Thursday, September 28, 2023



Satan is like a roaring lion  (1 Peter 5:8) 
(Picture: Namibian desert lion- please don't kill them!)

As we speak, the world’s attention has been drawn away from the war against the invisible Covid virus to the current Russian war against her cousins – the Ukrainians.   Our world is always at war in one form or the other. There have been at least 250 wars [1] since the end of WW II in 1945. 

Why are there so many wars? The answer is complex at one level, but essentially the answer   to this question is not very difficult.  The fall of man into sin is the origin of all conflict and war.   There is a far greater war  out there  than  those that we see  withour own eyes  daily portrayed in the social media .

The greater  war   which we are referring to is  a war  conducted  in this world  from the realm of the unseen, and to which Ephesians 6:10-20  draws our attention.  This  war   is conducted at the  level of  spiritual  deceit.  Paul calls  this  ‘the schemes of the devil’[3] .  Most people  do not recognise  that there is this great war behind all  the wars  which we find in the world.

Now let us be quick to affirm, that the fact that devil is in the detail, does not absolve  mankind  from its  responsibility in the matter.  The Bible for instance teaches that  we give  Satan  a foothold when we  engage in mindless anger (Eph. 4:27). What we need to grasp is that Satan is an opportunist, quickly exploiting our human weaknesses. Satan gets into our systems just like a virus enters into a computer, and just as a  virus or bacteria enters  into our bodies. Once we open a door to him, and once he is in, he causes havoc. 

We also need to understand that devil does not work haphazardly but methodically[4] and systematically. He works methodically against the primary institutions created by God, namely  (i) marriage and the family (ii) the church and  (iii) the state and the nations.  He conducts a continuous and subversive war against all these God created institutions.

Therefore it is necessary that we should understand his methods.  We must understand  the Bible’s  counsel  on how to  resist  and stand firm against the devil – and against his  hirelings,  which the Bible  in Paul's letter to the Ephesians  calls,   

the rulers,  the authorities,  the cosmic  over this present darkness… the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places …” (6:12).

We must understand that we need more than human ingenuity and strength to stand against such an enemy.  We must learn that we need the full armour of God, so that we may be able to stand our ground against these evil forces in the heavenlies.

So where do we begin?  We begin by  getting behind the biblical worldview! 

There Is An Ultimate Enemy Behind All Evil

  • He is revealed to us here as the devil - a personal being. He is not simply an abstract force or power. 
  • He is the father and the source of all evil. He is a powerful being. He is a created, but fallen angel who has rebelled against God (we don’t know why, how and when). He leads the universal rebellion against God.
  • He has many names in the Bible besides ‘Satan’- his most common name. This name is mentioned 52x in the Scripture and it means 'adversary'. 35 times he is called the ‘devil’ (Gr. ‘diabolos‘ -  lit. slanderer). Other names used of him are prince of this world (Jn. 16:11); prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2); god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4); Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Lk. 11:15).
  • He is superhuman in his power, which means that he cannot be ordinarily resisted by mankind. And yet he is not divine. He is a created being. He has a kingdom/dynasty (Eph. 2:2).
  • He has servants and followers, described here in Eph. 6:12. These beings, we are told, are not made of flesh and blood (i.e. of human substance); they are metaphysical beings. They are not seen with the naked eye, and yet they exist just as surely as electricity and gamma rays (which are not seen with the naked eye) exist.

The evidence of evil is everywhere and in every age.  By their evil Satan and his servants manipulate politicians, systems  and institutions, the church and even Christians. 

The devil’s chief desire is extinguish the true church. He hates her, because she is  God's   greatest  weapon on earth  against  his evil designs. He hates the church because  he  hates Christ, who by the  the cross  overcame  the power of sin and death, by which principle Satan is enabled to hold humanity in his grip. 

This Fallen World Is A Battleground And Not A Playground. 

This world is a restless place by virtue of sin entering into our world through Satan’s agency (Gen. 3:1) and man’s complicity (Gen. 3:6-7).

The fruit of this most tragic event is seen in the language of Genesis 3:14-19. Mankind originally created for a life of peace and harmony under God rule has now tasted of the knowledge of good and evil.

Conflict and disagreement become the order of the day. In Genesis 4 we find Cain killing his  brother Abel, and  Cain walks away from the presence of the LORD (Gen. 4:16). Conflict, murder and war now dominates the histories of the Old and New Testaments. It dominates the histories of all civilizations. The Lord Jesus made this point specifically in His Olivet discourse (Matthew 24 &25), namely that a sign of the end of the ages would be the fact that there would be wars and rumours of wars (Matt.24:6-7). The Revelation of John points us in a similar direction. The war in the heavens in Revelation   translates into war on earth when Satan, the great dragon, and his angels are thrown down to earth, thus inciting a rule of hatred and warfare, particularly after  the event of the  cross of  Christ.

So then, it is important that we understand what is behind the notion of war.

It starts with a fallen angel who is at war with God. It starts in the heavenlies. At face value  however wars start  in our own  sinful hearts. Satan captitalises  on these. Listen to what James 4:1-2 says,

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.”  

Then James goes right to the root and he says that this mentality is born out of an attitude. He calls it “enmity with God” (Jas.4:4). That enmity began with Satan’s rebellion against God in Genesis 3. This is the vital link  to Ephesians 6:10-20.

So then, the real reason behind all wars is not simply disagreements between people, rulers and nations, although that is true. 

War is not just about  armies   fighting each other for whatever reason given, although that is true. 

The ultimate reason for any war is a spiritual reason, instigated by an evil principality, using the fallen nature of mankind to get into our systems. Therefore we must not just see war as two parties levelling the score until they  fall down exhausted in terms of what that war produces. When we speak about war we must not forget to speak about its  fundamental problem, which is a spiritual problem, and if a spiritual problem, then we must understand that more than loss of life is at stake. The foundations for  gospel ministry and gospel living is at stake!  For this reason also  the apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2,

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 

Every war threatens the soul’s peace.  Our real desire for peace should be based upon the further desire to have the fullest opportunity to live a holy and godly life, and to be able to build ourselves up in the faith.  The shedding of much blood has awful consequences in terms of a nations’ loss of spiritual peace. Just think about the terrible collective guilt the German soul has borne following the 2nd world war. Just think what guilt the Russian collective soul must now bear for this senseless war on its Ukrainian cousins. This will not go away easily.  

Satan and his accomplices will do everything to make us not live in peace, so that we cannot think about the gospel. He will do everything for a nation to live in fear and horror, for in so doing he removes our ability to be united in worship and prayer. 

War is one of his best used tools, and you  dear  Christian are  exhorted  in the Scripture to, "fight the  good  fight" (1 Tim 1:18; 6:12); to  “not grow weary and loose heart”  (Hebr.12:3); “to resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8,9)

The apostle Paul warned the elders of this same church at Ephesus  in Acts 20: 29 - 31:   

“29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears". 

Part of the church's ministry is to warn the flock  continually not to play in the devil’s backyard. Carelessness and sin kills relationships. It starts wars.  It must be understood therefore, that behind many of the wicked people  and  their institutions in this world, there is a manipulative power. What evil and disobedient men & women do not realize is that they are manipulated. They are pawns in the hands of the kosmokraton (lit.' kosmocrats - worldrulers'). This fact does not hold people innocent in the eyes of God. They cannot say,  “We are pawns in his hands; the devil made me do it". Christians sometimes also unwittingly have been tools of the devil. We are responsible to resist the devil (Jas. 4:7; 1 Pet.5:9). We are commanded not to give the devil a foothold (Eph. 4:27). We must resist him; we must withstand him.   We are at war.

We Must Have The Right Perspective On This Spiritual War. 

The call to resist Satan and his hostile forces does not begin with an inward look. Lay the thought aside that you should be able to resist the devil in your own strength.

The call to resist Satan also does not begin with an  outward look.   You may be tempted to think - "well as long as those around me are  strong in the Lord, and as long as our elders pray for us  and  fight our spiritual  battles,  keeping the devil at bay, and the church at peace, I will be  all right". Do not be fooled!  And do not depend on the elders to keep this church free from Satan’s attacks. None of these are strong enough to resist Satan. The church together is God’s army.

The call to resist Satan begins with the upward look. Take note of these words, “Be strong in the LORD, and in the strength of HIS might. Put on the whole armour OF GOD...  that you may be able to stand!“  (6:10,11). Here is the ruling principle of  that most basic discipline of  not  giving the enemy a foothold: Be strong in the LORD, and  in the strength  of HIS might.

Be strong’ (Gr. ‘endunamoo’) - the verb here is in the passive voice: literally this should read "be continually strengthened" (i.e. receive strength). We do not have the strength to resist Satan in ourselves. We are called to depend on the Lord for the supply of that strength. This battle cannot be fought in our own strength. The Lord, as in Joshua's day  or Jehoshaphat's day must fight the battle  for us.

The only way in which we can successfully wage war against the devil’s methods is by employing  God’s methods. Any other way with which to stand against the devil is useless.  We cannot fight the battle against Goliath in Saul’s armour. We need a smooth stone well directed  by  God into the devil’s forehead. That is the only way to deal with Satan!  Spiritual warfare is only ever waged successfully in the Lord and in His mighty power.  The smallest, most insignificant Christian boy can slay Goliath with a slingshot, if he has God on His side- by means of prayer.  

William Cowper[5] wrote:

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;

Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright;

And Satan trembles when he sees,

The weakest saint upon his knees.


Thomas Brooks in his excellent book,  Precious remedies against Satan’s devices, writes,  “Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts and Satan’s devices are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. It is my work as a Christian to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature and the snares of the great deceiver”.

If you like me find these days  of  war and rumours of war depressing  and alarming  then I invite you now to turn with me  to seek the help  and the promises of God as we committ these things to God in prayer. 

We do not have the mental or intellectual capacity to figure what is ultimately going on in the unseen  realm, and in the realm of deep politics. Our own strength and intellect is like using a peashooter to kill an elephant!

We need superhuman wisdom and superhuman tools to deal with this realm. Thank God that He has not left us uninstructed or without a word in this matter. I hope to address this in my next  article. 

[2] I am substituting the slaves – masters relationship here for a more modern context

[3] Gk.  ‘methodeias tou diabolou’

[4] 2 Cor. 2:11  “… so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs”  (Gr. methodeias)

[5] English poet and hymnodist (1731–1800)

Friday, May 26, 2023



How  are churches to be governed? 

This question  has occupied  a good deal of  the church's  energy  over the 2 millenia  of  her existence. Here is a brief  summary of  the development  of  various forms of church government.  

Some time ago I have written  an article on this blog site  entitled, "Why I am a Congregationalist"    which will help the reader to understand my own position  in this regard.  



Elders over a local  congregation, led by a presiding elder

Church at Jerusalem – James (Acts 12:17;15:13;21:17)


Ruling elder of a local congregation

Polycarp, Clement, Justin Martyr, Tertullian

The doctrine of the priesthood of believers held a central place in the first two centuries


Ruling elder; a mother church begins ruling over local congregations

Cyprian of Carthage

The concept of  the “priesthood of all believers” changes. A priestly class emerges.


The concept of an archbishop emerges. He rules over a number of churches in his territory.

Mother churches developed illustratively  at Alexandria, Antioch, Carthage, Rome presiding over local churches in their area.


The battle  for power and control over the churches  begins : ROME in the West versus CONSTANTINOPLE in the East

The big schism of 1054 AD. The western (Roman Catholic) church under  the bishop of Rome  separated  from the eastern (Orthodox) church under the bishop of Constantinople.

Both churches came increasingly under state control.


The central focus of the Reformation was  rooted in the SOLA SCRIPTURA principle- the authority of the Bible over  the  authority of  the Roman  bishop.

In terms of church government there was no unanimity among Protestants.


1.       EPISCOPALIAN:led by an ‘archbishop’ : Roman Catholic, Anglican, many charismatic groups

2.       PRESBYTERIAN:  the church is led by a team of ruling elders.  

3.       CONGREGATIONAL:  the church is led by a team of  qualified  elders  duly authorised by, and held accountable  to  the church gathering. Baptists generally subscribe to  this form of church government.  

LUTHER’s  concept of “the godly prince” -  saw the church as under the rule of the state.

CALVIN saw the state as subject to the church.

ANGLICANS  saw the monarch  as head of the church; the  church was subject to the state.

ANABAPTISTS / BAPTISTS disavowed the concept of a state church, promoting separation between church and state. Baptists regard the congregation as having the highest authority under the Lordship of Christ and subject to Scripture.  The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers  (see first two centuries) is re-emphasised.




Wednesday, April 5, 2023

How Shall We Think About Homosexuality?


This subject  continues to occupy  the mind of the church. The LGBT+ agenda is forceful  and  demands  the church's  attention. The Namibian government is under a lot of pressure by international and national LGBTQ lobby groups. Big nations attach  conditions  to their donor giving  and these include  that our country needs to   embrace  the LGBT+  agenda. The   Christian church in Namibia is becoming increasingly divided over this issue. We need a clear statement on which the Bible has to say on this subject. The Bible is our  final authority upon this subject.


§  We must recognize that homosexuality along with all other sexual deviations is a sin in God’s eyes. Sexual perversion includes homosexuality   (Romans 1:24-32).

§  We must consider this subject in a redemptive / pro-active manner. We believe that homosexual people can be redeemed by the grace of God.

§  We must recognize that we are all sexual beings with a fallen nature. The greatest sin in life is not homosexuality. The greatest sin is that we are all, by nature rebels against God and His Word. By nature we go against that which God has created.  This primary sin is behind all the sins of life.

§  We must recognize that  the Bible  never considers  homosexuality (or any  other  sinful or deviant  practices) as a ‘genetic deviation’ or  an alternative  option or expression  of  human sexuality. Homosexuality, along with any other deviant practices (e.g. such as are listed in Gal. 5:19)   and  must be  confessed and submitted to the grace and power of God  who helps us in all our weaknesses.

Biblical Texts  Which  Clearly Teach That  Homosexuality  Is Sin

Genesis  19:1-13 à Sodom and Gomorrah

Judges 19  à homo sexual abuse  at Gibeah.

Leviticus  18:22 ; 20:13 à homosexuality is  rejected by the Levitical holiness code

Romans 1:18-32 à  homosexuality is a state of being ‘handed over’ by God

1 Cor 6 :  9,10

1 Tim 1 : 9,10 

 Homosexuality And The  Created  Order

 In Genesis 2   we find God’s clear purpose and  design  for  sexual relationships from the perspective of creation order .

Gen 2:24  outlines  for us   the constituent   parts of human sexual  relationships :

(i)                 a man  (Adam)

(ii)               shall leave his parents

(iii)              to be united to His wife (Eve)

(iv)               And they shall become one flesh

God’s original design for sexual relationships is to be found in the context of  one man - one woman - for life‘. Sexual relationships outside of this context are considered as  unnatural (i.e. against created order) and therefore sinful, because they go against God’s purposeful design .

The Bible defines homosexuality as “dishonorable” and “shameless” and “contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26-27).

Sex within the confines of marriage by way of contrast is to be “held in honor” (Hebrews 13:4). The biblical marriage relationship does not produce shame and it   is not contrary to nature. It conforms to God’s design and it is therefore normative.

Homosexuality is against God’s design and therefore not normative. It is in fact an inversion of God’s created order. It explicitly goes against that which God has commanded.  There is therefore no such thing as  homosexual marriage in the eyes of God  and Christians therefore  cannot  subscribe to  the idea homosexual marriage  — no matter what the  LGBT community and no matter  what  the state says.

Furthermore, consider that no homosexual relationships are ever spoken of in a positive light in the Scriptures.  In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that  such a who  continue in such practices  will  not   inherit eternal life :

 1 Corinthians 6:9,10,11 :  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Please note that this list does not only speak about homosexual sin. It also includes those that are sexually immoral (this includes all forms of deviant sex); those who are idolaters (i.e.  who  substitute God for man-made gods) ;  adulterers ( those  who break up marriages)  male prostitutes;  thieves;  the greedy;  drunkards;  slanderers  and  swindlers (con artists). All those that continually practice these things are all outside the kingdom. 

Homosexuality is not the Unforgivable Sin

1 Corinthians 6:11 says, "…and such were some of you". The wonderful truth is that the Corinthian church was a group of people who were delivered from these kind of sins. All these sins are forgivable, once we repent of them, turn our backs on them, and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s provision for cleansing us from all sin and unrighteousness of which we are guilty. The Corinthians were a living proof of this. So, if it is true that homosexuality along with many other sins defines life outside the kingdom of God, then  it is also true  that  all such  may be redeemed by God.

The Open Acceptance of   Homosexuality in Society is a great Warning Sign !

While homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin, the unconditional acceptance and prevalence of it in our society nevertheless  points to  disturbing  facts.

Considering Romans 1:18-32, we learn about the progressive nature of sin. It all begins with idolatry (vv. 21-23). From this follows the fact that God hands such a society over. That state of “being handed over” expresses itself in terms of “sexual impurity” (lit. ‘uncleanness’) in the use of our bodies which were originally designed to glorify God. This culminates in vv.26,27 where we  specifically  see   that sexual impurity is described in terms of homosexual acts.  This is the wrath of abandonment – the state of being handed over.  It is that judicial act of God whereby He stops convicting the sinner. He lets them do what they choose to do.  Such was the state of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, when God’s wrath came upon them.

So,  while homosexuality is a forgivable sin, and in a sense no worse than others, yet when it reaches unquestioning  levels of acceptance in a  society,  this it is evidence that God has  handed that society over to a point of no return.  One only has to survey the history of nations to confirm this.

John Mc Arthur says this about his own country: “If you look at America you can look back to the sexual revolution of the 60's, which has now become a homosexual revolution of the 21st century in which the homosexuals have redefined themselves as a minority, like a racial group of people demanding rights.”  

You see the progression of this also in our neighbouring country, South Africa, which has become the first country in Africa to allow gay marriage,  approving by law the rights of   homosexual  practice in society.  In a number of countries  it now becomes a criminal offence to say anything against homosexuality. It is termed ‘hate speech’ and it is punishable  by law and may  issue in jail sentence. 

When it becomes the accepted norm for a society, it is clear evidence that God has handed that society over.  Such a society has become irredeemable, because it has heaped up so much sin upon itself that God’s  judgement will certainly come soon. The increasing world- wide acceptance of the LGBT norm tells us that the judgement of God is not far in coming.

What  Should Christians Do?

 1.      Christians must regard homosexuality as sinful because of its contrariness to the clearly revealed will of God.  Christians affirm that homosexuality is a tragic disorder of God’s creation. We must affirm that homosexual behavior is a sinful departure from God’s will along with all other sinful deviations   such adultery,  fornication,  etc.

2.      Christians must remember that they too are sinners saved by grace, and therefore they must have compassion for the homosexual person, helping such   to come to repentance and faith in Christ. Christ heals and redeems all those that come to Him. Christians must long for that distorted image of God to be renewed in all sinners.

3.      Christians should be involved in the processes of law-making. We should pray and work to shape our culture, its customs and laws, so that it reflects the revealed will of God.  We should pray and work that the biblical institution of marriage would be understood by our laws/ government as a lifelong union of one man and one woman.

4.      Christians must not give up on or become negative in a society that is overcome with much promiscuity   because we know that Christ really is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Christians are convinced that God will establish justice and purity in due time. Christians groan in anticipation, as per Romans 8:23.   We ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”.

5.       Christians must not become cynical at the results that this immoral culture produces.  John Piper says, “The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat”. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps.” Christians must weep and pray and work for reformation   by God’s power.  

6.      Christians in the battle against sinful human behaviour must not become hardened with anger.  Christians understand that this is phenomenon is nothing new. Christians are not surprised when our counter – cultural message is interpreted  as ‘hate speech’, for after all that is what Jesus said, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).

7.      Christians, with loving hearts and weeping eyes must preach the gospel of Christ’s judgement and forgiveness to this sex-crazed society. And with hopeful hearts and open arms we  must welcome sinners  to the Father’s house.   


Friday, June 10, 2022

Missionary Pioneers in Namibia - Carl Hugo Hahn (1818 - 1895)

Early days 

Carl Hugo Hahn was born on the 18th October 1818 in Riga, Livonia province in Russia. 
His father, Carl Peter Hahn (1774-1863) was a farmer. His mother was Anna Hahn (1794- 1838). They had four children, of whom CHH was the second child.
Carl Hugo Hahn attended grammar school in Riga. In 1834 he wanted to enlist with the Russian Imperial engineering corps in St. Petersburg. While waiting for acceptance before entering the service of the Russian army, he was converted and decided to become a missionary.
He applied to the Rhenish Missionary Society (a mixture of Reformed and Lutheran convictions) and left home in November 1837 to present himself to the Mission Headquarters in Barmen, Germany.

After a probationary period of 8 months as a teacher assistant at the Reformed parish school in Elberfeld, he was admitted to the missionary seminary in 1838.
After his studies he was ordained as a Lutheran minister. In 1841 he was sent by the mission to the Cape (South Africa) with the view of extending the missionary activities of the Rhenish Missionary Society to the north - to what was then known as Great Namaqualand and Damaraland - a part of today’s Namibia. We must remember that the political borders of Africa, as we now know it, had not yet been defined – this was pre colonial Africa. The scramble for Africa by the European  colonial powers had not yet begun. The Scramble for Africa, also known as the 'race for Africa', was the proliferation of conflicting European claims to African territory during the New Imperialism period, between the 1880's and the First World War in 1914.
At the time of CHH’s arrival in Africa in 1841, European nations controlled only 10 percent of the continent. Included among these were Algeria, held by France; the Cape Colony, held by the United Kingdom and Angola and Mozambique, held by Portugal.

Prior to his departure CHH made a list of eleven very challenging “Spiritual Resolutions”, reminding us of similar resolutions that were made by men like the great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards. We shall see that the nature of his strong spiritual convictions and Christian commitments are a strong indication for his suitability for the work of a missionary in a very challenging mission field.

Arriving in the Cape and in Windhoek

CHH landed at Cape Town on 6th October 1841, and on the 21st December 1841 he arrived in Komaggas, in the Northern Cape at the mission station of ‘Father’ Johann Heinrich Schmelen, the first missionary to the Namibian people. From there he and another Rhenish missionary Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt and a missionary assistant named Jan Bam left for Windhoek, arriving there in September 1842. Windhoek was the domicile of Jonker Afrikaner. 
Jonker Afrikaner and 300 followers had left their settlement near Tulbagh in the Cape in 1823 and had established their new settlement at Windhoek around 1840. Windhoek was originally called Aigams (Fire water)  -  a considerable distance from their original home!

At the time of CHH’s first arrival in Windhoek it was estimated that there were approximately 1000 inhabitants living here. Ten years later CHH estimated Jonker Afrikaner’s people to be about 1200 people, while a further 2000 Hereros and 2000 Bergdamara   also served the Afrikaner chief.

Tribal tensions were a major problem at the time. Windhoek basically formed the border area between the Namaqua ( Khoi-Khoi) tribes, and the Herero tribes, of Bantu origin. Tjamuaha (ca. 1790 – 1861), father of the famous Herero chief Maherero, was the Herero chief at that time. He made a peace treaty with Jan Jonker Afrikaner in December 1842. He moved to Windhoek the following year and served Jan Jonker Afrikaner by stealing the cattle of fellow Hereros for him. 

The continual disputes between the Namas and the Hereros would prove to be disastrous and extremely discouraging to the mission, and especially to CHH after Jonker Afrikaner’s death in 1861. Until that time Jonker was undoubtedly the most powerful man in the land. When the peace treaty was signed in 1842 with the encouragement of the missionaries, everybody in the land submitted to Jonker, including the missionaries. He told the missionaries in no uncertain terms (in Dutch) … “Wie op mijne plaats kom, maakt dus wat ik wil, …” - translated .... "he who comes on to my property, does as I please ".

In February 1843 Hahn went to visit the Herero people in Okahandja, which the missionaries  at that called Schmelen’s Verwachting,  in honour of that great pioneer missionary, Johann Heinrich Schmelen, the father in law of Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt, who married Hanna Schmelen. CHH would eventually start a mission station on the banks of the Swakop (Tsoaxub) river, called Neu Barmen or Otjikango.

At this time the Wesleyan (Methodist) missionary society had also sent some missionaries to Windhoek in response to Jonker Afrikaners pleading for a missionary presence. It is apparent that Jonker had cast his nets very wide, and his desire was not only heard by the Methodists, but also by the Rhenish mission society.  Sadly, a dispute arose between the Wesleyans and the Rhenish missionaries. At that time Jonker Afrikaner had preferred the Methodists as his missionaries. This meant that Hahn and the Rhenish missionaries had to leave Windhoek after 2 years. They decided to settle and work among the Hereros in Okahandja. Even though Jonker Afrikaner did not really like this idea, it did not really matter, since he was the undisputed chief of this area.

It is during this time that CHH decided to go back to Cape Town for a while. This apparent setback in his missionary activities ultimately proved to be a great blessing. It was at this time that he had providentially met Emma Sarah Hone (1814- 1880), a devout and godly Christian woman, converted under the ministry of Thomas Binney, a Congregationalist pastor in England. He  was a contemporary of the great Baptist Preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 
Emma had left England in 1843, sponsored by the “Society for Female Education in the East“. In Cape Town she accepted a temporary position as superintendent of the school attached to the Lutheran church. CHH had hardly seen her twice when he asked her to marry him. She accepted! A letter in her diaries tells the story. Here follows a short excerpt from a letter to her mother written on October 20, 1843:
You will readily imagine my great surprise at this announcement when I tell you I had met Mr Hahn but twice – it is true, I had heard him preach and was much pleased with the warm manner in which he advocated the cause of the mission in which he is engaged …“. 
At the beginning of the lengthy letter she introduces him as “Mr Hahn” to her mother, but by the end of the letter he is ‘my dear Hugo’.

They were married in Komaggas on the 3rd October 1843, by that venerable pioneer missionary,  Johan Heinrich Schmelen. Their marriage was a good one, and they remained deeply devoted to each other throughout their lives. The letters of Emma Sarah Hahn, published by the Namibia Scientific Society are a spiritual treat! 

Carl Hugo and Emma adopted two Namaqua boys (Daniel and Johannes)  and in her letter to her mother she repeatedly calls these two her sons. Emma and Hugo desired to raise these boys for the glory of God, and  to become teachers among their own people – a wonderful missionary strategy! Later they were to have 4 of their own children.

The young couple spent a short time at the mission station in Komaggas  in the Northern Cape in preparation for the mission among the Hereros. The trek by ox wagon was a long and arduous one. It could take up to three months from the Cape  to Windhoek, a journey of 1500 kilometers.

Neu Barmen (Otjikango)

We have seen that the settling of the Wesleyan missionaries (R. Haddy and J.Tindall) in Windhoek brought about a dispute, causing the Rhenish missionaries to leave and  settle among the Herero, at Neu Barmen., also known as Otjikango. A number of Herero clans moved here, coming under the sound of the Word of God. The nomadic life styles of the Herero, together with the frequent droughts, cattle raids, thievery etc. made a consistent ministry to them difficult. Yet, despite the odds a church building was completed towards the end of 1847.

CHH learned the Herero language by word of mouth. It was a labour of great patience. He writes,

If I had not feared the hand of God, I would have deserted, and would have left this work to brothers who were more gifted and energetic than I, to learn this language“.

After painstaking preparation, he preached his first sermon in the Herero language on the 24th of January 1845. His text came from Matthew 28:19 (The Great Commission) explaining the reason for which the missionaries had come.
When 2 new missionaries, Johannes Rath and Heinrich Scheppmann arrived from Germany via Walvis Bay, Franz Kleinschmidt who had been a companion to the Hahn’s left  to establish a mission station  in a place which he called Rehoboth  in May 1845.

In 1846 a dark shadow fell over the mission as Jonker Afrikaner broke the peace which had been concluded with the Herero at   the Christmas of 1842. 
Why did he do it?
The European traders were following hot on the heels of the missionaries. Jonker Afrikaner had accumulated much debt with the traders. The European traders supplied the  Jan Jonker Afrikaner's tribe with arms and ammunition,among other things. In exchange he needed to pay  800 oxen to the traders. So he simply stole these cattle from the Herero tribes to finance his deficit. This  of course, set a terrible precedent. 
Another Nama tribe, the Rooi Nasie (Red Nation) followed Jonker’s example and attacked and raided the Mbanderu (the eastern Herero) of their cattle. The Hereros at this stage  were comparatively helpless because they did not own guns. The country was soon dumped into anarchy. By the end of 1850 Jonker had killed large numbers of the Hereros (including the people of Kahitjene) at Okahandja, which  was not far from Neu Barmen, the mission station of CHH. As a result, the Hereros left this area and the mission station had to be temporarily abandoned.

A year earlier, on the 31st October 1849 (Reformation Day) Hahn had written in his diary, reviewing 5 years of missionary labour:

Reviewing the past 5 years reveals continuous hard labour, much need and fear, but also strings of evidence of the Lord’s help and faithfulness. I have been preaching for two years now, admittedly with limited ability of the language. I cannot yet see the fruit of repentance, but I know that those that are here have heard Gospel truths frequently and they know them. They also know the difference between good and evil. If only the Ovaherero would fear the LORD and shun evil, then we could truly speak of a great change.

The Rhenish mission recalled CHH in 1852 to Germany to find out whether they should continue with their missionary labours under these circumstances. 1852/3 were years of intense fighting between the Namas and the Hereros.
In July 1850, the Wesleyans officially terminated their missionary work among Jonker’s people and had left Windhoek. After this the gospel was not preached for several years in Windhoek. This illustrates the importance of praying for the peace of a nation so that the gospel may advance. We shall see that there was such a period of prosperity and advance in the Herero mission between 1870 and 1880.

However, at this stage in the early 1850’s and  after 10 years of intensive missionary activity, there was still no baptized Herero believer.  This reminds us of the circumstances of the  great Baptist Missionary to India, Dr. William Carey, who laboured for 7 years before he saw his first convert. Indeed these first missionaries to the Namibian people were saddled with an extremely tough mission field. No wonder that they suffered so very frequently from discouragement.

After consultation with the Rhenish Mission in Germany it was decided that CHH should continue the work among the Hereros, which he did in 1856. At this stage he was also instructed to proceed north, to the Ovambo people, if possible.

During this time of furlough in Europe he had  also visited his family and friends in Russia, and his wife’s family in England. You can imagine that this was a time of great joy and refreshment after 13 years of absence from their homeland. 
Their 3 boys were left with relatives and friends in Germany to pursue their education, whilst Emma and Carl Hugo returned to their Mission field.

1856-1859  Hahn’s second period at Otjikango (Neu Barmen) 

Returning to Africa via Cape Town they sailed for Walvis Bay and disembarked there on the  16th January  1856. They reached Otjimbingwe, which would eventually become their  new mission station in March 1856. There he met many of the Hereros from their previous work at  Otjikango. They were very pleased to see him. Often missionaries cannot see the good that is accomplished by their ministry. Now it had become evident that their missionary labours had borne some fruit.
When he left Otjimbingwe to return to his former mission station at Otjikango, he was accompanied by some 100 Hereros. They found the station in a bad shape.
On the first Sunday there, Hahn preached to a congregation of some 150 people. But most of them though happy to have him back, continued to show little fruit of repentance. Hahn felt very despondent and in a sermon preached in 1857 in the Herero language he told them that he had felt that his preaching to them for the past 10 years had been without much success. Listen to his words preached on Sunday the 25th January 1857:

I then asked what fruit these 10 years of preaching had yielded. My own response was that I cannot see any fruit; indeed it would appear to me that everything had in fact grown worse, for some years ago they were considerably more desirous to hear the Word of the Lord than they are now, and the thieving and other sins were hardly as bad. I also reminded the women, who commit nothing but sins of the flesh, that they were setting an awful example for their children to follow … one is left with the impression that one’s words bounce back as if from a rock … After this introduction I preached from my text: And forgive us our sins, even as we forgive those that sin against us”.

We may ask a valid  question at this point.  Was Hahn a legalistic preacher or was he driven by the doctrines of grace? Did he understand the delicate relationship between law and gospel? As a committed Lutheran he would have understood the theological tension between law and gospel. If a classic Lutheran would err in any way, he would err on the side of the doctrines of grace! Dr. Martin Luther gave his life for the doctrines of grace and  for the primacy of the gospel over the law! So where did CHH stand in regard to these things? Here we find it in his own words. In his diary entry on that same day he writes, 

I do not wish to oppress them by the law. It is my stated desire and principle, to preach the full, blessed riches of the gospel! However, until now, neither law nor gospel has made a great impression on them!

Incidentally, it appears as if Hahn was a systematic expository preacher and a true pastoral preacher, for he records in his diary (1st February 1857) that he continued to preach from the Lord’s prayer, the next section …. “and lead us not into temptation.” If one reads Hahn’s diaries one cannot help but see that he passionately preached a 'felt' Christ!

In May 1857 Hahn made his first missionary journey to Ovamboland with a view of establishing a mission station there. He was met with considerable hostility and he  was almost killed there. About 800 Ovambo warriors surrounded them at one point and threatened to kill their party of about 30 travelers. They were miraculously delivered by the grace of the Lord, and in response to Hahn’s pleading prayer at that time. One of the travel companions was killed with the spear by Nangolo, a son of the Ndonga king.

At this time Hahn produced and printed a Herero grammar and dictionary. This was a significant and important step for effective Bible translation. This work would eventually earn him the Doctorate  from the University of Berlin, in 1873.

The setbacks upon the missionary cause  however continued. In 1858 the wife of his missionary colleague, Johannes Rath  and 4 of his six children  were shipwrecked and lost at sea near Walvis Bay. In addition the hostilities between Nama and Herero continued, and this adversely affected  the work on the mission stations. The missionaries themselves were frequently abused. The missionaries behaviour towards their aggressors however continued to be meek and Christ-like. They did not use any weapons in self defense, nor did they curse their abusers.

The Rhenish mission however began to question the viability of the Herero mission and recalled Hahn again in 1859. The Herero mission was closed for the second time. The only baptized convert at this time  was a Herero woman called Uerieta.
His foster son Daniel Cloete was left in charge of the Otjikango mission.
Between 1859 and 1863 the mission had dropped to its lowest level ever as this period was characterized by continuous unrest and upheavals, after the death of Jonker Afrikaner in 1861. Only one missionary, Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt remained.
In Germany, Hahn was offered the post of director of the Berlin Missionary society. He turned that offer down and persuaded the Rhenish mission to send him back – but this time with more missionaries. He persuaded the Mission society to adopt a new approach i.e. the formation of a “Missions  Kolonie“ - a missionary colony. Hahn was a pioneer in what is today called ‘holistic mission’. Nambala  and  Buys comment,

Hahn endeavored to convey a comprehensive Christian message in three parts …
(i) a Christian economy and lifestyle.
(ii) A Christian community removed from the non believing community where converts could feel at home and live as Christians.
(iii) Christian leadership training, equipping young people for leadership in traditional society.

In summary,  Hahn attempted to establish a missionary church, in which the gospel message, the community of believers and the service of the church to the community (kerugma, koinonia and  diakonia) would convey the gospel in an integrated manner.

1864 - 1873  Hahn’s Third Missionary  Period 

He returned in 1864 with a blacksmith and a wheelwright, followed by further mission co-labourers (including the Haelbich family, one of whose descendants is a member of our congregation today), settling at Otjimbingwe. Apparently this worked well,  and many Hereros were taught various skills and people were becoming settled in this colony, in which food security was soon achieved. The church grew and more people were baptized, whilst also  joining the church. In 1866 he started a school, called the Augustineum,  named after empress Augusta of Germany, who sponsored this project. This school continues  to exist today in Windhoek, under the same name.

In 1866 he traveled once more to Ovamboland visiting all the Ovambo chief, who had by then requested a missionary to be sent to them. Hahn promised that he would have a missionary for them within two years. He kept his word, and sent Martin Rautannen who did an extraordinary work among the Ovambo people - a labour that spanned 50 years! Incidentally, some of the Ovambo kings had sent their sons with Hahn to Otjimbingwe to be educated at the Augustineum.

In 1869 renewed heavy battles raged between the Hereros and the Namas. This time the Namas suffered heavy losses, and Jan Jonker Afrikaner  (the son of the chief Jonker Afrikaner who had died in 1861) asked Hahn for mediation between himself and Maherero on the 23rd September 1870. This peace treaty would last for 10 years and did much to propel the cause of the gospel. The Herero Mission experienced rapid growth at this time.

When hostilities were renewed in 1880, this brought the German government and military into the country – the beginning of the colonial era and the scramble for Africa.

1873 Resignation from the Rhenish Missionary society

In 1873 his relationship with the Rhenish Missionary society became very strained. Hahn had always been a dogmatic Lutheran. He had often struggled with the lack of a clear confessional basis of the Rhenish Mission. The Rhenish Mission was not church based. It was simply  a missionary agency, drawing its missionaries from the  Reformed and Lutheran confessions, and therefore it would not commit itself to an exclusive position. Hahn wanted the churches which he founded  to be Lutheran - which did in fact happen in time!  However, the straw that broke the camels back  for him was when the Rhenish Missionary society wanted to dissolve the Otjimbingwe Mission  and form the “Missions – Handels – Aktien Gesellschaft“ –  envisaging essentially a commercial enterprise. That was the end for Hugo Hahn. He resigned and returned to  the Cape, where he was called to become the pastor of the St. Martin Lutheran congregation in Paarl. There he remained until his death in 1884. His son, Carl Hugo became his assistant pastor.

A heavy blow was dealt him when his beloved wife Emma Sarah died in 1880. In 1882 he traveled to Hereroland once more as peacemaker, and he was received there with great enthusiasm. 

In 1884 he returned to Germany once more and renewed his fellowship with the Rhenish mission, who granted him the status of “missionary emeritus”. At this time he also visited his sons Traugott and Josaphat. Thereafter he visited his beloved motherland, Russia. Following that he visited his much loved and only daughter, Gita in New York. She was married to a missionary Beiderbecke, who had originally been a missionary to the Hereros. He had to leave Namibia for health reasons.
Following this he returned to South Africa. After a short illness he died in 1894 and was buried in Paarl next to his wife. The inscription on their grave reads very simply, “Your kingdom come!

Summary and Evaluation

What made  Carl Hugo Hahn a great missionary? 
Why do we want to  honour his memory? 

1. He was a true follower of Christ. He belongs to a generation of Christians who when they hear the call of God rise up and follow Christ immediately. He did not say “let me first go bury my father“ (Matt.  8:18-22). When Christ called, he did not say – let me first complete my engineering degree. He followed.  His resolutions are a great reflection of a heart that truly loved Christ. It is clear that he had a pastoral / missionary call – otherwise he would have never survived in the ministry.

2. He was a devoted husband and father. He had an incredible wife! His children were all devoted to Christ.

3. He was a church planter. At the heart of his missionary endeavor was the planting and establishing of churches (Lutheran). He saw the church as the center of God’s missionary plan.

4. He was a peacemaker. He displayed remarkable leadership and diplomatic skills in establishing the peace treaties between the warring Herero  and Nama, both  at the “Christmas peace“  of  1842 and at the peace treaty of 1870.  He  avoided political favouritism. Hahn said: “My task is to preach the Word and not to govern people“.

5. He was a language pioneer.  He compiled the first  grammar and dictionary of the Herero language.  For this he was awarded a Doctorate  from the Universities of Berlin and Leipzig.

6. He was an educator.  He became the founder of the "Augustineum", a  school, thereby laying the foundation for education and leadership in Namibia. He was also the director of the first artisan school, as well as organizing trade and industry in Otjimbingwe.

7. He was a spiritual father in Christ. He can be rightly named the father of the Herero mission. He was also instrumental in opening up the gospel to the Ovambo people, for he brought the Finnish missionary society to Ovamboland in 1870.

8. He is the father of the Lutheran confession in Namibia.  Namibia is the Lutheran "success story". One could only wish and pray that modern Lutherans generally speaking would have a similar spirit and attitude in terms of his evangelical zeal and doctrine.

I have had the privilege of meeting one of Carl Hugo Hahn's direct descendants (Carl Hahn), who lives in Windhoek and is an airline pilot for Air Namibia. Marcelle, my wife, a pre- primary school teacher at St Georges Diocesan School (Windhoek) has also taught his son, Hugo Hahn.
Brigitte Haelbich (Reissner), a member of our congregation is a 5th generation descendant of the Haelbich's, blacksmiths/wagon builders, who came out as a part of Carl Hugo Hahn's Mission's Kolonie. She became a born again, confessing Christian under  the ministry of  our congregation.  


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