Letter - History of South Africa - April 22, 1944

360 Highland Road, Kensington, Johannesburg. 2094.

Republic of South Africa. 22nd April, 1944.

My Dearest Mother and Dad,

Do you remember me telling you about Peter Rousseau? The man whose nephew died, and then Peter professed in our home. Re used to sing over the radio and had made quite a name for himself; just as eagerly as he went in for the things of the world, so he is now putting his all into serving God. Every time we go to see him, he is flowing over with the things of God.

Peter has visited Westfort, the leper colony, a few times and this evening he called in to use the phone, and he started to tell us a little. I know Willie Brown has often spoken of the brothers there and that many of you would be interested to hear more, so thought I would pass on a little of what he told us. Before I go further, plans are made for us to go next Saturday, so if God spares us and them I'll then be able to tell you a little more.

Stephanus Koekemoer (called Fanie - pronounced Fahy-ny) has been there for 12 years. He is the one I told you about when I was home. For the past 4-5 years, he has been altogether blind. The inmates at the colony were told that they could have a radio in their room for the payment of 7/6d a month. Fanie asked if they could have someone read to them from the Bible for a half hour a day instead. Cornelius Appelgryn was there 6 years before Fanie, and was the first to profess. He has been with Fanie all these years. It almost makes me think of two workers. Four or five others in the leper colony have professed since - and have passed on to their reward.

Peter told us –that whole place, patients, doctors, nurses and staff all speak about them, and mock them - but none of these things move them. Cornelius said there is not one in that place that has not heard of the "Truth." They have spoken to them all - even to visitors, because he says: "Here life is short; we can’t afford to waste a minute."

They tell of a Hr. van Wyk, who was so weak he could no longer walk. One day (before Fanie was blind), he saw this man reading a novel. He asked him if he had nothing better to read, and then he read a little to him from the Bible. Later, one of the Workers gave this man a Bible. Whenever there is going to be a meeting at the colony in the open shed where the lepers receive their visitors, our brothers tell the people that "all are welcome." On one occasion, this poor man came crawling along with his Bible in his mouth. When he sat with them, Fanie asked him, "What have you got there?" and he answered, “The Bread of Life.” He yielded to the claims of God on his life and has now gone to his reward.

Then there is a black man, Pete. He used to read the Bible to Fanie and do his correspondence. In this way, he became interested in the Truth and gave his life to God. That was toward the end of last year. No one outside the colony knew of Pete's death, but a number of Workers went out there, that very afternoon to see our brothers, just about the time Pete was to be buried, and were able to have the service.

(INSET: Isabel Rousseau (Peter's sister), Inga 0lson and Willie Brown went to Westfort for a meeting. As they waited, Willie asked Fanie, "Does Pete know there is going to be a meeting?" Fanie said, "Didn't you get my message? I thought you came to bury Pete. The authorities said if you were not here within the next half hour, they would just put his body in the grave." Willie had wakened that morning, with these words on his mind, "The day of one's death is better than the day of one's birth."

Fanie stood at the grave side, with tears streaming from his sightless eyes, and said, "I didn't know it was possible to love anyone you haven't seen, as I loved Pete."

I forgot to tell you, Mr. van Wyk died three months after he professed. His people didn't know about his choice to serve the living God. The last time he spoke in a meeting, it was John 11:25-26, "He that believeth in Me, though he - were dead, yet shall he live ..." His people called in the clergy to take his funeral, but they put these words on the stone on his grave. Some have to come great distances for their visits, so they cannot be frequent.

Fanie's favorite hymn is 174 - (New book 278), "Oh for the peace of a perfect trust." ­Next time I sing these words - "Best tho’ my health and strength be gone" - I'll know others have paid a price to be able to say - "Thy Will be done." Fanie said if they told him he could go free, he would ask to stay, as there may still be someone whom God could help.

Peter told us of another young man, who has only been a leper for three months, but he is very bad and not expected to last long. He was helping a friend to run a dairy business. Getting up at 2 a.m., working hard. He was perspiring and got caught in the rain, took sick immediately and was in hospital a month before the doctors discovered he had leprosy. He was sent to Westfort.

The housing plan is such: 3 Rooms with a porch in a row, 3 rooms at the end and again 3 rooms opposite the others.

This young man was put in a room in a particular noisy section. He didn't feel he could join in with their frivolity. They resented it when he was so ill and they couldn't carry on with the loud music, card playing, etc. Finally, they asked for him to be moved. He was put into a room opposite Cornelius and just one room away from Fanie. He also became interested in the Truth. He said he would rather be with Fanie than with the others. This week Alec Pearce (our older brother) went out to see them and this young man expressed his desire to walk in God's Way. May he be spared to learn a little more of the life and beauty of this Way.

We are looking forward to our visit, if our visit transpires.



I will write again next week.