The first time I saw Rev. Fritz Haus was in 1978. Rev. Roger Volk was conducting an Evangelism Explosion clinic at Meadowridge Baptist Church and I remember being impressed by the evangelistic zeal, spiritual intensity and graciousness of Rev. Haus.
Baptist Theological College
When I was studying at Baptist Theological College, Cape Town, Rev. Fritz Haus taught us the Old Testament. I will never forget his fascinating lectures on Daniel, Exodus and the Psalms in particular. It was Dr. Haus who first introduced me to the Imprecatory Psalms, to the teachings of the Reformers and to Dr. Martin Luther’s great Hymn of the Faith: A Mighty Fortress is our God.
The Law, The Psalms and The Reformation
Since graduation, I, on a number of occasions, discussed our studies with fellow students who now are ministers in Baptist congregations. When asked: What out of all that we received from our theological studies best prepared us for the ministry we were now engaged in? all the other students agreed with me that it was Rev. Fritz Haus and his Old Testament exegesis which best prepared us for ministry. Out of all of our lecturers, no one was more Christ-centered, Bible-based and energetically Evangelical and missionary in all his lectures.
Nor was Dr. Haus’s energy only seen in spiritual matters. On a number of occasions we met him hiking on the mountains around Cape Town. On one memorable occasion I was leading a Frontline Fellowship hike up Table Mountain, as we were ascending we met Dr. Haus descending! We thought that we were up early and yet here was this much older man who had already been to the top and was on his way back down!
Rev. Fritz Haus was born and raised in Germany and began his theological studies before the Second World War. He received lectures from such theologians as Karl Barth. During World War 2, Fritz Haus served in the Africa Korp in the North African desert. On occasion, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel attended the Bible study and prayer meetings of Fritz Haus.
As my father had fought in the North African desert in the 8 th Army under Field Marshal Montgomery, I learned to have the highest respect for veterans of the Africa Korp from an early age. Although my father was very much an English gentleman fervently loyal to Queen and empire, he had the greatest respect for Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and the soldiers of the Africa Korp. I remember my father getting quite angry when any Hollywood film depicted atrocities in the North African campaign. “That’s absolute rubbish! That never happened! The Africa Korp were an honourable enemy. They were gentlemen.” My father sometimes confided in me that all the soldiers he knew in the 8 th Army had far greater respect for Erwin Rommel than for their own generals.
The Christmas Truce
My grandfather (my mother’s father) was an officer in the Africa Korp. As we knew that Dad and Granddad had fought one another in the war, I remember my brother and I being quite concerned when we heard that Granddad was coming to visit. What would happen? Never could I forget the warmth with which they embraced and how enthusiastically they discussed the war in North Africa: The unwritten rule about cease-fires after a conflict, the freedom to collect wounded in the No-man’s Land, prisoner exchanges and most memorably Christmas. They spoke about how they sang Christmas carols to their enemies during Christmas Eve and how they observed an informal cease-fire on Christmas Day, even coming out to swop ration packs, show pictures of their families and play soccer in No-man’s Land.
On one occasion, after I interviewed Ian Smith and reported on his experiences being shot down during the North African and Italian campaigns, Dr. Haus wrote to me warmly about how pleased he was to hear that Ian Smith survived being shot down in North Africa. “We shot down many hurricanes and spitfires. I’m so glad that our Brother Ian Smith survived.”
When captured by the Americans, Fritz Haus served as chaplain for German Prisoners of War in Texas. Later, when the American unit held a reunion, they invited him to be their main guest speaker for the event.
Called to South Africa
After the war Fritz Haus continued his dynamic evangelistic ministry amongst the bomb-devastated cities of Germany. In 1950 Rev. Fritz Haus, his wife Lisa and young son Matthias, arrived in the Eastern Cape. Rev. F.H. Haus was continuing the century-old missionary tradition of Carl Hugo Gutsche and their magnificent work in the Eastern Cape. This began 60 years of distinguished ministry in South Africa. Rev. Fritz Haus served as pastor in Stutterheim and other congregations in the Eastern Cape, East London, Westway Bethel Baptist in Port Elizabeth, in Berea, Milnerton, Stellenbosch and Kraaifontein.
Enemy and Friend
One of the first families to invite the Haus’s to supper after their arrival in the Eastern Cape was Clem and Phyl Goetsch. Clem related how he was captured by the Africa Korp during the fall of Tobruk. It turned out that it was Fritz Haus’s regiment that had captured Clem and his regiment! Clem and Fritz became firm friends and Clem Goetsch later studied at the Baptist Theological College and entered the ministry.
As our mission grew out of a Bible study and prayer fellowship in the South African Army, it was natural that we requested Rev. Fritz Haus to become an Honorary Member of Frontline Fellowship and a Member of our Advisory Board.
Dr. Haus spoke at numerous Frontline Fellowship rallies, book launches and Reformation Celebration Conferences. He was a popular speaker at our Biblical Worldview Summits, Great Commission Courses and at Devotions at Livingstone House. Dr. Haus was kind enough to write Forewords for my books: The Discipleship Handbook and The Greatest Century of Reformation. Three of the books I have written: The Ten Commandments – God’s Perfect Law of Liberty; The Power of Prayer Handbook and The Greatest Century of Reformation are fruit of the emphasis of Dr. Fritz Haus during a formative stage of my training for the ministry. His teachings on the Law of God, The Psalms of David and The Reformation inspired my life long study of these treasures.
As Dr. Haus was born in the land of the Reformation and grew up amidst the Lutheran, Reformed and Free Church traditions, he had walked, many times, the streets of Wittenberg, Zurich, Geneva, Saxony, Wartburg and many other Reformation sites. His encouragement and guidance helped launch the Reformation Society.
Dr. Fritz Haus was a great friend and honoured Advisory Board Member of Frontline Fellowship. He was a most important mentor for myself and many others. Fritz Haus was an example of dedication, discipline, determination, Christ-centeredness, Biblical faithfulness, missionary vision and evangelistic zeal. We praise God for his long and fruitful life and faithful service to our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
Dr. Peter Hammond