Index Page   The Lord Took Me

 

At College

In the stillness of the night the wrestling went on apace. ‘I shall have to plunge into ceaseless study until I know and understand everything,’ I thought. ‘I must find out who is right; the dear pastor’s wife on the ‘Toledo’, and the daughter of the Baptist minister, or this fine honest man.’ I now began to count the days before the gates of Missionary College would open and allow me to commence with my learning. Seven years is a long time, but I would make full use of it and, by means of great zeal and searching, surely I would eventually see the way, and be able then to pass it on to others.

With considerable awe I entered the halls of the college, a very hungry and totally inexperienced young man. Work began and I encountered, for the first time, life in a big community. Young people from varying walks of life had to live here in close contact with one another. Everywhere I missed the expanse of our beloved Africa. The small quiet room I loved so well, back at Table Mountain now lay far back in the past. Now a clanging brass bell, instead of the big black cock in the pine tress, woke you in the morning – that is if you were not already awake feeling miserable and trying to listen to the sounds of the farm again within your own self.

The classical languages caused me very little trouble. My friends from Africa found the same thing. Maybe it is that we were used to hearing strange sounds and assimilating them. But how we were to cope with all the other things – most of them so foreign to us, was another matter. We were in a place where everyone worked strenuously and with great determination. The tempo was fast and we longed earnestly for the unfettered days we had enjoyed back home where the pace was so carefree and leisurely in comparison.

In vain I sought for those who could speak of their Lord as those simple Christians on board ship had done. But then, who, in any case, would speak to this quiet ‘brother’ who daily withdrew more and more into himself? Who would attempt to pierce the armour which he drew even more tightly round his wounded heart? No, an approach of such an intimate nature, even in a college, could not be made without first having been given authority. Who, moreover, would dream of enquiring from someone actually preparing for the ministry whether he really knew Him Whose Name is the centre of every sermon.

Before long, deep despondency and hopeless disappointment overcame me. In books such communities are usually depicted in a bright light. Alas, the real experience can be far removed from the popularised notions of writers.

It was not long before the body, accustomed to the African veld, faltered and broke down. An inferiority feeling gained the upper hand and the specialist in the hospital for Tropical Diseases had serious doubts as to whether I would be able to go through seven years of concentrated study. But he prayed with me. Yes, he prayed with me. Was it not the first time in my life that anyone had talked in prayer about my deepest needs? As he spoke my heart was stirred. It seemed to me that God Himself was present in that room.

In the meantime I had met a girl. We had met on a day’s outing and a friendship followed. I wrote to her now telling her of my intention to leave Germany and return to Table Mountain without a clerical robe.

I said nothing to her of my dread of the coming judgement and eternity. Back came a letter from the little ‘House of the Widow’ where she lived. It was written by her in a clear, firm hand writing affirming her faith in me and urging me not to give up. Torn in mind and bruised in spirit I at length went and visited her. She told me that she believed that God would do all things well and would yet use me in His work. This was a conviction which she was to continue holding through the many years to come.

I returned to the Mission House and was received back with every kindness. Work started afresh.