Mrs. “Wiesie” Hester, Helena Louisa (de Lange) van Wyk (1913-2007) was born into the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. de Lange who were direct descendants of Commander Hans Dons de Lange, a scout for the Voortrekkers at the battle of Blood River in 1838. Lovingly known as “Aunt Wiesie,” she was born on the farm, Van Schalkwykrus, in the Bethal District, Mpumalanga. As a child she used to ride horses and loved to have races with them. She and her brother Attie went to school in a donkey cart. One day, on the way home from school, the tongue broke and she and her brother fell out. Books were scattered everywhere. Help arrived however and they reached home safely.
She married Harry van Wyk (1901- 1961) on July 17, 1934. He grew up in the Mafeking District, Northwest Region, near the town of Setlagoli and was a drilling inspector for the government.
Aunt Wiesie testifies:
The wonderful day when the Lord saved me was Sunday, October 31, 1944, at three o’clock in the afternoon. The Lord used Auntie Mattie Hattingh to be my spiritual mother. It was in Mrs. Rahn’s home, “Twin Palms” near Trichardtsdal, Northern Province. In a powerful way the Lord through the Holy Spirit brought me to the experience of being born again. Everything was new. It was as if I was really so new that I did not know myself. It was unforgettable and glorious! That was nearly fifty-two years ago and it continues to be fresh and wonderful.
It was in the home of Rev. I. E. and Mrs. Fannie Dayhoff at Lorraine Mission nearby that I first heard a message about sanctification. It was brought by Miss Dina van Vuuren. Sanctification is a wonderful life to live. ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). For me life has become Christ, dead to the world! It was in this way, step by step, that the Lord drew me to higher heights in Christ Jesus.
Once in 1940 when they lived at Molopo in the Vryburg District, on the border of Botswana, they were visited by a hyena. Searching for meat, it was about to enter their bedroom and her husband was asleep. Aunt Wiesie grabbed the gun and fired a few shots. The hyena gave a couple of yelps and ran off into the bush. The family felt that the Lord had protected them.
While living near Acornhoek, Northern Province, she met Rev. Reg and Mrs. Lillian Jones and other missionaries. The van Wyks had Christmas dinner one year at the mission. They were joined by Rev. David and Mrs. Maud Jones, Rev. Elmer and Mrs. Mary Schmelzenbach, Miss Tabitha Evans, Nurse Boland and Miss Doris Brown. Just as they were ready to eat, Lilly Jones was called away to treat an emergency patient that had just been brought in. A girl had been gored in the stomach by a cow. Aunt Wiesie was pleased when they asked her to return thanks in Afrikaans. In 1996, she wrote, “it was such an inspiration that I still remember it with appreciation and thank the Lord for the experience. We sang together. There was a wonderful atmosphere and the presence of the Lord Jesus was evident. Everyone was happy and all without any alcoholic liquor. The Lord did great things for us at Acornhoek.”
During those days she and her husband both suffered from bouts of malaria fever. Once when her husband was very seriously ill, Rev. Jones laid hands on him and prayed. The Lord healed him in His wonderful mercy and love.
The van Wyks first met the Church of the Nazarene, working among the white population, in 1956 when Revs. Chris Botha and Louis Kriel held services at Ventersdorp, Northwestern Region. They attended the services and realized that this was what they were looking for. Mr. van Wyk became very sick and could not always attend the services. On November 26, 1961 Aunt Wiesie joined the church. Her husband passed away the following day. She felt it was a privilege to have Rev. Bob Hurnie take the funeral service. She was thankful to be a part of the church during difficult time. The church embraced her and for twenty-two years she was a missionary society delegate to the District Assembly.
Their only son was Willem Jacobus and they called him Kosie. On January 25, 1966 he died at the age of eighteen following a motor accident. The Lord gave Aunt Wiesie comfort and peace. “This was a great loss. To me he was a ‘Samuel’. I had asked God for a son in order for him to be a missionary.” He always had good rapport with the African people. He died on his sister Ina’s birthday. Aunt Wiesie has three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Aunt Wiesie made her home at Brits, west of Pretoria.
She was happy to get to know Rev. Paul and Mrs. Margaret Dayhoff especially at Brits during the 1970s. She appreciated the messages that Margaret brought during Bible studies and she still keeps the patch-work quilt from America on her bed. Aunt Wiesie resides (1999) at Huis Vergenoeg in Villieria, Pretoria, and continues as a faithful member of the Pretoria congregation.
During 1996 she had a radio interview with Nita Conradie. They conversed about the joy of the Lord and about prayer. Following that, Auntie Wiesie was so surprised to get many telephone calls and letters from all over South Africa including Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein. Two calls came from Christian Indian families at Laudium, near Pretoria. Many were requesting her to pray for them. She was pleased to be able to serve the Lord even in this small way.
Tant Wiesie was one of the early members of the Pretoria congregation and was very active in the local church and on the district. She carried on an extensive correspondence and continued with this until the end. She passed away at the age of 94 on 26 February 2007. . . . . .
Paul S. Dayhoff
1.Aunt Wiesie van Wyk, letters (in Afrikaans), (19 August 1996 and 14 October 1996).
- Ina Wolmarans, (letter of 23 April 2007).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Africa Nazarene Mosaic: Inspiring Accounts of Living Faith, first edition, copyright © 2001, by Paul S. Dayhoff, Florida, Republic of South Africa: Africa Nazarene Publications, 2002. All rights reserved.