Damaraland Doors Open
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20. Damaraland Doors Open

Cape Town

WindhoekA letter from Bishop Joost of Damaraland encouraged me more than anything else, though I still waited for news of a renewed visa. As I pondered, offers of work in the United States began to pour in. An exciting trailer ministry in South Carolina was open, also a job at St. Francis Home for Boys. The offer I finally accepted was in the Diocese of Oklahoma. ✞

Offer of Ordination

Cape TownThe Bishop of Oklahoma was most understanding about my call to Africa and even offered me ordination if I felt so called of God that this would help. Soon afterward, Bishop Mize requested that I return, the Damaraland doors had opened, and finally, the South African Consulate visa had arrived! All the Damaraland doors opened at once! A missionary society offered me my fare, and to top it all, the Bishop of Damaraland granted me a salary of one hundred dollars a month! A hundred dollars more than before! The following letter from the Archbishop of Cape Town placed my missionary task on a less individualistic basis.

Bishop Joost Encouragement

Flamingo in Valvis Bay"Dear Captain Lewis, I am delighted to hear that you plan to return to Damaraland. I want to assure you that the Church of the Province of South Africa welcomes you most warmly. We hope very much that through your instrumentality, the American Church may take a more prominent part in the province generally. A few months ago, I tried to get help from the British branch of the Church Army, but they were too pressed to accede to my request. Your coming, therefore, augurs well for the future. With all good wishes, Joost, Cape Town."

Walvis Bay Ministry

AircraftSo, again, I flew into Windhoek, and Bishop Mize met me. So the Damaraland doors opened, and that very next day, I went to work at Walvis Bay among the thousands of Orambo laborers. James Kaulauma, my old friend, had recently returned from Church Army training in Kenya to join me. He was very keen to start Gospel meetings twice a week at the compound Hall.

James Kalauma Handicap

Valvis BayJames Kalauma's handicap eventually led to a large church and rectory opening for the many soldiers of all races to get together. Repeatedly, we ran into segregation problems in South Africa. Although I could if I wished to go into the poor tin shack shanty towns, James Kalauma's handicap was that they would not allow him in, even for official church meetings. While walking on Walvis Bay's outskirts, I came across a school that most of the black children of the fishermen attended. Surprisingly, the principal encouraged me to take assemblies and classes and then visit the children's parents in the ramshackle tin huts they called home. While I was experiencing encouragement, James's problems increased. Though we had a large rectory with many spare rooms, he was compelled under Government regulations to sleep in a hut outside. James's handicap eventually became a blessing for our work. Our large rooms with a rest center and bathhouse were ideal for off duty soldiers after maneuvers on the dunes. Soldiers would sometimes call late at night, and though we had nothing but bread and jam in the pantry, this seemed to satisfy them. They adopted us as their home from home. Months later, walking in Cape Town, a police officer hailed me! Then, I realized it was an ex-serviceman who remembered visiting us in Walvis Bay! "Hi!" I shouted back!

Fishing Boat Outreach

Cape TownMany foreign ships and fishing boats in the bay offered us outreach opportunities. Onboard the large pilchard fishing boats, colored and white labored together to bring in the catch. Once there were so many fish in our haul net, another boat drew aside to help us. Out at sea, faced by ferocious storms, giant waves, and the contrast of beautiful sunset scenes, thoughts of God sprang readily to mind. The one who called the fishermen Peter and James naturally entered our conversation. These bold fishermen came like the early disciples to love and serve the same Jesus. Later, they were my first group of confirmation candidates to be presented to the Bishop. Living faith in Christ brought men of different races together, but the Government enforced partition by legislation upon the church. At Walvis Bay, Bantu peoples and whites worshiped happily together until the State built a new church near the desert for nonwhites only. I order gospel songbooks for the Episcopal Church in a Cape Town Bible store and make a new friend in George.

Unorthodox Teacher

Meanwhile, in Cape Town, Christ brought other young people to faith in himself, but in a most unusual way and by a most unorthodox teacher. I first met George in a Cape town Bible Shop while ordering some Gospel Songbooks for an Anglican church. Readers knew him all over the world as an editor of the Cape town News. Although a total stranger to me, George came straight across on hearing my order and said, "You must be off your rocker! Ordering such songbooks for an Episcopalian church!" We quickly struck up a friendship. When he discovered I was staying in a nearby hotel, he told me, "You have no right to stay there! Brother, you are to be my guest while you are here!" So, I stayed in George's beautiful home and soon realized that he was personally responsible for reclaiming hundreds of teenaged boys' lives. Usually, George began his interview with a young person by asking the same unusual question, "Have you ever had a good beating?"

Cape Town George

Cape TownCape Town George's cuttings offered an unorthodox introduction to faith in Christ and the gospel to young people. George would say to some young man in trouble with the police, "I can give you a cutting if you wish!" He added, "though I don't enjoy it! How about it?" Often "George's cuttings," as he called them, marked the beginning of a deep and meaningful friendship. One night, an Anglican clergyman's son, who was in trouble, came to see him. This time, he didn't get one of George's telling offs, but instead, George told him about sin and the Savior. This young man accepted Christ right there and was wonderfully changed. As he was leaving, he met his father, who happened to be the local clergyman. "Why didn't you ever point out my need of Jesus as my Savior," he blurted out. His father's eyes filled with tears as he walked his son home. Later that week, I met this young man again, already at work witnessing to others. George led his boys to faith in Christ, but he also helped them into jobs and introduced them to other young Christians. A brass band sprang up out of these friendships, which traveled extensively playing Gospel songs and sharing their newfound faith. One night, they invited me to a concert in an army camp. The theme song that evening was so appropriate.
"It is no secret what God can do.
What He's done for others, He'll do for you!"

George's concern for these young people's well being had opened the door to a new life for so many teenagers in Cape Town.

"Damaraland Doors Open"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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