Being in the Southern Hemisphere at the tip of Africa, Cape Town experiences a long hot summer beginning in November/December. While most of America looks forward to a white Christmas celebration, South Africans typically open their Christmas presents at midnight on Christmas Eve, set out a cold buffet of meats and salads for lunch and hit the beaches or gather around swimming pools to cool off! Right now, many limp Santa Claus’s are tiredly ringing their bells, melting in the 100 degree plus sunshine. It is difficult to get into the Christmas spirit when the horizon simmers in the heat. Not a snowflake, reindeer or icycle in sight.

It is also the time of year that the city experiences a wonderful flowershow of God’s beneficence. Most of these plants are indigenous to the Cape and quite a large number are local to Cape Town. On Table Mountain, there are more species of wild flowers than in the whole of the British Isles. The Pincushion Protea is one of Pat Zimmerman’s favorites. It grows wild on the rocky mountain slopes and is cultivated in many gardens, too. Most Pincushions occur in orange and yellow but there is a rare blood- red type that is favored by most gardeners.

Near the naval dockyards in Simonstown, someone has used an old boat as a planter. Every spring, the “vygies” (Lampranthus Mesembryanthemum) flower in a riot of colors. In this boat are the red and purple varieties. The Erica species are smaller and many are local only to the Cape.

From South Africa, with a bit of local color, we send our greetings and best wishes to each and everyone over the Festive Season. May God bless you all.


The Zimmermans had visitors this week: Thompson Ntobie, Eric Ngzinyathi and Bro Lawrence. the informal meeting was to discuss an important element in the work for 2002. A donation had been made by the Off the Wall Class at Rosculp Church of Christ (Lima, OH) to construct an additional room to Thompson’s home.

Kyle Zimmerman (21), the second of Steve and Pat’s sons, went out to Thompson’s home to measure the area set aside for the room. He drew up simple plans for the municipaltity for a rectangular 10 by 12′ office — one window, one door. Thompson submitted the plan for approval.

The idea is to give Thompson adequate space to work. At the moment, he and his wife live with several grandkids and great-grand kids in a two bedroomed home. When Thompson and Simon Mainze work on translations, it is around a very small table in the living room — there are kids runinng through the front door as well as many other distractions. Their papers and books are tampered with or shoved aside when someone else uses the table. An office would allow them to have desks, a filing cabinet and adequate lighting. It would provide a place to translate, conduct small classes and confidential discussions.

The men gathered at Steve’s home were eager to begin. Bro Eric wanted to clear the area before the plans were approved! They estimated that they could begin with making the cement blocks themselves and dig the foundations — this phase would take a week or ten days. Then, if the plans came through, they would all work hard and the room would be finished by Christmas! They were excited as children opening a Christmas present.

One member of the Off the Wall Class sent a few keychains to Steve as gifts. Two had Scriptures printed on them. But what made them more valuable was that they were from America. Steve passed them out to the three men who were delighted! It is encouraging to see Christian men so dedicated to the Lord’s work.

This week, tabled before the South African Parliament, is a bill that would propose a radical change in direction in the public schools. Previously, prior to 1994 under apartheid, South Africans considered themselves a “Christian nation” even though the atrocities and abuses took the lives of thousands of people on all sides of the political spectrum. The official church of the country, the Dutch Reformed Church (it has close ties to the American Christian Reform Church), kept strict contol over social activities — abortion was banned (except in instances of loss of life), as was pornography, Sunday cinemas and other things.

When the African National Congress came to power in 1994 with Nelson Mandela at the head, they quickly disavowed the hated Dutch Reformed Church’s grip on the country. They percieved that this was one of the foundation pillars of apartheid and immediately moved the functioning of the state away from any religious influence.

Seven year down the road and now the Minister of Education is proposing that the public school system teach all children about all religions. No longer would Christianity be taught in schools by itself. Nor would Judaism or Islam. Now, it is proposed that African traditions, folklore, Eastern thought and other things be taught with equal weight and emphasis.

Over the past five years, South Africans of all racial groups have been moving away from public education as it is widely perceived that the standards have been dropping due to unqualified teachers, a “dumbing-down” within hard sciences and this pervasive atmosphere of anti-Christian, anti-Western sentiment. Many private schools have sprung up — Christian, Muslim and Jewish schools — and despite the high cost, many families are sacrificing to meet this challenge.

If this bill is approved by Parliament (and it has ever sign of doing so), it will be increasingly difficult to teach people the gospel. At the moment, most Africans still believe that the Bible is God’s Word and once taught to them in a manner which they can understand, will readily obey it.

South Africa needs your prayers. New challenges lie in the future.

A few months ago, Steve was introduced to a Christian pastor at a church celebration service. By “coincidence” (we really don’t believe in coincidences, do we?), Steve and Pat Zimmerman sat next to Pastor Hermanus and his wife. They enjoyed the celebrations in song, preaching and praises, then afterwards, with fellowship and food. Steve is particularly fond of the spicy Eastern finger food: samoosas, roti’s, chili bunnies, sosati’s, curries and babotie (each dish has a special blend of spices and is unique in style and taste).

During their talks together, the two men discussed their work. Pastor Hermanus is in charge of a prison ministry. With the crime rate horribly high in South Africa since the intimidation of the police services in 1994, the prisons are bursting at the seams. Further sexual crimes and murder occur inside the walls with frightening regularity. The younger men and women who commit minor crimes are most at risk being caged with the hardened, habitual crinimals. Pastor Hermanus has a small team of dedicated volunteers who have been through the rigorous prison security checks and are able to minister to prisoners of all types.

Amazingly, men and women come to Jesus and accept of the gospel readily! It would seem to be the opposite — hardened convicts, who care nothing for other people, should be the most difficult to speak to. But they have no where to go. Once behind the walls, their own husbands, wives, children, relatives, friends and even the social services forget them. No one is willing to spend time or effort with them. And so they eagerly anticipate the visits from the Christians who conduct simple worship services, preaching and teaching the Bible whenever it is possible. Murderes, thieves, rapists, gangsters and prostitutes come forward in tears to accept Christ in their lives. In many cases, due to poverty, neglect, abuse and disease, they have no desire to return to their previous lives — the new life in Christ almost seems too good to be true.

Steve offered the books and Bible that were sent in the Land/Sea Container to Pastor Hermanus and his hard working team. There were three boxes left of the Picture Bibles from Chariot Publishers and these was ideal for this purpose — many of the prisoners have had a poor education and reading skills but with the pictures, they can be able to read the Bible for themselves. Children’s story books for the older kids were also very good for the prison ministry.

Pastor Hermanus was nearly overcome with joy when he collected the Bibles and books. He had brought along as much money as he could raise to purchase them for the Christians in prison but when he heard that the price had already been paid, he stared at Steve in total disbelief! These brand new books, unobtainable in South Africa, given so freely and paid for by Christian in America, would be used many times over for the sake of the gospel. “I’m walking on air because the Lord is so good,” he said as he left.

The hard work, dedication and support of the Land/Sea Containers that have brought so many books, Bibles and items to the Christians here have brought untold dividends. The most frequent request by the churches and individuals is still a study Bible. The Lord works in His way to bring about His will in the hearts and minds of Christians in America and South Africa.

Spring’s in the air! The sun beams down, the
skies are deep blue and a cool wind keeps things pleasant.

Pat Zimmerman is a keen gardener, amongst her other tasks of caring for her family. She is proud of her roses and regularly cuts a few blooms to put in the house. Pat is particularly fond of pink which is easy to see. An indigenous flower, clivia, has recently been noticed internationally. It grows wild in South Africa but takes several years to mature enough to flower — the blooms are normally yellow or orange.

Kelley Zimmerman recently attended a Prom with his girlfriend, Louise, held by her high school, a very posh one. To Kelley’s disappointment, only the students were allowed inside the hall after pictures were taken. The school had previous experiences of drunkenness, drugs and fights so they limited entry to their students only. Kelley waited patiently at Louise’s folk’s house for her to finish and then brought her to the Zimmerman home for a movie and midnight dinner. They did not go with the others who headed for a nightclub downtown.

Normally, there are serious accidents and fights every year — in 2000, three young people were killed outright in a horrible smash on the main highway into town. The driver was an older man and very drunk — he survived but his girlfriend and her two companions were killed. The Zimmerman’s are proud of the choices that their sons made. Each attended a Prom with their girlfriends and each decided independently not to participate in the wilder events afterwards. Perhaps their example is not noticed by the others but the parents of their girlfriend’s appreciate their Christian principles.

The annual African Christian convention was held in Queenstown this year. It was well attended (as most of them usually are) and people came from all over the country to attend. It is a time of teaching, preaching and fellowship. There were classes for every age group. Four missionaries were there to assist with the classes: Ron Butler (Cape Town), Pete Laughren (George), Phil Smith (East London)and Steve Zimmerman (Cape Town).

The brethren in Queenstown had prepared to host this convention for a long time and they did a magnificent job to feed, house and equip the facility for classrooms and meeting halls. An abandoned factory complex had been transferred to the local church in Sada for development and the Tshonyane family took it upon themselves to fix and repair it.

This year’s theme was “Holiness in God” and all the speakers were well prepared for their individual topics. Steve Zimmerman was the foundation speaker on Wednesday night of the four day convention and in recognition of the Sada church’s hard labor in the factory complex, he brought down the house with his first words: mna undingu mTshonyane! (“I am Tshonyane!”)

The directions for each classroom, restrooms and other facilities were handwritten and marked on the walls in black paint. Crude but every effective. Of course, if you didn’t speak Xhosa, then it could be a little difficult to sort out where everything was.

The translators also did a wonderful job, too. Bro Simon Mainze (English, Afrikaans, Xhosa) was the main one assisted by Bro Barry Jaintjies (English, Afrikaans) and Bro Elijah Mpike (English, Xhosa). They had to run to keep up with the four main classes for each group (men, women and two separate youth groups) and three sermon sessions every day.

It was a time of personal stories and heartfelt greetings. Most were concerned with the recent events in the USA and everyone that Steve Zimmerman spoke to wanted Americans to know that they were praying for them during this time of need. Most of them didn’t understand the implications of this global tragedy but they knew that their brothers and sisters in America needed their prayers. And they continue to pray.

Recently, Steve and Pat Zimmerman drove up to Springbok, a desert mining town approximately 350 miles north of Cape Town in the Namaqua Desert. Copper and other ores are mined in this hot, dry and desolate area. The landscape is rocky, unsuitable for anything other than sheep farming and minerals. Their eldest son, Kent, has been living there for a few years and invited them to visit during the annual flower spectacular.

During the month of September, the desert is a different scene. Flowers decorate the mountains, stony ridges, valleys and plains. Millions of them — orange, yellow, purple and white, as far as the eye can see. They only live for six or seven weeks before they die back, set seed and await the next year’s miniscule rainfall.

There were a number of places that Kent knew where tourists rarely visit. Since he speaks Afrikaans fluently (and is dating an Afrikaans woman) and has sort of become part of the small town, he knows these places very well. When Kent arrived, he was called “blouey” (roughly translated means, bluey, a reference to the vast ocean — America being situated on the other side of it) but lately has been nicknamed “die Engelsmaan” (the Englishman), a sort of semi-acceptance of his new home. (The fact that America and England are totally different places has little to do with it — the fact that both places use English has a language is why he has been so nicknamed.)

The flowers were spectacular. Pat and Steve enjoyed a long drive into the Kamiesberge (Kamies Mountain Range) and enjoyed a picnic in the flowers. They did spend time with Kent, who wishes to return to Cape Town if he can find employment. His girlfriend, Elize, is an outgoing lassie whose English is adequate and heavily accented.

The seasonal flowers remind us that our lives on earth are short in duration. Each generation finds a space to blossom and grow before passing on the seeds of life to the next. As Christians, we too pass the seeds of life to others in Jesus.

After a severe weekend storm created havoc on shipping rounding the Cape of Good Hope, residents of a sleepy village along the Atlantic Ocean at Scarborough were awakened in the middle of the night by a loud crash. A few souls braved the driving rain and wind to rush down to the beach. They were amazed to see the lights of a bulk carrier, the “Ikan Tanda”, barely twenty feet from the shore!

The ship’s engines had failed riding out the steep waves and fierce currents that usually encircle the southern passage around Africa. The prevailing storm winds rush across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean from South America and crash into the continental shelf of the African land mass. The Cape has been traditionally known as a ships’ graveyard and there are several wrecks still visible in and around the peninsula. The Portuguese explorer, Bartholomew Dias, named the Cape Peninsula, Cabo Tormentoso (Cape of Storms) in 1488 for good reason. However, King John of Portugal, renamed it Cape of Good Hope because it held the key of a trade passage to India and the East.

Yet, on the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula, the sea is relatively calm and placid, well protected by the high mountains and sheltering coves. Simonstown, the main naval dockyard in the Western Cape, was peaceful and quiet on the same day the “Ikan Tanda” slammed into the shore despite a desperate dash by a huge salvage tug to reach her in time.

The “Ikan Tanda” is fast on the rocks. The salvage specialists have unloaded the oil bunkers to prevent pollution and are concerned about the cargo — nitrate fertilizers. But each day that passes, the ship is driven further onto the shoreline by the high winds. The owners are hopeing that when the seas subside and the winds back off, the ship will be able to be refloated. However, the chances are that the “Ikan Tanda” might very well be yet another vessel stranded on the shores of Africa.

And yet another African story is added to its rich history.

Unemployment is very high in South Africa. Like any major African city, Cape Town has many people standing around shopping malls, street intersections and other buildings, either begging for money, selling handmade items or waiting to be included on a temporary work gang.

Walking outside the post office in Durbanville, near the Zimmerman’s home, is this young woman from Zambia, two thousand miles to the north, bordering the Congo. Her name is Angela. She is Moro and speaks a language which is a cousin to isiXhosa, the tribal tongue of most Africans living in Cape Town. Her husband and child are still in Zambia waiting for her return after this selling trip.

Angela’s husband carves bowls and wooden table items from kiaat, a hard wood, from the bloodwood tree that grows in the southern countries of Africa. It is a common tree, used for medicines made from the sap (to stop nosebleeds and kill ringworm), dye and wood carving. (For the serious horticulturists, it is the Pterocarpus Angloensis and grows 60-80 ft in height in the wooded grasslands.) She has traveled with her stock in a small pick-up with other people who are also marketing their wares in various places in the city. The wood has been carefully polished to a high luster and the pattern of each bowl is unique. They were all beautiful and hand carved.

Steve stopped to talk to her. Africans outside of South Africa are not usually welcomed by the locals who feel that they are taking away jobs as well as currency out of the country. Angela was delighted that someone was so friendly. She took the wooden bowls from the top of her head, set them down on the grass verge and began her sales pitch. Steve bought one for $15 and heard her story — there is no work in Zambia, her family is hungry and she came to Cape Town to do what she could. She is a Christian of sorts but was interested in learning more. Unfortunately, Angela was leaving the next day to head north and home. Steve left her his card and asked her to contact him.

This is a normal occurence in the cities. Migrants, immigrants, illegals and others all trying to do the best they can with what they have. Angela is one of millions who are on the move somewhere. Perhaps Steve will never hear from her again — a future victim of war, famine, disease, tribal disorder or illness. And just as likely, Angela will arrive in Cape Town one day with Steve’s business card and want to know more about God’s love for her.

This past week was a particularly joyous occasion. The Zimmerman’s second eldest son, Kyle, took his girlfriend, Heather, to the Matric Dance (the Prom in the US). It was a fancy affair and like in the States, the young men and women dress up.

It’s at times like these that people realize that their “kids” aren’t kids anymore. Somehow the time has flown past and “suddenly”, their little children have matured before their eyes. Sort of like the minute hand of a clock — you can’t see the actual movement but look again and the hand has moved on. Being the dead of winter (June – September), it was cold, wet and rainy. yet the photographs had to be taken and they were. Both Kyle and Heather looked fantastic!

Here it is traditional that the celebration continues even after the official dance it over. Normally, a sport is chosen by various groups and off they go — usually, the event ends with a breakfast at a restaurant near the sea or high in the mountain overlooking Table Bay. It is also a time that parents fear most: too much too drink, too much exhuberance, driving too fast and the inevitable occurs. This year, it did. Three students were killed outright as their car tumbled off the highway and into a concrete barrier — another survived but is in a critical condition.

Fortunately, Kyle is a very safe driver and kept a check on his car load of companions. Instead of meeting others at a local hotspot, his friends met at another one’s home for breakfast. He was home by mid-morning, a little worn out but happy.


Cape Town has several unique claims to fame for thos who are curiousconcerning such things. First, it is still illegal to your camel in public — it is a citywide ban! Second, Cape Town is the world’s largest producer luminous shoelaces. Last, at a recent European judged convention of olive oil producers, Cape Town’s entry was judged to be the very best and was awarded a Gold Medal.

Just goes to show, huh?DATELINE CAPE
The news has been horrific: destruction of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. South Africans of all kinds have been shocked, outraged and confused. A friend phone Steve one evening and asked if this was the beginning of the end.

Steve is an Area Warden for the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town. The city and surrounds are divided up into regions so if there is a crisis or messages to be passed to American citizens, the news can be passed with quickly and efficiently. A woman in his area telephoned desperately: her younger brother works in New York as in the IT business on the 106th floor of the north block of the World Trade Center. She hasn’t heard from him since the tradegy and could he please help? The U.S. Consulate General in the city has been closed, as have all the other Consulates in the country — only the Embassy is open for urgent business. Steve was unable to help. Certainly, there are many more distraught people like this woman who need prayer and guidance.

A prayer service was held yesterday in the St Georges Cathedral (Church of England) conducted by the Archbishop of Cape Town. Steve noticed that Christians of all denominations as well as Jews and Muslims attended the brief service, kneeling and praying side by side — solidarity in the face of evil.

The African Christians have been calling Steve, too. Thompson Ntobie was concerned that the Zimmermans might have relatives in New York or Washington. He said that he didn’t understand the full implications of what had happened but that it was a major tragedy for America. The Christians, their pastors and churches are deep in prayer for the country, the rescuers, the victims and the families. Pastor Samuel Jacobs called to ask the latest news — he said that he had called a special prayer meeting for America but especially for the churches, groups and individuals who had donated so many Bibles, books and materials for the needy. Sam said that the Christians in South Africa are supporting America during their time of need, just as American Christians helped them in their time of need.

Like the rest of the world, Cape Town is stunned by the useless loss of life and the deliberate sabotage of freedom. Perhaps this will turn people back to God who is greater and mightier than all. Like Christians and others everywhere, Steve and his family remain in prayer.

The news has been horrific: destruction of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. South Africans of all kinds have been shocked, outraged and confused. A friend phone Steve one evening and asked if this was the beginning of the end.

Steve is an Area Warden for the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town. The city and surrounds are divided up into regions so if there is a crisis or messages to be passed to American citizens, the news can be passed with quickly and efficiently. A woman in his area telephoned desperately: her younger brother works in New York as in the IT business on the 106th floor of the north block of the World Trade Center. She hasn’t heard from him since the tradegy and could he please help? The U.S. Consulate General in the city has been closed, as have all the other Consulates in the country — only the Embassy is open for urgent business. Steve was unable to help. Certainly, there are many more distraught people like this woman who need prayer and guidance.

A prayer service was held yesterday in the St Georges Cathedral (Church of England) conducted by the Archbishop of Cape Town. Steve noticed that Christians of all denominations as well as Jews and Muslims attended the brief service, kneeling and praying side by side — solidarity in the face of evil.

The African Christians have been calling Steve, too. Thompson Ntobie was concerned that the Zimmermans might have relatives in New York or Washington. He said that he didn’t understand the full implications of what had happened but that it was a major tragedy for America. The Christians, their pastors and churches are deep in prayer for the country, the rescuers, the victims and the families. Pastor Samuel Jacobs called to ask the latest news — he said that he had called a special prayer meeting for America but especially for the churches, groups and individuals who had donated so many Bibles, books and materials for the needy. Sam said that the Christians in South Africa are supporting America during their time of need, just as American Christians helped them in their time of need.

Like the rest of the world, Cape Town is stunned by the useless loss of life and the deliberate sabotage of freedom. Perhaps this will turn people back to God who is greater and mightier than all. Like Christians and others everywhere, Steve and his family remain in prayer.

Pastor Denzil Thorne is a young man, unmarried and was chosen by the Athlone church as their energetic minister. He has attended every Cape Bible Seminary class taught in the congregation over the past two years and practises what he preaches.

A few weeks ago, Denzil was invited to attend a Baptist Church leadership breakfast about ten miles away in the city. Although he wasn’t supposed to speak (not being within the same denomination), one of the men asked him to say a few words about his ideas of the goals and objectives a church should have. The leaders gathered around the table were astounded to hear Denzil clearly and concisely outline the Ten Essential Steps of Church Growth within ten minutes. They were so taken back that they allowed him to continue for almost an hour! Afterwards, he was asked where he’d be taught such cutting edge Bible teaching and Denzil replied simply, “The Cape Bible Seminary, haven’t your heard?” This prompted a lengthly discussion amongst the Baptist leaders — they were suddenly dissatisfied with their education programs. There will obviously be more contact with them in the future.

The regular Monday evening CBS classes at Athlone have produced active young men and women who look for areas of service within the congregation. Although not specifically youth-oriented, it is mainly the younger Christians who make up the bulk of the students. Recently, the sixth course was completed at Athlone (“Harmony of the Gospels”) and yet another begun (“The Life of Job, Suffering and Sacrifice”). Each module is ten weeks in length and a certificate of completion is awarded to those who successfully complete a course of study.

An interesting article appeared in the weekend paper entitled, “The Trouble with Cape Town”. Mike Nicol, a local writer, was responding to an editorial which lambasted the city for its coolness and racism. The Zimmermans often hear people complain that Cape Town is a very reserved and aloof place. In reply, Mike Nicols makes a few telling observations about Cape Town and its citizens.

Cape Town is a port. Over the centuries, it has had to take in immigrants and refugees from many European, African and Asian countries. Almost always, these groups were not welcomed, in fact, they were often resented, but were never turned away. Eventually, these people were accepted as they worked hard and made a place for themselves and their descendants. They have subsequently added their stories, cultures and richness to the city’s fabric. While Cape Town traditionally does not exclude foreigners, it doesn’t bother to include them either. New arrivals must find their own way into the city’s life and heart.

Cape Town is a relatively young democracy. It is like a teenager: beautiful, caring, dreamy, craving attention, frequently intoxidated and intoxicating, cavalier towards politics, AIDS and change, often angry, given to bombs, fires and infuriatingly racist at times. It is emerging from a difficult childhood with hard-nosed characteristics but little sense of identity. Some call it a Nowhere City, neither African or European. Unfortunately, this is the nature of a hybrid where there is no single story or voice to give everyone a warm glow.

At the moment of the city’s founding, there were two stories: one told by the original native inhabitants, the Khoi, who were ultimately dispossessed of their pastures; the other told by the Dutch settlers who founded a way station for their trading ships to the East. A third voice was added a few years later when the Dutch East Trading Company brought in Malay slaves until, by 1717, there were more slaves than settlers. How each group saw Cape Town must have differed markedly — to the slaves, a place of suffering; to the Dutch officials, a temporary home away from home; and to the Khoi, a lost living space. But it doesn’t end there. Woven into this fabric were the bonds between master and slave. Since many European traders, administrators and officials were away from their homes for long periods, they took slaves as concubines and mistresses.

These intermingled relationships lasted 180 years, longer than Cape Town’s been a free city. And so, the mother city of South Africa appears to be at odds with itself even today. Separate pockets of dwellers live, work and socialize within their own communities. Learning to live with the many truths and stories can be difficult. Like growing pains for the teenager, Cape Town must face its own past and face the future.

There’s been a request of Steve Zimmerman regarding the family cat. To satisfy the curiosity of both feline and feminine, a photograph is included in this week’s update. Mollie Paws is ten months old, born in Springbok (a desert mining down where the Zimmerman’s eldest son, Kent, lives) and is half wild. Mollie sleeps tucked into Pat’s neck at night, changing her position every time Pat rolls over. She already has both dogs (border collies) totally intimidated.

If you keep your eyes open, Cape Town has strange and amusing incidents. For example, the mini-taxi industry carries more passengers that any other mode of transport in the city. At the moment, it is unregulated except for municipal licensing for routes — in the past, there have been violent clashes over these lucrative routes. The national government stepped in a few years ago and slowly introduced legislation to combat unroadworthy vehicles, overloaded mini-vans and careless driving. There have been many horrific fatal accidents involving mini-taxis because they are of a light construction. This year, the government caused an outrage amongst taxi-drivers when a law was introduced to ensure tougher vehicle construction on a truck chassis.

An amusing aside to this continual dog-and-cat conflict was a protest by the taxi-drivers against the new regulation of a slower speed limit for their vehicles — it was dropped from 60 mph to 50 mph. Their mass action protest was unique: they applied a “go slow” policy of 50 mph to arouse public support for their position!

In a recent raid by local police at a chop-shop (a place where stolen cars are dismantled for their parts and sold), a dog obviously felt guilty, too. Maybe it realized that it fell asleep and didn’t do it’s job properly.

Lastly, Steve came across this Oriental restaurant which has recently opened for business in the older section of town above the city center. Does the name of the establishment encourage law suits by the patrons? Perhaps a few wary diners would take their business elsewhere…!

Many Americans want to know how a missionary lives in a foreign land. Unlike other African missionaries in southern and central African nations, the Zimmermans are priviledged to dwell in a very modern city in South Africa: Cape Town.

Cape Town has roughly the same population as Detroit. It is built around Table Mountain and was first settled by the Dutch in 1652 as a permanent provision station for ship rounding the Cape sea routes. Over time, it was home to ships under all flags — Dutch, Portuguese, English, etc — including an American Civil War raider, the Confederate ship, “The Alabama”. (In fact, two years ago, a special disinternment team from one of the southern states in the US came to take the bodies of three US Confederate sailors back home.) The coloreds living in the Malay Quarter above the city center still sing a song about this ship, “Daar Kom Die Alabama!” (“Here Comes The Alabama!”) to which they jive and dance.

The Zimmermans live in on the slopes of a valley in the northern part of Cape Town within a suburb called Durbanville. It is surrounded by vineyards and used to be a quiet place, close to the major freeways until developers began building houses. Most homes in South Africa are constructed of brick and mortar, usually plastered on the outside and then painted. The Zimmermans live in a plain three bedroomed home on “Koedoestraat” (Kudu Street). Steve has another room which he uses as his office.

Shopping is fairly easy. There is a small mall in Durbanville village where a major supermarket chain has a branch. There are other stores too: a drug store, clothing shops, a few butchers, bakeries and other small retailers. For office supplies, equipment and other items, it is necessary to trek to Cape Town, perhaps twenty minutes west on the freeway.

Pastor Samuel Jacobs offered his own double garage to store the books from the Land/Sea Container that arrived this month. Steve, Kelley, Sam and his son helped unload the 20′ x 8′ x 8′ box one afternoon. Everything had arrived safely, there were no damages.

During the mid-winter school break, Sam and his congregation in Elsies River conducted a youth campaign in the area. The church has had problems last year with parts of its leadership — a few left in a huff when they didn’t get their own way. So the congregation has been struggling somewhat.

The youth campaign was the church’s biggest effort this year. Every night for a week, there were choirs featured, a gospel band played music and the entire emphasis was directed towards the young adult population of this gangland suburb. To add a little damper on the occasion, it rained heavily and despite this, the hall was full every night.

Bro Sam asked me to close the week long campaign on Sunday morning with a “teaching ministry”. Every second and fourth Sunday, instead of a sermon or preaching, there is a session of intensive teaching. Bro Sam felt strongly that due to the transport problems and unemployment effecting the members that Sunday mornings would be ideal to reach most of his flock. It did feel a little strange to begin a class right after the worship section of the service. But the congregation was very relaxed and asked many questions concerning the gospel of Matthew — the first topic of the class.

There were a few young people I didn’t know sitting in the pews. Ten new souls had been born into Jesus that week and they were attending their first Cape Bible Seminary class. It was encouraging to witness their eagerness to learn.

The Cape winter has set in. Over the past few years, the winters have been relatively mild. It never snows in the city. Nor are there blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, sleet or icy conditions. Cape Town is near the same latitude as Buenos Aires and Melbourne, therefore blessed with a Mediterranean climate. Long hot summers and cool winter rains.

Due to the lack of heavy rains for the last few years, Cape Town has had water restictions because the dams in the surrounding eastern mountains were very low. However, in the month of July, so far, there has been more rain than in any July within the past forty years! Blessings in abundance — the dams are full, there is snow on the peaks of the mountains and there will be more than enough water for crops and fields.

The heavy rains have also cause problems. Massive flooding in the poorer townships have forced people to abandon their shacks and homes to seek dryer ground. Over 3500 people have been displaced with a few days, causing extra strain on the municipal shelters. Colds, flu, bronchitis, TB and other illnesses have choked hospitals and clinics. The rail and bus services have been disrupted.

Andy Williams and his wife, Patricia, have set up a soup kitchen from their rented church hall in Ruyterwacht. Andy is the pastor and takes his duties very seriously. Like most ministers and pastors, he has a full time job, as well as his wife, to make ends meet. Yet, he swiftly put the congregation into action to meet the needs of the poor living around the church — every Wednesday evening, a group fo ladies bring large pots of soup and bread for anyone who is hungry.

The church in Ruyterwacht has regular Cape Bible Seminary sessions. The Christians who study and attend the classes are more dedicated and equipped to serve than most. Andy said that regular Bible teaching has motivated and provided opportunities for his congregation to serve the Lord.

Yet, they themselves are in need too. The church hall they rent formerly belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church (called the Reformed Church in Michigan) who closed down their church due to lack of members. They want to sell the beautifully constructed face-brick building to Bro Andy and his flock for $40,000 cash. It is a bargain. Because it is located in a poor area, many who attend the church services now are able to give little in money but much in service. (The church has raised $10,000 so far.)

These Christians serve where they can with what they have. They are making a huge impact in an area where there is no Christian church. We thank the Lord for their dedication.

There are several major problems facing the African churches in South Africa. Lack of reliable transport, unemployment, poverty and long distances between regions. This week, one of these problems was solved: the lack of communication between churches in different areas.

South Africa has an excellent telephone service. Unfortunately, it is run by one company, a state-owned conglomerate. Unlike America which is blessed with several competitors and a vast variety of services, Telkom SA couldn’t care whether their customers lived or died as long as they paid their exorbitant phone bills. Every African church has at least a few people who have a telephone in their home. But the costs of calling one another are high.

Via e-mail correspondence, Jill who lives in Lima (OH) learned of this problem. She asked what it would take to help the churches and quickly moved into action. Within days, together with the Off the Wall Class at Rosculp Church of Christ in Lima, over a thousand dollars was raised to purchase second hand phone/fax machines! A list was drawn up of the regions that needed to be connected and seven machines were purchased with the funds.

Once distributed, it will now be relatively easy and inexpensive to send translated lessons, outlines and notices via fax. Thompson Ntobie will now be able to transmit materials from his home directly to the area where the teaching is needed — he is the first recipient of a machine. This will greatly reduce the time lag in printing and mailing lessons; reduce costs and allow churches in different areas to communicate their programs quickly.

The S.A. Christian Mission wishes to thank Jill and the donors in Lima for their quick response and generosity. We thank God for the blessings provided by His dedicated believers.

Thompson Ntobie, an African minister and translator, works hard no matter where he is. Whenever I visit his humble home in the Cape Town township of Bishop Lavis, he is usually hard at work translating Christian material into Xhosa or Afrikaans. He has a typewriter, plenty of paper, pencils and a dictionary to help him.

Not only does Thompson translate Cape Bible Seminary outlines, notes and courses, he also writes his own courses in three languages (English being the third). It is hard work. It is not a matter of taking a word in one language and finding the correct one in another — the “sense” or concept nmust be explained and translated.

For example, Americans use a lot of slang. One missionary was using an illustration in a class. Being a keen golfer, he pretended to tee up a ball and smack it down the fairway. “Boy, I really killed that baby!” he exclaimed. The poor translator did his best to attempt to understand the phrase although the concept escaped him. Where did the baby come from? Why did someone want to kill the baby? What did the stick and the ball have to do with the baby? To convert the colloquial Americanism into Xhosa was a nightmare!

Thompson is one of the few translators who understand American slang and method of speech. He can translate the Americanisms directly into colloquial Xhosa — a rare talent.

Normally, when someone translates my sermons or lessons into Afrikaans or Xhosa, I keep my speech pattern simple and the concepts easy to grasp. Then, after I speak a short phrase, I listen to the translation to ensure it is being carried over properly. Different regions have different accents and dialects so it isn’t easy for the translator or speaker. Imagine explaining the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3:6-8 when one Xhosa word, “moya”, means spirit, wind and air! Not only does the translator get thrown but if the speaker doesn’t prepare ahead of time to put things in the correct sequence and meaning, the message will be lost in confusion.

Thompson is a dedicated evangelist as well as a preacher. He travels with me to Queenstown and other rural areas in the mountains to the east of Cape Town. His wife, Sylvia, accompanies us when she is able. She is recovering from cancer treatment and is doing extremely well.

The Lord blesses Christians with understanding and wisdom through the efforts of men like Thompson.

[The S.A. Christian Mission has a Translator’s Fund set aside to assist men like Thompson. Should anyone want to help with these invaluable projects, please mark your gift accordingly.]

The Land/Sea Container has finally arrived in Cape Town. It has been over a year since it was planned for shipment. The Northview Christian Church in Coldwater (MI) had the items stored for many months in Bob Snyder’s storage rooms, inconveniencing him. (Bob never complained — thanks, Bob, sorry for the trouble!) The problem was the Import Permits about which the SA authorities are very strict.

Finally after months of delays and soft-pedaling by the Pretoria offices, I took the matter in hand after much prayer and made a personal appointment with the Director who was visiting Cape Town. I had all the documentation ready and told him of the work done by the SA Christian Mission’s benevolence projects. He was very impressed and promised to look into it. He was as good as his word. Within two weeks, Pretoria offices kept calling ME, asking me if I needed permits!

Don Brown and his team at Coldwater, packed and shipped the Container speedily. It arrived in the docks last week and our clearing agents had all the documentation ready. The Customs finally passed it this week and after we can lay our hands on the stamped documents, it will be delivered within a day or so.

On this end, Pastor Sam Jacobs and his team are ready for the unloading and storage. He has cleaned out his double garage and beefed up the security to ensure everything is safe. Sam has helped with the distribution of books and Sunday School materials to various local churches who are astounded that they do know have to pay for anything! Many Sunday School teachers have no organised plan or schedule for their teaching and the secondhand materials are invaluable to them.

So this Container is the result of many heartfelt prayers and petitions to the Lord. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I had a frantic call from Pretoria by a distraught official who learned that the Container had been shipped and the donated bicycles were not included because of a lack of a permit from nhis department. He was afraid that I’d call the Director and complain. It’s nice to be on the good end once and awhile!

Our thanks must go to many Christians who made this happen, both in the US and in SA. The books, toys, etc will provide God’s blessings for many people who cannot afford them. All given, in the Lord’s name, free of charge.

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church made a press statement, saying that if anyone came to the front door of the church in an indecent manner, the church warden would throw them out! He was responding to an article in the
English daily newspaper, the Cape Argus, regarding an evangelist who conducted Sunday evening services in a local pub.
I read this article with great interest. There was a picture of the preacher standing behind a small music stand, Bible in hand, talking to people
sitting nearby quaffing a cold one and smoking. At first, it was jarring to see this contrast. The people that were quoted said that they first scoffed at the man’s boldness — who’d ever heard of a Christian worshipping in a bar? After a few weeks, some of the people began to listen. Two couples, who were regular patrons, felt embarrassed to smoke during the reading of the Word and prayers, yet they found themselves looking forward to Sunday evenings because what they heard was giving them hope.
In a rash of letters to the newspaper, there were curious comments. A few Christian who’d been alcoholics wrote that they’d never heard of Christians inside a bar — perhaps there was hope for others who’d been trapped like they had been. The most scathing came from the organized religions — how dare a preacher sully the gospel in such a place! The Archbishop said that his church wardens strictly adhered to the dress code and demeanor of hopeful worshippers who wanted to enter the downtown cathedral.
Immediately, a Scripture came to mind – When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” One hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice (ref: Hos 6:6). For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (MATT 9:11-13)
Maybe we’re looking in the wrong place for the lost? There is at least one man who takes this very seriously. You can find him every Sunday evening in a pub on Long Street in Cape Town.

The brethren in Queenstown are active and dedicated. Last year, they baptized over 200 people into Christ — evangelism is their highest priority. Together with Thompson Ntobie, an African minister and one of the best translators in the brotherhood, I travel to Queenstown every quarter to
teach classes and sit with their leaders to plan future moves. This time, another translator, Bro Simon Mainze, came along — he is not only trilingual (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa) but is also the only African I know who can speak Italian!

The weekend had been carefully planned. Bro Tsewu, the elder in the area, proudly gave us a tour of an abandoned factory in Sada (about 30 miles from Queenstown) that they have been renovating for various purposes — already, they had refurbished one of the larger areas into a hall that will seat about five hundred people. This year’s annual Christian convention is in Sada and they are ready!

On Saturday and Sunday, I taught in Twiskraal (“twisted corral”), a small community within Lesseyton, about ten miles north of Queenstown in the mountains. The last time I was there, the brethren had managed to secure a plot of land not far from the community center — this time, I was amazed to see a small building on the plot. As yet, it had no roof or windows but otherwise was complete! The elder proudly told me that within a few months, the small meeting place would be finished. Next year, they planned to expand it into a proper hall. It was a remarkable effort for such a small church.

The youth, led by Bro Michael Tsewu, were delighted with another sixty audio cassettes with sermons and other materials to add to their tape ministry. Many of the tape have been donated by Bob Kelper from Greensboro. (Thanks, Bob!) Michael told me that they pass tapes from one area to the other so that the youth that are in the more isolated communities can hear the Word. Those that have problems with English are helped by those who can understand. A wonderful teaching method. In fact, I have noticed that some of the youth have distinct Americanisms already!

I taught Saturday and Sunday — the community hall was packed, as usual and many questions were asked. Early Sunday morning, before the service began, two young women and an older one were baptized into Jesus. It was just above freezing and the river water was dark and cold but they didn’t want to wait. Bro Tsewu told me that they usually baptize between two and five people every Sunday.

After a quick meal on Sunday morning, Thompson, Simon and I took the long road home — eight or nine hours through the Karoo. I only arrived home late that night.

Despite the long hours, it is intensely rewarding to see and participate in pro-active church growth. Not the usual type of growth where kids from Christian families are baptized but the front line, where-the-rubber-meets-the-road growth. People outside the church being brought into the church. The Queenstown Christians are keen and eager to seek and save the lost. And it shows.


Steve dances in the shower! No, this is not the name of a new pop group. This is an event which will never be repeated, hopefully. Many people think that because we live in Africa, there are wild animals everywhere. Like most modernized countries, the only groups of wild animals left in South Africa are in zoos and nature reserves. Within the Table Mountain Reserve, which encompasses the entire Table Mountain Range, there are still Himalayan thars (bought over by Sir Cecil John Rhodes for his private zoo but they escaped one night during a storm), a few lynx, perhaps a leopard or two and small groups of zebra and other antelope. All of these animals are extremely shy and it is a rarity to even catch a glimpse of them.

One creature that sends Steve into paroxyms of shivers is the large, hairy baboon spider. These spiders can grow as large as a hand and react differently that other arachnids (of which there are over 65,000 species). The baboon spider prefers a cool, dry, out of the way spot. They are extremely nimble and can leap up to four or five feet in any direction. Most household poison sprays do not effect them in the least. Most residents of Cape Town have rarely seen one. However, the Zimmermans live one street away from a vineyard where baboon spiders spin giant webs to trap insects, other spiders and even small birds. When it rains, the spiders seek a dry place and crawl through the windows to find shelter. The first rains fell last week.

So did one of these baboon spiders when Steve was taking a shower. It had lodged itself between the flexible shower hose and the wall, quite well hidden. When the water became too hot, it leapt from the top of shower headonto the suspecting human — dancing in the shower is the description that came close to what occurred next. From now on, there is one missionary who will always check each shower stall and bathtub thoroughly.

On a more serious note, Thompson Ntobie’s wife is currently in the Tygerberg Hospital. A few weeks ago, Sylvia had a hysterectomy and is now receiving treatment for cancer. The doctors are quite confident that she will recover after the scheduled treatments. The Zimmermans will be visiting her this week and updating everyone during this time. Please keep her in your prayers.


Minister of Education, Kader Asmal, apologized to all Christians for his impromptu remarks. The storm of protest, both within the religious communities and other political parties, including his own, the African National Congress. Asmal stated that he was a last minute speaker and made the statements off the cuff. Perhaps it is a good thing that Christians do not allow themselves to be pushed around or perceived as a weak link in society!

In an amazing development, the Director of Customs and Excise issued the Import Permit for the Land/Sea Container shipment. It has been stalled in the political machinery of the Dept of Customs for many months — the trade unions have been protesting the flood of secondhand clothing and other items being imported, claiming that the imports were ruining the factories and marketing of South African made products. Steve had a personal meeting with the Director whilst he was in Cape Town and explained that all the goods brought in the Container were for free distribution to the needy. The Director took a personal interest and soon the logjam surrounding the Permit was broken. This does not, however, bring a change to the blanket ban of all used clothing items — those are still blocked from import by any and all organizations.

The team, led ably by Don Brown of Northview Christian Church (Coldwater, MI), will be able to ship the items very shortly. They have been stored nearby on Bob Snyder’s premises for months and have caused him a lot of inconvenience. Bob, thanks for your patience and hard work!

This will also bring major benefits to the South African Christians who have been depending upon these shipments. This Container is the 5th of a series to be dispatched to Cape Town. We ran out of Bibles and Sunday school materials a year ago and the churches here have also been praying hard for the Permit. Our personal thanks go to all those who have been praying so hard and so long. The Lord is good and His name is mighty! Your prayers have been answered positively.

Dateline Cape Town, Week #12 —

March 21st is a public holiday in South Africa. It commemorates those who were killed and persecuted during the apartheid years and is called Human Right Day. Usually, big rallies are held in stadiums all around the country to remember the massacre at Sharpeville and other atrocities.

Education Minister Kader Asmal of the ANC publicly condemned a gathering of Christians in Cape Town who had assembled on Human Rights Day to pray for the city, the government (including Asmal himself) and the people. Over 50,000 Christians attended this mass prayer at a local rugby stadium. Asmal made this statement at an ANC rally in an African township, Langa, in Cape Town. He called the prayer rally “divisive” and the organizers of the rally, “a sectarian body responsible for enchaning divisions” within South Africa. Regional ANC leaders quickly distanced themselves from Asmal’s outburst and said they did not necessarily share his views.

This is seen as an anti-Christian attitude. Ever since the ANC came to power in 1994, the government has followed the American-style liberalism on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and pornography. In addition, the ANC declared all religions of equal status, including paganism, African tribalism, etc. This is an obvious backlash against the “apartheid” Christianity.

More and more frequently, public statements by government officials have targeted Christian ogranizations, personalities and issues. They view Christians as fundamentalists which has become a dirty word in recent times. In many ways, South Africa is copying America.

Christians here are outraged with Asmal’s statement and have demanded a public apology. As yet, this not happened. Perhaps because there is such a vocal outcry, the government will take heed in future.