Saturday Night in the Parsonage…

A sad and lonely blog post, do not read any further. Rather go to a happy blog tonight… Go to the Photography or Travel Categories instead… 

What a week this has been…

We have to attend a certain amount of further educational training courses in a year, like a lot of other professions.

This week was it. My colleagues and I went to Pretoria, for a 3 Day Seminar, with different workshops. It usually is a very good time of the year, catching up with old friends, thinking new thoughts, buying new books. It is also Spring in South Africa, and the university campus life is full of new energy.

But in our home town it has not rained yet- the last rain we have seen must have been around March- Irish friends won’t understand this at all. The region is very dry, and very hot at the moment. It is also very windy.

We were just attending our first lecture on Tuesday, when the calls came through. One of my favorite people in the world, one of the elders in our church, has passed away. He was caught in a bush fire on his farm.  This was the one person in our church that has supported me maybe the most, through my 20 years in our town. He has been there for me in good times, and in some extremely bad times.  He was the one person, that came to my house just after my operation, who came and sat on my bed to ask how I am doing. He was the king of Watermelons in our region, and every summer he delivered some of the world’s finest watermelons at our house. A real father figure in my life. I also see all three his sons as friends in my life.

This morning I had to lead the memorial service for him. It was really difficult. I was dead tired afterwards, and barely made it to my bed for a nap this afternoon.

Now it is Saturday night. Party night in South Africa. The evening to watch the rugby games with friends. To barbecue together. Time for family and friends.

I have been away from home for three days. I came home on Thursday, and Friday my wife went on a Netball training course for her school, for the whole weekend. The kids are at a church youth camp. And now I have the first available time to prepare my sermon for tomorrow night’s church service.

One of our older pastors has written a poem about 20 years ago, about it being Saturday night in the Parsonage, and he is just dotting some ink marks on an empty paper. That is the feeling here tonight as well.

Maybe when one feels sad and lonely one should not post on your blog.

I would much rather sit around a fire tonight, in good friends’ company, with a glass of red wine.  Maybe that is why I blog tonight…

Meanwhile, my sermon for tomorrow evening looks like this:


Country Church Fete

In our rural churches in South Africa, a pretty big chunk of time goes into planning and executing our yearly Church Fete. It happened today.

And here is just some of the moments from today.

_MG_1428 _MG_1434 _MG_1457 IMG_1442 IMG_1475 IMG_1516 IMG_1532 IMG_1601IMG_1500

The last 4 photos was taken by my talented daughter… anyone looking for a great graphic designer next year, let me know…

BTW- Aussie friends- I am so sad about this morning’s rugby game… hate the ref…

Meanwhile, back in Harare… Isn’t the Du Plessis/ De Villiers batting partnership pure joy to watch? That is cricket for our USA friends, you don’t get rugby and cricket, but we love to hate the Aussies on those sport fields… 🙂

Tribute to a Fallen Biker…

Yesterday was one of the saddest days in my life.  I love motorbikes with a passion. I really love the freedom of the open road. I love the brotherhood of bikers.

BUT: there is also the sad side of motorbikes. For the freedom, there is a price.  Motorbikes can be dangerous. And motorists even more dangerous.

In our town there was this young man, Koos van der Walt, that I have known since he was 10 years old.  I really got to know him well when he was 17, and in my confirmation class in our church.  A young man, full of life, and laughter, and joy.

For some of the conservative people in our town he might have been out of their box. He had tattoos and piercings, and he mixed with “funny people”. That is one of the sins of the traditional church- we like our Christians to be fitting nicely into our preconceived ideas of what a good person looks like. That cookie cutter mold of sweet, never naughty, never drinking a beer or gasp: a Tequila, never having his skin blemished by a tattoo kind of mold.

Koos was definitely out of that box. But: he really was such an example of LOVE. He loved life, he loved his family and friends. He loved people, and always made people feel better about themselves.

Last Saturday there was a bike rally at our town. He and some friends rode through our main street. He was in front. And as I think now, I should have been there too, but I can’t ride for another week, healing after an operation.  In front of the hardware store a guy in a pickup truck tried to enter their parking space quickly across the nearing traffic. After missing a BMW car barely, he managed to collide, and ride over Koos and his bike.  Koos died very shortly afterwards on the scene.

This is shocking news to us! How does one die in the main street of a town on a motorbike? It seems impossible, and yet…

This is Koos’ friends tribute to him on facebook…

Yesterday we held his remembrance service at our church.

This guy really touched a lot of people’s lives! Our church can accommodate nearly 800 people, and nearly all seats were taken. A lot of bikers from a lot of different clubs (at least 4 clubs) were present.



I am not yet able to stand and deliver a sermon, so my biker colleague did an excellent job of that, with the amazing promises in Romans 8: 37-39.  I did the farewell ceremony at the hearse, before his body was taken away for cremation.

What really moved me to tears was when I exited the church with Koos’ family, just behind his coffin on the way to the hearse. All the bikers stood a guard of honor, and did a helmet salute, and it was a goosebumps moment- there is such a brotherhood among our South African bikers. Yes, the clubs may have their differences, and sometimes there are a lot of inside politics in a club. But when one of us hits the tar, they stand together.

I am sorry to say that I have sometimes experienced more love and acceptance in the brotherhood of bikers, than in the church. I would love to think I am trying my best to lead our church to be such a place of love, and acceptance, a place where you may be yourself out of the box of peoples opinions. But yesterday- that biker tribute to a fallen brother has really touched my heart deep!

I am so glad I have known Koos, I am so glad he was out of the traditional mold of what our people are supposed to be. I have learned a lot from him, and respected the man he was.

So long, Brother, may the road ahead be a good one, full of good twisties, and empty of cars and pickups…

Grace calls for Gratitude…

A Tweet becomes a blog post, usually it is the other way around with me.

But I am thinking again tonight. Maybe my little prayer/ wisdom candle is burning too low at the moment.


There are so much pain in this world, and so much brokenness all around. I have just returned from visiting the parents of a young man who died on his motorbike in our town’s main street on Saturday morning.  A young man who I knew for many years, and whom I really liked a lot. A fellow biker, an artist, a free spirit.  I do not understand life and death, especially the pain and suffering part of it. Yes, I know, I am only halfway through my sick leave and should not go out yet- but I could not just stay at home with some good people really suffering a huge loss…  There is so much pain and suffering all around. Maybe I should used “are” here, I am never sure, English is such a difficult second language….

But… there are still so much grace and beauty in this world…

I am still not able to drive a car  or ride my bike. But usually I am, without any thoughts of pain and suffering. I enjoy being a petrolhead and a Biker. I love the freedom of the open road, with the wind in my face.  And for a few weeks I am not able to do that.

I love having good conversations with friends, sometimes around a bottle of good Cape Province (South Africa!) red wine, Merlot, CAbernet Sauvignon, Pinotage. And for a few weeks I was not able to have merry times with friends. But there will be good times ahead, as I know some of my friends…

But in the absence of my vehicles, and my friends, I had to rely much more on the love and care of my wife. And what a privilege it is to be married to someone who I truly love, with my whole heart…  And with God’s grace we will celebrate our silver anniversary next year!

I had all my kids at home over the weekend. Sunday lunch with them all around my table is such a huge, huge part of grace. Thinking of Saturday’s accident- we just never know for how long we are together as a family on this planet.

Even with the health issues. I am not able to drive yet, but  I do not experience any real pain at the moment. Even the operation to remove the faultygallbladder was much, much less painful than the lightest of the 8 gallgrit attacks. I am suffering a very small setback in my health, while I know people in my church having life threatening diseases and conditions, like cancer, and heart problems. And I have learned so much from them about courage in adversity, and the true love of life, and the fighting spirit with which some people just keeps on breathing, despite the odds…


Sometimes we really need to come to a complete stop in our journey of life. Sometimes you have  to pull over, switch off, and take in the stillness, and the peace, and the beauty around you.

Sometimes you just have to get a new candle…

2014-08-04 21.38.17

Ok, the photos are just from my broken Samsung Galaxy S3 at my desk at the moment. And the prose will not win any primary school literary prizes. But my point: We have one life, we have so many blessings.   I don’t intend to waste any time or blessings any more, life is just too short not to live it to the fullest possible extent!

PS- I pray for peace in Jerusalem- for ALL it’s people! Psalm 122: 6



Separated for Holy Service…

I posted my Afrikaans blog entry on this one by accident this morning. And the translate function usually does not convey the true meaning of words. So let me share my heart this morning in English too…


It is Monday Morning. Half past nine. I am supposed to be out there, visiting all the sick people in our church. Afterwards I have to work hard, on the presentation of tomorrow morning’s Bible Study. I have to try and explain Romans 9- why God loved Jacob, and hated Esau. My mobile phone is supposed to be switched on, I have to answer all the complaints about yesterday’s sermon, why the music was too hard or too soft, too fast or too slow… Somewhere in the fields there are still some cattle that must be attending our church fete in September, somebody still has to ask the farmers for some more contributions to the meat section…  Steaks for Jesus!  There are still a thousand people waiting for their yearly House Visitation. A Pastor must visit them at home, so that they can know and serve the Lord, with that choice piece of baking they prepared and serve on a Royal Doulton cake plate, with their grandmother’s little golden cake fork.

It is Monday Morning  twenty five to ten. I am the sick one. My wife has confiscated my mobile phone. The doctor has booked me off for three weeks. I may not even drive my car. I am just sitting here. Three weeks is a long, long time! I miss my mobile phone…

It is Monday Morning twenty to ten. The phone does not ring. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #1 in C Major, Opus 15, Largo is playing loudly on my hifi in my Study.  Behind the clear notes of the piano there sounds the most beautiful notes of violin and clarinet in the background.

A Silent Presence has come with me into my study. Peace. Rest…

I don’t have to do anything. I may just… BE…

And that is good enough…

What a weekend! A ride with some Word Riders of 2014

This weekend I went to the capital city of our state in South Africa. Polokwane, previously known as Pietersburg. Earlier in the year a lot of us Christian bike riders went with the Bible Society on the Word Riders 2014 tour to the Southern CApe Province.  Six people of the Pietersburg East Congregation went with us. And this Sunday was their feedback day to their church members. So a lot of us decided to go there and enjoy it with them.

They also invited the provincial branch of the Christian Motorcyclist Assosiasion to the service. We were a lot of bikers together!

Yes, we did see the sign… were instructed to park there…

The Word RIders is like a huge family, caring for each other and supporting each other. One guy- Albert, heard about our trip. He lives in the Paarl in the Cape Province- 1650 km south from my town. He booked a plane ticket to come and join us in our church service- that says a lot- Polokwane is nearly 2000 km from his home! Here is Albert:

Albert is a Graphic Designer. He has a HUGE Yamaha Cruiser, that was baptised “Block of Flats” on the Word Rider Tour. It has the distinction of really doing (I kid you not) only 6 km per liter of petrol…

The Church service was very moving with some really good music. Our Word Rider colleague had an amazing sermon and the testimonies of Word Riders and CMA Riders were uplifting. After church not a single burnout or doughnut were left on the church parking lot…

A bit more about the weekend: We arrived Saturday at Karumba Lodge in Polokwane, where one of the church members have sponsored our stay.  The friends from Polokwane really treated us well- thanks guys! That was awesome!  We arrived in time for the second half of the rugby game of South Africa versus Wales- what a sorry match that was.  It was very cold on the way to Polokwane, and we had an amazing time at the Lodge.

But it was very cold… now I have the mother of all sore throats. I guess my immunity system took a battering last week. And today I have to go to our Church’ annual “RIng” meeting, where a lot of pastors will be on a game farm tonight, and tomorrow in a very long all day meeting at Ellisras (sometimes now known as Lephalale) Tonight we will sit around a camp fire, with some enamel mugs in our hands, probably filled with some communion wine, and we will tell stories and dream big dreams. More about that later in the week.

Enjoy your week, and do everything you do with passion and guts!

PS- Here is Albert in action on Block of Flats…

You are NEVER too old to RIDE!!!

We had a beautiful moment last night at our church. Which I would love to share…

Remember, it is now winter in South Africa. Which in our region does not mean snow- we NEVER had snow since the last Ice Age… But last night it was a bit cold for around here, lets say about 8 degrees Celcius. (Plus! Not minus).

In our church we have a very special lady. She is like a mother to us all. And she has never ridden on a motorbike.  In all of her 88 years on earth.

My colleague decided to take her home on his motorbike. And she enjoyed it a lot!

We surely need more people like this in the world!

Today- 20 Years Ago

Spoiler alert: CHURCH story- move along to another blog if you do not like church stories… 

Today 20 years ago was a very historic day in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated on this day as the president of the new South Africa.

That would be what everybody was thinking about, reading the heading.

But: on the same day me, my wife and a 10 month old baby daughter moved to a town we had to locate on a map, to begin our fulltime ministry in the church.

This is the church that called me to their ministry:

NGK Waterberg

My photo of the Dutch Reformed Church of Waterberg in Nylstroom.

Our calling to this church was at a desperate time in our lives.  In our church, we have to do 6 years of university training, including ancient Hebrew and Greek. Six years at university is a long, long, long time… and very expensive. After I finished university, being a pale male, I had to do compulsory military service, in the second last group of men that had no choice (except 4 years jail and a criminal record). I was a chaplain in the South African Army, Engineering Corps. After I have finished the army, I was unemployed. It was bad. Nobody wanted to give me a job, because I am “overqualified…”

Our church had 200 too many pastors, ministry posts was very scarce. I had a part time pastors post with a very small salary after 3 months, a very temporary arrangement until I got a “Calling” to a church as full time pastor. In these times in 1993 the political situation in South Africa was really bad. The interest rates were sky high, and I had a huge student loan. The bank was really breathing down my neck, and I was sinking to nearly the point of no return debtwise…

During 1993 and 1994 I applied for 67 available posts in the church nationwide. I went to 7 interviews, on one occasion on the other side of the country, and that time they did not even give me a cent for travelling costs. We also had our first child in these desperate times. It was really, really bad. After 6 years at university I was only trained for 1 “company”.

Then, shortly after the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, I sat on my bed one evening. My wife and I hit rock bottom. We were losing the temporary post at the church we were at. We had to move out of our dilapidated railway house we were staying in. We had a child to raise, a lot of debt, and it felt as if the church did not care…

That Sunday evening my phone rang, and the good people of Nylstroom were on the line. The voice on the other side asked if I knew who was talking, and I said I did not. He said he is my fellow- pastor (medeleraar in Afrikaans). I replied I do not have one. He then said that they had a meeting earlier that evening, and I came up as the next pastor in their church. I had to look Nylstroom up on a map, I did not even know where it was.

It was so good to become a full time pastor at last. I was 27 years old when I earned my first full salary check!

The sad was: I was only in this church for 11 months. In that year the good bigger church of the region decided that this congregation was too big, and the neighbouring congregation was too small. So, with a lot of church politics involved,  I with 1/3rd of the church was passed over to the neighbouring church in the same town.


And here I still am, 20 years later in the same town.

We came to town with the Beetle, some borrowed furniture, a very young pastor and his lovely wife and fiery redhead baby daughter.

20 Years later- in this 2o years we got 3 sons added to our family, and a lot of jokes of not knowing where babies come from. We had some extremely sad times, sometimes I even felt suicidal… But we also had amazing times, with great joy, great friendships. great experiences.

I have about 18 years left before I have to retire at age 65 from full time ministry. Looking back, I am really thankful. But I also would really want to know what difference, if any, I made in peoples lives in the past 20 years. I know I have helped many people over the years. But I also know I have not been able to help everybody. Like everybody else I have also made enemies along the way. There are people who will sing that song “What a friend we have in Jesus!” when I one day get called to another town.

Meanwhile- I am here to stay. I have nowhere else to go. I am happy most days (not every day…)  I really love this church, this town, this region of our country.  I am willing to go another 18 if that is the script for my life. But some evenings I lay awake and worry about the lots and lots of empty pews on a Sunday morning…

Today is a rather huge mile post in my journey of life. Thanks if you have longsufferingly read up till here… 🙂



Today I voted. And Rode.

What a day!

Today is a public holiday in South Africa. We are having our 5th election for everybody. I am glad.

So a lot of my biker friends went for a breakfast in Bela Bela. My wife rode with, she loves the new bike.  We had a great time.

Then we voted.

Then my son and I painted the Beetle some more.

I tried to take a nap this afternoon.  I heard another man of our church, which I admire a lot, is dying in Pretoria, our capital. I threw a few clothing articles in a small suitcase, and went to the hospital to visit him.  This really hurts to do, but it means a lot  to people. Nobody should die alone!

Now I am in a student watering hole near the university campus.   It is dark, the music ia loud, and the food is good and cheapm What a place! I am double the next patron’s age! BUT I now need the aliveness and mood here. And the food.

What a day. I am knackered. The student next to me is putting some Italian herbs in a newspaper and lights it. The smoke smells sweet and funny. Purple turtles are flying around my head. What a LEKKER place… I wonser how Basil in a newspaper tastes? The Jalapeno steak for about US $ 7 is awesome. Peace out!