By Ferrell Jenkins
When Paul and Barnabas returned from their first preaching tour they reported to the brethren all the things which God had done through them (Acts 14:27). Because many brethren in the United States send support to gospel preachers in South Africa and because we know so many of the men personally, I think it appropriate that I give brethren a report of my preaching trip to South Africa.
Brother David Beckley, preacher for the church in Krugersdorp, encouraged me to come to South Africa to present some lessons on biblical authority. He thought I might be able to do this at the conclusion of one of my tours to Europe or the Middle East. Later, I decided to conduct a tour to South Africa and Zimbabwe. In this way I would be able to pay my own way to South Africa and then be able to stay in the country and preach. When this plan was suggested to some brethren and friends in South Africa, numerous invitations to preach were issued.
Twenty friends and brethren from across the United States joined me for the tour. We visited Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and surrounding area, the Garden Route, a private game park adjoining Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In Cape Town we were met at the airport by Eric and Sharon Reed. Brethren from four congregations met in one location on the Lord’s day so that we could visit with all of them and I was invited to preach for them. The group of about 70 or 80 including our group was made up of whites, blacks, Indians, and perhaps colored (this designation is used in South Africa to describe people of mixed races). Other preachers included Hendrik Joubert, Conrad Steyn and George Harris. Conrad and George have preached for many years in association with the “institutional” brethren. When a sponsoring church in Houston, Texas, made plans to take over the building and hold the deed to it, they “saw the light,” broke with these brethren and took a stand against such innovations. For them it was almost like starting over from scratch. I had an enjoyable visit with Conrad. Both he and George plan to visit brethren in the United States later this year.
When we visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), Foy and Margaret Short, long-time workers in Zimbabwe, and three other Christians drove about six hours from Bulawayo to visit with our group. I think brother Short is the only white conservative preacher now in Zimbabwe. He works primarily with black churches throughout the country.
In Johannesburg we met with the Brixton congregation. The brethren had inivted me to speak, but I suggested they use brother Roy Foutz, a preacher from Ranger, Texas, and a member of our group. Two of my former students, Les and Linda Maydell, several others from Brixton, and David Beckley from Krugersdorp, met us at the airport upon initial arrival in Johannesburg.
After the Tour – The Work Begins
On the afternoon of May 25 I went to the Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg with my tour members to see them off on their return to the U.S.A. Then I took a flight to Durban which was paid for by several brethren (or churches) in that area. Upon arrival I was met by Basil and Gloria Cass who work mostly with Indian churches, and by Paddy and Sandra Kendall-ball. We drove diretly to Reservoir Hills where the Indian brethren from at least three different congregations had rented a hall large enough to accommodate our meeting. About 70 were present for the lesson. The next day I went about 75 miles to Pietermaritzburg where the Kendall-ball’s labor mostly with black brethren. Several carloads of Indian brethren drove up from Durban to hear the three lessons I presented in a rented school auditorium. The Indian brethren spoke highly of brethren Gene Tope, now of Pine Hills in Orlando, and Jim Lovell, now near Athens, Alabama, for the work they did among the Indians when they worked in South Africa.
On Saturday night I returned to Pinetown (near Durban) and spent the might with Doug and Sheila Bauer. On the Lord’s day I spoke at a specially called 7 a.m. service at Pinetown. The church there is composed of about 15 adults and meets in a rented hall. Brother Bauer took me to the Bluff congregation in Durban where I spoke at the morning and evening services to about 60 persons. Piet and Zorida Joubert work with the brethren there. The brethren have their own building. I enjoyed an overnight visit with Piet and Zorida.
Preaching to the Zulus
Monday morning a long time friend, Paul Williams, came to take me to Eshowe. Paul and Helen work among the Zulus. They had arranged a 4:30 p.m. service and requested that I speak on biblical authority. Paul has had some debates with black institutional brethren and thought this material would help to confirm what he had taught. About 40 were in attendance including only four whites. All of the approximately 25 converts there are young people. As I spoke, one of the brethren, a teacher in the local high school, translated my lesson into the Zulu language. Some songs were in Zulu and others were in English. The service lasted for two and one-half hours and they were still wanting to ask questions when we closed.
In my lesson to the Zulus I mentioned that I once had a Nigerian student who remembered his grandfather offering animal sacrifices. Afterwards Paul told me that many of those present had fathers and brothers who still offer sacrifices. Several of these young Christians have suffered the loss of their home and family as a result of their obedience to the gospel. I was impressed with the level of commitment which I saw in several of these young people.
When men work in places like Eshowe, it is necessary for them to pay from their own pocket for many things that most of us have supplied by the congregation with which we work. They must drive long distances using expensive petrol (gasoline). They must pay for all the printing, advertising, postage, equipment, etc. used in the work. Paul is running short on his work fund and is in need of immediate help. If you can help, please send him a check by air mail to P.O. Box 324, Eshowe, 3815 South Africa.
Paul and Helen returned me to Pinetown on Tuesday afternoon. That evening I met with the Pinctown brethren in a home. They wanted to ask questions, primarily about divorce and remarriage. The session, with a pot-luck thrown in, lasted from 6:30 until 10.
Back to Johannesburg
Wednesday I returned to Johannesburg and was met by Les and Linda Maydell and taken to their home with a welcomed free night. Thursday was a different matter. Les works with the Brixton church and with several black churches scattered across the area. He had requested that I present five lessons on the Scheme of Redemption at Brixton on Republic Day, a national holiday. I was concerned about my voice, but made it through the day without too much difficulty. More than a hundred black and white brethren – some from far away – came to hear the lessons from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Brixton church which hosted the series has its own building. On Friday evening we returned to Brixton to present two more lessons. We were able to catch a few short visits with Ray and Thena Votaw, longtime workers in South Africa, during our visits to Johannesburg.
The lessons on the Scheme of Redemption were taken from my book, The Theme of the Bible, which was recently published in a revised edition. Some friends of mine have helped me purchase 500 copies of the book for free distribution in foreign countries. I took about 70 to 80 copies with me to Africa. Many of these were given to black, white, and Indian preachers and teachers and I am sure they will be used a great deal. Foy Short wanted 40 additional copies for distribution among black brethren in Zimbabwe. Paul Williams wants 20 copies for teachers among the Zulus. Several of the Indian brethren requested additional copies.
Lessons on Authority in Krugersdorp
Saturday and Sunday took me to Krugersdorp where David and Joanne Beckley labor with the church. David also serves as one of the elders. Krugersdorp is the only congregation in South Africa to have elders. Here we were scheduled to present a series of six lessons on biblical authority and two Bible land slide presentations at the Bidi Bidi Nursery School which had been rented for the meeting. The (white) brethren had invited many black Christians from distant places to attend. Several came from Vendaland (about a six hour drive). One group chartered a bus to bring them for the Saturday lessons. We had about 175 present for four lessons on Saturday. Each session included an interesting question and answer period. About 15 to 20 ladies in the Krugersdorp church provided lunch for the entire group at a nearby park. Near the close of the day, some neighbors of the Bidi Bidi Nursery made complaints to the manager of the facility about the presence of so many blacks in the neighborhood. The brethren released me so Brixton could invite me to complete the series. Arrangements quickly were made for me to present the two remaining lessons at Brixton on Sunday morning. I did return to Krugersdorp Sunday evening for one lesson to the brethren there. Both Brixton and Krugersdorp helped me with some of the expenses I had in connection with the preaching portion of the trip.
To me it seems obvious that the future of South Africa belongs with the blacks. What the white brethren are doing to teach and train these black brethren is commendable.
David has assembled some high quality video equipment for use in teaching. He and his son Jon taped the lessons both at Brixton and at Krugersdorp for further use among brethren throughout the country.
The material on Biblical Authority which I used in Krugersdorp is to be published shortly in this country as a study booklet.
Mildred Dark Teaches Women
Sister Mildred Dark of 349 Cason Ln., Murfreesboro, TN 37129, spent about four weeks during April and May in South Africa at her own expense teaching classes for the women. Our paths crossed in Cape Town, and we heard good reports of her work wherever we went.
It was a good trip. During the ten days following the tour I was able to present 23 lessons. I was encouraged by the reception I received and the brethren there seem to have been edified. I am thankful to the Lord for his protection, to Elizabeth, my wife, for her abiding love and friendship, and to the Carrollwood church in Tampa for their encouragement, prayers and financial support. Without them this likely would never have taken place.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 20, pp. 624-625
October 18, 1990