Andries Adriaan (Andrew) Louw

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About Andries Adriaan Louw

Better known as Rev. Andrew Louw, missionary at Morgenster Mission Station in Mashonaland, Zimbabwe

Source: Die families van Ou Swellendam deel 1 Steyn p.89

THE STORY OF ANDREW LOUW

Andries Adriaan (Andrew) Louw was born on the 26th of Febtuary, 1862 in the small rural town of Fauresmith, in the Orange Free State, in South Africa. His father, by the same name, Andries Adriaan, one of the first ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church to go to the Orange Free State, was married to Jemima Murray (baptised Jacomina). She was the eldest daughter of the Scottish minister, Andrew Murray, who came to the Cape in 1822 to serve in the Dutch Reformed Church. One of her younger brothers, was the very well known Andrew Murray, author of many, highly acclaimed Christian religous books.

Andrew who intended to follow his father's profession was admitted to the Theological Seminary at Stellenboch in September 1883. During this time his father was ministering in the Dutch Reformed congregation at Paarl in the Cape Colony. Andrew's health had always been frail. He developed a chronic cough condition and his doctor, Dr J.F. van Breda, diagnosed a lung and heart problem. In his third year Andrew had to interrupt his studies on advice of his doctor and was advised to go to a healthier climate, away from the moist conditions of the Cape.

God provided the answer when a friend of his father, "uncle" Petrus Joubert, who was attending the Durch Reformed Synod as a church elder for the Colesburg congregation in the Karroo, invited him to stay with him and his wife on their farm "Achtertang", in the Coleberg district.

In Andrew's mind this arrangement was a temporary one, but on his attemt to return he was advised to seek another type of employment and he had no option but to once again accept the hospitalty of "uncle" Petrus and "auntie" Katrina. An opportunity arose when a farm nearby came in the market. Andrew and his brother George decided to try their hand at farming. They bought the farm "Eenzaamheid", but Andrew had not abandoned his life-long desire to take the gospel to the heathen. The work of Rev. Stephanus Hofmeyr at Kranspoort in the Zoutpansberg in Northern Transvaal was known to him and was destined to play an important part in his future.

The plight of the Banyai tribe (Mashona) who were harassed by Lobengula's impis in Southern Rhodesia laid heavily on the heart of Rev. Stephanus Hofmeyer. Hy fasciltated several atempts to reach out to the Banyai. A local evangelist, Gabriël Buys, was sent to contact the people. His report was favourable. The Basuto Mission at "Goedgedacht" was eager to be involved and offered to send missionaries and evangelists.The first to go was Rev. Dieterleu but he was detained in Pretoria. He was followed by Rev. Coillard who was accompanied by three local evangelists at Kranspoort. They, too, failed in their mision and was arrested by Lobengula, who refused to grant his permission that a mission be started amongst the Banyai.

Rev. Hofmeyr did not give up and at his suggestion a band of Christian women at Stellenbosch agreed to intercede for the mission amongst the Banyai. The Basuto Mission of Northern Tranvaal sought permission from Lobengula but he refused, in spite of the moral support by memebers of the London Missionary Society who were stationed in Matabeleland. Another visit by Gabriël Buys ended in his being killed in a conflict between European hunters and the people of Zimuto, not far from Fort Victoria. In these dark days, Rev Hofmeyr wrote to the women's prayer circle at Stellenbosch: "We (at least I) are like dogs yelping before a closed door."

In 1889 three African evangelists at Kranspoort volunteered to enter Banyailand. They were Micha Maghato, Lulas Mokoele and Joshua Mosoha. The women at Stelenbosch as well as the Christians at Kranspoort continued to intercede for the three evangelists. From the evangelists came the report: Here is no peace. We continually see Matabele who surround us and go about killing people. They hunt the Banyai. We say once more, persevere in prayer.

A party of evangelists sent by the Berlin Missionary Society visited Mashonaland in 1883. In 1886 a second expedition was launched and in1888 two European missionaries, Knothe and Schwellnus accompanied the evangelists. In 1888 bishop Knigh-Bruce of the Church of England undertook an extenive tour in Mashonaland. No mission was founded.

At the Dutch Reformed Synod of 1886, the minister of Britstown, Rev. S.P.Helm was dedicated for mission work at Zoutpansberg. In 1890 he visted the Zimbabwe Ruins on horseback, accompanied by three evangelists. Upon his return, he pleaded the cause of a mission amongst the Banyai before his own church and offered himself as a candidate. At Colesberg Andrew Louw listened to a sermon by Rev. Helm. To him it was a call to Mashonaland. He contacted his father asking his blessing for his plans. In view of Andrew's ill health his father's attitude was not very encouraging. All the same, Andrew was dedicated for the work amongst the Banyai on the 30th of March, 1891 by the two congregations in Paarl and a third by a neighbouring congregation.

On the 8th of April, 1891, Mr. Louw (Andrew) departed by ox-wagon from Boshof near Kimberley to his new sphere of labour. The pioneer column had crossed the Limpopo the previous year. The land of the Mashona was under the British flag. The story of his journey is a story on its own. Enough is to say that his journey lasted almost five months. At Kranspoort seven evangelists volunteered to accompany Mr. Louw, some of whom he left at native kraals on the way. Izak Khumalo, one of them was a Ndebele, therefore belonging to Lobengula's tribe. For fifty years he laboured faithfully as an evangelist. After many days of trials and hardship, the party reached Mugabe's mountain near the Zimbabwe ruins on the 9th of September, 1891. This was where Mr. Louw sited the first mission station which he caled Morgenster (morning star) after name of his father's home in Paarl. The name was also an expression of his hope and prayer for his future work.

Andries Adriaan (Andrew) Louw's sojourn on earth lasted 94 years. Up to the end he seldom needed medication and his posture remained straight as a broomstick. He could look back - God's morning star had shone bright. He never acclaimed developments for himself, but attributed it to God's mercy and grace. Fom a humble beginning, with a home of pole and dagga, the mission developed into a major organisation encompassing a total of nine mission stations, two hospitals, a theological seminary, two teacher training colleges, three secondary schools, a school for the deaf, a school for the blind and many primary out-schools. In 1950 there were 375 out-schools with an enrollment of 31901. A printing press produced hymn books and Christian literature, culminating in the printing of the New Testament in the Chikaranga vernacular in 1919.

Mr, Louw's faith was tested but he never wavered, holding fast to his vision. On his arrival he had contracted malaria. In this condition he walked the twenty miles to Fort Victoria, accompanied by a newly found friend, Mr. Euvrard, but refused to be hospitalised. Chief Mugabe offered the services of his witch doctor, which he declined. Mr Louw recovered. An unfortunate incident happened soon after. Chief Mugabe had raided a neighbouring kraal as was his custom. The commandant at Fort Victoria was instructed to order Mugabe to return the stolen cattlle. Mr Louw was also informed. He tried to advise Mr Mugabe but at the same time excercising neutrality, not taking sides.The situation deteriorated and in a following clash with the police, Mugabe was killed. The whole affair fortunately simmered down and Mr Louw continued with his work, convinced of God's protection.

Things were moving. The mission was granted a farm of 6000 morgan by the administration. Rev. S. P. Helm arrived and stayed for two years. Soon after he left, his brother Dr. John Helm arrived - the first missinary doctor of the Dutch Reformed Church. The raiding of the Matabele remained a threat but no seious incidents occured. Cecil Rhodes visited the mission. Afterwards he sent Rev Louw seven diffetent kinds of gum seeds. The very tall gum trees is today a strikong feature at the mission. In 1894 Mr. Louw went on furlough and while he was in the Cape Colony he married Miss Cinie Malan. Miss Louw was God-sent as she had exceptional linguist abilities which she applied when she arrived at Morgenster Mission. She started to decipher the Chikaranga language and later pulished the first language guide and proceeded to translate the gospel according to St. Luke and therafter the new testament. All these were printed at the mission press.

During the Matabele rebellion in 1896 and Shona uprising the Morgester missionaries moved to the laager in Fort Victoria for a short spell. Rev. Louw did not miss the opprtunity to minister to the spiritual needs of the Europeans. He even started a school for the European children. In1895 it was arranged that Rev. Louw should preach at Fort Victoria once a month, administer the sacrements and conduct Sunday school and catechumen classes.

In 1921 the Cape Synod decided to accord Mr Louw the status of ordained minister- henceforth he was addressed as Reverend Louw. In 1954 he was awarded the OBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his services rendered. During the ensuing years the work progressed. Morgenster is today a sprawling complex. Three of the outstations were at ons stage transferred to the Berlin Missionary Society. Only lonely graves remain - some due to the invisible enemy, malaria. At Morgenster too, the graves of Andries Adriaan (Andrew) Louw and Susanna Francina Louw can be seen next to one another. Nearby is the grave of their son, Willie, who died at a young age. Their other offspring were a son and three daughters and one adpted daugter.

   
 
    
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Andries Adriaan (Andrew) Louw's Timeline

1862
February 26, 1862
Fauresmith, OFS, South Africa
1895
July 6, 1895
Age 33
Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia
1897
May 9, 1897
Age 35
Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia
1902
May 30, 1902
Age 40
1905
December 13, 1905
Age 43
Masvingo, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
1918
July 23, 1918
Age 56
1956
August 12, 1956
Age 94
Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia
August 14, 1956
Age 94
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