Beyond the Rivers of Ethiopia: God's Claim on Southern Africa
The following are Becky Morecraft's thoughts and prayers during her fourth visit to South Africa with her husband, Pastor Joe Morecraft, and daughter Mercy. Joe is pastor of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, RPCUS, in Cummings, Georgia. The Morecrafts have ministered in South Africa since Joe's first visit in 1985 when he ran for the United States Congress. Since then, he has been there seven times to speak, lecture, and teach throughout the country for churches, conferences, mission stations, seminaries, universities, and schools, and has had a book published in South Africa entitled, Liberation Theology, Prelude to Revolution. This was Mercy's third visit, the first for her being "in the dark" when she got her start during the 1990 visit of her parents!
"Therefore, wait for me," declares the Lord, "for the day when I rise up to the prey . . . For then, I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord to serve Him . . . From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my worshippers, my dispersed ones, will bring my offerings." Zeph. 3:1-20
Like a flash of lightning, two years of our lives seem to have fast-forwarded since our last trip to South Africa; and now, seventeen hours of flying almost 10,000 miles bring the three travelers, Joe, Mercy (now eight), and me, back to Johannesburg. Our dear friend of 15 years' acquaintance, Claude Moller, greets us warmly, a lifeboat in this bustling, international airport. On the ride to his home in Pretoria, we catch up on family news and learn how God is blessing his various ministries. Besides heading up Family Focus, an organization that ministers to the whole spectrum of families in South Africa with provision of physical and spiritual needs, Claude has branched out as a popular motivational speaker. His challenge is to inspire hope in a nation whose identity has changed, which is losing its brightest and best individuals as they immigrate to other countries, and whose economy continues to spiral downward. Violent crime is on the rampage in many parts of the country. Horror stories have become part and parcel of daily conversation. Claude and his wife, Elna, the coordinator of their ministries, stand strong in their conviction of God's sovereign rule and overruling power in the affairs of men and nations in a world that appears to be crumbling before their very eyes. Daughters Heike, at 16, and Ise-lu, at 12, and sons, Claude Marais Francois Moller, IX, at 14, and Heindrich, at 6, value their God-centered Hugenot, Afrikaans heritage and are strong warriors for King Jesus, regardless of the cost, just like their father and mother. By God's grace, the Moller children and other Christian young people of South Africa will continue to be instruments of righteousness in their generation, not despising the hardships involved during these times of humbling for their nation.
Elna and Claude are the consummate hosts, allowing us to take over their home, preparing delectable food they know we love (ummm, rusks, and roibos tea for breakfast), touring us around Pretoria, and arranging various speaking and lecturing engagements for Joe, who preached at an English Reformed Church in Johannesburg and lectured at a new embryonic Reformed University in Pretoria. God has not left His people in South Africa without a vision for His kingdom there.
"Lord God of the covenant made with Your people of old, remember Your promises to Your faithful people in South Africa. Cleanse and humble Your church where she is guilty of pride, mechanical worship, and shallow compassion. Make her vulnerable to the redemptive judgment You are sending in order to purify, cleanse, and transform her. Bless the Mollers and all that they do for Your kingdom. Keep them faithful down through the thousandth generation. . . ."
Because of the Fouries, Windhoek, Namibia will forever live in my mind as a place where faith in God's promises are fresh as this morning. Dawie Fourie is a gentle-voiced giant of a man, whose heart and life are totally committed to winning Namibia to Christ. As we rested at his home, built on a hill overlooking the city, a strong wind whipped around us, unusual, Dawie commented, for that time of year. We were privileged to see his heart and hear his vision for his country as the place where he believes God will start the revival he is sure will come to southern Africa. Dawie, who heads up the whole of southern Africa for Price-Waterhouse Coopers, an internationally known auditing firm, and his wife, Christna, a medical doctor, purchased thousands of acres of land twelve years ago and built a beautiful conference center there called the Rock Lodge. This well-equipped conference center with thatched roof cottages is used by businesses during the week for a fee so that Dawie can hold Christian retreats and conferences on the weekends for large groups of people, feeding them three hearty meals a day at no charge. Mercy, Joe, and I ministered there for three days. Joe taught, Mercy and I sang, and we all three were able, through conversations and counseling, to encourage many Christians.
The land in Namibia is mostly barren and rocky with plentiful wildlife. We stood inches from two leopards who live near the lodge behind a very tall fence, and we were taken on a mini-safari where we spotted several varieties of bok (antelope), warthogs, and zebra, to name just a few. How did Noah manage, we wondered? Christna Fourie interviewed us for a Christian radio and television station called Media for Christ, where she devotes at least two days a week when she has finished seeing patients and before going home to care for her two boys and husband. Claude Moller, our contact with the Fouries, was able to join us for these interviews which will be broadcast many times throughout the year. The conference at the Rock Lodge was professionally videoed, as well, in order to multiply our teaching/singing ministry to scores of other conference and retreat attendees in the future. My sister Judy Rogers' recordings were greatly appreciated and blessed those present as Mercy and I sang many of her songs. (How we praise God for our faithful parents who prayed with and for their children, daily dedicating us to the Lord and His service. Maybe someday God will bless me to sing at the Rock Lodge with Judy!)
"God of the Nations, shine the light of Your countenance on this gracious man and his wife. Use their family, their conference center, the radio station, and Your preached, spoken, and living Word to convert sinners to Jesus in Namibia so that all the peoples on this uniquely textured square of Your quilted world will gladly confess Him as Lord. May Namibia serve as a model for the nations of southern Africa in its strong testimony to the saving grace of our Lord."
A much-anticipated holiday with our dear friends, Dr. Louis Ferreira and his new wife, Barbara, whom we introduced nine months earlier in our living room in Roswell, Georgia, took us to some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of South Africa. We enjoyed five full days of resting and touring round about Mpumalanga, in the Eastern Transvaal, a place of tranquil loveliness. Winding roads through beautiful forests, thousands of acres devoted to forestry, and the small towns that have grown up around this industry reminded us of our mountains and towns in Virginia and West Virginia. Our braai (Afrikaans for grilling) at Mac-Mac Falls between Sabie and Graskop was movie material. Louis and Barbara brought boerwors (literally, farmer sausages) and the best wine in the world (remember, Afrikaners are heir to the ancient French vines of the Hugenots and the art of winemaking alongside Biblical theology). We lazed under the trees, watching Mercy play around the small waterfall above us that meandered further downstream to magnificent falls. Dr. Ferreira, recently retired Dean of Post Graduate Studies at University of the North at Qwa-Qwa in the Free State and former professor of political science there, first came to Georgia to visit us at Joe's invitation after he had read Joe's book, With Liberty and Justice for All. Thus began a close friendship of seven years that now includes Louis' wife, Barbara, a dear friend who hales from Corpus Christi, Texas, and teaches art at Chalcedon Christian School. (Barbara and Louis moved to Georgia in June, 1999.)
We spent a day together in the world-famous Kruger National Park, a game reserve the size of Holland, where the deer and the antelope literally do play. (Nor were the skies cloudy all day!) Imagine watching herds of impala race alongside your car in the veld or coming upon a zebra standing in the middle of the road! Think of our whoops of excitement as we spotted a huge lioness dozing under a tree and saw a female elephant tossing dust into the air, hoping to defend her baby from a low-flying helicopter, or our shrieks of delight as a curious baboon climbed all over our car, mugging at us through the windows. The giraffe, laconically snipping tender leaves from treetops simply blinked long lashes at us, the hideous warthogs snorted in sharp gasps, the tiny klipspringer, a miniature deer that hops from rock to rock, delighted us. We stopped for a braai of a special SA sausage called puffadder in the Kruger by a river and watched with baited breath a scene that I know I saw once on the Discovery channel: A huge crocodile, sunning himself on a sand bank in the middle of the river, slipped into the water and swam stealthily towards a baby hippo. Our heart in our throats and cameras poised, we caught the moment we had hoped for on film of mama hippo with mouth wide, trumpeting and ready to bite the croc in half if necessary, all of this magnificent cast of animals parading about and performing just for us, it seemed. God showered joy down on us in large bundles during these days of resting in His creation! And, oh, the scenic wonders our eyes beheld the Potholes at Bourke's Luck, cylindrical holes carved out in stone by the petulantly changing course of water, the sweeping vista of God's Window, a view that seems to stretch up to eternity, the startling variety of aloes in bloom and shifting types of vegetation and sudden changes in topography all of this in one area of one relatively small country! Perhaps South Africa was indeed the Garden of Eden where God experimented, as it were, with almost every variation on a theme just to see what pleased Him most!
"Thank You, great original Architect, for all things you have made. Make us better caretakers of Your earth and all that inhabits it for Your glory and praise. Thank You for telling us that You enjoy Your creation and call it good. May we imitate You in this as in all else we do."
On now to Cape Town and Stellenbosch for the final leg of our journey. We resist the allurements of the Cape and stay in the quaint town of oaks and wine, the university town of Stellenbosch. The Cape Dutch architecture combines with ancient oaks to frame a lovely setting for life in a college town. Louis Ferreira's sister, Dria, and her husband, Piet Crous, along with their children Marisa and Andre, are our hosts for a delightful week of visiting wine farms during the day and preaching and singing in the evenings. Who could think of a more satisfying way to pass the time than enjoying God's temporal and spiritual blessings in the context of friendship and ministry? Piet, as professor of mathematics at the University of Stellenbosch, is closely attached to the intellectual community and he and Dria have been members of the Dutch Reformed Church near their home for many years. The church welcomes us with open arms, gladly receiving the teaching on the Great Commission that Joe delivers in five sermons there. We are sad to leave this warm setting and dear people but must move on. How I wish time and space would allow the full description of the delightful days spent with Dria and family. We anticipate a visit from them in the new year, Lord willing.
"Jesus, Lover of life, who transformed water into wine in Cana, awaken Your church in South Africa. Renew her zeal for Your Word and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, clear the brambles away and make this holy ground where You can live and reign. Help us in the West to understand the role South Africa has played and has yet to play in the glorious plan of God. Remember Your promise, Lord, to accomplish great things in Your eternal purpose for the vast southern region "beyond the rivers of Ethiopia."
Once again to Pretoria, a final day of packing our treasures, including a teakwood salad bowl big enough to bathe a baby in, and we tearfully bid farewell to this great land and these dear friends. By God's grace, our ministries among you have encouraged your hearts and strengthened your resolve to be strong in the power of His might who brings low that He might raise up and restore a people wholly devoted to Him. We have received multitudinous blessings from you and memories that will last a lifetime at least.
"But we will come again, my friends, though it were 10,000 miles, though it were 10,000 miles." -R. Burns
Topics: Biblical Law, Christian Reconstruction, Culture , Dominion, Government, Socialism, World History