San Nomads find God
Three years ago, Bishop Frank Retief conducted a confirmation service in Ondangwa at which 14 San people were confirmed, amongst other members of Bishop Peter Kalangula's congregation. Other confirmations brought 30 the number of confirmed San nomads from the Mangetti region (200km south of Ondangwa, not far from Etosha Nature Reserve).
Bishop Kalangula, whose family has been nobility in Ovamboland for many generations, was President of the Turnhalle Alliance in the old days of South West Africa, and at one time Chief Minister of Ovamboland. When Namibia's first democratic government was elected, he was offered a place in the new government, but declined and retired from politics to resume his ministry at Christ Church Ondangwa.
Bishop Kalangula owns a cattle farm in the Mangetti in an area still roamed by nomadic San people. A number of boreholes he drilled for the use of the San people was the beginning of a strong relationship that developed between them. The San worked for Kalangula when they were in the area of his farm and he in turn supplied them with meat, as well as clothes and shoes that were collected for them. They learned each other's languages, and in conversations around he campfire they were introduced to the Creator. It was not long before they started asking for baptism as confirmation that they were now part of God's family.
Dr. David Seccombe, principal of George Whitefiled College (GWC), recalls how on a visit to the area with some GWC students in 1996, the San people would sit around the campfire at night singing hymns the bishop had translated for them. "Those who have come to the Lord, would on their return to their people share their knowledge of God with other nomads in the bush," he says, "and soon more and more San people would come to Kalangula's farm to hear the message of the gospel."
Last year Bishop Kalangula paid a woman to live in the Mangetti and teach the San converts to read. She recently had to leave to get married.
CESA, in partnership with Service in Mission (SIM), are planning to send a missionary couple, Trevor and Jill Wecke - who are currently studying at GWC - to Northern Namibia to assist Bishop Kalangula in his work. Trevor will become Bishop Kalangula's curate, with a brief to develope leadership training amongst the bishop's people. The Wecke's will also be committed to the women's ministry, children's work, Bible studies and evangelism.
On a visit to Ondangwa earlier this year, the Weckes got an idea of what lies ahead.
"Bishop Kalangua has a great evangelical heart and apart from the San people, he also has his eye focused on the 430 000 strong Owanbo people (speaking his own Owanbo dialect called 'Kwanyama') in Southern Angola. During our visit Jill had a tremendous response from the children with Sunday School on weekends and with Bible teaching," says Trevor Wecke.
The Weckes will be spending six months during the coming year learning Kwanyama so that they can communicate better with the Ovambo people. They are praying that they necessary funds will be raised before the end of 2004, when they plan to leave for Ondangwa. Although they will not be working directly with the San people, the leadership training among the Ovambo's should also have a positive spin-off for more evangelism among the San people.