1. Job title and more about yourself.
Hendrik Saayman is a retired minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. He is married to Jurita,and they have three daughters. Hendrik describes his love for the Lord and the Church and explains that his goal is to serve the local church and be agents of change in their communities, cities, countries and world. “I believe that the church can be bridge builders and must be part of God’s reconciliation plan on earth,” says Hendrik.
2. Can you briefly name a few of the opportunities you had while growing up that made you the person you are today?
Hendrik explains how he grew up in a white, conservative, Afrikaner household in the time of apartheid. “As I grew older, I became more and more uncomfortable with the way people of colour were treated. The injustices in our country bothered me,and as a pastor of one of the biggest NG Churches in the country, I tried to reach out to our Black brothers and sisters,” says Hendrik.Hendrik continued to describe how he was exposed to many situations in Townships and Squatter camps and experienced their sufferings and difficult contexts. “It made me realise that we as brothers and sisters in the Lord must help each other,” says Hendrik. Hendrik added that he feels blessed that he was able to experience the courage of the people and their love of the Lord, in the midst of their situation.
3. Can you briefly describe your experience at in Harmonie?
Hendrik believes that the space created at in Harmonie makes it possible for special and meaningful encounters. “Every time that I visited In Harmonie,I experience a very precious and special encounter with God and fellow brothers and sisters,” says Hendrik.
4. Could you briefly describe your work for in Harmonie?
“I am very humbled by the fact that my work is part of in Harmonie,” says Hendrik. “The reason I gave it to Hannelie, was because I realised that we share the same values regarding reconciliation. Hannelie played a significant role in my ministry. I had a dream to start a School of Church Planting to trainpastors in the African Initiated Churches. I made an application for financial support at the HRT,and she graciously accepted it,” Hendrik explains. Hendrik continues by saying that Hannelie was the very first person to support the ministry. By doing that, she opened other doors for Hendrik,and it empowered him to carry on with the opening of the “Vastfontein School of Church Planting”.
“I believe that through that ministry we reached thousands of people with the Good News of salvation and built many bridges between different communities and people. People were reconciled with the Lord and with each other. The painting is two hands, a black and a white person shaking hands. To me it is a symbol of respect and acknowledgement of each other. When I painted my little work, I did not do it with the intention to give it to Hannelie, but when the HRT visited Vastfontein, I believe that the Lord put it on my heart to give it to her as a gift and to say thank you for the huge role they played in my ministry,” says Hendrik.
5. What do you think some of the challenges are in building a more harmonious South Africa?
Hendrik explains that there is a lack of understanding between different groups. “The fact that people grew up with pre-conceived ideas of the other race groups asks for more opportunities for different races to engage in conversations. I believe this is what in Harmonie is also doing,” says Hendrik. Hendrik the continues to point out that one of the challenges are to narrow the gap between rich and poor. “Many of the poor people are poor because they did not have opportunities to education and to empower themselves with skills sets. I think that the rich, educated, highly skilled people must create spaces where they can share their knowledge and skills with selected poor people. They must teach them, show them, support them and mentor them. In other words, it is a journey to uplift people,” says Hendrik. Hendrik then continues to explain that the Church must play a more intentional role in this process of building a more harmonious South Africa. Because the church (Followers of Jesus Christ) from different backgrounds, share the same Biblical Worldview, and therefore she is more equipped to do this than the government.
6. How do you think a person moves from a state of disharmony to harmony? (Personally/Politically/Spiritually)
First of all, Hendrik states that you must have peace with yourself. This is possible when you have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. “When you have peace with yourself, you are in a position to have a harmonious relationship with people who are different from you,and it is possible to see the image of God in other people,” says Hendrik.
Hendrik believes that Christians must engage in politics toserve with Biblical principles, where the decisions must benefit the diversity of the community and not only a part of it. Hendrik continues by explaining that the church needs to be more faithful in their prayers for different levels of government.
Hendrik explains that he believes the church must be more intentional and engaging in proclaiming the Biblical principles. “More opportunities must be created for exposure and conversations between different communities,” says Hendrik.
7. How do you and your organisation engage in this process of change?
The congregation where Hendrik is worshipping is part of a Spiritual leader’s forum in Kleinmond. They organisediscussion groups between different churches from the different racial groups in Kleinmond. “I try to build relationships with people from other races and to listen to their stories,” Hendrik.
8. How do you see the way forward for yourself and South Africa?
“I am positive because there is so much goodwill among so many people in our country,” says Hendrik. Hendrik continues by saying that many people that he knows are willing to be part of the solution and not the problem. “We need to tell the “Good news” stories so that people can be motivated to do whatever they can do. The biggest lie that people believe is that the little they can do cannot make a difference. If everyone does their little bit, it can create a big change,” Hendrik emphasised.
9. Any words of advice or encouragement you would like to share with those who feel like they have lost hope?
God is in control. If we as followers of Christ will understand our responsibility, we can make the tide to turn. We need to be bridge builders instead of wall builders.