Spiritual Heritage of the Waldenses

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

The history of the Waldenses in Northern Italy and Southern France represents an important part of the narrative of the early Christians between the time of the apostles and the Reformation. These evangelical believers rejected the Roman Catholic Church and were fugitives who were often attacked by the ‘holy armies’ of the Vatican. The history of the Malans extends further back than that of the Waldenses, as they only later became part of this movement. In his book, The Malans of South Africa, Hercules Malan says, among others, the following about the ancestors of this Waldensian family:

“The early history of the Malans is one of severe persecution and suffering because of their faith. The Malans originated in the valleys of Piedmont in the north-western region of the present Italy. According to a very old tradition the Gospel was brought to the inhabitants of Piedmont by St. Paul when he visited the area on his way to Spain. That would have been during his fourth missionary journey which is sometimes mentioned in church history [it is difficult to historically verify events in the early part of their history – ed.]. The Malans described themselves as Original Christians. They never accepted the authority of the Pope and were later, together with other believers, known as Vaudois or Waldenses. The name Malan was an abusive nickname given to these “heretics” by the followers of Rome. During the course of time this abusive name was accepted as an honorary title by the Malans.

“Apparently ‘Les Malan de Mérindol,’ the branch of the family from which the South African and English Malans originate, fled to Mérindol on the Durance in Provence (Southern France) during the Great Persecution of 1112. The Malans became wealthy and were well known in Mérindol. The part of the town inhabited by them was known as ‘Quartier des Malan.’

“Since 1177 the Malans and other evangelical believers were referred to as Waldenses after Peter Waldo (Valdes or Vaudes), a merchant of Lyon who started a movement of lay preachers to proclaim the true gospel. The Waldenses were banned in 1184 by Pope Lucius but continued with their preaching. In 1215 an edict was issued against them whereby they had to be taken prisoner and their possessions confiscated…

“In 1309, Pope Clement ordered attacks on the Waldenses in which many of their houses and villages were burnt down. The surviving Waldenses fled to the mountains. Laurent Malan, his wife and child, took shelter between steep cliffs of the Taillant where they were discovered by the soldiers. When they refused to deny their faith they were thrown down the cliff and fell to their death… Between 1380 and 1392, the pope condemned 230 Waldenses to the stake because of heresy. In 1440, Caesar Sigismund led a campaign against the Waldenses. Barthelemeni Malan was stabbed to death after he was captured and found praying. In his dying moments he confessed the name of the Lord Jesus…

“After the Reformation, Protestant preachers such as Guillaume Farrell convinced the Waldenses that there were many similarities between their teachings and those of Luther and Calvin. Consequently, the Waldenses of France decided to join the Reformed Church in 1532. The printing of the first Protestant Bible in French was financed by the Waldenses of Provence.

“The Waldenses did not live in peace for very long. In 1534 the parliament of Provence ordered them to give up their faith or leave the land. Natural disasters such as the flooding of the Durance, hail and failures of crops were ascribed to the beliefs of the Waldenses. After there had been no reaction to this order, the Decree of Mérindol was issued in 1540, which ordered the burning of 19 inhabitants of Mérindol at the stake, while the whole town was to be burnt and razed to the ground. This Decree was implemented in 1545, resulting in the destruction of 22 villages by 4000 soldiers. The majority of the Waldenses fled to their fellow believers in Piedmont but later returned to Provence. By 1560 Mérindol was again a Protestant stronghold.

“The persecution in France flared up more vigorously against the Waldenses and was later extended to include all French Protestants, who became known as Huguenots. The Malans were part of the Huguenots, who suffered bloody persecution under the Roman Catholic Church – particularly after Louis XIV became king of France in 1661. Between 1681 and 1720, about 200 000 Huguenots fled from France – many of them to the Netherlands. Among them was also Jacques Malan, the progenitor of the South African Malans.”

Jacques was among a selected group of French Huguenots who were sent to the Dutch controlled colony in the Cape in 1688 – mainly as farmers to supply fresh produce to ships on their way to the East.

The Pilgrim church

In his book The Pilgrim Church – Tracing the pathway of the forgotten saints from Pentecost to the 20th century (1999) Edmund Broadbent comments on the faith of the Waldenses:

“The doctrines and practices of these brethren, known as Waldenses, and also by other names, were of such a character that it is evident they were not the fruits of an effort to reform the Roman and Greek churches and bring them back to more scriptural ways. Bearing no traces of the influence of those churches, they indicate, on the contrary, the continuance of an old tradition, handed down from quite another source – the teaching of Scripture and the practice of the primitive Church. Their existence proves that there had always been men of faith, men of spiritual power and understanding, who had maintained in the churches a tradition close to that of apostolic days, and far removed from that which the dominant Churches had developed.

“Apart from the Holy Scriptures they had no special confession of faith or religion, nor any rules; and no authority of any man, however eminent, was allowed to set aside the authority of Scripture. Yet, throughout the centuries, and in all countries, they confessed the same truths and had the same practices. They valued Christ’s own words in the Gospels as being the highest revelation, and if ever they were unable to reconcile any of His words with other portions of Scripture, while they accepted all, they acted on what seemed to them the plain meaning of the Gospels. Following Christ was their chief theme and aim, keeping His words, imitating His example. The Spirit of Christ, they said, is effective in any man in the measure in which he obeys the words of Christ and is His true follower. It is only Christ who can give the ability to understand His words. If anyone loves Him, he will keep His words. A few great truths were looked upon as essential to fellowship, but otherwise, in matters open to doubt or to difference of view, large liberty was allowed. They maintained that the inner testimony of the indwelling Spirit of Christ is of great importance, since the highest truths come from the heart to the mind; not that new revelation is given, but a clearer understanding of the Word…

“In matters of church order they practiced simplicity, and there was nothing among them corresponding to that which had grown up in the Church of Rome. Yet the churches and elders accepted their responsibilities with the utmost seriousness. In matters of discipline, appointment of elders, and other acts, the whole church took part, in conjunction with the elders. The Lord’s Supper was for all believers, and was looked upon as a remembrance of the Lord’s body given for them and at the same time as a strong exhortation to yield themselves to be broken and poured out for His sake. As to baptism… [they said] that little children are not saved by baptism, for, they declare, the Lord says, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,’ but a child does not yet believe… They did not admit the claim of the great professing Church to open or close the way of salvation, nor did they believe that salvation was through any sacraments or by anything but faith in Christ” (Broadbent, ibid., p. 119-120).

From the history of the Waldenses it is evident that the right of freedom of religion was secured at a very high price. But most of the modern Christians are busy relinquishing this right in favour of greater ecumenical and political acceptability in the emerging multireligious international community. In the process, various doctrines of evangelical Christianity are denied – including Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of a lost and perishing world.

A further observation that we can make of the widespread spiritual falling away of our time is that Christianity cannot be inherited. Every new generation of people should be evangelised anew and confronted with the decision to commit themselves to Christ’s commands with regard to repentance, sanctification and discipleship. We can, nevertheless, derive inspiration from the testimonies and examples of godly ancestors. With reference to various outstanding heroes of faith, Paul says the following on their experiences and religious legacy in Hebrews 11:

“Therefore, since we also are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking diligently lest anyone should fall short of the grace of God” (Heb. 12:1-2,14-15).

We should definitely learn from the mistakes of our ancestors. I regret the fact that the Waldenses in France joined the Reformed Church and became Calvinists. In doing so, they seriously compromised the purity of the doctrine which they had confessed and practiced up to that stage, and replaced it with a doctrine which contained serious errors and inconsistencies. From Broadbent’s book quoted above, as well as Dave Hunt’s book (What Love is this? Calvinism’s Misrepresentation of God) it is obvious that Calvinism has taken over and perpetuated several of the false tenets and unbiblical practices of the Roman Catholic Church.

Among these are the covenant theology in terms of which babies are sprinkled and declared to be saved (baptismal regeneration); predestination, which teaches that God alone decides who will go to heaven and who will go to hell since man allegedly has no free will; eternal security – a Christian can live as he likes as he can never backslide to the extent of losing his faith; as well as dominionism (kingdom-now theology), which denies a future millennial kingdom of Christ since they teach that God’s kingdom should be revealed in the present dispensation by the church. They believe that the church has the God-given authority to rule the world and subject people to its authority. Many of these doctrines originated from St. Augustine, who is regarded by both Catholics and Protestants to be the most important church-father.

I also regret the fact that some of the Malans in France became involved with the wine industry. In that way they rendered a service to the god of wine, Bacchus. This tradition was continued in Franschhoek in the Cape. A Christian should in no way be associated with the production, distribution and use of alcoholic beverages (Prov. 20:1; 23:31-32; Hab. 2:15; Eph. 5:18).

Continuation of the Waldensian tradition

In view of the Malans’ early history in Europe I offer a short survey of their experiences in South Africa, as well as the main events in my own life as a Waldensian descendant. The sole purpose of this review is to glorify God for what He can achieve in lives wholly committed to Him, as well as a stern warning to all who resist the Lord and walk in their own ways.

The Malans are characterised by a strong pioneering spirit. During many centuries they became accustomed to fleeing because of their faith and finding a refuge somewhere else. It became a family tradition not to stay in one place for too long. Jacques Malan and his descendants in the Cape followed the same tradition. Many of them moved to the Eastern Cape to farm there, among others, in the Cradock district. One of them, David Malan, participated in the Slagtersnek rebellion in 1815. On 13th January 1816 he was sentenced to three years forced labour on Robben Island and was also banned from the Eastern Province. Because of his high age, David’s sentence was never carried into effect. He stayed on his farm in the Cradock district until his death in 1824.

Two of David’s sons later moved northwards into the unknown hinterland with the Great Trek. Hercules was part of Piet Retief’s group who were all murdered by the Zulu king, Dingaan in 1838, while Jacobus fell in battle in the same year with the Trekker leader Piet Uys at Italeni. Jacobus’ eldest son, David Eduard (12), and Hercules’ son, Johannes (14), also died at Italeni. Hercules’ youngest son, Jocab Jacobus, settled on the farm Waterkloof before 1855, where the town Lydenburg was later established. Jacob Marthinus, the son of Jacobus, settled at Doornkloof near Koster. In 1901, during the Anglo-Boer War, he was shot by British troops on his farm.

A hard, pioneering existence also awaited many other Malans who moved to Transvaal to make a living there as farmers. Some of them, like my own grandfather, Anthonie Christoffel, who was a devout Christian, trekked as far as Swaziland to farm there. My father (Johannes Stefanus, b. 1914) and his brothers and sisters learned to speak Swazi fluently from a young age. This family had a strong Christian foundation, and my father decided to become a missionary when he was still at school. His calling eventually led him to Wellington in the Cape where he then received training at the Dutch Reformed Missionary Institute. My mother’s family (Grobler) also farmed in Swaziland.

My dad’s first missionary congregation was in Carolina, Eastern Transvaal, where I was born in 1941 in a farmhouse. Thereafter he went to Wakkerstroom where I first attended school, and then received a call to the Klipspruit Mission Station near Groblersdal in the former Lebowa. He worked there for eleven years. During this time I spent 9 years in boarding-schools – first in Laersdrift and later during my high school years in Middelburg. My father had a particularly difficult missionary task in a big area with very poor roads, insufficient resources and an unchristianised heathendom. He often prayed aloud to the Lord for help in times of dire need. He built churches and schools in various places in this vast region, and also obtained the services of Dorothea Mission to assist with evangelistic campaigns. He spent much time in reading the books of revivalists from the 18th and 19th centuries – particularly Moody and Torrey. He also read books on dispensational theology by Scofield and Clarence Larkin, and in course of time rejected various Calvinist tenets. After also serving in Witbank and Biesiesvlei he spent the last seven years of his ministry in Swaziland where he often preached in Swazi over the radio.

A nomadic existence

After I matriculated in Middelburg in 1958, a life of almost endless wanderings followed. There was a strong feeling of restlessness in my heart. Despite a good Christian rearing I did not walk in the ways of the Lord and was attracted by the unknown. I led a sinful life and was afraid of my dad who was a strict man who could mete out harsh treatment to the unruly. My mother was always sympathetic but he quickly instituted disciplinary measures and plainly said what he thought of a situation.

After wasting three years of my life as a young man I decided, in 1962, to go to Pretoria to work there and study extramurally at the University of Pretoria in the evenings. Three years later I graduated, majoring in anthropology, applied anthropology and Zulu. In the same year, on 28th November 1964, I was married to Wilma Scholtz. My roving spirit again got the upper hand and I successfully applied for a journalistic post in the Eastern Cape. I received a short training course on how to write and edit newspaper articles on the editorial staff of a Sunday paper of Dagbreek Press in Johannesburg. I had to learn typing in a short time, using only two fingers.

Early in 1965 I was appointed editor of Imvo Zabantsundu, a paper published for black people in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. The articles were written in Xhosa and English. I still found myself in troubled waters as I did not serve the Lord. My eldest son, Johan, was born here in 1966. During this time I acquainted myself well with the Ciskei and Transkei and also explored the Transkeian Wild Coast.

During the two years when I worked in the Eastern Cape I made a study of the Xhosa’s traditional religion and witchcraft as I intended to publish a popular book on this fascinating subject. I submitted the manuscript to Prof. J.P. van S. Bruwer of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Port Elizabeth for his comments. He said it was good material for an MA thesis and encouraged me to enrol for BA Honours at the University in PE. After that, I could revise the manuscript and also write a theoretical and ethnographic introduction to it.

I accepted his advice and obtained a post as one of the sub-editors at an Afrikaans newspaper, Die Oosterlig, in Port Elizabeth. During my first class, early in 1967, Prof. Bruwer told us about his wonderful experiences in Namibia, where he was Commissioner-General in Ovamboland in the far north. My interest in the northern part of Namibia, which was terra incognita to me, was immediately aroused. A week afterwards, Prof. Bruwer tragically died in the Rietbok disaster – a plane of the SA Airways which crashed into the sea near East London. I completed my Honours degree that year on a part-time basis and decided to move to Kaokoland in northern Namibia the subsequent year.

I submitted my masters dissertation to Prof. H.O. Mönnig at the newly established Rand Afrikaans University and immediately departed to the north-western part of Namibia where I was appointed by the former Department of Bantu Administration. Here I decided to conduct my doctoral research among the Himba, a Here-speaking people who are settled in Kaokoland and adjacent parts of south-western Angola. After a year we had to find a more suitable place for my research and moved further north to an undeveloped place in the bush about 40 kilometres from the Kunene River. The Department built a small house and an office for us in this remote area, and supplied a Ford F250 4X4 as well as an interpreter and a field assistant to me. I was expected, among others, to conduct ethnographic research on the traditional political system and hereditary laws of the Himba, as the Department needed this information for the administration of justice and the defining of the rights of local leaders.

A very adventurous life awaited Wilma, myself and Johan (3). Wild dogs and hyenas came to our house after we had hunted game or slaughtered-small stock. At camping sites in the bush we often came very close to lions, elephants and black rhinos. At certain times Wilma stayed at home alone and had to defend herself with a 9 mm. pistol against the highly venomous zebra snake (a member of the adder family). During that time we also explored the desolate Namib desert as far north as the Kunene mouth and also fished in the sea. At Rockey Point on the Skeleton Coast there was a house built with timber that had washed ashore from the wrecks of sunken ships. It was a welcome shelter for fishermen against the incessant winds of the Namib.

We were only allowed once every two months to use the government vehicle to visit Outjo or Otjiwarongo (300 km. on bad roads) to buy food and other necessities. On one such a trip we had 11 flat tyres, and I had to cut off the soles of both my shoes to patch perished tyres. A section of this road passed through the far western part of the Etosha Game Reserve, and in the rain season it was virtually untraversable. On one trip we spent the whole night among the elephants after our Ford got stuck in the mud. In the mountainous northern part of Kaokoland the roads (mostly only two faint tracks) were so poor that it often took a whole day to cover 100 kilometres. When the rivers were in flood after heavy thunderstorms, and the water too deep to pass through, we had to camp on the riverbank until the flood receded.

Across the Kunene River in Angola were a few small Portuguese shops which we visited a few times. We had to cross the Kunene together with local people in primitive canoes, and always ran the risk of landing in the river among the crocodiles, should the hollow tree-trunk capsize. On one trip I left Wilma alone under the makalani palms in the camping site at the Epupa Falls when I crossed the river to buy a few items at the shop. There was a sudden gust of wind which caused a highly venomous tree-snake (boomslang) to fall from a slippery palm leave into our food trunk. Wilma immediately closed the lid of the trunk when she saw what was inside. When she called our field-assistant to help, he was frightened and ran away. She then lifted the lid of the trunk from a distance with a fishing-rod, after which the snake escaped and left.

After I completed my research I dearly wished to stay on in Namibia but the Department unexpectedly transferred me from my hide-out in the bush of dark Africa to Pietermaritzburg where I was appointed government ethnologist for KwaZulu and Natal. It was hard to adapt to radically different circumstances. Our youngest son, Francois, was born here. A year later I was again transferred – this time as ethnologist for the former Ciskei and Transkei. Because I would work in a vast area I had the choice on where I wanted to stay. We eventually decided on a small town, named Cathcart. Here I completed my doctoral thesis and submitted it to the RAU, where I graduated early in 1972.

In the quietness of this small town the Lord had an appointment with Wilma and myself. I tried in vain to improve my life, also by academic means, but spiritually and morally I was still in a wilderness – far from the Lord and His righteousness. I realised the seriousness of my problem, admitted to the Lord that I made a big failure of my life, and then confessed my sins and lost state to Him. He completely forgave me and renewed my life. Wilma also settled her case with the Lord, and together we started with a new life.

Both of us strongly longed for Namibia. Only a year after I arrived in the Ciskei, I was appointed as ethnologist at the State Museum in Windhoek. My office was in an old German fort, the Alte Feste, which overlook Windhoek. What a joy to have returned to this vast land where you experience a strong sense of freedom. But re-adapting to a familiar setting was not to be that easy as I had to testify about my faith to former friends with whom I have been drinking and conducting vain conversations. Soon, however, we concluded new and lasting friendships in the Lord, and still enjoy the company of many of these friends.

I also realised that there was still something lacking in my spiritual life, and that was a full surrender to be filled with he Holy Spirit, so I could live a holy and fruitful life. (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7-8). I read RA Torrey’s book, The Holy Spirit: Who He is and What He Does, and surrendered my life fully to the Lord while alone in a caravan on the West Coast.

A time of rapid spiritual growth – although not without conflict and attacks from the devil and his deceived agents – followed upon this commitment. We joined the Gideons and started distributing New Testaments in schools. In collaboration with the Dutch Reformed Missionary Office in Windhoek we started a project to distribute Bibles and booklets (The heart of man) in the local languages at subsidised prizes. Teams of Christian students from the University of Stellenbosch assisted with these outreaches.

During this time I again travelled extensively in the northern parts of Namibia and also stayed for six months in Swakopmund. My parents and parents-in-law visited us here and we enjoyed good times together. They also accompanied us on fishing outings to Henties Bay and beyond. I further pursued my research programme on the cultures of indigenous peoples and published articles on the Herero and Ovambo in a scientific journal.

In 1978 I unexpectedly received a phone call from Prof. Jan Pretorius, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of the North near Pietersburg (presently the University of Limpopo). He asked me whether I was interested in a post as Head of the Department of Anthropology. I applied for this post and was accepted. On 1st August 1978 we moved to Pietersburg and stayed there until my retirement in January 2006. Our return to South Africa occurred during a time of extensive political and religious changes which would, in just more than a decade, lead to a humanistic unitary state in a multicultural society, as well as the politicising and consequent spiritual superficiality of churches. Because of these changes my wife and I resigned from the National Party and the Dutch Reformed Church. All the big institutions in society became co-builders of a modern tower of Babel. To me, as a Christian anthropologist who strived for freedom and self-determination for all cultural groups, there was real danger in the offing. It was evident that all cultures, races and religions would be bundled together in an unbiblical way and that churches would enthusiastically participate in this humanistic process of transformation based upon the ideal of globalism.

On an academic level I rejected the theory of biological evolution and removed it from my lectures as it amounts to a clear form of rejecting God as Creator. It renders human beings animal-like creatures with apes as their ancestors. According to this theory a human being has no spirit (only a soul and a body) as he has, according to agnostic scientists, not been created in the image of God and is thus not accountable to Him for the way in which he lives. I did in fact study the historic development of peoples from the primitive Stone Age through the Bronze and Iron Ages up to the level of modern society, but always within the context of the technology and culture of the human race (Homo sapiens). Our ancestors were never half-apes! At one occasion I refused to host a visiting evolutionist at the University, who would offer a few lectures to promote this theory. The Rector was in a predicament when I explained to him in a memo that there is no scientific evidence of transitional species (apes are still apes) and that I have a moral problem in telling students that they are descended from apes and baboons. However, under the pressure of other colleagues he staunchly supported the theory of evolution, but accepted my refusal and replied: “I respect your point of view but disagree with it.”

During our stay in Pietersburg my typical Waldensian wanderings were evidently over. However, my discipline offered the opportunity of doing research in various parts of the world, with a view to broadening our perspective through comparative studies and producing scientific articles. Such travels were undertaken to Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Estonia and Israel. I wrote a book, Peoples of Namibia, which was prescribed to students. In Estonia I conducted research on ethnicity and in Israel I investigated communal farming on kibbutzes. Wilma and I visited various kibbutzes and interviewed people there. During one of our trips to Eastern Europe we also visited beautiful places in Finland, Sweden and Switzerland just for the sake of exploring parts of Europe.

My dad and I did not only work together spiritually through the publication of articles in my Christian magazine, but we also shared professional interests. When he was a missionary in Lebowa he conducted research for an MA thesis among a group of Swazi refugees who live in ‘n remote area on top of the Leolo Mountains in Lebowa. On the basis of this qualification I recommended to the Chief Ethnologist in Pretoria that they appoint my dad as ethnologist in Pietersburg after his retirement as missionary. The application was successful, and as a result of this we lived together in the same town until his death in 1986 at the age of 72.

After my own retirement we moved to Middelburg, which was no strange place to me. My eldest son works here in a steel factory. As one approaches the end of your earthly journey you often look back to where it all began – and also further back to the European roots of your ancestors. Many lessons can be learnt from these gleanings, particularly spiritually: never play with sin, it is a destroyer of lives; remember your Creator in the days of your youth, lest you become spiritually dull through continued exposure to the evil world; do not serve God by teaching the commandments of men (e.g. Calvinism) but only proclaim the infallible and living Word of God; guard against complacency and passivity by leaving your talents unused; follow up your repentance with a full surrender towards sanctification; do not waste any time, your earthly life is short and will soon be over; be prepared to take up your cross, die to the world and follow Jesus, even if big sacrifices are needed; subject yourself to the forming hand of God, though it may be a hard training-school, and persevere on the narrow way to the end – “do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him… afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:5,11).

It is important how you start a journey but just as important how you finish it. Solomon says, “In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie” (Eccl. 11:3). We will enter eternity in the spiritual condition in which we are when we die or when the Lord comes – that will be final and cannot be changed afterwards. The rich man in Hades discovered too late that his earthly riches and fame couldn’t save him from the eternal flames of hell. We can learn important lessons from the experiences of historic persons. Some examples, like those in Hebrews 11, are worthy to be followed, while others should be avoided at all cost.

I am indebted to everybody who played an important and constructive role in my life, particularly my parents and wife. Wilma is responsible for the entire administration of our ministry. My sons, Johan and Francois, assisted with the distribution of literature and also took much trouble to improve my computer proficiency. My brothers, David and Jurie, helped during the early years of my Christian magazine to get it going. My sister, Louisa, still plays a big role to gather information on the Internet. Jaap Taljaard of Alberton assisted with the bookkeeping and the financing and printing of our first books. At present, Gerald and Helene Vos play a big part in the administration of the website, and also in the cd and dvd ministry. Gerald regularly updates my computer. Our heartfelt thanks to all brothers and sisters in the Lord who contribute to this ministry in various ways and pray for us.

There are various persons in South Africa, Namibia and England who financially support this ministry; some of the donations are made anonymously. We are grateful to all of you. This support enables us to undertake the translation and printing of various books, some of which have been distributed free to poor communities through the mediation of missionaries. Our first book on Revelation was published in six languages: Afrikaans, English, Portuguese, Russian, Estonian and Swahili. A Russian preacher, whom I met in Estonia, arranged for the Estonian translation, printing and distribution of two of the books (Revelation and Israel in the End-time). Victor Blum, a Russian-speaking Messianic Jew and his wife, Julia, translated my book on Israel into Russian and also distributed it among Russian Jews in Israel. They live in Israel where he is pastor of a Messianic congregation. Julio de Andrade, a wonderful Christian brother in Silverton, South Africa, translated many of our books and articles into Portuguese. Some were published but they have all been posted to our website. The Portuguese ministry is rapidly expanding and has many readers – the third-most after English and Afrikaans.

Thank you to all our readers and co-workers who help to distribute tracts, books and our Christian magazine, Die Basuin, and also pray for us. We trust that the seed fell on good soil and will yield much fruit for eternity. We are particularly grateful for the frank and honest way in which many of you discussed spiritual and doctrinal problems with us. The purpose of our ministry is not only to disseminate information but also to counsel, encourage and support one another. In this way we can bear one another’s burdens and be built up in our most holy faith while we are waiting on the Lord.

By the grace of God this ministry has continued for 24 years. Soon, the end of this dispensation will dawn when the trumpet of God will sound for all true Christians. The time of our sojourning in this evil world will then be over and we will depart for our eternal home in heaven. May the Lord help us during these critical last days not to grow cold in our love or to spiritually fall asleep in the midnight hour shortly before His coming.

“May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion for ever and ever” (1 Pet. 5:10-11).