Clarence Reginald Roux was a pioneer member and lay preacher in Johannesburg.
He was born at Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape. His father operated a successful butchery business in Umtata but he became an alcoholic. When Clarrie was about twelve years old, his father lost the business. After that, the family moved from town to town seeking work. Clarrie was taken out of school. He worked at a boot factory in Port Elizabeth in order to support the family. When he was fourteen, he found a job in the post office at Kimberley. Life was extremely difficult in the home, more especially for his mother who died at the age of forty-seven.
As a teenager, Clarrie was outgoing and musical. He learned to play the ukelele and some chords on the piano. With such talents, he would keep the many home dance parties alive as he and his friends would meet to enjoy themselves with dance, song and drink. He never became a heavy drinker, however, and was never addicted.
As a boy, he had attended a Dutch Reformed Sunday School and it must have influenced him as he became aware of a great fear in his heart of death, hell and the judgement day. Once when he was about eleven, he stood and listened to a Salvation Army band in Uitenhage and responded to the appeal to give his heart to Jesus. It did not materialize however as it was not followed up. “But,” Clarrie said, “Thanks be to God, He had not forgotten that decision.” Clarrie had a tender conscience and was dubbed “The Minister” by his pals although he did not really know the Lord.
In 1934, during the depression, he married Edie Seigal with only two shillings and six pence in his pocket and without a job. He sold haberdashery from door to door. One day, a great windfall came when he picked up a purse containing over eleven pounds. This came just when they were expecting their first child. They were slightly better off when Edie found a job as a dining car stewardess on the railway. Clarrie wrote, “Our married life was very stormy and unhappy, and short, for, in 1937, Edie died at the age of twenty-one.”
She was unconscious and with no hope of recovery from septicaemia. Sitting at her bedside one evening in the Johannesburg General Hospital, Clarrie began praying. He describes the experience thus:
I ventured into talking to God whom I did not know, but I believed He was there. I tried to make a bargain with God and said, “If you spare her I will give my life to You.” Immediately, I was confronted by God’s Holy Spirit, “How dare you try to make a bargain with God!” I saw the reason it was such a wrong thing and made the greatest decision of my life when I replied from my heart by the grace of God, “Whether she lives or not, I give my life to God.”
He was completely calm and experienced no emotional reaction. Later that evening Edie passed away.
He continued, “What followed were two weeks of bitter mourning. I missed her terribly. But gradually my heart was healing and I began realizing that something wonderful had taken place in my soul.” He began reading his Bible which he had somehow aquired although he was poor, had no job and had the two boys, Brian and Ronnie, to care for. He wrote: “I was rejoicing in a wonderful experience of peace. Yes, I was powerfully saved by Jesus Christ coming into my heart. I had no more desire for my worldly escapades. The lust for bioscope and for drink was gone, except I was still gripped good and solid by cigarettes. It was about a year later that the Lord led me to help my brother Laddie and his wife Josephine to find Jesus.”
The following month, Clarrie joined the Holiness Crusade at Hope Hall in central Johannesburg and ministered there with Rev. Frank Huskisson for fourteen years. He wrote about it: “I began preaching and testifying in open air services and having a glorious time as a Christian.” He worked in the Christian Literature Depot. His sons were cared for at a childrens’ home.
He took special studies to improve his education and, in 1941, joined the South African Air Force. A number of the men he was with found the Lord through his testimony. When the war ended in 1945, he married Alice Landmark (?-1985). They first met when she returned to fetch her gloves which she had left when she made a purchase at the C.L.D. He wrote of her, “She was the sweetest girl I knew. (…) She was plainly and beautifully innocent with a gentle and unassuming spirit.”
While under holiness teaching at the Hope Hall mission he hungered and agonized for four and a half years before getting through to the experience of entire sanctification in 1947. He explained, “I suffered because of an evil heart of unbelief. (…) In reading I John l:7,9 I was shown a picture in my mind of stones laying in a river with the water covering them all the time. To me it was a token of being cleansed all the time while I remain obedient to God.” It was for him a wonderfully emotional experience after he realized that it was attainable through faith alone.
The Nazarene Pioneer Superintendent, Rev. Charles H. Strickland, attempted to begin work in Johannesburg when he first arrived in South Africa in 1948. In 1954, Clarrie Roux met Dr. Strickland one day at Rev. Tudhope’s Holiness Mission in Bob Street, Regents Park (a southern suburb of Johannesburg). After the building had been expropriated by the city and Rev. Huskisson had retired, the mission at Hope Hall was discontinued. Clarrie asked Dr. Strickland to start a holiness church in Johannesburg. The reply was, “Clarrie, you get a hall and we’ll start.” For a low rent, Clarrie found a second-floor hall opposite Selbourne Hall in the city center. There was a boxing gymnasium below and a dancing school next door. Clarrie and Alice joined. They had eight members before moving to the “Glory Barn” in Braamfontein (Central Johannesburg).
There they had sixty members. A number of them entered full-time ministry including Mr. David and Mrs. Myrna Whitelaw, Mr. Robert and Mrs. Marcia Skinner, Mr. Currie and Mrs. Connie van Rensburg and Mr. Phil Bedwell. When Uncle Mac (MacLachlan) came to pastor in 1960, the mission group at Bob Street merged with the Church of the Nazarene, and the congregation moved to Bob Street and became the Regents Park Church.
Clarrie was a commercial traveller with a Christian publishing company for twenty-seven years. He travelled throughout South and Central Africa and preached over weekends. Sometimes he was away from home for six weeks at a time. He worked part of the time with the interdenominational Africa Evangelistic Band and, through them, found many fruitful opportunities for evangelism and camp meeting ministry. God used him and he saw many respond to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin. He saw hundreds of people respond to the message of heart holiness. A Baptist minister in Kitwe, Zambia, saw his need, humbled himself and found the great blessing of sanctification.
While in Harare, Zimbabwe, about 1955, Clarrie was walking to a Pentecostal church one Sunday morning when the Lord said to him, “I want you to preach in that church.” Greatly surprised but not alarmed, Clarrie proceeded to talk to the pastor whom he had met only once before in South Africa. He was asked to preach and there was a good response. Just before leaving the pastor asked him to speak to a young lady who was crying. Sobbing, she said, “I wonder where I could find Him.” Lifting his eyes to the Lord for help, Clarrie told her to stop crying. She was about twenty and her name was Dawn Thompson. He referred her to Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me.” After Clarrie explained the way of salvation to her, she broke into tears of thankfulness saying, “Oh, I did not know that He was standing there all the time.” She was not a member of that congregation and was obviously led by God to that church just as Clarrie was that Sunday morning.
Another outstanding service that Clarrie tells about was at a Baptist Church in East London about 1958. Clarrie was the speaker for a weekend of special holiness services. On Sunday night the church was so packed that he had only about a square metre of standing room at the pulpit. There was a great response at the close and, among many others, a young man, Wally Marais, found the experience of entire sanctification. This young man went on to become a leading Nazarene minister. In 1972, Clarrie preached at a service in a scout hall at Plumstead, Cape Town, and his son Ronnie was sanctified.
One Friday night, Clarrie was returning home to Parys from Welkom when his car stopped running about six miles outside of Kroonstad. He managed to push it off the road. A passing driver stopped and told him that the condenser had packed up. Clarrie thumbed a lift into Kroonstad. The garage was closed and he asked the petrol attendant where the manager was. He was in a pub across the street and asked a friend to go to his home to fetch the garage keys and he sold Clarrie a condenser. Clarrie was thankful that God was still undertaking for him. He hitched a ride back to his car. Not knowing how to fit the condenser he stopped another passing car. The driver was a mechanic who somehow fixed it even though they had no torch. He soon arrived home forty-eight miles further on.
Clarrie suffered bouts of severe depression particularly during the periods of 1967-78 and 1987-89. These became a great spiritual problem to him and he would doubt his relationship with the Lord. In 1987, it was especially severe. To help him doctors had given him various tablets. He found that he was addicted to serapax which he had been taking for eight years. He went through a withdrawal course of about nine months. He described it, “I saw no hope; God was nowhere to be found. There was nothing for me to do but cry for mercy. I was desperate at times. No one could help me and all would tell me to look to God alone.” Finally, in October 1989, God gloriously lifted him out of it.
The son of Clarrie and Edith, Rev. Ronnie Roux, and his wife Sheila (?-1995) started the church at Milnerton in Cape Town and continued to pastor in the Western Cape. Ronnie paid this tribute to his father:
He lived what he believed, and what he believed is what he preached. He loved life. He enjoyed moments of laughter and would always look for the funny and happy things in life. He sometimes doubted his sanctification only because he battled to differentiate between infirmities and carnality, and infirmities he had plenty considering his background and upbringing. I often quoted the Scripture: “So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36), and would challenge him to accept that freedom from sin by simple faith. But he really expected much more from being entirely sanctified than the Bible allows.
He loved people, and he had many friends who really loved him. They took him as he was and enjoyed his company. My dad left me with a wonderful heritage: his Christian spirit and his love for life. I owe much of what I know and what I am today to his splendid example. He was truly a great saintly man of God.
In retirement Pastor Clarrie Roux was living in an apartment at the Regents Park Church. In 1995, he was tragically murdered by burglars who entered his home. In 2001, Ronnie and Sheila Roux went to pastor Grace Church in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape.
Paul S. Dayhoff
J. Johnson and C. Zurcher, 1993, Strickland Safari, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House), 36-37; Clarrie Roux, letter, April 28, 1992; Nadine DuTriou, research paper at Nazarene Theological College, South Africa, 1992; Clarrie Roux, diary excerpts: “The Testimony of my Christian Life to the Glory of God,” March 4, 1990, provided by Rev. Ronnie Roux.
Ron Roux, letter, November 1997.
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Living Stones In Africa: Pioneers of the Church of the Nazarene, revised edition, copyright © 1999, by Paul S. Dayhoff. All rights reserved.