West Africa is famed for its diamonds, bushmen, immense areas of arid land, and miles upon miles of bush country. There among approximately 500,000 Africans live 80,000 white people, 30,000 of whom are of German descent. Once a foreign possession of
Germany, it is now under control of the Republic of South Africa. This German community with their other white neighbors, most of whom are Afrikanders, have been largely responsible for the development of this most interesting country. As a German people they have, however, retained their distinctiveness in language and customs.
Until the year 1961 the Advent message had not penetrated very far into the white community, this being especially true so far as the German-language group is concerned. It was for these people that a few years ago a young man, Herman Schmutzler, had a tremendous burden. He was at that time a successful literature evangelist in Germany. The Holy Spirit spoke to this young man and he was convinced that he should go to South West Africa as a self-supporting missionary. He traveled at his own expense to Cape Town and enrolled for one year at Helderberg College to familiarize himself with the languages and customs he would meet. For a short time he canvassed in nearby territories, and late in 1960 he was ready to tackle South West Africa.
He requested that his close friend and ministerial intern, Reinhard Engel, living in Germany, be allowed to join him to make up a team of self-supporting workers. This was granted, and in January, 1961, they entered their territory. Their Volkswagen van was loaded with hundreds of books in German that had been shipped from Germany.
It was decided that Brother Schmutzler would make the first contact with his literature. He would take orders, collect the deposits, and continue on his way. The orders were to be sent to Brother Engel who would deliver the books and endeavor to interest the customers in having Bible studies in their homes. This plan has been an outstanding success. As business grew it was necessary for Brother Schmutzler to go farther afield, sometimes more than 200 miles from Brother Engel who was following, making the deliveries and giving Bible studies. Soon it became necessary for them to purchase another van to take care of their program. Both vans were equipped with sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities. Now there is a Mrs. Engel. The fiancée of our Bible worker arrived from Germany at midyear and they were married. Now we have a team of three dedicated workers, all being supported by the sales of this consecrated literature evangelist, the young minister delivering the books and holding Bible studies. The enlarging of the team added to its efficiency and happiness, but it also added to the expense. There is no provision for salary or travel expense. Food is very expensive, tires wear out at 10,000 miles on the gravel roads, and gasoline is more than seventy cents a gallon. All the expense is paid through the sale of books. Having counted the cost and dedicated themselves to the task, they had full confidence that the Lord would provide. He has honored their faith.
In the one year the team has been operating, the literature deliveries have amounted to $12,000. This figure represents 1,855 large books. At least one himdred homes have had as many as three Bible studies and forty homes are receiving Bible studies regularly. A score of people are keeping the Sabbath and several have already been baptized.
When evening comes, two vans, sometimes hundreds of miles apart, pull off the road and make camp. There is no well-stocked refrigerator from which to take food for supper, no electric stove on which to cook it, no washing machine to clean their travel-dusty clothes, no daily newspaper to unfold and scan under electric light, nor is there television to watch. No, they do not have these amenities, but they have some that are even better. They have God's open skies above them. They watch as God's heavenly creation marches across above them, bringing peace and the full assurance of God's care. The night sounds of nature, animal and insect life, bring quiet repose that refreshes them for another day's labor.
The spirit of this team is a wonderful example of sacrifice, devotion, and labor. It is the spirit of the pioneers of this movement, and it is the spirit that will finish the work so the Lord may come.