Classic DACB Collection

All articles created or submitted in the first twenty years of the project, from 1995 to 2015.

Pauw, Christoffel Petrus

Reformed Church in Zambia
Zambia , South Africa

Christoffel Petrus Pauw (nicknamed Staff, probably an abbreviation of his name), missionary of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Orange Free State, was born on July 29, 1878 at Zuurbraak Mission, district Swellendam, Cape Province, South Africa, the ninth of twelve children born to Rev. Jacobus Cornelis Pauw and his wife, Anna Margaretha Kirchner (1840-1896). He grew up in a missionary home and developed with a clear sense of missionary vocation in his youth. Pauw’s father, originally from the Netherlands and often referred to as “the father of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church” (now part of the Uniting Reformed Churches in South Africa), was a missionary at Wellington (South Africa) and also served for thirty-four years as lecturer at the local Missionary Training Institute.

Pauw was educated at Wellington, after which he continued his studies at Victoria College (later University of Stellenbosch) and the Theological Seminary at Stellenbosch. Here he obtained a B.A. (1899) and a B.D. (1903). He was admitted to the ministry in 1903. On February 7, 1904, he was ordained assistant minister of the Johannesburg East Dutch Reformed Church, where six ministers, including his father, took part in the laying on of hands.

Towards the end of 1904, Pauw received a call to go to the Madzimoyo Mission Station at Fort Jameson (present day Chipata, Zambia) in the eastern part of Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) where he was installed on February 19, 1905. After spending three months in orientation and language instruction in Chinyanja/Chewa, at the Kongwe Mission Station of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission in Malawi (then Nyasaland) he was posted to Fort Jameson. He was the first ordained person to serve here in this capacity. In 1903–a year after the Anglo-Boer War ended,–the Dutch Reformed Church Mission in Northern Rhodesia had only one mission station with four outstations and no converts had yet been made. Two years later, there were four stations with seventy outstations and sixty Christians. The missionaries from South Africa increased from two to fifteen. Pauw was involved in establishing the first congregations of the Reformed Church in Zambia and served in Chipata and Madzimoyo congregations. He erected the church building at Chipata, which still stands today.

The year of arrival at Chipata was a year of drought. Chief Kapatamoyo and his people had already sacrificed two heads of cattle to the ancestors to send rain, but without success. The Commissioner of this British colony advised the chief to go to the missionary for help and to request a day of prayer for rain. Rev. Pauw told the story: “For me it was a very serious and anxious occasion. How detrimental to the Christian cause it could be if the rain did not follow on the day of prayer! But the Lord heard our prayers and while singing the last hymn, the rain started falling. A good maize crop was thereby ensured. But there was also a rich spiritual harvest when the chief and his people realized that rain came from God through Jesus Christ - and not from the ancestral spirits.”

When the Mission Council of the Dutch Reformed Church in the Orange Free State Mission in Northern Rhodesia was formed in 1909 (initially the work in Zambia was supervised by the Mission Council of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission, Cape Synod, in Malawi) Pauw was appointed head of the DRC mission in Zambia. He served in this capacity until he had to leave the country due to ill health in 1932.

In 1928 he travelled to Bloemfontein, South Africa to appear before the synod of the DRC Orange Free State in order to plead the case for the church in Zambia to become part of the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) which had been established in neighbouring Malawi in 1924. The Synod agreed but at its next meeting recalled its decision. While serving at Madzimoyo, he officiated at the ordination of the first Zambian minister, Rev. Justo Mwale in 1929.

In 1908, after a house was completed at Chipata, he brought his bride Esther Magdalena Bremer (1884-1974) from South Africa. She was a sister of Dr. Karl Bremer and daughter of a German medical doctor who had emigrated to South Africa. Out of this marriage six children (five sons and one daughter) were born. The eldest, Jacobus Cornelis Christoff Pauw (1909-1986), returned to Zambia to serve as a missionary from 1936 to 1954. All the children received their primary education in Chipata with Mrs. Pauw as their teacher. For secondary schooling they had to go to South Africa. Due to the fact that there was no road to Lusaka and the present railway line is 600 km to the west, the first two children had to stay in South Africa for five years without seeing their parents as furloughs to South Africa could only be taken every five years. The five sons all married and there were 20 grandchildren. The eldest grand child, C. M. Pauw (Professor in Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, 1983-2001), born in Zambia to J. C. C. Pauw in 1940, later also served in the Reformed Church in Zambia as lecturer at Justo Mwale Theological College, Lusaka (1975-1983), thus becoming the third generation of this family to serve in Zambia.

Pauw served for twenty-seven years at Madzimoyo. Due to poor health he accepted a call to the Strand (South Africa) and began his term of office on May 17, 1932. He retired eleven years later in 1943 and died on December 4, 1950 in Stellenbosch while living in a house loaned to the family by a well-wisher. The couple never possessed their own home.

The influence of Rev. and Mrs. Pauw in the Zambia is described as follow in the Minutes of the Mission Council on their departure in 1932:

The Council wishes to minute, with deep gratitude to the Lord, that He used our beloved brother and energetic Head, Rev. C. P. Pauw with his friendly spouse, for more than twenty six years with multiple fruit and blessings to work in our mission field. His departure from our midst, is to us an irreparable loss. His clear leadership, his fatherly advice, his inspiring example, his attractive simplicity, his arresting humour, as well as the friendliness and sharp insight of his spouse, shall be sorely missed by those who knew them as co-workers (Translation - JvW).

As one of the pioneer missionaries in the Eastern Province of Northern Rhodesia, Pauw and later as head of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission of the Orange Free State in Northern Rhodesia, Pauw made an important contribution in the establishment of the Church and the expansion of mission work through his capable and tactful guidance. On the foundations laid, the Reformed Church in Zambia today (2003) consists of approximately 140 congregations, 120 ordained ministers and 20 full-time evangelists.

J. J. van Wyk


J. M. Cronjé, *En Daar was Lig * (Bloemfontein: Sinodale Sendingkommissie, Posbus 1399, 1948).

J. M. Cronjé, Aan God die Dank (Pretoria: NG Kerkboekhandel, 1981).

J. M. Cronjé, Born to Witness, A Concise History of the Churches Born Out of the Mission Work of the Dutch Reformed Church (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk) of South Africa (Pretoria: NG Kerkboekhandel, 1982).

D. W. De Villiers, “Pauw, Christoffel Petrus,” in Dictionary of South African Biography, Vol V (Pretoria: Human Research Council, 1987), 609.

Notules van die Sinodale Sendingkommissie van die NG Kerk in die Oranje Vrystaat, Kerkargief, Bloemfontein, Suid-Afrika.

Notules van die Uitvoerende Sendingraad van die NG Kerksending in Zambië (Noord-Rhodesië), Kerkargief, Bloemfontein, Suid-Afrika.

C. M. Pauw, Mission and Church in Malawi. The History of the Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian 1889-1962 (Thesis presented for the degree of Doctor of Theology at the University of Stellenbosch, 1980).

Letter to the author, dated 2001, from Prof. C. M. Pauw (grandson), ordained minister in service of the Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) in Malawi (1965-1973); the Reformed Church in Zambia (1975-1983), Professor in Missiology at the University of Stellenbosch (1983-2001) and Secretary to the Unified Commission for Witness of the Family of Dutch Reformed Churches in the Western Cape, South Africa (2001-).

Interview by Dr. J. M. Cronjé with Prof. T. Pauw, erstwhile Principal of the Institute for the Blind in Worcester (Cape Province, South Africa), emeritus professor at the University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa and third son of Rev. and Mrs. C. P. Pauw. (in possession of Dr. J. M. Cronjé).

This story was prepared and submitted in 2003 by Dr. J. J. van Wyk, DACB Regional Coordinator for Southern and Eastern Africa.