Mr. William Humphry Young had an African mother. His father was an educated white man whom he never knew. Because of his parentage everyone in the community treated him unkindly. His mother did truly love him but she was too ill to work. They lived at Sabie in Mpumalanga, South Africa. As a small boy, stealing became a way of life as he tried to provide for the family. At age ten, he lost his only friend when his mother died.
A Nazarene missionary lady Dulile (“expensive”),–Miss Louise Robinson (later Mrs. Chapman),–took him in and gave him work in spite of his bad reputation as a very clever thief. He responded well to her kindness. One day in 1920 he raised his hand in church and said, “I choose Jesus.” One of the things he learned was to pay his tithe and this remained a lifelong habit.
Three years later Louise Robinson saw him nearly fall over a bucket of water he was trying to lift. He had been fasting and praying until he was weak, troubled about all of his crimes. He made a long list of things he had stolen and then for several months went all over town and the surroundings returning them or offering to pay for them. When he finished he was very happy and the hearts of many were touched. After weeks of praying he finally found the living presence of the Holy Spirit in his life through total commitment and simple faith.
Immediately he began to witness for his Lord and would go far down into the lowveld, often staying away for days. Once he found an old woman who was dying. He prayed with her and she gave her heart to Christ. Willie stayed and gave her a Christian burial. He often accompanied Louise Robinson. One night a girl came to tell them that her brother was dying. They followed her for hours in the dark to her home. A traditional doctor was there cooking medicine. Willie shook the boy awake and told him about Jesus. The boy spat out the medicine and said he chose Jesus. As he died a light came into his eyes and his face shone with hope. Willie never forgot that experience and throughout his life he was never too busy to pray with someone who needed the Lord or who had a problem. In 1924 Louise Robinson was transferred to Endzingeni in Swaziland. He accompanied her and entered school there.
A herdboy named Mgwinji Ntshalintshali fell while climbing a fruit tree. He landed on a sharp piece of wood that tore a hole in his stomach. A traditional doctor treated him for several days and he was given up to die. Willie Young found him and walked the eight miles each day after school to visit him. The smell from his infected wound was terrible. They took him to the mission. No doctor was available so missionary nurse Miss Dora Carpenter, along with Louise Robinson and the other missionary ladies, cleaned and sewed up his stomach and they prayed. It was a miracle that he recovered. He found the Lord and took the name Roger. He stayed there in school and eventually became a pastor.
Willie Young attended the Bible College at Pigg’s Peak and later was the first Swazi Nazarene to obtain a teacher’s certificate. He married Miss Carolina Ingle (?-1985) from Sabie who was at the girls’ school. She repented in October 1927 during a revival when Louise Robinson was the speaker. She became a spiritual leader among the women.
Young was a good teacher and preacher, an artist, an organist, a mechanic, a carpenter and builder. Nervous problems did not permit him to continue teaching so he went into business and was very successful.
Young continued to be very active in the work of the church at every level. In the late 1960s he visited all of the Nazarene churches in Swaziland and carefully explained to them the principles and methods of financial self-support. He was loved and respected throughout the community. Once a group of shopkeepers tried to close his store at Endzingeni because he would not sell tobacco. They did not succeed.
Young donated land, buildings and bells for churches in Swaziland. He also gave the money in 1966 for a fine church building at Jabulani (Soweto, Johannesburg). It was the first church building of any denomination in that suburb. Then in 1969 he donated money for a beautiful church at Phalaborwa (Northern Province) near the Kruger National Park. It was completed after his death and his widow Mrs. Carolina Young and his son Mr. George Young attended the dedication of it in 1970.
Mr. Willie Young was tragically killed near Manzini when a car came over the rise ahead at high speed on the wrong side of the road and hit his car. The man who found him said he was unconscious but as his breathing stopped a great smile came over his face. At prayer meeting the previous evening he had said, “I do not know when Jesus will return or when He will call me, but I want everyone to know that I am ready any time.” There were a thousand people in the church attending his funeral and hundreds stood outside.
Paul S. Dayhoff
L. Sibandze, “William Young,” Umphaphamisi (The Herald), Swazi-Zulu magazine of the Church of the Nazarene for Swaziland and South Africa, (Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, April-June 1970), 4.
Willie Young, Umphaphamisi (August 1923), 4.
Louise Robinson Chapman, Africa, O Africa, (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1945), 56ff.; Endzingeni Zone stationing report (Africa Council Minutes 1953); James M. P. Malambe, “Endzingeni Branch Churches,” Umphaphamisi (November-December 1946), 6.
Amy N. Hinshaw, Native Torch Bearers, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1934), 121-123.
Enos Mgwenya, interview, tape recording (Arthurseat, 1 February 1992); Dr. Robert Perry, notes (1985); Mrs. Young, interview, tape recording (Nazarene Archives, Manzini).
George R. Hayse, The Other Side of the Shield, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1966), 42; Isibani Sobungcwele. (The Lamp of Holiness.) Swazi/Zulu Magazine of the Church of the Nazarene in South Africa. Florida, Transvaal, South Africa: Nazarene Publishing House, July-September 1970), 14; Bill Moon, notes (Colorado Springs, 14 August 1995).
J. Williams, “God’s African Merchant,” The Other Sheep, (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, June 1970), 20.
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.