Chawner, Charles Austin

South Africa

Charles Austin Chawner was a missionary in South Africa. The son of pioneer Canadian Pentecostal missionaries to South Africa, Chawner graduated from Bethel Bible Training School in Newark, New Jersey, and was ordained in 1925 by the Pentecostal Assemblies in Canada. In the same year, he received missionary appointment and traveled to South Africa. In 1935, he married Ingrid Lökken, a missionary supported by Norwegian Pentecostal Churches.

Chawner began mission work in Natal, but when Portuguese authorities refused him entry into Portuguese East Africa (present-day Mozambique), he settled in the Transvaal. There he ministered to the Tsonga people who had come from Portuguese East Africa to work in the gold mines. After much opposition from the Portuguese authorities, he established a permanent station in the Gijani district, the first Pentecostal endeavor in the country. His activities focused on ministerial training and publications that included tracts, hymnbooks, correspondence courses, and books in both English and Tsonga. Chawner also wrote a grammar for the Tsonga language entitled Step by Step in Thongu: A Series of Lessons in the Thonga Language (1938), and he served on the translation committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

When the Portuguese curtailed Protestant missionary activities (c. 1950), the membership of the two hundred Pentecostal Assemblies of God Churches that had been established by Chawner were prepared to carry on under the direction of trained national church leaders.

Gary B. McGee


C. Austin Chawner’s books include Have You Heard about Mozambique? (1936) and Christ Conquering in Thongaland (1938). See also Charles and Emma Chawner, Called to Zululand, 2d ed. (c. 1923; C. Austin Chawner’s parents are the authors of this volume); Ingrid Lõkken Chawner, Nkosazana: The King’s Daughter (1956); Gloria G. Kulbeck, What God Hath Wrought: A History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (1958).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.