An account of work in S. Africa by an esteemed veteran laborer.
South Africa has often been described as a land of “Beauty and Splendor.” Most people marvel at the delightful scenery which varies so much in the different regions. Highly educated men and women from all over the world come to S. Africa to study the wonderful creation, some spending years studying and photographing the great variety of animals and birds in their natural habitat.
Thousands of interesting books have been written about wildlife and birds. Sadly, the majority of the authors are more taken up with the beauty of creation than they are with the greatness and majesty of the Creator Himself.
The beautiful beaches and good weather for the better part of the year, attract particularly the younger generation. Much of their time is spent on sport and pleasure, and Sunday has become a day to enjoy swimming, boating, and picnicking. Church services are usually held early on Sunday morning, leaving all free to spend the rest of the day as they please. Shops and restaurants are open for business as usual, and not many people bother to attend “church.” We are living in a day when few have any real concern about spiritual matters, and the gospel is not popular, although many in this country would claim to be “God-fearing Christians.”
Since South Africa became Independent in 1994, changes have taken place, which, in general, are not conducive to the furtherance of the gospel.
Numerous new religions and cults have sprung up. Witch doctors, now recognized as “Traditional Healers,” have come to the fore, and thousands follow their advice, using their medicines, often with disastrous results. On the whole, religion of some kind plays a part in the lives of most of the South African population.
People tend to think that everyone is either Christian or Muslim. Some of the local radio preachers speak a lot about the love of God, and how we should worship and praise Him. They address their listeners as though every person is a Christian, simply because he or she leads a good life, and believes in the existence of God. As a rule, no mention is made of sin, of the holiness of God, or of judgment to come. This makes it difficult when preaching the gospel to religious people, who do not know their need of salvation. We are entirely dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to convict men and women of their sin and deep need before God. In house-to-house visitation some time ago, I met a lady to whom I offered a gospel tract. Her reply was, “I do not need any tracts or books, for I am a Christian. Ive got the whole works! I am Spirit-baptized, Spirit- filled, baptized by immersion, able to speak in tongues and lay hands on the sick and heal them, and I have power to cast out demons.” After conversing with this lady for a while, it became apparent to me that she knew nothing about her need of salvation, or of the work of Christ to meet her need. I tried to explain to her that the Word of God says, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Her answer to this was, “I believe parts of the Bible which I feel are applicable to me, and with which I feel comfortable.”