NEWS FROM D’KAR 30th MAY 2020: COVERSATIONS WITH ABDUL
By Pastor Hendrik Du Plessis
THE STORY OF ABDUL
Abdul is a “bushman” who helps in our garden from time to time. He was named after his grandfather, who was supposedly an Indian, but looking at him it is hard to believe. Where most San people have traditional names, Abdul only has one name and it is Abdul. His mother was a Qgõo-San. He was still young when she passed away. She was bitten by a mamba that slid into their hut one night. Unfortunately she didn’t make it. He was raised as a Naro-San by his father from then on. When he was around 15 years old his father decided to go and work for the late Willie Engelbrecht, a notorious big game hunter, on his farm near the Sonop Hills, adjacent to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Abdul went with. Abdul still has the greatest respect for Willie and according to him he was a very brave man that never showed fear. He still vividly remembers being charged by a lion that stopped inches away from them whilst clinging onto Willie’s trousers. He accompanied Willie on numerous elephant hunting expeditions. It was his responsibility to scout the elephant herd for the biggest tusks at dawn.
I am always amazed when I question him on his ability to track a spoor so fast and effortlessly. When Abdul tracks a spoor that person can be assured that he will be found. Recently the borehole pump was sabotaged in D’kar. Abdul tracked the culprit within half an hour and retrieved all the stolen equipment. Abdul insists that the secret to his success on quick tracking is to follow the spoor to their origin instead of following it in the direction the assailant went after the crime. You will then more than likely find the house of the assailant or somebody that knows him.
My encounters with Abdul
We met in D’kar and from time to time he helps me with chores around the yard. This way we started talking about life. We often discuss his family, but more than often our discussions revolve around one son in particular. This son of his joined a spiritual denomination called the ”toutjieskerk” loosely translated as a church that binds one with strings. They are a splinter group of the apostle churches and have a tremendous hold on the young people here. If you are sick or suffering from depression, you go to the local bishop who will treat you with his ceremonies or rituals. During the treatment a string is bound to your wrists or waist. This will then change your health condition or your state of mind. You are not allowed to remove the string, because then you will be cursed and the disease will return to you. Soon after Abdul’s son became involved with these people, his behavior started to change. Seeking help from the hospital and the clinic did not help. Another option was to consult a witch doctor. At times his child is crazy like a rabbit and he laughs at everything. Living with such a person is a huge challenge. I suggested taking his son to our local doctor, dr. Bredenkamp. He examined him and concluded that he is using some or other kind of drug, like marijuana. The doctor referred us to the local hospital in Gantsi which came to the same conclusion. Somebody introduced him to cannabis. This presumption was confirmed when Abdul found cannabis seeds in this son’s trouser pocket.
For Abdul and his family this battle continues and is still far from resolved. The positive of it all are the spiritual conversations we had and still have. One often sees in the mission field the way the Lord opens doors when you are confronted by problems like this.
I illustrated one day to Abdul the way the Lord works by drawing two circles in the sand. I explained what the implication will be if he is going to see a witch doctor or sangoma and how the devil works through these people. I said: “These two circles you see here Abdul, are two “kraals”. You are or in the devil’s fold, or you are in the Lord Jesus fold. There is no middle way. If you are in the Lord Jesus fold, you have a shepherd who loves you, who knows you personally and no one can pull you out of his hand, not even the devil.” I explained to him what the Lord Jesus says in John 10 of his sheep. The problem comes in when you are in the wrong fold where all these ‘”sangomas” and false churches wait for you. You are defenseless because your shepherd in that fold is the devil. These sangomas’s supposed help may seem to offer relief, but it is just temporary. The big problem is, as someone rightfully said, that the devil never helps you for free. The more you are drawn in, the more superstitious you become. Later you become a nervous wreck, especially when you think of what could go wrong. At night you are not sleeping, because you are plagued by demonic powers.
A daughter of one of our congregation members was involved in this “toutjieskerk” many years ago. She told me and an elder, Fritz, how she was plagued by demonic forces in her room at night. She said she was literally tossed back and forth at night. Not long afterwards I buried her. By contrast, in the other circle you belong to the Lord Jesus and no one can cast spells on you, but then don’t crawl under the fence to seek help at the devil’s fold. The devil will never allow you to return to our Lord Jesus Christ’s fold.
Step by step our conversations with time progressed. Abdul began to come to church regularly. He started attending the bible classes twice a week. When he missed a class, you knew there was a very good reason for it. After years of regular attendance, he expressed his desire to make confession of faith. Had it not been for the covid-19 restrictions, he would have already professed his faith.
Many missionaries will agree that an individual approach in many cases produces more fruit than the masses you want to bring to repentance. Philip led one Ethiopian to the Lord, and that was the beginning of the church in Ethiopia. Do some effort with the individual and you have won him forever for the Lord Jesus.
In his book, “The Seven Laws of The Learner” writes Bruce Wilkenson of someone who wanted to start a Sunday school class. The man’s name was Walt. He saw some boys play marbles and start playing with them. After a few days, he asked them them to want to join his Sunday school class. “We didn’t know you had a Sunday school class,” The boys answered. “No, I don’t have one, but I want to start one,” he answered. The boys then came to church and attended regularly uncle Walt Sunday School classes. They became more than his marble friends friends. Never had Walt realized that amongt those boys sat the famous Prof. Howard Hendricks who will later touch thousands of people’s lives. Eleven of those boys later went into full-time Christian ministry.