- What God Joined Together: Chapter 1 — Getting acquainted with God’s higher ways
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 2 — Don’t marry a foreigner
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 3 — Don’t get involved in politics
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 4 — The girl from Mühlacker
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 5 — Love grows where my Rosemary goes
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 6 — Miles apart
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 7 — A confession with serious consequences
- What God Joined Together: Chapter 8 — A final farewell?
- What God joined together: Chapter 9 — Love the stranger as yourself
- What God joined together: Chapter 10 — Stormy waves
- What God joined together: Chapter 11 — Reunited
- What God joined together: Chapter 12 — More turbulences
- What God joined together: Chapter 13 — A honeymoon with a difference
Prior to receiving her letter, I had confessed in one of my letters to Rosemarie that I had kissed another girl. I believed in transparency. This behaviour was of course absolutely unacceptable in every way. I was claiming to be so deeply smitten with Rosemarie (which I was!), yet somehow I managed to rationalize kissing another girl. I really did make some foolish mistakes in the span of my youth! However, I had no notion what a world of cultural difference there existed in this regard. I hardly suspected what consequences my confession could evoke.
Upon reading my disclosure, Rosemarie’s world almost broke down. Her initial reaction was anger, which quickly turned into a deep lingering sense of disappointment. A flood of questions about my character entered Rosemarie’s mind. Had she misjudged me?
Just at that vulnerable moment, a young man by the name of Günther3 who had been interested in her for some time, started courting her. When he asked her if she would like to go on a date with him, she agreed. She was confused and hurt by my actions, and felt that one date couldn’t do much harm.
In her Easter letter to me she wrote on pages 7-11 about going out with Günther. The rest of the letter (through to page 18) was, however, full of so much love for me that I had no great difficulty in accepting the fact that she had gone on a date with another man. I was under the impression that this was some sort of episode which was now over. I was too much in love to consider that I could have a serious rival. Not alarmed by her letter whatsoever, I saw in her reply only an honest response, at most some revenge for my confession.
However, Günther was interested in more than just a single date. An internal wrestle in Rosemarie’s heart began to unfold. Her father had so clearly instructed her to write me one final letter, breaking off the relationship for good. She so much wanted to be obedient to her father. Was Günther perhaps God’s answer for her? Rosemarie’s relationship with her parents became so tense that she was earnestly considering entering into a serious relationship with Günther. In her heart, Rosemarie was nevertheless still hoping for some miracle to happen so that she could marry her ‘first choice’ in Africa. More and more this began to look like a pipe-dream.
On the South African side of the ocean, there was of course the ominous ‘Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act’ that prevented any marital union between a White and someone from another race. The circumstances were just not in our favour.
Instead of waiting on God’s intervention to enable our marital bond, I decided to ‘assist Him’. I had read in a local newspaper about someone who had been racially reclassified; something like that could of course only transpire in the apartheid era! This seemed to be my big chance. I would not accept the ‘realistic’ choice of either Rosemarie or South Africa that my cousin John had put to me. Getting Rosemarie reclassified was a possible way out of the cul-de-sac. Theoretically, there was also another possibility to beat the legislation, if ‘non-White blood’ could be traced in her ancestry. But research which had already been done for Rosemarie’s family tree showed just the opposite. Rosemarie has European ancestry as far as could be traced!
I wrote to Mr Vorster, the Prime Minister, inquiring about the procedure to get someone reclassified. The reservations of one of my lecturers that I would give recognition to the immoral racial laws of the country by doing so could not deter me. I was too much in love. I wanted to get married to Rosemarie, and I was willing to do whatever it might take.
Despite my active pursuit in trying to figure out a way to bring Rosemarie to South Africa, Rosemarie herself was still far from ready to make such a move. The inevitable objections of her family at the idea of releasing their daughter to go to the African continent were too much of a hindrance. In one of her letters she actually asked me to pray for inner freedom from the inhibitions she felt in this regard. I had no problem with this request, trusting God to change her views in His time. Had she not told me that she had always dreamed of going to the mission field when I invited her to the evening with the Wycliffe Bible Translators?
I just pushed ahead with my ideas. I had completely forgotten the lesson that His ways are higher than our own. Completely oblivious to what Rosemarie had intimated in her Easter letter, I continued writing my next epistle that was intended to arrive at Pentecost. I had elevated this church feast to the next ‘big occasion’. I was of course just looking for an opportunity and an excuse to write a letter to my Schatz.
Pentecost came and went, but no letter arrived from my bonny over the ocean. I was sure that the South African government had intervened. Our post had to have been intercepted. I surmised that my enquiry after the procedure to get someone reclassified might have alarmed the government. This became a conviction to me, much more than merely an assumption or deduction. Practices like this belonged to the day-to-day occurrences of apartheid South Africa. If the powers that be could stop our contact in this way, they would definitely not have hesitated. Mixing across the colour bar, especially interaction between the sexes, was resented.
Nevertheless, I was also very worried that something could have happened to Rosemarie. In unrealistic naivety I still did not even consider the possibility that my darling could be involved in another romantic relationship. If ever there was any proof needed that love could blind someone, I was definitely a perfect example.
Very soon Rosemarie informed Günther of her long-distance relationship with me. She knew that he was very serious about her and thus did not want to mislead him. The confusion in her heart grew rapidly. She knew that Günther was just the kind of man that her parents would have wished for as a son in-law. He was German to the bone, intelligent and cultured, a prim-and-proper gentleman. She was teetering on the horns of an immense dilemma when the mother of the handsome young friend became critically ill. He had stated innocently to Rosemarie that he would not be able to take it if he would lose both Rosemarie and his mother. A few days after Günther’s mother passed away, my darling made the decision that she would choose Günther over me. She just could not see a realistic future with me, and overwhelmed with sympathy for Günther, she made the choice that seemed to be the right thing to do. I was of course completely oblivious to all of this and continued to impatiently await Rosemarie’s Pentecost letter.
Months before this, I had formally resigned from teaching to go into full-time pastoral work. Just at this point in time, I received a cheque from the government as repayment of money that I had paid into the State Pension Fund. The amount of the cheque was more or less just what I needed for the cheapest return air ticket to Luxembourg. After some intense prayer, I expediently perceived the government cheque to be divine provision to fly to Europe in the June vacation of 1971.
When I hadn’t heard from my darling for weeks, I became really worried that something might have happened to her. I wrote to her parents in dire frustration, mentioning that I hoped to come to Germany in the June school holidays. I did not hear back from them, and with that my worries continued to grow. Any doubts about the correctness of such a drastic step as going to Germany were dispelled when I heard from Trek Airways that the flight just after the start of the school holidays was fully booked and I was wait-listed. This, in my opinion, was a very convenient way of testing to see if it was right to use my pension cheque in this way. Two-hundred-and-sixty odd Rand meant a lot of money in those days. I argued that, ‘if it is the will of the Lord that I should go, then he has to get a place for me on that flight’.
When I received a phone call only a few days before the departure date that one seat was free, I saw this as a clear indication that I should go. I had considered the venture prayerfully enough!
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