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.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

OBITUARY: COLIN GIBB (20/05/1948 - 16/05/2022)


“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed’, says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them!’”  [Revelation 14:14 ESV]

Colin and Linda Gibb came to Namibia in the course of 2001, having been seconded here by the Standard Bank. Very soon they visited our church were united with the Eastside Baptist Church in membership on the 2nd December 2001. Eastside Baptist Church had gone through some very challenging years, and God knew that we needed a man of Colin’s stature. Much could be written and much could be said about his ability to encourage the discouraged and the fainthearted. His calm demeanor was rooted in his confidence in Christ.

Colin was one of our first ordained elders, for before this, Eastside Baptist Church did not have a plurality of elders.  Colin had been an elder in his previous church for 18 years and thus came with that experience, maturity and humility   which we so desperately needed.

He was very hands on and practical in so many ways - physically and spiritually. The pulpit at Eastside, from which the Word of God goes out every week to this day, is his handiwork.  Colin loved the Word of God read and expounded. He made it his point   to encourage the pastor regularly.  And who will forget his ability to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes?

Apart from shepherding God’s people as an elder he had a keen interest in the development of missionary thinking and strategy of the church. He was instrumental in drawing up our first mission’s policy.

Colin loved the work of prayer and was a faithful supporter of the weekly prayer meeting.

During their period in Namibia, Colin survived a heart attack and a near fatal aircraft incident in which the pilot managed to land the aircraft safely on one of Namibia’s many dirt roads. One of the passengers on the aircraft was said to have glanced back at Colin whilst the crisis was developing, only to see him smiling, and   from then on she said that, “I knew that all would be well”. 

Colin and Linda (and of course Granny Marge Thomas, Linda’s mother) left us in 2005 – now 17 years ago,   to return to South Africa – and all too early for our liking. They had been a spiritual encouragement and a father and mother to many in our church. We were privileged to have had them for those few years. God truly adds people gifts to His church (Romans 1:11, 12) at appropriate times, and then He subtracts them - also in His time.

The time had now come for this valiant soldier to move not to another place on earth, but now to His heavenly home and on to His heavenly reward.

Colin, in Christ we salute you, with thankful hearts. You have been an example of a faithful Christian and a true elder and brother in the Lord.


Thursday, December 2, 2021


I do not know  about you, but prayer - from  my perspective of  being a 63 year old (and  43 years a Christian) - has  been a life long challenge for me.  I have reason to believe  that  there are many  that have  a  similar struggle, and if you are among us, then I want to offer the following insight and wisdom  from the pen of the apostle   Paul in Romans  8:26,27

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Let me help you to understand the background against which the apostle  Paul makes this statement, after which I will make  a  perhaps surprising  observation.


The letter  to the Romans  is a profound exposition on the  doctrine of salvation. Paul helps us to see  that  all people  are  in need  of redemption, “for all have sinned  and have fallen short of the glory of God “ (Rom. 3:23).  All  of us   are under the just  wrath of  a holy God  (Rom. 1:18ff), unless God  does something to change that problem. And He does! In mercy God  chooses  to freely, unconditionally  and sovereignly impute righteousness to all  who  will trust in the substitutionary atonement of  the Lord Jesus Christ. By this act  Jesus  bore the sins of many, making atonement for them (Rom. 5:15). By this act He justifies  all those that actively  believe in Him and trust Him with all their life. In substituting His righteousness for our unrighteousness He makes us positionally righteous  before God the Father. That is why Romans 8:1-2  is such a great  truth for every  Christian to  embrace:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Once you are justified by God the Father  through Christ the Son, by the working of the Holy Spirit who opens your eyes to  the truth  of God’s way of saving people  you will never be the same!

Now here is the problem with which converted men and women frequently struggle:  If I am  justified   by God through Christ, does this mean that  I  am now  perfect – free from sin and all that?

Well, yes and no!

Yes, - because Christ  has made you perfect, and should you die right now, you will be ushered into God’s presence, righteous  and holy,  on account of Christ’s merits which have been imputed to you.

No, -  although you have been justified  and are positionally perfect, you continue to live in a fallen body, and in  a fallen world in which Satan  still  exercises his destructive   and deceptive rule, until Christ  comes again and defeats him. For this reason  you  still  will experience  struggle  with sin  in every way conceivable,  and that is the point of Romans 7:15-20   where  the apostle Paul confesses   his own  struggle with sin.   

Now  why am I telling you all this? Wasn't I supposed to tell you about my struggles with private  prayer? 

I am telling you all this because this is the context  in which our  text is found. 

And now I am going to relate this context  to  the  problem  that (I suspect) we all have with prayer. 

Let me begin by giving you three propositions from this text and context before applying this to  a  call to persevere in prayer, with the help of the Holy Spirit, no matter how much you and I may struggle right now... 

Our three propositions are these...

(i)                 You must pray.

(ii)               You    cannnot  and will not pray without help.

(iii)             The  Holy Spirit helps  you to pray.


Were you surprised  that I said that you  can’t or  won’t  pray?  Where do  I get that  from?   

Two  Observations 

(i)  from Experience

(ii) from Scripture

From experience.  I have  told you already. I know that  my prayer life  is horribly  stunted. I suspect that this is also true for you, unless you have received unusual grace from God in this regard  (and some people do!). But the average Christian will confess that  he  or she struggles to pray. The world, the flesh and the devil conspire  against us in this. Many Christians will confess  that they  are easily discouraged and distracted   and  that they easily give up in prayer. Most of us know  and confess that we do not  pray as  we  ought  to  pray. 

We see  this  also  confirmed in  the Scriptures  which we have read. Read Romans 8:26  again: 

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought….” . 

The apostle Paul confesses and identifies with you and me that he is  weak  and unable to pray as he ought to! That encourages me somewhat, but not too much, because I know that must pray. I know that prayerlessness has  spiritual consequences.   But I can’t seem to pray as I ought to.  I can’t get going.

What now?

This means that we  are going to have to look for the  ability to pray elsewhere, but before we get there allow me just to make some  things clear.

  • The weakness of our  prayer  life does not lie in the fact that  our salvation  from God is lacking.The weakness of our  prayer  does not lie in our justification  from God. Remember? Through Jesus Christ we are  justified; we are  made right with God. We lack nothing there.
  • The weakness  of our prayer life  also does not lie in our sanctification. Sanctification is the  progressive and ongoing work of the  Holy Spirit  after  we have been justified. Many people  erroneously think that sanctification is  what they  contribute to their  salvation. I used to believe that, until I was corrected  by the Scriptures.  I now know  that sanctification is  as much the work of God  as is our justification.  There is nothing lacking here.

So where   can  the weakness  of your and my prayer life  be found?  

It is  found in us! Remember? We have weak bodies and weak minds. Together with all creation we are groaning  inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:22,23). So, when we try to pray  in our  natural strength  then  we shall  find that we do not have it in us  to pray as we ought to pray.  We find that we are  either  too phlegmatic  or  too tired  or too distracted. The devil  too helps in this!!! 

We see this in Jesus’ disciples.  The disciples could not keep awake in the hour of Christ’s great trial in the garden of Gethsemane.  He asked them to watch and pray with Him. Three times He came back and found them asleep. He warned them that they should stay awake  at this hour, otherwise they would fall into temptation  (Matt 26:41) …. AND THEY DID! (Matt. 26:56). 

In ourselves  we  lack  ability  and perseverance. When it   comes to prayer then we know that we are  weak. We find that many days go by without any meaningful prayer work being done. And when we do it, we find it dull and   we watch the clock and we cannot wait for this time to finish, so that we can scratch the quiet time off our duty list!  Does this sound familiar?

The same is true when it comes  to attending our   corporate  prayer  time at church. We need to pray corporately!  We cant afford not to pray, because the work of God  in and through our church is so big and so profound  that  all  of our combined   human genius  will not  cope  with the spiritual  demands  before us. We must  pray together, corporately, as one body!  We see the powerful  effects of corporate prayer  in  Acts  4:23-31;  Acts 12; Acts 10; Acts 13:1-3 etc. You may even have been a  part of a corporate,  church prayer meeting after which God had moved in  amazing swiftness and power  to answer that prayer. 

We struggle to pray, privately and corporately, but the point is that we must pray. It does not help us if we do not pray. We will remain powerless as long as we fail to plead with God to help us in this work. 

What then must we do against  our  lack of desire to pray? 


We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and thankfully  He is  given by God the Father and the Son  for this purpose -  to help us in our weakness!
Knowing then  that it is not in you to pray  as you ought,  the Bible now suggests  that you need to seek  help  from the Holy Spirit for this task.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Paul knows that the life and health  of the church depends upon the power of God. The power and help  of God for this great work   must be solicited by prayer, and if the problem is that you can’t seem to pray or simply won’t pray – then what must you do?

You must  cast yourself in ALL your weakness upon the Holy Spirit!

And what  will He do, once you confess your weakness and your helplessness  in this matter? 

Here is the promise

                 (i)                 He helps us

                 (ii)               He Himself intercedes for us with groanings  to  deep for words

                 (iii)              He intercedes for the saints  (you!)  according to the will of God

This puts a  fresh perspective on prayer,  and I trust  that you will be bold enough to  test God in this matter.  If prayer is God’s will  (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Tim 2:8) and if you  know that God wants you to do this, then  ASK the Holy Spirit for help!


  • You must pray
  • You cannot  and will not pray without help  
  • You must ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He is the promised  Helper  who is sent by Jesus (Jn. 14:16) to help us in our manifest weakness.  
  • This is what makes the Christian life  a supernatural life. It is  meant to be lived in dependence upon God  from whom we must seek our help always - and particularly in prayer.   


Saturday, July 17, 2021


  • An (almost)  daily log of   Marcelle (M)  and  my (J)  journey with the Covid Delta variant. 
  • Surnames  have been abreviated to  protect the identity of individuals
  • Many people have not been mentioned. You know who you are, and we give thanks to God for you.

Thursday, 24th  June 2021

Day 1(J)

Dear church family and friends,

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12)

Having just been diagnosed  with  Covid 19 today, after  starting to feel unwell on Monday evening, 21st June,   I wanted to keep  an account  of my body and soul for the next few weeks,  but primarily  I want to be an encouragement  and  a provider of perspective   to you in it all.  I will provide physical  and spiritual updates on a separate WhatsApp group  for all that  are interested. Let me know, and I will add you. 

I have a sore head, a sore body, night fevers and a cough at this time. This has been the pattern of the last 4 days. Thankfully, my sense of smell is maintained and my bronchial passages are clear at this time.  Generally it is not too bad.  Marcelle is still fine.

It is very easy to sink into a spirit of pessimism and   fear at such a time. On a human level there are sufficient grounds for fear.  Daily deaths are being reported, and recovery periods can be extensive. I am not sure how these days will turn out for us. Our Heavenly Father knows.  

My greatest concern is that the present focus among us is almost entirely on the well-being of the body.  That’s what I see and hear. I see few of us urging one another to look after the wellness of our souls.  Little attention is given to the state of our eternal and immortal souls, which will have to give an account to the LORD after we die (Hebrews 9:27).  I see very little drawing near to God in these times.  The existence of the soul demands that I must spend much time in preparation   for the day I must leave this mortal body.   Remember too that eternity is much, much longer than 70 or 80 years.“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.


Friday, 25th June

Dear church family and friends,

“Christ wears the Crown”

Thank you for the outpouring of love and prayer for us.  It does our soul a lot of good. Please remember Danny, Zara and children your prayers.  They have all tested positive this week.

Jeane. K., our “soon- to –be- daughter- in- law” was our champion last night as she delivered a packet of prescription medication to our door step. I slept generally well last night, but woke up with body pains and a thick head this morning. Also, I discovered that my sense of taste had disappeared.  After dosing myself with my chemical factory, the day improved. The sunshine did me good. Thank God for our little garden. Marcelle feels fine at this stage. We currently live at opposite corners of our home.

I have  created a temporary WhatsApp platform, entitled, “Christ wears the Crown”.  Christ bore the little crown of the cross and He now bears the glorious crown of the eternal kingdom.  I trust that this isn’t lost on you. The Word “Corona” is the Latin Word for crown. This nasty little virus apparently has a crown shaped appearance.  A crown is a symbol of authority and power.  This vicious little ruler has induced a lot of fear in the world, and it rules the daily lives of billions of people right now.  This is where we desperately need perspective.

Thank God that our Lord Jesus wears the ultimate crown of authority in this universe. And He bore that nasty little crown which was thrust on His holy head for our sake (John 19:2), only to take up that crown that makes Him King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation19:16).

While  that  nasty little crown  was a reality  for  Jesus, and  while  this other nasty little crown is a  reality for us,  we must remember that  the nasty  crown that Jesus bore is infinitely  more  valuable for us, for in  bearing it He carried  the  sins away of all that truly trust in Him. This other little crown (at its very worst) can only kill the body, but not the soul.   

So, our dear  congregation and friends,  keep perspective  and  rejoice in the gospel of  our Christ who wears the crown.

Saturday, 26th June

Day 6 (J)

Christ wears the Crown!

“Lord, he whom you love is ill” (John 11:3)

These words were spoken by the sisters of Jesus’ good friend Lazarus.  This illness was in fact going to lead to Lazarus’s   death.  And when Jesus heard that he had died, he wept (John 11:35), because he loved him. The thrilling part of this story is that Jesus actually raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the grave for four days. This resurrection account has two points. Firstly, Jesus truly loved Lazarus and his sisters and therefore he gave Lazarus back to them for a while. But secondly, Jesus illustrated the fact that He was the One who had the ultimate authority over every disease and death. He is the One who will raise all people from the dead.

Most of us  who  have been afflicted with the corona (crown) virus are likely to survive by the grace of God.  But all of us will die sometime. The question is this: When you die, in what hope do you die?  If your hope is in Christ, who wears the Crown, and in whom you have trusted in this life, then you ALSO are the one  whom He loves.  Then you too are assured that you will live again (see John 11:25-27). By all means pray for and use effective vaccines and medication, but in the end you must put your hope in the gospel.  The only vaccine for the most lethal sin virus is Jesus who wore that terrible crown of  punishment  for you.

Today is day 6 since I started with my symptoms. Thank you for your continued assurances of care and prayer.  Today has been a dull and groggy day. My head feels thick, and I have slept a lot. I am thankful for the medication. It helps, although there is no cure at the moment for tastelessness ;-). Thank you to all who asked whether they might supply a meal or so. We are really ok at this time. We havevery little appetite for anything. We will use our church’s channel if the time should come in which we might need help.  Please continue to pray for Marcelle’s health, as we occupy the same square meters. 

There is no let up on the infections. Please pray for our good friend, pastor  Henning V. and  family. He has been diagnosed with Covid.

The Lord’s Day, 27th June

Dear friends,

“Our Help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8)

Today is day 7, and essentially there is no regression - for which we are thankful.  Thankfully the Oxygen levels are fine.  Marcelle’s colleague from school organized us an oxymeter. Thank you Leanne M.!  Marcelle went for the Covid test today and we expect to hear the results sometime soon.  Our daughter Kezia is watching over us with an eagle eye-and from a distance, BUT  we are very aware that over and above all is the hand of our gracious God.  Christ wears the victor’s crown.

“My days are in His hands; Everyone by Him is planned; So why should I fear,  when I know He is near.And my days are in His hands.” (Bill Bygroves)

Thank you to Frans B. (associate pastor and Uaundja K. (intern pastor) for the ministry of the Word this  Lord’s day morning and evening. Can’t wait to be in church again.

Monday, 28th  June

Day 8 (J) ;  4 (M)

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Day 8 wasn’t great. Fever and an aching body   and a fuzzy mind dominated the better part of the day. And then we got Marcelle’s test results back, and as expected, she tested positive. Mrs Lenia  Z.(senior)  expressed  her concern for us, and contacted her daughter  Dr. Umoyo Z. who came  to do a house visit this afternoon. She did a general check-up and drew blood samples.  She also made a few changes in our prescriptions. What a wonderful doctor! What a wonderful providence.

But the saddest part today was hearing of the death (Covid) of Lorenzo B., oldest son of Hansie and Louisa B. - long standing  friends in Baptist ministry. Please remember the family in your prayers.

Again we would remind you that our King who bore that crown of suffering for you is also the triumphant King who conquered death. Those who trust Him in this life shall   receive THE CROWN OF LIFE. Please be very concerned for the souls of many who may be entering into a Christ-less eternity at this time. Oh that God would have mercy upon this generation.   

Tuesday, 29th  June

Day 9 (J) ; 5 (M)  

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14)

– Dr. Umoyo Z. sent  and discussed the blood test  results  today. Marcelle seems to be doing ok under the circumstances. There are some concerns however with my situation.  There is a possibility of blood clotting. My medical knowledge unfortunately is insufficient to explain everything in detail. Dr. Z. will monitor the situation.  We continue trust the Lord to keep us in this situation. We have known this from the beginning.   

Otherwise the day has not been too bad. I certainly had no pain or fever today. Only tired.  Thank you for your prayers and  ongoing support. Thank you to our son Jonathan for topping up the gas for our heater  today. Thank you to  Frans, Janet and Jandri  B. who made food for tonight. Now pray that our sense of taste may return!

Wednesday,30th  June  

Day 10 (J); Day 6 (M)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)  

Today was  a  better  day for both of us. Thank you for all the words and acts  of kindness. There are so many and it is scarcely possible to acknowledge them all. Be assured that they all matter to us.  We had another home visit and check- up  from Dr. Umoyo Z. this evening. Again, Marcelle and I want  to acknowledge God’s wonderful providence  in  sending her to us.

Today we want to acknowledge all medical professionals in our midst, and especially our  pharmacists, doctors and nurses. Please pray for Drs Youssef & NancyS., Dr. Anotida T., Ronja K. (Pharmacist), Carina W. (Student nurse), Darion and Demi R. (medical interns)   who have been working under much pressure.

And then please continue to pray for our sick. God is at work and He has been merciful. Thank you to all who have been helping with meals and other tangible helps. God sees! And Christ wears the crown!


THURSDAY,  1st July

Day 11 (J) ; Day 7 (M)

“And we know that  for those who love God  ALL THINGS work together for good, for those  who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

Last night and today were not great. We both felt absolutely flat and wiped out. Even speaking on the phone was an effort. Later this  evening  we picked up strength as Alison B.’s  Goulash soup did the trick. Nothing better than a nourishing soup.

It is utterly astounding how  this illness drains you. I have not been able to pick up a book to read. Even reading my Bible has been a challenge. The brain feels foggy.  Even writing this takes effort. We are comforted by the fact that God promises  to carry us  at such times. This too is for our good, and in some way (though I wish this on no one) I am glad that we could enter into the shoes of  those  who have suffered this terrible  flu.

Once again we are thankful that we are in God’s hands.  We are thankful to be in the hands of   God’s people who pray for us and who care for us. Marcelle and I are particularly  thankful  to Kezia, Jonathan and Jeane – our children,  who have gone the extra mile  on many a day. 

I am  particularly  thankful to our elders who have been  in touch with the congregation. Remember those of your brothers and sisters  that are ill.  I just heard from Sean B. that he has contracted Covid.  Bear each others’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)

Friday, 2nd  July

Day 12 (J)  (Day 8 (M)  

“Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)

Once again we have found ourselves in the hands of a kind and gracious God who directs our footsteps. There have been some gains made. The blood tests showed some improvement. It has been a better day all round.

Please remember the R. family in your prayers. Eliphas R.  lost  his oldest sister  to Covid.   Also remember Jessey K. J.  who is really sick. Pray that she will respond to treatment. Thank you to all our doctors in the congregation who  have taken interest in  the sick.

Saturday, 3rd July

Day 13 (J); Day 9 (M)

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

It feels as if we have been living in a haze and in a bubble. Most of today we spent resting. Marcelle had some stomach issues, which is no wonder as one looks at the medication levels. Today we finished our cortisone  treatment. Generally then we seem to be improving. 

Thank you once again  for your prayers and words of encouragement. I am thankful that there are so many of you taking care of the ill in tangible  ways. God bless you all. Remember to ask God to have mercy on our country, Namibia.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting  all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)


Entries for  4th – 7th July are missing since these were  poor days. Oxygen levels were at an all time low.  A oxygenator was secured from Betsy K.. Renewed blood tests were done. Danger of blood- clotting detected. Stiff medication regime was imposed. There was even talk of being admitted to hospital. Mrs. Lenia Z. was instrumental in getting her  daughter,  Dr Umoyo Z. to   take another  good look at us. This was crucial intervention. There is talk ofhospitlisation


Thursday, 8th July 2021

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Day 18(J) ; Day 14 (M). 

Marcelle and I had a good day today, considering that we are pumped full of medication. Our doctor heard some more noise in Marcelle’s lungs today. Please pray for this to clear.

The doctrine of God’s providence has become a precious reality to us. We are living in the experience of God’s providence  in so many  ways. Every day we wake up by His grace. Every day, in unexpected ways He takes care of us by lifting our spirits in so many ways. Every day significant medical help is granted. We even have had opportunity to day to be of use to others and share in the burdens of others.  And we played Scrabble…

So,  thank you dear friends once  again  for your prayers and  help  given in so many ways. Always  and with sincere love in our Lord Jesus, J & M

Friday , 9th July

“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and  my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1,2)

Day 19 (J) Day 15(M). 

Today was even better! The brain- fog has been lifting steadily, and today we have been experiencing  a renewed appetite to read, pray and rejoice. Even our physical  appetite is being restored. Again we thank God  for  His daily encouragements and providences  in the form of people  and  things we need. Thank God for  the internet (we had been down for 4 days),   by which means we are able to  have face to face interactions with our children in Wales.

Thank God for a medical aid!   Dr. Z. has been wonderful in terms of medical supplies and expertise. Please pray for her. She has a heavy workload. One of our young student doctors at Eastside, Darion R.   has stepped  into the gap to  administer the   daily intravenous dose of antibiotics for J.  We thank  God for him and his wife Demi (also a medical intern), working in a Covid ward. Pray for her.

Marcelle and I have become “experts” at giving each other daily  injections against blood clotting. Some of you have been giving us spiritual injections  by way of  written encouragements. Thank you! And continue  to remember  that Christ wears the true  crown – ALWAYS! With sincere love in Jesus, always.  J &M


Saturday, 10th July 10, 2021

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)

Day 20 (J) Day 15 (M). 

We continue to thank God for good progress. We look forward to the coming week when we shall, God willing,  be on reduced medication. Today, Marcelle and I took a short drive into the country. What a wonderful thing to enjoy some freedom after 20 days of being laid up.

We continue to remember our country and in particular  our health personnel  in our prayers. Remember those that have been afflicted and those who have lost loved ones today. Our young medical intern Dorian R., currently looking after us,  has lost another aunt today in the Covid  battle. NEVER forget that Christ wears the crown!

“Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me; And that Thou bid’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!  (Charlotte Elliot:  1788-1871)


The Lord’s Day, 11th July 2021

Day 21(J); Day 16 (M)

My morning Psalm really encouraged me today…

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.2  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.3The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.4  Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!” 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.6  The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.7  Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (Psalm 116:1-7)

Well, what can we  say – except  that the Lord’s mercies  have been ours, once  again today,  and in abundance. We feel stronger  externally and internally.  Next week I want to (God willing) finally  share a few reflections  on the nature  of  bodily / spiritual  trials.

Thank God for the Word that went out from our Eastside pulpit today. Marcelle and I were so encouraged by  Le’ahm and Uaundja  this morning and  by Edgar and Josh tonight. His Word was nourishing to our souls: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul…” (Ps. 19:7)

May you all have a good night’s rest. Remember the afflicted, particularly Joubert B's mom at this time. As we enter into a new working week may our Lord guard and keep you in all your ways. Yours, as always in the wonderful love of Jesus, J & M

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon  His throne; Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns  all music but its own! Awake, my soul and sing, of Him who died for thee,And hail Him as thy matchless King throughout  eternity.  (Verse1: Matthew Bridges)

Monday, 12th July 2021

Day 22(J); 17(M)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore  do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious  for  itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  (Matthew 6:33,34)

This verse has  walked with me  a long time – at least for 43 years, when I first  confessed the Name of Jesus  and  became a Christian through a series of marvelous providences.

We had a home medical  visit from our excellent Dr. Z. tonight. Whilst we are not completely out of the woods yet, we are making  good process.   Indeed,  each day is a gift from God, and that is why  the text speaks to  our hearts. And again we remind ourselves, that this is the way in which life is meant to be lived. Not in large chunks … but in daily and humble dependence upon God. He is the Giver and Taker of Life – ultimately. The Bible warns us repeatedly against presumptuous living. James warns us,

“… yet you do not know what tomorrow  will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that…” (James 4:14,15)

Well, there we are at the end of another day, and God has been good and kind. We had some special interactions with some people today. We remember you all with love and gratitude to God, from whom all blessings flow.  J& M

“Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strive, For those He came to save. His glorious now we sing, who died and rose on high; Who  died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.” (Verse 2: Crown Him with many crowns – Matthew Bridges- 1851)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Day 23(J); 18(M)

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom“. (Psalm 90:12). I quoted this text right at  the beginning on the 24th June when I first fell ill with Covid. I want to get back to this text with the help of this text below:

“O LORD make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4)

God has designed us to live! And every urge towards that end should be protected. For this reason Christians protect the life of the unborn. The hospital movement in the world  was essentially born out of a Christian compassion for the sick. Christians embrace the proper science and technology that accompanies healing. Think of how many Christians were used in the development of medical science which now works for our advantage. Praise the Lord!

The sad thing is that we fallen people  are rarely   able to give glory to God, but we very quickly  turn to worship the knowledge and things of and from God,  and make them  an end in itself (see Romans 1:18-23).  It is a wonderful provision when we are healed  because of medicine,  or when  illness can be prevented by way of  a vaccine. However,  remember  that  there is an appointed day  on which you will die (irrespective of vaccine or treatment) and you will   have to give an account God  (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 9:27).

How is it today  with your soul and God?  On what are you resting your final confidence following your death,  when you too must meet your Maker? The Bible has only one solution,  and it is not a thing, or a method or a medical application.  It is a Saviour! John says, “Look,  the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Dear one, if you are  uncertain  about your eternal future, then  look to Jesus NOW, and look no further. Trust in Him ALONE. He is your final resting place. He wears the Crown.

Again, thank you for praying  for us and loving us today in the wonderful marvelous  love of God. We are steadily improving under God’s good hand and we  trust Him  for further fruitful work in the gospel – until He finally  comes or calls. 

With sincere Christian love for you all, J&M

“Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified; no angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends his  burning eye at mysteries so bright.” (Verse  3: Crown Him with many crowns - Matthew Bridges 1851)  


Wednesday, July 14th

Day 24(J); 19 (M)

“O taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”(Psalm 34:8)

One of the significant  aspects of having  Covid  is that one’s taste-buds disappear! It’s been weeks since Marcelle and I have last  tasted  a meal  in the proper sense of that word.  We are encouraged that  there appears  to be  is a hint of “taste return”. Thank God for Susan M's  delicious  meal   tonight. Susan, we could taste the love in your cooking!  All that being said, we wanted to testify to an even  greater sense of  taste,  in terms  of  our spiritual appetites, and as indicated in our text.

We have really tasted God’s  wonderful goodness deep in our souls at this  strange time. We cannot explain this on a natural level. We simply say this and reiterate this: God has mercifully visited us in this time of affliction, and has given us more perspective, more love and more joy  at this time… and it is lovely. 

We live in a moralistic, therapeutic, deistic society . This is a term that was first introduced in the 2005 book “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” by the sociologists Christian Smith/ Melinda Lundquist Denton.  The term is used to describe what they consider to be the common beliefs among U.S. youths. In this society (like our own)   we  are close enough to God to know what is right and wrong, and we use him as a sort of heavenly extra, and we know  that He is there (in theory), but in reality He is so inconsequential when push comes to shove!  God is not central but peripheral in this way of thinking.  The point is that this sort of religion kills the  heart of  our Christian  faith.

Thank God then for suffering. Suffering has  peculiar qualities  in Christian  experience.  We see this in the Bible. Don’t look for it!  But when God sends you into that valley, embrace  that which  He has for you and see Him there! And there He is. More than sufficient, more than able and oh so good!

With these  thoughts we encourage you  to remain in the love of Jesus. Thank you once again for loving us and praying for us today, J&M

1.“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.

2 You fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds you so much dread; Are big with mercy and shall break, In blessings on your head.  (William Cowper  1774)


 Thursday, 15th July 2021

Day 25(J); 20 (M)

“Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?”  (Psalm 85:6)

Today began with some effort, as the bodies need to adjust to medicine withdrawal and to rebuilding of capacity. Climbing stairs  takes some effort as  gravity interacts with some diminished muscle  tone. But we are glad to be moving again.  Marcelle and I went to the hairdresser today for the first time in ages. Marcelle’s hairdresser has become a Christian in this difficult season. Praise the Lord! Their talk was full of the joy of the God who saves.   I had another very meaningful spiritual  conversation  with  a young man who sometimes attends at Eastside, and he has testified to significant dealings of God  with his soul at this  time. Again, praise the Lord!   The thought occurs to me often these days … could this be a time when against all the odds, God might  pour out  His  Spirit in revival power… again, as per our text? Let’s pray, dear brothers and sisters. God,in history has often been pleased to work in adversity. My long standing  studies in,  and love for church history and the history of revival  makes me hope that this will be so!

This evening we had  our   very first  special dinner guests in a long time. Our son Jonathan and his bride to be, Jeané K. came for supper,  for  the first  of six of our pre-marital counselling sessions. It was indeed a special time.  At the end of this  I hope to have   my pre-marital  counselling booklet  re-written,  and  for further use  in  fighting the good fight for God-centered marriages.

In the meantime  the  work of the virus continues. The sad news reached us today  of the Covid related death of   the wife of a  very dear pastor under whom I served as a pastoral-intern in 1989, at Bellville Baptist Church. May the Lord  comfort  Pastor Andre  B. (Benoni Baptist Church)  and his children  at this time.

Pray for all our health-workers. Pray for   the renewal of the church in the midst of these days. The church in God’s economy  remains  the primary salt and light distributor on earth!  (Matthew 5:13-16)

Again, with sincere love in Jesus, J &M

1 We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love, for Jesus who died, and is now gone above. Refrain: Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

2 We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light  who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

3 We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n  to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

4 Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen! Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.

(WP McKay 1863 – written in a time of Revival)

Friday, 16th  July 16, 2021


Day 26(J); 21 (M)

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Eph. 2:4-8 ESV)

Last week I said  that I  intended this  daily ‘accountability page’ to come to a close.  Today is the day. In this final  reflection  I wanted to say  a little  something    about  the physical realities  in terms of  this virus.

1.       Be careful! This isn’t a common flu.

2.        If you suspect that you have flu-like  symptoms, get tested immediately.

3.       Start treatment immediately.  Many people may have died because they may have waited simply too long. You may have noticed that   the real struggle for us did not occur in the first week, but well into the second week.  On a medical level our treatment began   immediately, and that action may have saved us later. Maintaining good oxygen levels is the  key to recovery. 

4.       If you are older, you may have to expect a longer recovery season. Therefore take care and rest and   be sensible. Your family and church family still need you to be around.

5.       Make sure that you have your house in order (2 Ki. 20:1). Now is the time  to  make sure that your will is up to date and accessible.

6.       Settle  family matters   and make peace  with people, as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18).

7.       If  you happen  to   find yourself   with Covid, embrace  the season, and see the good hand of the God who is rich in mercy, at work in you.  And don’t give into a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7).  Let the joy of the Lord be your strength (Neh.8:10).  Remember  that Christ wears the crown, and He is utterly sufficient for such days. If you must die, be sure  that you  do this leaning on the strong arms of Jesus.

8.       Do whatever is reasonable and sensible to prevent the spread of this virus, whether that means vaccination or social distancing, observing hygiene protocols  etc.   

Once again, thank you so very, very  much  for encouraging us so much in word and deed at this time.

And now let us pray that this Covid season will not be wasted on us, our families, our churches and nation.  Pray for revival (Psalm 85:6). Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (Jas. 4:8)

Yours in the deep love of Jesus, J &M

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free! Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me! Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love; Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

(Samuel T.  Francis – 1875)

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