Jacobus J. (Kosie) Coetzee was from southwest Africa (Namibia) and, along with other members of his family, had been led into the experience of heart holiness through a campaign held there by the Africa Evangelistic Band. He felt God’s call to preach and, after completing study at the Africa Evangelistic Band Bible College in Capetown, became a pilgrim in the organization. He and his wife, Hester (Cloete) Coetzee (1931-), worked in South Africa for a number of years and in 1951 united with the Church of the Nazarene. They had three children, Dirk, Marie, and Barbara.
They went to begin work in Vryburg, Northwest Region. In the face of what came to be organized opposition, they began to lay the foundations in an area where the church had never been heard of. They found a house with a large living room suitable for holding services. Through their patient and faithful work, and despite the opposition, they established a small congregation in Vryburg and a circuit of over two hundred miles into the neglected rural areas along the edge of the Kalahari desert.
It was pouring rain one day when Rev. Kosie Coetzee and the superintendent, Dr. Charles Strickland, went out into the Kalahari desert to hold special meetings at some isolated farms. They came to a river where the water was high and flowing swiftly over the bridge. They were not sure that it was safe to cross. Kosie rolled up his pants legs and waded into the water to see how deep it was and how strong it was flowing. Dr. Stickland was frightened and exclaimed, “No, Brother, we can’t go through!” But Brother Coetzee insisted saying that they had to get through because they had a message to give that night. They breathed a prayer and prepared to try it. Dr. Strickland rolled up his trouser legs and waded through the swirling river while Rev. Coetzee slowly and carefully drove the car through. In 1956 the Coetzees went to serve at Henneman in the Orange Free State.
When his family back in Namibia learned that Kosie had united with the Church of the Nazarene, they began to make inquiries. The superintendent, Dr. Bruce Taylor, visited them along with Rev. Coetzee and an evangelistic campaign was planned. Rev. J. MacLachlan, Rev. Kosie Coetzee and Rev. Currie van Rensburg went to hold meetings for two weeks in an auditorium. They found a good response and were able to use a large Evangelical Lutheran church that had been used as a day school. In 1973 a church was organized in Windhoek with nineteen members.
In March 1974 Rev. Pieter and Mrs. Betty van den Berg moved to Windhoek and were able to get the church established. They stayed for nearly three years and were succeeded by missionaries Harmon and Beverly Schmelzenbach.
From 1971 on the Coetzees ministered at Welverdiend; in 1975 they went to Klerksdorp and in 1980 to Ventersdorp. In 1977 Kosie Coetzee was ordained. In 1985 they retired from pastoring. Until 1992, Oom Kosie became manager of the Nazarene properties in Florida.
Kosie lived very close to the Lord during his last years. During his final illness he would often quote the first few verses of Psalm 103, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name….forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” During his last months he continually testified of the goodness of the Lord.
For a while after he passed away, his wife Hester became secretary to the district superintendent of the Gauteng District, Rev. Rudie Booyens, in Florida. Then she returned to reside in Barberton and later moved to Marloth Park near Komatipoort.
Paul S. Dayhoff
Bruce T. Taylor, More Precious than Gold: The Church of the Nazarene in European South Africa (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1977), 64-65. Charles H. Strickland, African Adventure (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1959), 56. J. MacLachlan, The First 25 Years: A Brief History of the South African District of the Church of the Nazarene (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, 1974), 25. Jerald D. Johnson and Carol Zurcher, Strickland Safari (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1993), 37.
Mrs. Hester Coetzee, letter from Barberton, February 3, 1997.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, (Florida, Gauteng, South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 2002), copyright © 2001, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.