Urgent S.O.S. From South Africa

By Ray Votaw

Yes, I know this is a very discouraging maze of material to read through but it will thrill you and motivate you. Please take the time to “wade through it.” For years those of us in South Africa who have stood against the encroaching apostasy of brethren in regard to the work and organization of the church have heard: “Yes, but this is only happening in the U.S.A.” For this reason my attitude toward these apostasies has always been, “what thou doest, do quickly” (Jn. 13:27) – so that “they which are approved may be made manifest” (1 Cor. 11:19). Now this blatant “take over” bid by the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, Texas in response to their fear of “Crossroadism” has presented sound brethren with a unique and thrilling situation for the gospel in Southern Africa. Brethren, for the sake of the cause of Christ in this part of the world Conrad Steyn and George Harris need your support – now! Although there are scores of faithful churches among all race groups here in the Traansvaal Province there are only 3 or 4 struggling groups in the whole of the Cape Province which is over twice the size of Texas. These two men who have completely and publicly renounced “liberalism” have had a hand in establishing and encouraging some 25 churches in the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. Already some 30 members are standing for the truth with these 2 preachers as the Constantia Church of Christ. Many South Africa churches have helped Conrad and George financially on a temporary basis. But the truth is that churches in this country are really pressed in the preacher support they are already providing and the benevolent work they are having to do because of the financial climate here – due to disinvestment, international boycotts, etc.

Conrad Steyn and George Harris need to be “on the road” right now in salvaging the souls of those who know them best. Brethren, if you know anything at all about me you should know my reluctance over the years to raise American support for South African preachers. This has got to be a special case for me to make this appeal. When Conrad saw that I was agonizing about this matter he said, “Don’t worry, my brother; they can grind me into dust and starve my family but I will never go back to this rubbish by way of apostasy.” I truly believe he meant what he said.

These men need around $2,000 each per month to enable them to freely do the work which needs to be done. Please examine your finances carefully and prayerfully and strive to help sound brethren in South Africa “strike while the iron is hot.” Any amount sent on a one time basis or regularly will be that much toward a very worthwhile goal in our part of the world.

I have in my possession tape recordings, transcripts, business meeting notes, etc. to well document all that you will find in this material. The repercussions have already begun here in South Africa and we already have more in contact with us about these matters than any of us have been able to follow up. Again, please help us keep these two good men in “harness.”

I have collaborated on this matter with the other sound preachers in this country – Doug Bauer, David Beckley, Basil Cass, Hendrick Joubert, Piet Joubert, Les Maydell, Eric Reed and Paul Williams – and they concur with me in this action. Also, I might mention in passing that both of these men, Conrad and George, from a strictly scholastic standpoint, hold Doctorate degrees.

Statement From Steyn and Harris

We would like to state as briefly and yet as fully as necessary that we have, unwittingly at times, been “caught up” in much error as regards the work and organization of the Lord’s church. We must state that much of our error has been by associations, yet we recognize now that our practice at many times did not measure up to our teaching. By this association we have espoused and promoted the “sponsoring church” arangement, “institutionalism” and certain aspects of the social gospel. After a recent traumatic experience with the blatant violation of our church automony here in Cape Town by the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, Texas, after much general soul searching, after much fervent prayer and after extensive study and discussion with brother Ray Votaw, our error is apparent and we freely acknowledge such. The “sponsoring church” practice violates New Testament teaching on local church autonomy. “Institutionalism” is a slap in the face to the sufficiency of God’s organization – the local church. True New Testament “fellowship” is a relation enjoyed by faithful brethren in accomplishing God’s eternal purpose in the church,. and this fellowship excludes church sponsored recreation and using the church’s money for those other than qualified needy saints.

Our beloved brethren, we have repented of any and all contributions we have made to those errors in our association and teaching and have asked God for forgiveness. We’re asking you as faithful brethren to forgive us, and we covet your prayers on our behalf that we might use the further years of our lives in proclaiming the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Conrad D. Steyn

P.O. Box 133, Rondebosch

Cape 7700

South Africa

Phone: (021) 65-7545

George Harris

P.O. Box 300,Steenberg

Cape 7947

South Africa

Phone: (021) 75-7262

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 15, p. 464
August 6, 1987