Massive attendance at Funeral service for Rev Erlo Stegen
Sunday 8th October was an incredible experience at KwaSizabantu mission in KwaZulu-Natal as multiplied thousands of people poured in from all over the country and even from around the world to pay tribute to an extraordinary Missionary Pioneer and Revival preacher, Erlo Stegen who passed away at age 88 on 26 September.
Testimonies of Revival
The first time I heard of the remarkable ministry of Erlo Stegen, it was in 1980, at the 6th South African Infantry Battalion at Grahamstown military base. Marius Pretorius related to our Bible study and Prayer Fellowship extraordinary testimonies of the Revival at KwaSizabantu Mission. I must admit to being more than a little sceptical. The many healings and miracles sounded too good to be true. However, when I was invited to speak to a parents conference at KwaSizabantu Mission, January 1987, I was able to see for myself that Marius had actually understated the case.
On Tuesday,26 September, I arrived at KwaZulu-Natal just as the news broke, that Uncle Erlo, The Founder and Director of KwaSizabantu Mission had passed into eternity at age 88. As I arrived at the Stegen home, I was asked to speak to the family and co-workers gathered on the lawn. I reminded our good friends that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. That he took our griefs upon the Cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. He reminded Martha that her brother would rise from the dead. Martha acknowledged that he would rise on the last day.
Jesus declared: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me shall live, even though he dies. Rev Erlo Stegen has run the race and kept the Faith .There is a crown laid up for him in glory. We must praise God for a life well lived and for the life and legacy of this extraordinary Bondservant of Christ.
KwaSizabantu Mission is the most extraordinary and successful mission station on the continent of Africa. KwaSizabantu originated 70 years ago when God graciously sent Revival among the Zulus.
The founder of KwaSizabantu Mission, Rev. Erlo Stegen is the second youngest of 5 brothers. In his testimony, he explains that when he was growing up, he only went to church because his parents compelled him to go. His attitude was: “When I’m grown up, I’ll throw all this religious stuff overboard.”Then God began to convict him of his disobedience towards his parents, his quarrelsomeness with his brothers, and the wickedness of his own heart. “I was a lost sinner, in spite of the fact that I said my prayers and went to church. God says, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’.” Ezekiel 18:4 “If sin rules a person’s life, that soul shall die, unless he confesses his sins and forsakes them. I cried to God, ‘Lord Jesus, I need you! Change my life and save me from my sins’.”
Helga Gertrud Strey was born on 4th August 1933 in Rehoboth, South West Africa, the middle child to Johanna and Rudolf Strey. She grew up with her siblings on Farm ‘Büllsport’ near the Naukluft Mountains South of Windhoek, in South West Africa.During 1936 the family visited the Grandparents (fathers’ parents) in Potsdam, Germany. The family returned to SWA just before the Second World War erupted. As from 1940 Helga and her older sister attended school in Swakopmund where they had to stay in the boarding school hostel for 6 years. At first they attended a German school and later were forced to switch to an English school. In December 1940 their father was taken away to a Concentration Camp along with all German men of “fighting age” and was only allowed to return 6 and 1/2 years later.
In the meantime, Helga’s mother managed the farm with her grandmother, aunt and uncle.
In 1945 Helga's father was released from the Concentration Camp, but was forced to stay in South Africa for another three months. He started working at the Botanical Institute of Stellenbosch University, so the family joined him in Stellenbosch, where the children continued their schooling. When the parents divorced, her mother stayed on in Stellenbosch until they and finished their schooling. The girls went to Bloemhof Girls High, and the brother went to Paul Ross College.
After school, Helga went to Grootte Schuur Hospital in Cape Town to study nursing.
During 1957 she returned to South West Africa to help her sister and brother-in-law look after their 3 children, while her sister was in hospital for 3.5 months. Then her brother Rolf came to visit from Northern Rhodesia and Helga went back to Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia) with him. After her holiday in Rhodesia, Helga went to Johannesburg for further studies in the field of Maternity, after which she moved to Lüderitz, SWA, to work. She was then stationed in Windhoek , where she worked for the State and did Community Health work all over South West Africa. She worked as part of an aeronautical Emergency Response team.
After 4 years, Helga moved back to South Africa where she lived and worked in Cape Town, Somerset West and surrounding areas. She was the head Matron in the Maternity wards of Springbok, Calvinia and Malmesbury. In 2006, Helga joined the Reformation Society and Livingstone Fellowship, in Rondebosch, where she was involved in research of World History, something she thoroughly enjoyed.
During 2020 she moved to Pinelands Place where she continued to stay abreast on current affairs, read voraciously and visit friends, until she ended up spending the final weeks in Gordons Bay.
We have a letter Helga wrote to her nieces of her experiences during the war, which gives some good insights to her early life: "My knowledge of WW2 started just before we returned to South West Africa after a year’s visit to our grandparents in Berlin. We left Hamburg by ship via South Hampton in England. However, because of the pre-war atmosphere our German ship Usambara was guided onto a sandbank. (The harbour Captain of the country has to guide a ship in and out of a harbour anywhere in the world, it is practised even today).
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Beloved husband of Drena and father of Ben, Daniel and Christa, George Verwer has completed his earthly pilgrimage and journey. After a brief battle with cancer, George died peacefully at home near London, surrounded by his family. George Verwer was a good friend of our mission and a co-worker with Rev Bill Bathman. Lenora remembered uncle George being a regular guest around the dinner table in their home near Salzburg in Austria.
This past week the global Church and missionary movement lost one of its great mission mobilisers. George Verwer, the founder of Operation Mobilisation passed away on 14 April after a battle with cancer. The Founder of Operation Mobilisation motivated and mobilised tens of thousands of missionary volunteers to proclaim, in word and action, God’s love around the globe.
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Rozanne Visagie, who has been courageously battling cancer and chemo for 12 years now, passed away in hospital yesterday, Sunday, 2nd October. Rozanne is the daughter of President PW Botha, the last real Christian South African President of integrity.
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His Most Important and Exciting Journey
Andrew van der Bijl, known throughout the world as Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler, passed into eternity on Tuesday, 27 September 2022, at age 94. This will certainly be his most important and exciting journey. Brother Andrew was a Dutch Christian missionary who dedicated his life to smuggling Bibles to persecuted Christians, behind the Iron Curtain, in communist Eastern Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he refocused his energies on serving persecuted Christians in the Muslim Middle East. As Andrew declared: I.S.L.A.M. should stand for “I Sincerely Love All Muslims.” He visited Hamas and PLO leaders, including Yasser Arafat, giving them Bibles. Andrew travelled to 125 countries in his extraordinary life. His wife, Corry van der Bijl, died in 2018. They had five children together.
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Dorothea Olivet was born on Valentine's Day 14 February 1936. She was the eldest of 5 children: her younger sisters: Madeleine and Wilhelma, her brothers Wolf Heinrich and Theo. Her brother Wolf Heinrich died tragically at age 8. Her father was a Supreme Court judge. Her brother Theo was president of the Supreme Court. An uncle was Prime Minister of Hanover.
Dorothea Olivet grew up in a Europe at war. Even though very young at the time, she remembered the trauma of the Allied Bombing Raids, starting on 28th March 1942, raining death and destruction upon Lübeck, her home in northern Germany. The bombers came in 3 waves causing most of the destruction on Palm Sunday 29 March. The Wellington and Sterling bombers dropped over 400 tons of bombs including 25,000 incendiary devices. A number of 1.8 tonne blockbusters dropped in the first wave opened the brick and copper roofs of the buildings and the following incendiaries set them afire. This was the first firestorm bombing of any city.
In the early hours of Tuesday 9th November, Lenora fought her final battle with pain and entered eternity. It has been a long and difficult battle with cancer, but she fought it bravely.
In July 2010, during Lenora’s first bout with cancer, I asked her what she wanted. Lenora looked intensely at me and declared: “I want to live long enough to see my grandchildren.”
Lenora, the youngest daughter of Bill and Harriet Bathman, was born at dawn on 16th November 1960 in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. She was named after Bill Bathman’s mother, Lenora, who was the youngest daughter of her mother, whose name was also Lenora. Lenora’s grandmother died of cancer in her early forties.
Born in England to American missionary parents, raised in Austria, Lenora went on many missions with her father. Rev. Bill Bathman energetically ministered throughout Eastern Europe, behind the Iron Curtain.