letter. My activist letter got me barred from teaching again in South Africa, unless I would return to the authorities cap in hand. I was not ready for that under any circumstances.[27]

Spadework for the Battle of Nyanga
Because of government policy the separation of Black families developed into a cancerous tradition in South African society. We were privileged to have been involved with the spadework that prepared ‘the battle of Nyanga’. Alan Roberts, the brother of Rommel, interviewed the ladies who had been taken out of the homes to the Roman Catholic Church of Langa where they would live for a few weeks. I was deeply moved as I typed the stories of the suffering Black people whom the government was trying to remove forcibly. It was strategic that I had copies of these stories after they had mysteriously disappeared at the court hearings. But this did not help after all. One after the other the women were found guilty, due to be ‘deported’ to the Transkei, where some of them had never been before. But that was regarded by government decree as their ‘homeland’. These women had been ‘illegally born’ at the Cape.

Tense Weeks  
Rosemarie valiantly joined me with our two little children in dangerous ventures, e.g. going with me to Crossroads when I was part of a protesting Church delegation. (We advocated on behalf of a busload of ‘illegal’ Black women that had returned from the Transkei, very much against the wishes of the government.[28]) During these tense weeks we had to reckon with the possibility of getting arrested all the time. On two occasions we risked getting shot by the police or by an army unit.
During the preceding months the going was rather tough as we had to struggle through all sorts of apartheid red tape. Then there had been the indifferent attitude of locals and that of the churches. When we tried to find accommodation, everybody we had approached - apart from Rommel and Celeste - seemed to fear breaking through the racist customs.
Yet, we still had high hopes that the Church intervention on behalf of the Crossroads inhabitants would lead to some change in government policy. The threats of the Bantu Administration Board put all of us who were living under the same roof in Haywood Road in Crawford under severe pressure, but even more so this was the case with the Black women from Crossroads and the informal KTC settlement.

Church Intervention on behalf of Crossroads Inhabitants
It was quite strategic that I could get the DRC Sendingkerk minister of Wynberg, Jan de Waal, to be part of a clergy delegation for the ongoing negotiations with the Bantu Administration Board.  On a Friday morning a few weeks before we returned to Holland, a group of pastors met the top official of the Bantu Administration Board. The uneasy official seemed to be taken aback initially, starting off very apologetically and saying that he had to see that the laws of the country were being obeyed. This prompted one of the ministers to mention that God’s law should get greater priority.
Temporary reprieve for the hapless women was achieved and the Anglican Archbishop would get an audience with the responsible Cabinet Minister. Indeed, after the audience of Archbishop Bill Burnett with Minister Piet Koornhof, our friends Celeste and Nomangezi received ‘confidential concessions’ from the government on 15 June 1981, allowing the Crossroads women to stay at the Cape. At least this battle seemed to have been won. 

Only one Prayer left
Towards the end of our stay at the Cape Rosemarie had more than enough of it all. She had apparently completely forgotten her vow of 1978. After all the traumatic experiences she had only one prayer left: ‘Lord, I am prepared to serve you anywhere in the world as long as it is not South Africa!’
            In the process I became quite embittered once again. Celeste mentioned that someone wanted to organise an interview for me with Mr P.W. Botha, the Prime Minister. Some ‘White’ friends also wanted to introduce us to Helen Suzman, the Jewish parliamentarian who was such a stalwart fighter for justice. But I was not interested in any special favours. Our involvement with the Blacks created in me a resistance of another sort. So very much aware that Black families were being forcefully and brutally separated, I was not interested any more to go to the government or anyone for that matter - cap in hand - for the ‘privilege’ to live in my home country with my family. Why should I get a special privilege to live in South Africa with my wife and children when thousands of other families were being ripped apart?

            Rosemarie and I returned to Holland with our two children quite divided on the issue of where we should be living. I still yearned to return to my home country, even though I knew that it was well‑neigh impossible. Rosemarie was very happy that we could get out of the threatening hearth physically unharmed. But we knew that God had initially brought us together as a couple and that we had to be called as a family unit to whatever country He would choose. Way back at our first date in 1970, at the end of my stint as a student in Germany, God had used the call to missions to confirm in my heart that Rosemarie was the person I wanted as my future wife. Since then the importance of a common calling only increased. Thus we never even considered going separate ways because of any divisive issue at hand.

Publication of What God joined together’?
During our six-month stay in the country I updated and improved Wat God saamgevoeg het. Some of my friends put pressure on me to publish the material to expose the government. I almost succumbed to the temptation when Hein Fransman, who is married to a cousin and who had a link to Kampen publishers in Holland, approached me. He showed eagerness to get involved in such a publication, but I was not so sure whether that would be a good move. Hein had already published material of Allan Boesak. I feared that such a publication might prove counter-productive in terms of my intention, namely to love my ‘enemies’, to win over the hearts of the Afrikaners.  Embarrassing the government was not what I intended. I believed that the more loving way was not to expose the wrongs of the rulers, but rather to win over my ‘enemies’. I presented the English draft of ‘What God joined together’ to Tafelberg Uitgewers, with the proviso that the book would be printed in Afrikaans first if they would accept it for publication. (In 2015 the initial objective, to win over the hearts of Afrikaners, had become obsolete. We printed some copies in a low-key private way.[29])
            I was following the developments in the country closely.  Even though I had no proof that my actions had contributed in any way, I did sense satisfaction when the law that prohibited people from different races to marry, was finally repealed in 1985. Spiritually I still had to learn a lot, e.g. that God was more interested in my relationship with Him than in my actions. Of course, I regarded my political activism as an important part of my service for Him, a necessary ingredient of an effort to get the races reconciled to each other.



10. Leaving our Jerusalem?


            Shortly after our return to Holland in July 1981 we got in a tight corner after a journalist of Trouw, a reputable newspaper, had interviewed me. Information was printed about the Crossroads saga that we had specifically asked him not to publish. He did not mention my name, but it would not have been difficult for the South African information service to find the source. Thankfully the ‘Battle of Nyanga’ and the subsequent ‘first major defeat of the apartheid government’ on the issue got into the international media anyway shortly thereafter. Thus we could continue to remain in the background. Looking back, I think that my opposition to the government was much more effective that way.[30]

A very difficult Period
A very difficult period in our lives started. In Zeist we virtually had only one option left, namely to pack our belongings because my work permit for Holland was expiring in September 1981. The work permit had been linked to my position as a pastor of the Moravian Church. We had completely forgotten the Word from Scripture that we should remain in our “Jerusalem” (Zeist). Yet, we had no drive or motivation to start packing at all. (The church had offered us temporary accommodation in Bad Boll where we started our marriage.)
            We still had not packed a thing when I applied for a teaching post in Religious Instruction. And then it happened: I got a temporary teaching post at the College Blauwcapel in Utrecht virtually on the last minute, just before the expiry date of my work permit.
When my successor as the new pastor for Utrecht was finally appointed, it turned out to be someone who possessed his own house. Thus we did not even have to leave the big Broederplein home, from where many a ministry would evolve. We discovered that God had sovereignly overruled. We could remain in Zeist, our Jerusalem.
            The next few years I applied for numerous teaching vacancies in Holland, many of them temporary ones. Amid the uncertainty of permanent employment, our daughter Magdalena Erika - named after my late sister and Rosemarie’s mother - was born on 17 March 1982.

Joining another Church?
We had no intention of joining another church when we left Zeist for South Africa at the end of 1980. When we returned in July 1981, a few spiritual ‘siblings‘ had decided in our absence to start a new fellowship. I was not happy at all that they had already decided to have services on a Sunday morning. I had no problems with the idea of a new fellowship as such, but I detested the concomitant idea of competition. Weren’t there already enough churches in Zeist? Yet, it was still a long way off before I discerned that Church disunity and a competitive spirit among fellowships are actually demonic strongholds. I would have preferred to attend a fellowship on a Saturday so that adherents could still attend a church of their choice on Sundays.[31]
            What I liked especially about the new fellowship in Zeist was that there was no formal membership. The idea of dual membership that we brought along from the Moravian Church in Germany, appealed to me.  (There some church members still belonged to the Lutheran State Church.) At any rate, we simply remained members of the Moravian Church. On both sides people were unhappy, but we were not to be deterred. Every Saturday evening one would find me joining the traditional Moravian ‘Zangdienst’ (Evensong) and on Sunday evening I enjoyed the spiritually enriching and uplifting Moravian liturgies and litanies that were constantly updated by our neighbour Hans Rapparlié.

Denominational Fragmentation hitting Home          
We had friends in the mission agency Youth with a Mission (YWAM) where the American couple Floyd and Sally McClung were leading proceedings. From the YWAM base at Heidebeek our close friends Dennis and Jo Fahringer had been challenging us to come and join them when I resigned as pastor of the Moravian Church. It was quite a blessing to me to discern how God was using foreigners to bring the Dutch Church back on track. Jeff Fountain, another YWAMer who hailed from New Zealand, also raved about the Moravians and their history.
          I made it very difficult for my wife because I was also quite radical in other ways. In Berlin we had met a couple, Mike and Linda Saylor from Santa Barbara (USA), who saw themselves as tent maker missionaries. Their home church had been inspired by the history of Zinendorf and the 18th century Moravians. We became close friends, later meeting other missionaries from their home church who were minisering bi-vocationally in Europe. Through them we got to know Linda’s father, Gene Edwards, who was not yet the famous author he would later become. Through them we got to know Linda’s father, Gene Edwards, who was not yet the famous author he would later become. (On a visit to Düsseldorf a year or two later, Gene asked me whether I thought that the Moravian Church could ever be revived to its former glory. I could not foresee this possibility, but the question would haunt me for quite a while.)
          In 1980 I was asked to deliver the sermon at the annual mission festival when Surinamese folk converged on the Zusterplein of Zeist. I took the opportunity to challenge them to use the gifts of hospitality in the Netherlands to be a blessing. I highlighted how God used foreigners in the Bible. But it was also my swan song. It was known that I had resigned, about to stop ministering in Utrecht at the end of that year.
            The renowned Professor Verkuyl highlighted the glorious past of our spiritual ancestors as our guest speaker at the special centenary mission festival in Zeist the following year. I could not resist my tears as I had to compare what he said with the sad state that was prevailing in the denomination where I had become an outsider.

A new Fellowship in Zeist                                                                                                                                                                                                                        At the new fellowship in Zeist many of our friends like Hein Postma and Wim Zoutewelle were involved. The new church that we had started attending, which had no formal membership, moved to a little hall in “Panweg” a few months after its inception. The group that consisted of some of the Christians, with whom we had been enjoying Thursday evening Bible Study meetings, was committed to unity of the Body of Christ and evangelization. Among these believers there was also Geertje Kalmijn-Rehorst who had just returned from Austria with her two sons Peter and Hans. The parental couple had been missionaries in Vienna before estrangement and divorce followed.
The tragedy of denominational fragmentation really hit home to us on Sunday mornings when we set out for the new fellowship where I was soon asked to join the leadership team. We felt the pain of the church separation anew when Anneco Adriaanse, a good friend, came to live with us. She had taken employment in our vicinity. She preferred to attend the Full Gospel fellowship that worshipped in Figi, one of the local cinemas. (Anneco was still a remnant of our connection to Moral Rearmament. We had met her at their base in Johannesburg in 1978. Like us, she had become estranged from the MRA movement. We discovered that the atoning death of Jesus was not central in the thinking of the organization, because they also tried to accommodate other religions by compromising that doctrine.)
            Not every person of the Panweg folk was happy that the Cloetes of Broederplein were still members of the Moravian Church. I however never even considered it necessary to make an issue of our church affiliation.

                       

More Correspondence with DRC Theologians

Instead of the manuscript of Honger na Geregtigheid getting to Dr Beyers Naudé, it landed with the government. The episode nevertheless had a positive result because government officials in the years hereafter seemed to treat me with a considerable measure of respect. I continued my correspondence with Dutch Reformed Church theologians in South Africa, impressing on them the need for confession as a prelude to reconciliation. The personal experience of confession by S.A. ‘Whites’ who were involved with Moral Rearmament helped me to forgive the racial group corporately. I concluded somewhat naively that confession could be used as a tool to heal wounds inflicted by the apartheid system.
            After I had read in the Dutch newspaper Trouw that Professor Nico Smith was visiting Holland, I jumped at the opportunity to meet him. Some correspondence with him followed, during which I stressed the need for confession once again. My effort backfired when one of my letters to him was misconstrued in the Reforum conference of ‘verligte’ (enlightened) DRC theologians. Either the way in which Nico Smith presented my letter or the fact that he was the person who read it, rubbed some participants up the wrong way. To so many conservative ‘Whites’ he likened the red cloak in a bull fight - in the mould of Dr Beyers Naudé. From one of the conference attendees I received an angry unsolicited reaction. It was clear to me that the climate in that denomination was evidently not yet ready for confession. That would change due to the advocacy of Professor Johan Heyns with whom I had been corresponding fairly extensively by this time and others like him. I experienced great satisfaction to read a little later that DRC church leaders, members of the Schiphol Airport delegation of 1979, had actually attempted to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted.

Applause for a Broederbonder
In a letter that I started writing on 19 November 1980 and concluded on 25 November 1980, I applauded Professor Heyns on the efforts to get the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé lifted and that the Dutch Reformed Church also called for the repeal of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act. In this correspondence I suggested a clear confession yet again, to be accompanied by a concrete proposal of restitution.
            I was of course very much elated when the ban of Dr Beyers Naudé was finally lifted in 1984. Professor Heyns went on to play a major role in the transformation within the Dutch Reformed Church regarding race relations. At the general synod of 1986 the denomination made a significant turn around on the issue. Great of course was my joy to hear of the confessions offered at the big church conference at Rustenburg in 1990 and the prominent part that Professor Willie Jonker played there, even though the government did not show appreciation initially.  The seed of confession apparently still had to germinate in some hearts.
I experienced some satisfaction at the result. However, the victories signalled were marred in the years thereafter. Apartheid die-hards broke away to form their own denomination, the Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk. Even more seriously, an unknown gunman, who possibly saw Johan Heyns as a traitor of the Afrikaners, assassinated him on November 5, 1994. Professor Johan Heyns would thus not witness the start of the process of uniting with the sister reformed churches in 2003 that had been divided by the hurtful race policies. Heyns left a great legacy nontheless. His theological contributions had a large impact in changing the thinking of the Afrikaner government, ushering in the end of apartheid and the beginning of the present democratic era.

Expressing Regret for Encouraging Violence?
I had tried in vain to get various church organizations and forums to express regret of the role of the church in encouraging violence. One of these occasions was when I spoke at a church discussion in Driebergen, (Holland) in the late 1970s when one of the big Reformed Churches was considering supporting the armed struggle of the ANC. Aad Burger – the MRA man in Utrecht - organized for me to be invited to speak at the church meeting.
When I read that Dr Beyers Naudé was appointed as the interim secretary of the South African Council of Churches, I thought that we now had the chance to get the churches moving on the issue of confession. However, being ‘White’ and only a temporary incumbent of the post, Dr Naudé seemed to be reluctant to stick his neck out too far. I had suggested that the churches should also express regret for their part in condoning violence as part of the struggle against apartheid.
          I angered the Moral Rearmament faithful by speaking in favour of boycotts as one of the few tools available – as a last resort - to bring an end to apartheid rule.



11.  Employment Instability … and Blessing

            The teenager Rens Schalkwijk returned to the Netherlands with his parents from Jamaica in 1978 where his father had lectured at the Moravian seminary. He joined the weekly prayer group at the Moravian Widow’s House every Friday afternoon while he was still at school. There I got to know him. (This was the one link to the denomination that I kept intact throughout our period of ministry in Zeist.)  Soon Rens’s mom led the weekly prayer group after Lotte Reimeringer, the leader, had left for the US to help take care of Corrie ten Boom, the renowned evangelist who had miraculously survived the ordeal of a Nazi concentration camp. (Corrie had become quite frail there in the US.)
            With Rens I felt spiritually very much on the same wave length. In 1982 he suggested that the two of us should come together for early morning prayers just like our spiritual ancestors, the Moravians, had been doing. This we put into practice, soon joined by Peter van Veldhuyzen, a member of the Panweg fellowship. We prayer-walked in the nearby forest before Peter left for his work from Monday to Friday for a few months.
            The 1982 prayer effort with Rens and Peter van Veldhuyzen culminated in our starting the ‘Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ in Zeist that practised various facets of evangelistic outreach.

Various Evangelistic Facets
When we volunteered to take over the leadership of the ‘Kinderkaravaan’ work, I immediately put forward my vision for a broadly based evangelistic outreach - also to the youth, the unemployed and to the Huis van Bewaring[32] in Utrecht.
            The first meeting of the envisaged local evangelistic agency Goed Nieuws Karavaan was also attended by the aged Sister Kooy, a member of the Moravian Church.[33] She was already over eighty years old at that point in time and she had also been a member of the prayer group at the Widow’s House on Zusterplein for many years.
            At the inaugural Goed Nieuws Karavaan meeting I suggested a wide range of evangelistic activities – in many of which I had been personally involved. There was general excitement. People started to come and join us even from outside the town of Zeist. It was surely unique that we soon had workers from three doctrinally different Bible Schools of the area. Two were located in Zeist and the other one in the nearby town of Doorn.

The Goed Nieuws Karavaan
After that meeting Sister Kooy came to me, saying wryly: ‘Listen, brother Cloete, I cannot get involved in children’s ministry or one of these things that you have mentioned. But I would like to start a weekly prayer meeting in my home for all the activities’. Her home became the venue for the weekly prayer meeting of a faithful few until 1996, when she went to be with the Lord. (From 1992 onwards the group was also praying for us in Cape Town.)
Within a few months the ‘Stichting Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ was a reality with workers from various local fellowships and others in the region. That people from different church backgrounds could work together was completely new to the bulk of them. The core group stayed together for many years. We left for our orientation in England as missionary candidates in 1991. The group continued in a low-key manner with evangelistic activities in Zeist up to this day. Quite a few of our co-workers became involved in missionary work in different parts of the world over the years. The spiritual backbone of the team was the weekly prayer meeting at the home of the aged sister Kooy. The vehicle - an old mobile shop - for which the Lord had miraculously supplied funds at the end of 1982, was sold just before our entering full-time missionary work.
            Children’s clubs became the main focus of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan. We changed the name on purpose to keep the link to the parent body Kinderkaravaan, but simultaneously indicating that we wanted to engage in other activities than merely ministering to children. Out of this ministry a children’s choir evolved, where the children of the Panweg fellowship were the mainstay of the little choir for many years. Toos Spilker, one of our first children’s workers, who had come to a living faith in Jesus around 1980, led the choir all these years - although she never enjoyed any training in music or choral work. The children’s choir was still functioning many years after we had left Zeist, consisting amongst others of children from the original participants. Toos worked closely with Fenny Pos, who later became our contact person in Holland.
           
A Contribution to Church Unity
Our hope that we could do this work full-time was completely dashed. God sent in finances miraculously for a vehicle, but for the rest of the ministry needs there were just sufficient funds to buy material for the children’s work. Much of the expenses for the work were taken care of by the workers themselves.
            Even though our initial hope was not confirmed to become full-time workers for the Lord in this local evangelistic endeavour, we did make a major contribution to church unity in the Netherlands generally. For some Christians it was initially quite surprising that believers from extreme church backgrounds could work together in harmony. Denominationally we had co-workers so far apart as the ultra-conservative Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk, Pentecostals and a lone Roman Catholic children’s worker whom I had the privilege to lead to the Lord.
            Former workers emulated the networking effort of which they had been a part when they left to other parts of the country. Our local effort coincided with the national evangelistic outreach of Campus Crusade called Er is Hoop (There is Hope). Workers that had been ministering with us slotted in with various local groups that were formed all over the country. Jeugd met een Opdracht (Youth with a Mission) and Youth for Christ had also created a lot of goodwill for interdenominational evangelistic efforts.

Panweg as a Missional fellowship
Our small fellowship at the Panweg in Zeist maintained a great interest in missions in general.  From the word ‘go’ the fellowship supported various missionaries. Liesbeth Walvaart and Bart Berkeij had been linked to the Red Sea Mission Team and the Panweg group (later it was called Ichthus Gemeente), before the two went to England where they studied at All Nations Bible College.  The ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ that Rosemarie and I were leading, targeted the Moroccan and Turkish children and youth of Zeist for loving missionary outreach.           
            Over the years quite a few of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan’ co-workers either became missionaries in other parts of the world or influential church workers in their local congregations.  A sad part of this endeavour was that we had not yet fully understood the ramifications of spiritual warfare. Two of our former co-workers had to return from the mission field prematurely. Mirjam Adriaanse is now with the Lord and Liesbeth Walvaart was divinely healed after having been a psychiatric patient for many years suffering from severe depression. In the case of Liesbeth she was already preparing to go to Djibouti when our ministry started getting off the ground.  Mirjam Adriaanse served the Lord among the inhabitants of the refuse dumps in the city of Manila in the Philippines after her stint with us.
            When we left for South Africa in 1992, we had however learnt the importance of having sufficient prayer covering. We are convinced that the prayer support of many believers that enabled us to survive in ministry here at the Cape after more than 25 years, a period which included many attempts by the arch enemy to eliminate us, a few of them physically.

Going as Missionaries to the Middle East?
My interest at fighting apartheid was still basically self-centered. In my heart there was still the deep desire to return to my home country. During my quiet time in the mid-1980s, God liberated me from this passion. I had been reading in the Word how Joseph was taken out of his home country against his will; that was how I felt. I discovered that Joseph never returned to Israel. This freed me of my passionate yearning to return to South Africa. Hereafter I was ready to spend the rest of my life abroad. 
            After I had stopped working as a minister of the Moravian Church, a period of great uncertainty followed for us as a couple. At this time a speaker from OM (Operation Mobilisation) came to one of our Ichthus church meetings.
            I felt very much challenged to venture into one of the Middle East countries as a missionary. A comparative study of the number of missionaries in Islamic countries brought home to me the dire need to share the Gospel there. It was clear that I could not go into one of the closed countries as a Christian clergyman. I was thus highly motivated to get an updated teaching qualification in Mathematics. At that stage Rosemarie was not at all enthralled by my idea of going to a country like Egypt. But she (initially patiently) allowed me to continue with my studies in Mathematics in order to use that as an entrance into one of the countries that were closed for Christian missionaries.
            I had already turned 40 when I wrote an examination in Mathematics to get qualified for teaching the subject in Holland. On that very day our fifth child Tabitha was born. We wanted to get involved with missions, but no door seemed to open. One of the major handicaps was my South African passport. Our interest in joining OM got a blow when we read in one of their leaflets sson thereafter: ‘Don’t wait till you are forty and you have five children.’ That put paid to our intention of joining OM.
           

Starting a ‘Boutique’ 

A visit by Shadrach Maloka, an evangelist from the Dorothea Mission in South Africa, spawned the sending of clothing to needy evangelists who were linked to his ministry. Rosemarie was sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Financially we were just making ends meet at this time, but we had a surplus of clothing because we received donations of used clothing. This became the start of our clothing distribution to missionaries, evangelists and other needy people. In our large home, the former parsonage, we always sub-rented a room or helped someone with accommodation, and yet we still had space to spare. A part of a big upstairs room that was initially only used as a guest facility, was changed into a little bring-and-share clothing ‘boutique’. (Often some of the clothes that had been ‘bought’ in this way were back in the ‘boutique’ after a few weeks, ready for re-sale or to be sent to some foreign country.) For some Dutch believers who never before considered wearing used clothing, this was a new experience in good stewardship.           

         Missionaries from overseas could also come and make their pick there. Salou and Annelies, a befriended YWAM missionary couple, even filled a vehicle that they had received as a gift. The vehicle was shipped to Cameroun with clothes and all.

           



12. Fighting Communism and Islam

            The South African Apartheid era government denigrated any notion which vaguely approached Socialism. Very glibly Communism and Socialism were equated and misunderstood.
            Since 1969 I had been praying for persecuted Christians in countries ruled by Communists. Battling the ideology of Communism was however never high on my personal agenda. Nevertheless, I harvested a pulpit ban while I was still a student at the Moravian Seminary after I had referred to the communalism of the Jerusalem Christians of Acts 2. A policeman among the congregants threatened Reverend John Swart, the local pastor. He interpreted my message as promotion of and furthering the goals of Communism. Reverend Swart was requested not to ask me to preach there again otherwise the brother would have been required to arrest me.     

Attempting to be moderate…
My intention to be moderate in the best sense of the word and my attempts to practice fair play at all times, often brought me into trouble with opposing parties. I harvested enemies by criticising the unjust economic colonial structures, noting that we in the affluent West were exploiting the poor of the third world. To many Christians this was socialist language that befitted the left of the political spectrum. How could I then be against Communism? To some folk this was puzzling. Some evangelicals derogatorily regarded me as an ecumenical. The latter Christian grouping was usually not regarded favourably by evangelicals. To some of them the word ecumenical wa akin to a swear word.
         I could not care less if people would label me as ‘sitting on the fence’. I was not ashamed of my stance, deriving my views from the Bible and my faith. This had been my ultimate source of inspiration. With this stance I felt comfortable, knowing that in this matter I was in the league of 18th century Moravians – sometimes attacked from opposite sides.

Rotbuch Kirche
After right-wing German church politicians had been funded to visit South Africa - with the obvious intention of the apartheid government to further their own cause - my former student colleagues who were now vikare (assistant pastors) in Southern Germany, approached me. They wanted me to reply to the articles on Southern Africa in a book called ‘Rotbuch Kirche’. This book accused the World Council of Churches (WCC) of a Communist slant, slamming especially their support of the armed struggle. This occurred via the groups that opposed the racist rule in Southern African countries in their Programme to Combat Racism (PCR). I responded to the request with an article that was then distributed among young clergymen in Southern Germany.

A ‘Crusade’ with a Difference
The next major chapter of our involvement with the battle against the Communist ‘Wall’ got off the ground in Holland at this time. Especially because of the protection they were offering when the Jews were persecuted by the Nazi’s, the Dutch still take great pride in general that they support the persecuted Christians. 
            A great pioneer of the battle against Communism was Anne van der Bijl. The formative years of World War II made Van der Bijl sensitive to the needs of the persecuted Christian believers. Worldwide he became known as Brother Andrew and as the leader of Open Doors.
            The discovery that Bibles were almost impossible to get into those countries made Brother Andrew the pioneer of a ‘crusade’ with a difference, namely to smuggle Bibles into the Communist countries. Through ‘Kruistochten’,[34] as Open Doors was initially known in Holland, we prayed regularly in our home for persecuted Christians in different countries. At family meal times we would pray for some persecuted Communist Christians by name. It was always a thrill to remove the one or other face from a small box with cards that one could purchase from Open Doors. Each card contained the name and photograph of some persecuted Christian for whom we had prayed. The removal of a card from the little box indicated that the believer had been released from prison. We would praise God that He had answered the prayers for these people.
            Rosemarie and I knew that we were called to overseas’ missionary work ever since our first Wycliffe Bible Translators date way back in 1970. The seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union from 1984 were integrated in our family prayers while we were praying for God to lead us into overseas’ missions. In the children’s clubs of the ‘Goed Nieuws Karavaan the children were taught a song about the persecution of Christians in Russia and China. This was an integral part of the the seven years of prayer for the Soviet Union.
            At this time the Full Gospel fellowship of Zeist in the cinema Figi had a close link to Open Doors. Brother and Sister Heijnk, who started the church as one of the very first charismatic fellowships in the Netherlands, had linked up with Anne van der Bijl (Brother Andrew) and his organization from the beginning of his Bible smuggling to the Communist world. When Open Doors changed their focus to the Islamic world, the church remained very much in full support, with a few of the members joining the missionary ranks in some role. This is the fellowship that we started to attend in 1988, becoming members in 1989.    

Another Bash at the Iron Curtain

In 1987 we undertook our first ‘faith holiday’ as a family. Financially we could actually not afford to go on holiday, but we dared to venture out in faith with the prayer that the Lord would use the period of vacation in the German village of Tieringen. (The German government heavily subsidized this facility to enable big families that struggled financially, to go on holiday.)
            Tieringen would become the beginning of the next chapter of our struggle against the atheist Communist regimes. There we met Erwin Klein and his family, who had just come out of Romania legally because of his German ancestry. Through them we not only got valuable information, but we also received addresses from Christians in the socialist home country of Sina Klein, Erwin’s wife.
             After September 1987 we started sending clothing to Romania. The Holy Spirit was evidently orchestrating things. From the Dutch town of Zeist almost a mini Romania disease broke out in support of the suffering Christians. We could gradually understand why God wanted us to stay in Zeist, our ‘Jerusalem’. The town is situated more or less in the middle of the Netherlands. Parcels with clothing and articles that were scarce in Romania, were sent to different addresses supplied to us by Sina Klein. Our ‘clothing depot’ alias ‘boutique’ came in handy with the Goed Nieuws Karavaan folk funding the postage. The main source of income for this project was people ‘buying’ clothes.
            Clandestine visits to Romania followed hereafter from different parts of Holland. I was blessed and privileged to join a ‘touring bus’ in 1989. Various organizations that brought aid to the Communist world intensified their aid to Romania, although this apparently had not been formally decided. This was obviously part of the divine Master Plan to break down the Communist stronghold. Of course, this made the Ceaucescu regime quite nervous because their nationals were officially not supposed to have contact with foreigners.
            The rest is fairly well known history. When Michail Gorbachow took over as the leader in the Kremlin, God had evidently put the right man in place for that season. That the old guard of the Sovjets had died one after the other before his ascent to power was obviously providential. It was fitting that the avalanche towards the removal of the Berlin wall in November 1989 and the final demise of Communism all started with Anne van der Bijl of Open Doors when he offered one million Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church at the celebration of her 1000th anniversary.
            The battle was however far from over with the Russian Orthodox Church’s acceptance of the gift of Bibles to which Gorbachov, a modern-day Cyrus, surprisingly agreed. The praying Christians around the world knew of course that this had been painstakingly prepared, bathed in prayer. The groaning of the believers behind the iron curtain has been compared by the agonizing cries of the Israelites in the Egypt of old when God brought Moses on the scene. This was the beginning of the defeat of atheist Communism.



13.  Movement on the Mission Front

            As a family we kept praying for a ‘door’ to open to some African country, using the book Operation World of Patrick Johnstone. But nothing happened for many years. A North African country – my first preference - came out of contention when I sensed that Rosemarie was not so keen at this option. My South African passport remained nevertheless a major hindrance. This was still a problem when we went to the annual national Evangelical Alliance event in Amsterdam in 1988. There the various mission agencies advertised their vacancies.  Rosemarie and I had been attending the annual mission day of the regularly, first in Amsterdam and from 1989 in the little town of Barneveld. Year after year we went there hoping that the door to foreign missions would open up. When we went to Amsterdam in 1988 we had actually more or less given up the hope to do missionary work elsewhere. Our eldest son Danny was about to enter secondary school and there were four more children to follow. When Tabitha, our youngest, would be finished with her education I would be almost at pension age. On top of it, it seemed as if hardly any mission agency would be prepared to accept a family with five children.

The “Door” suddenly opened
In Amsterdam I nevertheless took along a leaflet from Africa Inland Mission (AIM) that struck me. The mission agency was looking for teachers at their boarding school for the children of missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya. The “door” suddenly opened for the first time. When we spoke to the representatives of AIM, they encouraged us, even seeing other possibilities iin view of my training and background. The only problem was my South African passport. But seeing that I had been in Holland so long, the AIM leader suggested that I should apply for a Dutch passport (Possession of dual nationality was still very uncommon at that time.)         
            This was however easier said than done. To this end I was required to return my passport to the South African Embassy. The problem that I would then have to apply for a visa to visit my parents and my home country did not even enter my mind at that stage. My main problem was the feeling of having to cut off my own roots. It had been traumatic already that not only our home and school in District Six had been razed to the ground. My high school in Vasco suffered the same fate because of the Group Areas Act and our home in Tiervlei/Ravensmead had to be vacated under the guise of apartheid-related slum clearance and ultimately bulldozed as well. Would I now also have to lose citizenship of the country that I was loving so dearly?
            I nevertheless buried my pride and inner turmoil, sensing that a step of obedience was required. We had been praying all the years for the possibility to return to Africa for missionary work. How could I cop out now?

God confirming the Move                             
A few months later God confirmed the move in a sovereign way. It all started when our black and white TV set that we had bought in Berlin in 1975, packed up just prior to the Olympic Games of 1988. When the old apparatus gave the ghost, we decided not to replace it. However, we thought that the Olympic Games would be something that could also have some educational value for our children. Our quest after a second hand model from the newspaper resulted in us agreeing to take a TV set on loan via a befriended couple. Their aged mother was hardly using her set in the old age home. We agreed that we would keep the TV set only for the duration of the Olympic Games.

Dutch Citizenship?    
When a letter arrived from The Hague regarding my application for Dutch citizenship, an administration fee of 400 guilders was mentioned. This was occurring at a time - the only occasion during our 14 years in Holland - when our banking account was in the red, although we had been scraping the barrel financially for the bulk of our time there.
            Rosemarie and I ‘took’ the letter to the Lord in prayer. I still had turmoil in my heart, really struggling with the prospect of possibly having to lose my South African citizenship in the course of this procedure. 
            God intervened in a clear way via a befriended family that was struggling themselves financially. From them we had borrowed the TV set. When our brother came to collect it, he announced that he and his wife wanted to give us 800 guilders so that we could buy a new set. I was overawed that God sent in double the amount we needed for my Dutch citizenship application! The brother and his wife could not know that we had been praying for confirmation. He was of course very much surprised when I showed him the letter. He agreed that we could use the money for that purpose and other more urgent needs instead of buying a TV set.[35] I was reassured at the same time that God was in the move when I was required to return my passport to the S.A. Embassy. However, I did this still rather reticently. Our application for Dutch citizenship could start. I however had to reckon with a two-year waiting period.

 

A national Prayer Awakening erupts                                                                                               
I was not aware that significant things in the spiritual realm had already started in South Africa not long after we left the Cape in June 1981. Thus vastly different groups, like those in the Mother City which gathered on a weekly basis, as well as Black women in the Soutpansberg area interceded fervently that the country might be spared massive bloodshed. Many longed for an end to the misery caused by apartheid, praying that it might cease soon.
          The Sendingsgestig Museum in Cape Town became the venue for Concerts of Prayer. That event reverberated throughout the country, ushering in the prayer movement. In 1983 a prayer awakening started in a few congregations all around South Africa. One of these was a small group of intercessors led by Gerda Leithgöb in Pretoria that helped set them on a path previously unexplored in this country.
          In 1987 the Lord led the group in Pretoria to do more intense research into spiritual matters. In that same year, a similar initiative started spontaneously all over the world. The Lord also called pastors in South Africa to start writing on prayer. Books appeared concerning this issue.
            Gerda Leithgöb requested prayer warriors from other countries at a conference in Singapore in 1988 to pray for South Africa, which had been in constant crisis since 1985.

Various Prayer Initiatives

In January 1988 Rens Schalkwijk, who had been coming in and going out of our home quite often - so much so that he was a natural choice to become the godfather of our youngest daughter Tabitha in 1986 - came along with the suggestion that we should resume our times of prayer, but perhaps in a different way. 
            We started a Sunday evening prayer meeting at our home. Rens Schalkwijk brought along another couple, Ria and her fiancé Lukas Hartong, who were students at the local Pentecostal Bible School (Ria had been one of our children’s club workers). Out of these prayer times Rens was ‘delegated’ to attend a meeting with David Bryant, an international speaker who had come to Holland to invite Dutch Christians to start Concerts of Prayer.
            In August 1988 - through the active urge of Rens Schalkwijk and his contacts with Pieter Bos, the prayer movement in the Netherlands got underway. Rens and I were soon leading the first unit of the ‘Regiogebed’ of the country - that of Driebergen-Zeist as a Concert of Prayer.
            By this time we had proved a point with the work of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan. This local evangelistic ministry was going well with about 30 workers from different denominations, involved in a wide range of evangelistic ministries. We had demonstrated to Dutch Christians that it was possible for people from different church backgrounds to work together locally without doctrinal tussles - if we would only concentrate on the person of Jesus.

A Great Shock
We had quite a close friendship to Bart Berkheij, who was studying at the All Nations Bible College in London even before he got married to Ruth, a student colleague. A special bond developed between his wife, a daughter of missionaries, and Rosemarie. The two of them were pregnant almost at the same time when we had our three youngest children. We empathized with the Berkheij family as they struggled for many years to go through all sorts of preparations until they could finally go to Mali as missionaries of the Red Sea Mission team.
            Great was the shock therefore when we heard that Ruth had been killed in a car accident. The family had been in Mali only for a very short time!

                       

Joining another Fellowship?
I ran into problems with a certain couple of our Panweg fellowship because Roman Catholic nuns participated in the Regiogebed. These believers had obviously been so influenced by anti-Catholic indoctrination that they could not believe that born-again people - especially nuns - could be in the ‘church of the Pope’. The unity of the body of our Lord was an issue around which we felt that we could not compromise. Other simultaneous tensions in the fellowship brought matters to a head. To all intents and purposes a split followed.
This internal dispute in our Panweg fellowship coincided with a financial and transport crisis within our family. Our old VW minibus needed expensive repairs at a time when we had a negative banking account for the first time. We had been scraping the barrel for many years, but we somehow never landed in the red. Now this had happened.
            We decided to walk on Sunday mornings to the nearby Figi congregation – the Full Gospel fellowship – until such time when we would be ‘mobile’ again. The problem of transport was really not a crucial issue because all and sundry in Holland use the bicycle regularly. (As a family we were often on the road on a Sunday afternoon in that way, with our two youngest children respectively transported by Rosemarie and me.)
            We were slandered and unfairly criticized by folk from the Panweg fellowship, but we nevertheless hoped that matters could be resolved and that reconciliation could be achieved. It never entered our heads to fight back. Yet, we yearned to return to the fellowship from which we had so many happy memories over the previous seven years.
            But it was not to be. A letter from Dick van Stelten, a friend and Dutch missionary who served in South Africa, comforted and helped us. He did not know anything about the situation in Zeist. We needed spiritual breathing space! The reconciliation with the Panweg folk did not come about until much later, when the children were already settled in the new church environment of ‘Figi’ that we joined formally in 1989. It took some time for me personally to warm up in the new church, but once we joined a home cell, things improved considerably.
           

A permanent Teaching Post?

By November 1988 I had a modern Dutch secondary teaching certificate for Mathematics in my possession.  In fact, I was on the verge of getting a higher teaching qualification in that subject. The prospect of having a home of our own in the picturesque little town of Huizen where I got a teaching post - which could become permanent - was so attractive.

            After so many temporary teaching posts in Holland, I really wanted to settle down. Through all this tension my yearning to get involved in foreign missionary work got very much of a back seat. My frustration at the lack of getting a permanent post as a teacher was abused by the arch enemy to lure me away from our calling in the service of the Lord. Like the prophet Jonah of old, God had to intervene in a very clear way. 

            A major disappointment became the divine moulding instrument to bring me back on track in terms of my missionary calling. The teacher in Huizen, whom I had substituted, decided to return to the secondary school when my three month probation period was about to run out. The Lord used this circumstance and a few others in a month of calamities, to throw us back onto our ‘first love’ – to be in the Master’s service in a full-time missionary capacity.

    
More Involvement with the Communist World
At the concerts of prayer - the ‘Regiogebed’ - with participants from different church backgrounds, we prayed for local issues, for missionaries who left from our area but also for certain countries. In 1989 we prayed especially for Communist countries, notably for the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Romania. We were really encouraged by the news that came through from East Germany. Praying Christians in Leipzig and Dresden seemed to be at the forefront of the surge towards real democracy. 
            When I was invited to give pastoral assistance to other participants on a ‘touring bus’, scheduled to go to Romania in November 1989, Nikolai Ceausescu and his clan were still firmly in command. Because I was unemployed at the time of the offer, I initially declined the invitation on ethical grounds. I had just acquired a more advanced Dutch Mathematics teaching diploma, hoping that this would at last give me a permanent position after more than 8 years of uncertainty with regard to employment.
            I felt that it was my first duty to feed my family and not to do pastoral duties on a touring bus to Communist countries. It was an open secret of course that this was not normal tourism. The other reason for declining the invitation was that I possessed a South African passport. After a few bad check point experiences in East Berlin on this score, I did not want to cause inconvenience for the rest of the group.
            When Jan van der Bor, the Dutch leader of the “Underground Church” - as Richard Wurmbrand called his organization - approached me a second time, my last application for a teaching post had been very discouraging.  My hope of getting an appointment as a Maths teacher in Holland was all but dashed. Apparently I was now ‘over-qualified’ for the bulk of the few teaching posts in Maths that were available.
            On the other hand, doors started to open up towards the mission field.  

                                                                        14. Africa beckons

            October 1989 was one of the very special months in our lives. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. Unwittingly I was preparing my return to Africa, to my dear Heimat (home land) at that. On 4 October 1989 I wrote a letter to President De Klerk, the new incumbent, in which I confessed my activism and arrogance after I had sensed an inward divine conviction because of that.

A special Prayer Event                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The ‘regiogebed’ that we started in our area in August 1988, congregated every first Thursday of the month for a Concert of Prayer. As a rule we congregated in a different church building every time, using venues of various denominations. At our meeting of 4 October 1989 I mentioned in passing to someone that I had posted a letter to President De Klerk that day. Spontaneously this person, a teacher from the nearby town of Doorn who was no regular at our prayer meetings, suggested that we devote more time that evening to pray for South Africa. Nobody objected. That had a supernatural touch. The whole prayer meeting was devoted to praying for one country, for South Africa. That was the only occasion when we did it in that way.
            Nobody present at the prayer meeting was aware of it that President De Klerk would meet Archbishop Tutu and Dr Allan Boesak the next week. That strategic meeting became in a sense a watershed in the politics of the country, the prelude to the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. Also in other countries - especially in South Africa itself - people had been praying for a change of the suicidal direction of the political system.
            The prayer meeting in Zeist was special to me in another sense. This was one of the very first opportunities in evangelical circles where I experienced clear support for my opposition to my government at home. Many Dutch people perceived evangelical believers to be supportive of apartheid. In this spiritual environment South Africa was regarded as a bastion against Communist expansion, full stop. The notionwas somehow still doing the rounds in the Netherlands that as an evangelical one had to support apartheid. Leftist ecumenicals on the other hand would often defend Communism as a brand of Socialism. That was regarded as acceptable without serious reservations from the left side of Dutch Christianity. I was opposing both positions. I was however not always successful in communicating my sentiments ‘properly’.

Two Invitations to travel
We were challenged in yet another way when Marry Schotte of WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ) International shared at the annual Evangelical Missionary Alliance event in Barneveld in 1989 about a mission school in Vavoua, Cote I’voire. There they needed teachers. Their need seemed furthermore geared to what I could offer. In the WEC school for the children of missionaries they had departments for Dutch and German children. The common language of the school was English. I could teach Mathematics - for which they indeed had a vacancy - in all three languages. When Marry Schotte brought along a video of the school when she visited us in Zeist, she succeeded in getting our children excited. Before this they found the prospect of going to ‘Africa’ quite scary.
            I hardly had opportunity to digest this challenge when along came our friend Wil Heemsbergen with a repeated invitation. They wanted me to join a touring bus trip to Romania, to assist on the pastoral side of the touring bus to the Communist stronghold with all expenses paid.
            Very soon thereafter our friend Bart Berkheij, who lost his wife in a car accident in 1988, phoned with the request whether I could join him on a trip to Mali at the end of January 1990. All expenses would be paid for him and a friend, to go and wind up things where he had served with his family. From there he had suddenly left the previous year after the car accident in which his wife was killed. I declined Bart’s invitation to join him initially because I was still unemployed. It was very attractive to get a feeling of West Africa in the light of our own preparations to go to Cote d’Ivoire. However, I found it ethically inappropriate to plan this while I was still hoping to get a teaching post. Everything looked cut and dried when I heard that he had found someone else to join him on his trip to Mali.

A dreaded brown Envelope   
Then it happened! In the post there was the dreaded brown envelope from the Dutch Department of Justice. I thought: ‘Surely this is the traffic fine.’ (I had been photogrpahed when driving through a red traffic light in Germany a few weeks prior to this.) Instead however, it was a letter on behalf of Queen Beatrix to inform me that Dutch citizenship had been granted to me! Out of the blue I thus heard that my application for Dutch citizenship was successful.  (I was waiting for the test of language proficiency that I had expected as the next step of the process.) Now I could get my Dutch passport, so much earlier than what everybody had anticipated! In fact, within a few days I had a passport in my possession, ready to be off to Hungary and Romania! (I had previously declined an invitation for a second time to do pastoral duties on a ‘tourist’ bus because of my fear that a South African passport might cause difficulties for the other participants.)

Hungary and Romania
The bus was almost empty in terms of passengers, but loaded with Bibles, Christian literature and material goods for the persecuted Christians behind the ‘iron curtain’. The bulk of the load was left in Hungary. The experiences in Hungary and Romania were sobering, emotionally not easy to handle at all. Hungary had already started opening up to the West. The hospitality of the Reformed Christians, our hosts, was really heart-warming.
            We delivered the bulk of the material aid to the persecuted Christians there. Other Christians would take the literature in small quantities to the various countries that were still in the grip of oppressive Communism.
            Rumania was a completely different cup of tea compared to East Germany or Hungary. We had hardly passed the Austrian border into Hungary when one of our passengers, who originated from Hungary before her marriage to a Dutchman, picked up the news on the radio. A bus with tourists from the West was announced. The border officials deemed it important to relay this snippet of information to the national radio station. We were ‘in the news’! What a special item! The intention was of course to label us. It was forbidden for Romanians to have contact with foreigners.
            What a joy our presence brought to those Romanian believers whom we visited! Even though none of us could speak a language known to them and not a single one of them could speak a West European language, we experienced a special kind of fellowship. The gesture that Christians in the West have not forgotten them, made their day!
            The trip ended very traumatic. The Romanian Securitate, their secret police, had evidently done their homework very well. They knew exactly which people from our group were involved with the bulk of the clandestine activities. They extracted information via a search that included the underclothing of one of our participants and unearthing a letter that someone was requested to post in the West. All this brought our trip to Romania to a very sad end.
            While we were there, something significant had happened elsewhere. We missed the television viewing of the breaking down of the Berlin wall on November 9! In Romania it was of course not shown on the State TV. (There the population was fed with the ‘staple diet’ - the diverse activities of the Ceaucescu clan at almost any time of the day. We witnessed this in our hotel rooms.)

Rebellion in Romania
It was something of a consolation when we heard soon thereafter that there was rebellion in Romania. At this time I was working part-time at the East Europe Mission for a few days per week. (It had become clear that a position as teacher in Mathematics in Holland was remote. But the process to become missionaries in Africa had of course also started.) Now and then I was taking Bibles and other material aid on behalf of the East Europe Mission to Switzerland. The loads were scheduled for the Communist countries. Other people would take the valuable goods further.
            The fighting in Timisoara near to the Hungarian border soon got to a critical stage. Tineke Zwaan, one of our Goed Nieuws Karavaan co-workers, phoned us with a suggestion. She wanted to come over with her husband Gideon so that we could have a special session of prayer for Romania. We had close contact with Tineke for many years, when she was still single and unemployed. She had been one of the founder workers of our evangelistic team of the Goed Nieuws Karavaan.
            I assume that we were one of many groups around the world that were raised up at that point in time to pray for the Communist stronghold to crumble. Within a matter of days, the days of the dictator Ceaucescu were counted.
            In the next few months the almost complete demise of Communism took place, with Cuba and North Korea remaining as significant bastions of the atheistic ideology.

Another Invitation to Mali    
I had hardly returned from Romania, when Bart Berkheij approached me again to accompany him to West Africa, mentioning that the friend who would have joined him, had pulled out. This time I was happy to accept the invitation to join him to go to Mali on condition that he would join me to Cote I’voire (Ivory Coast). Last not least, I now had a Dutch passport. In the Ivory Coast I wanted to explore the situation at the mission school where I hoped to go and teach.
            The experience during this trip was so encouraging that I was highly motivated to return to the Ivory Coast as a missionary with my family.

Experiences in West Africa
The Mali part of the trip was very interesting, my one and only visit to West Africa to date. In fact, that was the first time that I visited another African country. A highlight of that trip was that I could listen to the BBC radio news report that President de Klerk announced at the opening of Parliament: Nelson Mandela would be released soon and the ANC was unbanned!
         Bart and I were due to fly from Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire on 16 February, 1990. The last day in the West African metropolis was exceptional. I had already thoroughly enjoyed the bus trip from Vavoua, during which I had a meaningful ‘conversation’ with a student who had studied German. I practiced my recently acquired French, translating a tract about the lost sheep of Luke 15 into German, for him to check. The openness for the Gospel in the West African metropolis impressed me deeply.
         Bart and I spent the morning doing some sightseeing and shopping – buying small artefacts to take along for the families at home in Holland! Nostalgia overtook me as I looked over the Islamic city! When I saw a few mosques, it so much resembled the old District Six, the slum-like area of my childhood. I had thought that South Africa was out of my mind in terms of a return there! But in a fleeting moment I was overwhelmed by nostalgia. It was strange that my trip was supposed to be an orientation for us as missionaries to West Africa. But I was now also ambivalently longing to return to my home country. Nelson Mandela had just been released. I was quite sad that I could not witness the event via a TV set as we had been travelling through rural Africa! Was the way opening up for me to return to my home country after all?                                                                                                                                                                                                      At that moment however, I was firmly set on returning to Côte d’Ivoire to teach in the WEC mission school in Vavoua.
A Nudge to tackle the daunting Wall of Islam          
With the ‘iron curtain’ of Communism and the edifice of apartheid all but shattered by February 1990, supernatural intervention occurred in Abidjan, nudging me to tackle the daunting wall of Islam. Quite a deep impression followed our ‘visit to a mosque’, in which we landed by accident. It was Friday and all the shops were closing for the lunch time. We had no opportunity to continue our shopping spree. We simply took a seat next to the road, waiting for the shops to reopen. Suddenly prayer mats were rolled out all around us. Bart was sitting obliquely behind me. Somehow I had the impression that he was also doing the obligatory raka’ts, the Islamic cycles of body movements accompanying the prayers. Thus I simply joined in, imitating the people in front of me. Suddenly I heard an angry stifled shout-whisper: ‘Ashley, wat doe je daar!’ (Ashley, what are you doing!) What a bashing he gave me hereafter for going through the Islamic motions.
         As I looked at the people in front of me, I experienced some sort of thrill. It was as if the Lord was reassuring me that these bodily movements were no more than meaningless tradition; that some day the Islamic ‘Wall’ would also crash like the communist ‘iron curtain’ had done. Bart continued harshly: ‘and you want to become a missionary?’ Strangely enough, I didn’t feel any remorse... In fact, I was excited!
         The experience of that day helped me to persevere over the next decades of low-key missionary work among Muslims, although it seemed as if we were wasting our time.        The insight I gained from this experience was quite special. I recognised that having your hands in the air while we sing hymns and choruses – or performing other ritual gestures - could be just as empty! Having come from the Moravian Church with its rich tradition of ritual and music, the message of Isaiah hit home to me that outward feasts and celebrations - without a genuine concern also for the poor and the needy - could actually be disgusting in God’s eyes (Isaiah 58).
         My attitude to mission work in Black Africa also changed completely there in Côte d’Ivoire. This is what mattered most to us because this is where we eventually wanted to be as a family. The experience during this trip was so encouraging that I was highly motivated to return to West Africa.
         Later that year Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussain attacked Kuweit, the single event that ushered in ten years of prayer for the Muslim world. The direct result of Iraq’s move - and their failure to withdraw from Kuweit - was the Gulf War of 1991.

Future Mission Work linked to Spiritual Warfare,
That future mission work in Africa would be linked to spiritual warfare, was foreshadowed when I heard on my return to Holland that our daughter Magdalena had a close call with meningitis during my three-week absence.  During that time I had no contact with the family.
         Our Magdalena had been terribly ill. Because she had contact with another child that had contracted meningitis, Rosemarie went through excruciating trauma. What my wife shared on my return would become a pattern – some member of the family would be attacked health-wise during my absence from home. We learned to pray for special protection for them at these times.
                                               
         We deemed it fit to speak to the leaders of the local Full Gospel Church about our missional plans, although we had been church members for less than a year. The dynamic ‘Mama’ Heijnk, the leader, was quite contented when she heard that we intended to use teaching, the vocation in which I had been trained. She stated clearly that as a church fellowship they were financially committed to Brother Andrew's ‘Kruistochten’ (Open Doors), although she felt that more missionaries should go to the Muslim world.
         At the discussion with the new church leadership team a few months later - the old Heijnks had taken a back seat – the leaders were quite surprised that we didn’t mention financial support. Not very long hereafter, the elders progressed even further along a new road: they committed themselves to substantial regular monthly support for the Cloete family. (That promise became the basis of what we would trust the Lord for rental payments in Cape Town in 1992).

The Yoke of ritual Bondage  
As the years went on, we discerned that many Muslims were wrestling under the yoke of ritual bondage. The question became even more pressing: How will all those millions of people ever get rid of the thick veil over their eyes? As my wife and I read 2 Corinthians 3 once again, we were reminded that Martin Luther only got into the freedom of Christ when he discovered that he needed a Saviour. This only occurred when he developed a deep sense of urgency about his own sin. We also realised anew that this is something that only God can accomplish in a sovereign way through his Holy Spirit. God doesn’t need us, but we can be instruments in His hands to change the world, especially through prayer.
                                               
Preparation for missionary Training
With Campus Crusade[36] I had started to do some voluntary work in Holland with Bram Krol, one of their fulltime workers.  Also from that side we were challenged to work full-time for them. We were quite serious about this idea, starting to look at a house in Zeist that we hoped to purchase. Just before my father-in-law passed away in February 1989, he indicated that he and his wife wanted to help us to buy a house.
         As a next major step in our planning and praying within the family, we got ready for our WEC candidates’ training course. But before that could start, we needed a Dutch teacher to join us. At our extended weekly family devotions even the little ones now started to pray fervently for a volunteer teacher to accompany us to England.
         The Lord used the trip to West Africa in yet another way. While I was there, our long-standing friend Geertje Rehorst visited Rosemarie one evening. When Geertje heard from Rosemarie that we were praying for a teacher, she asked all sorts of questions.
           
Doors open up
I had returned to Holland quite excited, raving about the apparent openness towards the Gospel in West Africa. The discussions at the school in Vavoua were promising, although I intended that to be merely a prelude for other missionary work after a few years. But I still had to get fluent in French, the lingua franca of West Africa. Rosemarie had not even started learning this language.
            On my return from West Africa there were quite a few letters awaiting me, two of which were challenges to new areas of ministry. We decided to move further along the road towards the teaching post at the WEC (Worldwide Evangelisation for Christ) school for missionary kids in Ivory Coast, unless the Lord would close that door. The possibility of working as a Mathematics teacher appeared to be specially fitted to what I could offer.  After all, there were not that many people around who would be available and willing to teach Mathematics in the three languages English, German and Dutch at the school in Vavoua.

Come over and help us! 
Most of all I was surprised that Rosemarie appeared to be eagerly awaiting my response to a letter from South Africa. Among other letters there was a hand-written one from Pietie Orange, a friend from our young days in Tiervlei (Ravensmead).
         There was not much in Pietie’s letter in terms of contents, but very clearly there was the clarion call: COME OVER AND HELP US.  I was quite perplexed and somewhat confused. The experiences in West Africa especially were still fresh in my mind. For years the doors to mission services seemed to remain closed and now there appeared to be many ‘doors’ opening. Which was the right one?
            I was surprised to sense Rosemarie’s excitement about the possibility to go to South Africa.  She knew of my fervent desire to return to my home country. In the early years of our marriage it caused a lot of strain when she sensed that I perceived it as a sacrifice to live in Europe. Through my ‘Joseph experience’ God had thoroughly dealt with my craving after a return to South Africa. I was fully prepared to serve God anywhere in the world and quite willing never to return to South Africa on a permanent basis - if that was the confirmed divine guidance. Now Rosemarie seemed to be ready to join me!
                       
A Teacher for our Children?
In order to join WEC, we needed a teacher for our children during the time of our candidates’ orientation. We really had very little faith. Where on earth could one get a teacher who not only had to pay the fare to go to either Germany or Holland, pay for accommodation, teach learners in four different grades and not receive any salary? 
            Our children were now definitely on board. It was so moving to hear them praying for a teacher. How earnestly the little ones would pray for someone to go with us to teach them during the candidates’ orientation of Rosemarie and me. Their faith put us as parents to shame.
            The Lord used my trip to West Africa to sort out this problem. While I was in Mali our longstanding friend Geertje Rehorst visited Rosemarie one evening. When Geertje heard that we were praying for a teacher, she asked Rosemarie all sorts of questions. Because Geertje had stopped teaching not long prior to this on what sounded to us like medical grounds, we never even considered her as a possible candidate to help us out.
            When Geertje’s son Peter visited us with his wife Annelies just after my return from West Africa, we told them of our need of a teacher to accompany us to England. Promptly he asked: ‘Have you thought of my mother?’ At Barthimeus, the local School for the Blind, Geertje had been teaching children of different age groups. When we invited Geertje over one evening to put the question to her very hesitantly, she confirmed that she knew all along that the Lord wanted her to go to England with us for the WEC missionary orientation course. She was only waiting on us to approach her. That she was available enabled another Dutch couple with children in the same age range as our children to attend the course.

Children’s Fun at School
Our children had such a time of fun at school during those four months at Bulstrode! The Lord used the stint at the international WEC Headquarters near to London to bring Geertje back into the missionary framework. She subsequently became a consultant for missionaries in Spain on behalf of ECM, the successor of her old mission agency, the Europeese Zendingsgenootschap (EZG) till the end of 2003. This happened long before member care became common in missions.  
            When we worked in Zeist among Moroccan and Turkish children, we were not aware that the Lord had started to prepare us for a future ministry among the Muslims of Cape Town. Even when we invited Herman Takken, who was involved with this work in Holland full-time - to come and give us some teaching on Islam - I was not remotely thinking of using it one day in the city where I was born and bred. Operating as a missionary in a Muslim country was nevertheless one of the options I kept in mind as a definite possibility. And then there was of course the visit to Mali and the Ivory Coast that had struck a sensitive chord in my heart to reach out with more intent to those who are shackled by Islamic bondage.

The Door to Côte ‘Ivoire closes

We were quite dejected when the door to Côte ‘Ivoire closed so to speak in our faces. I had already started to learn French for quite a few months.  Thus I was quite shattered when a negative reply came from there, although the principal of the mission school in Vavoua had already told me there that the small institution had only limited dormitory facilities and that they never had to cope with five children from the same family. The age and number of our children militated against such a venture. That our eldest son would have to return to Holland fairly soon after our arrival in Côte ‘Ivoire, turned out to be quite decisive. But it was nevertheless a major disappointment. I was not ready for a negative response from that quarter.

A Window opens
In his faithfulness the Lord intervened promptly hereafter. After the very evening when Rosemarie and I specially prayed for our future ministry, we received a completely unexpected phone call the next day.  Totally out of the blue our friend Dick van Stelten phoned from the tiny village of Josini in South Africa near to the Mozambican border, challenging us to come and take over their work. That was the Lord’s way of turning our attention to the country of my birth, so to speak a renewed Macedonian call, on par with Pietie Orange’s letter.
            Through a process of elimination we had been guided to WEC International. We decided to consult the Dutch WEC leaders, Jacob and Emmy Spronk. They were very supportive, advising that we should go and explore the ministry to see if the Lord confirmed any missionary outreach in Natal. Perhaps it could become a new venture of WEC South Africa. (We were not aware of it that WEC South Africa had actually decided not to start new ministries in the country.)
            My mother was due to turn eighty at the end of that year and the golden wedding anniversary of my parents would shortly thereafter in early January 1991. After all my international trips of the previous months, we hardly had liberty to share our vision and intention with other Christians to visit South Africa on orientation at the end of 1990. It would be another faith venture. (Officially I was still unemployed, teaching Religious Instruction at Barthimeus, the local School for the Blind very limitedly and doing some casual work with the East European Mission.)
            Gradually one hurdle after the other was surmounted as we decided to take our eldest and youngest child along on the orientation journey to South Africa. We had no funds for such a trip. Rather naively, the publication of my autobiographical material naturally came up for consideration. Was it because of desperation that I had forgotten my intention not to publish my autobiographical material abroad before having done so in Afrikaans in my home country? Kok, a big publishing company in Kampen (Holland), however returned the manuscript a few months later. With me being a completely unknown author, they stated the obvious. There was no market in Holland for a translation of ‘What God joined together.
            Our faith was really tested as we prayed about going to serve in Northern Natal. In a TV programme on Dutch TV the reporter mentioned that Natal at that time was worse than Lebanon and Northern Ireland put together as a situation of civil war. Was this the sort of situation we wanted to take our children into?

Seed starting to germinate?

In obedience to the Lord we nevertheless started to plan a visit to South Africa. In Pretoria we hoped to visit Cees and Els Lugthart, a Dutch missionary couple linked to the Dorothea Mission. From there we hoped to get to Josini in Northern Natal somehow.
            Miraculously, sufficient funds came in to book tickets for four of us – including Danny and Tabitha, our oldest and youngest child - pay the fares, without having to get into debt or approaching anybody. We were so happy to see how the Lord was teaching us to live by faith. In fact, we also needed the fares for the ferry to take all of us plus our car from Holland to England for our candidates’ orientation in January 1991. And then there was the special 'fleece' – we needed a couple to pay our rent in Zeist for six months. The Lord came through so wonderfully, answering our prayers!  
            In a few cases the seed of confession I tried to sow over the years seemed to germinate. I really rejoiced when I heard of Professor Willie Jonker’s[37] bold stand in Rustenburg in November 1990. The government of the day and the Afrikaans press slammed the Rustenburg confession in general, but in the spiritual realm a deep impact was definitely made.
            I had also started collating and typing the reports of our previous visits to South Africa into an old computer that I received via Peter Kalmijn. (He sold various computer parts which I had found here and there. Thereafter he bought an old Personal Computer for me which had a drive for ‘floppy discs’ from the proceeds. This PC served me for many a year at the Cape. (Before that, I could only work on a PC at school or university.) The manuscript was the intended present to my parents for their golden wedding anniversary. David Appelo, a Dutch friend with a special interest in South Africa whom I got to know through my Campus Crusade activities, helped me a lot to get the material in a presentable form. The result was Home or Hearth, the narratives of our three previous visits to South Africa.
           

15. Missionary Preparation

            David Appelo felt that we should try and publish the material in a form that would not be merely a family record. Hesitantly, I agreed to allow him to revamp the manuscript for wider publication. Our own family history was definitely the tone of a manuscript that I had presented to my darling on her 40th birthday in July 1991.

Another Fleece
The procedure to become WEC missionaries had been already well advanced when we became very uncertain. What would happen if WEC (Worldwide Evangelization for Christ) International turned us down or if we decide not to join that agency after all? Then we would have been without any accommodation. We knew how difficult it was to get housing in Holland even for a couple or a small family. With our five kids, would such a step be responsible? We decided to put out a ‘fleece’. If the Lord would give us people who were willing to live in our home and pay the rent for the six months of our missionary orientation, we would know that God confirmed our call.
            We were brought in touch with a couple where both of them had good jobs. (The circumstance however subsequently became quite an issue when the couple did not pay the rent at all.)

 

A Cloud over our Acceptance as WEC Missionaries

It was like coming home when we arrived at the WEC headquarters in Durban in December 1990. However, my activism soon brought me into hot water there. As the 16th of December approached, I felt constrained to write a letter to President De Klerk, Mr Nelson Mandela and Chief Buthelezi, the three main political role players at the time, suggesting to them to take a bold step in reconciliation. In fact, in my draft letter I suggested the traditional ‘Day of the Covenant’ to be renamed under this banner.
            This led to a major upheaval when I showed my draft letter to the acting leader of WEC in South Africa. He stressed that it was WEC policy to ‘stay out of politics.’ I disagreed, because my intended plan of action was not meddling in politics. I regarded it as a biblical injunction to be an agent of reconciliation. Nevertheless, I refrained from posting the letters. But I was thrown into an inner turmoil once again. There was suddenly a big cloud over our joining WEC.
            Come January 1991, we were already in England at Bulstrode, the headquarters of WEC for the candidates’ orientation course. Soon after our arrival there, I shared my reservations with Howard Sayers, our Candidate Secretary. He suggested that I speak to our international leader, and especially to Patrick Johnstone, who had been working with the Dorothea Mission in Southern Africa. After speaking to these people, we had liberty to complete the four months of the Candidate Orientation Course in England.
           
Another Treatise       
Writing remained my hobby for many years. Yet another treatise followed as a result of further studies. It was a missiological work describing the new South Africa as a ‘goldmine’ for the recruitment of missionaries. After I presented it to the international leaders of WEC the response was lukewarm, not encouraging enough to proceed with publication. I decided to leave it at that. I loved writing and researching. I dearly wanted to put the results in the service of the Lord, but I definitely did not want to waste money to get books printed that would hardly be read. The Lord would have to confirm any possible publication.
           

Lessons in Spiritual Warfare

The Lord used the time at Bulstrode to start moulding us for our future ministry in Cape Town. Here I was clearly introduced to the concept of spiritual warfare in a new way. Never before had I heard about things like prayer walks, although we already had ample practice in some areas of strategic and targeted prayer, without giving them fancy names.
            The Gulf War at the beginning of 1991 made things very practical. In one of the devotionals one of the workers at the WEC international office demonstrated why it was necessary for the allied airplanes to prepare the area for the artillery. Using the same idea, C.T. Studd, the founder of WEC, had used terms like ‘chocolate soldier’ and ‘prayer batteries’ many years ago. But that sounded like language of a bygone age. The purpose of Studd’s concept would prepare the ‘soil’ of the fields before the soldier troops would move in as missionaries. (Studd was of course very much influenced by William Booth and his Salvation Army.)
            I could have known more about spiritual warfare because Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the renewed Moravian Church, had introduced a term like ‘Streiterehe’ - the warrior marriage - centuries ago. (According to this concept the married partners sacrificed to be separated from the spouse for extended periods for the sake of the Gospel.) But all this I had been perceiving as not valid for our time.
            At Bulstrode things changed when not only the Gulf War made matters very practical, but fundamentalist Islam also became ever more clearly visible as a threat to world peace. At the Second International Congress on World Evangelization in Manila in 1989 spiritual warfare had come into the foreground quite forcefully. What a special privilege it was to have lecturers such as Patrick Johnstone and Dieter Kuhl, who were at the cutting edge of worldwide developments. We profited immensely from this new missions focus at Bulstrode.
            As part of our missionary training in England we had to write an assignment, a ‘field study’ about the country where we intended to go to. I had already been giving talks about different aspects of South African life. But I wanted to know more about the culture and history of the Indian population of the country. What also played a role in my thinking was the strategy to be used back home to help recruit South African Indians for the subcontinent from where their ancestors originally had come. As a mission agency we were seeing this as one of the possibilities of solving the problem of entry into India as career missionaries. Thus my suggestion was that Rosemarie could study the politics, economy and related issues about South Africa, while I would make a study of the history and culture of South African Indians. This brought me to some study of Hinduism and Islam, their two major religions. My experience in West Africa also definitely influenced me. I now thought of Black South Africans as potential missionaries to the Muslim countries of West Africa.

Tests of Faith

In Bulstrode our faith in the provision for daily needs was tested to the full when our rent in Holland had to be paid while we were also required to trust the Lord for the means to live at the WEC International Headquarters. Matters came to a head when the couple staying in our home did not honour their commitment. At this time we were furthermore told that we had to return about 3000 guilders rental subsidy from the Dutch government.
            We were challenged to take Hebrews 10:34 literally, allowing ourselves to be ‘robbed’ innocently. Just at this time, we received more or less the same amount from the Dutch tax office. We duly paid the subsidy money using this, although we were really living from hand to mouth. 
           
Differences with the WEC Leadership         
During my superficial study of Islam in South Africa at Bulstrode, I had already deduced that Bo-Kaap, the residential area below Signal Hill, had become predominantly Islamic. I discerned that some spiritual warfare might be needed to tackle this. When we returned to Holland from England, I challenged the Christians there to send their ‘prayer batteries’ to Bo-Kaap, to bombard the area - before we as missionaries could go there as the ‘infantry’. (I was not aware of it that the Society of International Ministries (SIM)[38] was already active there. We had no concrete plans for involvement there in Bo-Kaap as yet. In our correspondence with WEC South Africa we did mention however that we wanted our hands free to evangelize among the Muslims. But the South African WEC leadership desperately wanted to use us for representation in the Western Cape. The stated strategy of WEC in SA was to focus on recruitment, and not to get involved with new ministries.
            Perceived differences with the new WEC leadership in South Africa with regard to our future role clouded our start at Emmeloord, the Dutch HQ, where we were due to be for two months of further missionary candidate orientation.  We decided to defer our acceptance as WEC missionaries, but to continue with the procedure to return to South Africa. Thankfully all the differences could be resolved. It was finally agreed that we would help our colleague Shirley Charlton with representation in Cape Town in the first year and thereafter we were open to see how the Lord would lead.

Financial Vindication
Expensive phone calls to Holland to the couple that were living in our home on Broederplein in Zeist were of no avail. The calls merely harvested empty promises. We now however experienced one miracle after the other. We were enabled to pay our rent in Zeist and also for our stay in England and in Emmeloord at the Dutch WEC headquarters over a period of six months.
            Another high hurdle would have been the airfare to South Africa for us as a couple plus our five children, of which two had to pay adult fares. We had also decided that a container would be the best way to get our personal possessions to Cape Town. That was not cheap.
            After applying the principle of Matthew 18 to deal with a conflict, we got the pastor of the couple that lived in our house for six months involved..They finally paid the rent in a lump sum. Now we had the money not only for our airfare, but also for the container in which we wanted to transport our furniture and other belongings. All in all this was a big learning curve to trust the Lord for finances, without appealing for funds. We appreciate this pillar of the WEC ethos very much. We stuck to this principle ever since.



[1] Later the pervasive replacement theology that is still keeping Judaism and the Jews side-lined also came into focus as something for which the Church universal should repent. (According to the replacement theory the Church is the ‘new Israel’, substituting the old nation that was elected by God to be a blessing to the nations.)
[2] These manuscripts can now be found on our internet blog, www.isaacandishmael.blogspot.com. Someone helped me in 2008 to create a blog where I dropped my mauscripts. Subsequently I have been improving them one after the other.
[3] Richard Dudley demonstrated how the bubbling former ‘slum area’ functioned as the cradle of ‘a national solution for all of South Africa and the structures and ideas upon which a truly national liberation movement came to be based.’ In similar vein, Yousuf Rassool referred to the Freedom Charter of the ANC as ‘nothing but an imitation in many respects of our Ten Point Plan’, i.e. that of the Unity Movement.  If one considers the similarity between the Freedom Charter and the People’s Charter of June 1948, they display indeed great similarity.
[4] Bo-Kaap is the cradle of Islam in South Africa. In my childhood it was however already a predominantly Christian residential area, in spite of a few mosques and the Schotse Kloof flats that had been specially built for Muslims in the late 1930s. Through apartheid-related Group Areas legistation Bo-Kaap became almost exclusively Islamic.
[5] Originally Engel (meaning angel) was a German name and Joemat was a slave name.
[6] One of the first group of German (Special) students, my student colleagues of 1965, was Jakes Gerwel, who later became the Rector of the University. President Mandela chose him to become his close aid in the first ANC government. Tony Links, another student collegue and later also a teacher colleague in Bellville South, went to high honours until he finally became the Registrar of the prestigious University of South Africa, UNISA.
[7] Later my programme was changed to a single year, a practical year with the Evangelische Jungmännerwerk in Stuttgart.
[8] I took the latter subject by correspondence with UNISA in Pretoria.
[9] Our property in Tiervlei that consisted of eight big adjacent plots, had more or less been expropriated under the guise of slum clearance. My parents were given a pittance for it. A few years later a shopping centre was erected on the premises.
[10] As Christians we have been referring to the Hebrew Bible as the 'Old Testament', a term Jews consider denigrating. I try to avoid the term because of the substituting connotations. It somehow creates the impression that the 'New Testament' ('NT') more or less replaced the 'Old Testament'. For lack of a better term (Jewish scholars sometime refer to the 'NT' as Christian Scriptures, but that terminology does not sound to me accurate enough), I continue to use 'NT', i.e. putting NT in inverted comma‘s.

[11] Rev. Goba later became a theological professor at UNISA next to high office in his denomination.
[12] In recent years the building complex was renovated and changed to house the City’s Library.
[13]  A fuller report of our visits to South Africa can be found in Home or Hearth or Involuntary Exile.
[14] In 2001, the MRA movement changed its name yet again, to Initiatives of Change (IofC).

[15] The Moravian Church in South Africa had two ‘provinces’. The division in the West, which consisted predominantly of Cape ‘Coloureds’, was called the Broederkerk.
[16]  ‘Zieltjes winnen’ in Dutch has quite a negative connotation in Dutch and giving one’s testimony is known as ‘getui­gen’. Jehovah’s Witnesses are also known as Jehovah’s ‘Getuigen’
[17] In the church council there were in fact more females than brothers.
[18] The title alludes to one of the biblical Beatitudes, Matthew 5:6. Geregtigheid in Afrikaans has the double meaning of righteousness and justice.
[19] In 2001, the MRA movement changed its name yet again, to Initiatives of Change (IofC).

[20] A fuller report of the visit to South Africa can be found in Home or Hearth/ Involuntary Exile.
[21] Dr O'Brien Geldenhuys and Professor Willie Jonker completed the delegation. These three clergymen would be quite influential to bring about significant changes in the Dutch Reformed Church in the years hereafter.
[22] I thought to have discerned some influence of Honger na Geregtigheid when I read about an open letter that Dr Boesak wrote to Dr Schlebusch, a Cabinet Minister. Later he openly clashed with Bishop Tutu because of the willingness of the Anglican bishop to continue talking to Prime Minister Botha.

[23] Later I discovered that the letter, written under a pseudonym, was distorted to such an extent that one could hardly recognize the original.
[24] Translation: Love drives out fear
[25] Jakes had become quite an ecumenical figure since our days in the Student Christian Association through which we had met. He had been a member of the Christian Institute almost since its inception and later he did some spadework with Dr Beyers Naudé for the erection of the Broederkring. In this organization ministers of the Black (non-White) Dutch Reformed churches met informally for fellowship. Looking back, the strategy was flawed to a great extent because the opposi­tion to apartheid and racial discrimination was central in the Broederkring, instead of the unity in Christ.
[26] Blacks were only allowed to be in the ‘White’ cities and towns under restricted conditions. 
[27] I did not experience this as a tragedy though. I was merely enquiring to test the waters after the repeal of the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act in 1985. It was in my view more of a case of wanting to see if the coast was clear to make concrete plans for a return to South Africa.
[28] The premises of 33 Haywood Road in Crawford were very much involved in this saga.
[29] I continued working at the original Honger na Geregtigheid. To this end my daughter scanned the A4 version in. At the end of December 2016 I discovered that the copy in my possession was actually incomplete. I nevertheless pasted it on the Internet at www.isaacandishmael.blogspot.com. I had no liberty and drive however to do more work on As die Here die Huis nie bou nie en Sonder my kan julle niks doen nie, the other two originally planned components of Honger na Geregtigheid. However, I took a rebuke to heart, starting to work seriously on the present manuscript. 
[30] The actions in Crossroads, KTC and Nyanga played a significant role as part of the run-up to the repeal of influx legislation.  In 1985 the relevant act was scrapped.

[31] I also had not discerned clearly yet how Constantine had possibly unintentionally high-jacked the Church on this score, estranging us from our Jewish roots.

[32] A Huis van Bewaring is a sort of prison, where inmates are incarcerated who had committed less serious crimes. There I participated in a weekly conversational group, led by Ds Ter Haar Romeny, who also had contacts to South Africa.
[33] Sister Kooy was also involved in the evangelical movement of Holland since the Second World War when they were caring for the persecuted Jews and for the destitute, led by famous Dutch people like Corrie ten Boom and Brother Jan Kits (sn).
[34] The Dutch word Kruistochten means crusades.
[35] Soon thereafter we bought a second hand TV for 50 guilders that we left in Holland when we came to South Africa in 1992.
[36] Campus Crusade subsequently changed their name in Holland to Agape.
[37] He was one of the group of clergymen whom I had met on Schiphol airport in 1979.
[38] The mission agency was formerly called Sudan Interior Mission and Serving in Mission is the current name. 

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