Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
LANDMAN, Christina. Farm ministries in the Hoedspruit area: Past and present. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2008, vol.34, n.2, pp. 1-16. ISSN 2412-4265.
Missionary work came late to the eastern Lowveld, and specifically to the areas today known as Hoedspruit, Acornhoek and Bushbuckridge. The twentieth century saw the Swiss (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) and the Germans (Lutheran Church) doing missionary work in the eastern Lowveld, with the Roman Catholics making an entry through Mozambique. The Dutch Reformed Church began missionary work in the Hoedspruit/Acornhoek/Bushbuckridge area in the 1950s. At present, however, these and other mainline churches have all but disappeared from the religious scene among farm workers in the area, and among black Christians, indigenous churches with a focus on healing ministries are dominant. This article traces the history of Christian ministries among farm workers in the eastern Lowveld, with particular emphasis on the Hoedspruit area. It focuses on developments since the Tomlinson Report of the 1950s led to the renewal of missionary work in the broader South Africa, including this area. Against this historical backdrop, the religious identity of farm workers in the Hoedspruit area is described with the help of a recent research project on the religious discourses that inform the way in which farm workers in this area - among whom there is a 28.8% prevalence of HIV infection - perceive illness and healing. Reasons for the departure of farm workers from the historically mission churches in favour of indigenous churches with pronounced healing ministries are identified.