Charles Whitson, first and founding pastor of the Eastside Baptist Church in Windhoek, Namibia died on the Lord’s Day, 9th December 2012, in LaFayette, Alabama, USA. He was affectionately known as ‘Uncle Charles‘ to many in Namibia. He was a missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention sent out to South West Africa (today Namibia) in 1968. He came at the request of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa (BUSA) in order to establish churches in this territory, which was then under South African rule. He concluded his ministry in Namibia at the end of 1992, and thus served for about 24 years in SWA/Namibia.
As at the date of writing he had been gone from Namibia for 20 years. Many here will therefore not know him, but it is my desire to keep his memory alive for the sake of our posterity.
Charles was married to Betty, and two daughters, Deborah and Virginia (Ginger) were born to them. Their marriage was a wonderful exhibition of faithful and committed companionship, as they served the cause of Christ in Namibia in an unselfish and sacrificial manner. Charles and Betty loved the people that they ministered to. After their daughters had left home and had returned to the USA, Charles and Betty spent much time visiting people, ministering to them on a personal basis. The people they were ministering to were often stubborn and slow to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. I saw them weeping for such when I was privileged to live in their home for a few months in the early eighties.
Charles had a great sense of humour. Once he told us when he was growing up as a child in Alabama, “we were so poor, we couldn’t even afford the German measles!” His winsome personality, his southern humour, together with a homely anecdotal style made him a preacher that the people liked to listen to. He wasn’t an expository preacher; neither was he too fond of taking firm doctrinal positions – a factor, which I believe ultimately contributed to the loss of much of the work that he had started.
Charles and Betty were involved with the churches of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Khomasdal, Rehoboth, Luderitz and Windhoek, personally encouraging pastors and congregations alike.
Charles was instrumental in establishing the Windhoek Baptist Church (today, All Nations Christian Church), the Khomasdal Baptist Church, the Eastside Baptist Church in Windhoek, and in the closing days of his missionary services, the Luderitz Baptist church, whilst also ministering to a small flock in Rehoboth. Sadly (and I believe, to his own sorrow) much of the work which he started was lost to other causes.
Eastside Baptist Church which was constituted under his leadership in June 1985, continues to be a church committed to historic Baptist principles, continuing to encourage the greater Baptist work in Namibia.
Betty Whitson currently suffers from dementia ( Alzheimers) and now lives in a nursing home in the USA. We pray for her and her daughters at this time, and continue to thank God for the spiritual seed planted in Namibian soil.
Pastor Joachim Rieck/ Eastside Baptist Church