Revival among children during the early days of Pentecostalism in South Africa

Herewith a translation (lees die oorspronklike in Afrikaans) of the description of the revival that occurred in South Africa during the early days of Pentecost (Al bruis die Jordaan, 1969. J.C. de Ferrieres – Tant Sannie):

Sonskynhoekie chur
Sonskynhoekie children’s service

“In 1940, the Executive Council of my church held the first national Passover conference on a farm in Emmerentia (now a suburb of Johannesburg). I was asked to take responsibility for the children’s services that would take place twice daily. These services were to be held when the parents attended the conference services in a separate tent, that seated 4000 adults.

The crowds of children attending grew every day and we witnessed the sincere repentance and conversion of many. However, conditions were extremely difficult because city children usually associate a farm with a holiday. Obviously, they were inspired by a holiday feeling and didn’t want too much church.

I remember one particular boy, H. He was very wayward, wild, challenging with a strong personality and leadership ability. As soon as the children’s service started, H only needed to give one whistle, and he was gone with all the boys! I couldn’t seek help from the parents, because they were already in their service. I was powerless and turned to my Heavenly Father for help.

It was near the end of the service, the third night. I was tired and sad, but thankful for a few new conversions. Someone closed the service with a prayer of thanks and suddenly the unexpected, the heavenly, happened! It was something like the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit descended upon approximately 250 children. Simultaneously, the children began to cry and confess their sins out loud. Some ran forward and grabbed my hands, others fell flat on the ground. Everywhere you could hear the cries for mercy.

The children and young people ranged from about six to twenty years. Those who were already saved received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of those who experienced such a profound conversion that night also received a powerful baptism in the Spirit of God. Many lay on the floor for hours, while speaking in a heavenly language.

The adults’ service adjourned a little later. How frightened the parents were when they came to their tents and the children were not there yet. Everyone quickly rushed to the children’s tent in search of the children; and what a scene greeted them! The strong presence of the Holy Spirit also overwhelmed the parents with a sincere conviction of sin. Many of them kneeled down and made a wholehearted surrender to the Lord.

From that moment on, the whole atmosphere was changed. H was also saved. Children flocked to the children’s service when it was time for the service to start (pp40-42).

We had the privilege of experiencing about seven mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit in “Sonskynhoekie” (the name given to the original children’s tent that was later replaced with a children’s hall) over the years (p47).

The blessing of God was not always accompanied by great “noise”. No, sometimes we also had deep conversions in calmness and silence. One morning, still in the tent, the children of the children’s homes also attended the service. There were many boys and girls between five and ten years in the front seats. While there was a moment of silence, someone started the chorus: “Over and over, like a mighty sea, comes the Love of Jesus, sweeping over me.

“Unexpectedly, the Spirit of God filled the tent. It was like a gentle breeze. Hundreds of children spontaneously closed their eyes and folded their arms. Everyone sang the chorus gently, over and over, for about 20 minutes. Like ripe wheat fields the children slowly rocked back and forth, all in unison without one breaking the rhythm. The testimonies that followed proved that many souls were saved and purified in that atmosphere that morning.

The question may arise in the reader’s heart: “Have all these children’s salvation passed the test of time?” I want to acknowledge that, as in any revival or congregation, all conversions did not endure, however, a large majority did.

It has been almost 30 years since the birth of Sonskynhoekie and today, as my husband and I travel through the country, it is remarkable to see the fruits of those services. We find pastors, their spouses, Sunday School superintendents, and church council members who have been saved or baptised in the Holy Spirit in Sonskynhoekie. Many of them practice different professions in society. There is hardly an area in our country where a former member of Sonskynhoekie is not present. As for their dear companions who have strayed from “the road”, I pray that the God of their youth will graciously bring them back. (p50)

Past Jean de Ferrier, Aunt Sannie and their daughter Irene.

If you were a child in Sonskynhoekie, we would like to hear from you. Please let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

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1 Comment

  1. Leona Spangenberg

    August 30, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    What happened to Irene? I had the privilege to have met her and her parents a few times in the ’90’s.

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