Baton passed on Karoo rubbish dump

Ponni van der Merwe, right, symbolically passes a baton to Hendrik Spiers who is taking over responsibility for a ministry that started on a rubbish dump on the outskirts of Middelburg.

The baton was passed on Sunday at a worship service on a rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Karoo town of Middelburg.

The poignant occasion marked yet another stage in a remarkable story of grace that was set in motion when ladies at a Port Elizabeth church knitted scarves and beanies for needy people in Middelburg. The Van der Merwe family in Middelburg were asked to give the gifts to somebody. When the family gave the gifts to brickmakers who live in shacks next to the dump their hearts were stirred to do more. By faith they bought an old truck which became ‘Die Jesus Lorrie’ and their church fellowship group began to reach out to the community on the dump known as the Ashoop.

An Ashoop resident signs a commemorative Bible.

On the day that Die Jesus Lorrie first arrived at the dump, Hendrik Spiers, a brick oven owner who employs some of the Ashoop brickmakers, was there. God had already been working in his heart.

Five years ago when he left the security of fulltime employment to start his brickmaking venture he realised he needed God at his side.

“I fell on my knees every day and asked God for daily bread for my family,” he said.

And so he began to restore a relationship with God that had been neglected for a long time. God began to change his dreams from worldly dreams to spiritual dreams.

Hendrika (left) and Henrietta Spiers sing from Die Jesus Lorrie on Sunday.

Fast forward to the day that the bright orange Jesus Lorrie first rolled onto the Ashoop and a worship service and braai was held. Spiers was  surprised but also immediately felt a calling to get involved in the ministry.

When Die Jesus Lorrie and the Nootvassel fellowship group from Middelburg Family Church came to Die Ashoop last Sunday the occasion was to commission Spiers to pastor and grow the Ashoop ministry.

Spiers has already been conducting Wednesday afternoon services at the Ashoop. He got permission from other brick oven owners for their brickmakers to work a half day on Wednesday in order to attend the service. He says there is a great hunger for the word of God on the Ashoop.

Members of the Middelburg Family Church participate in the service.

Spiers has also felt a call to extend the ministry. He has already reached out to two other impoverished brickmaker communities on the outskirts of Middelburg and he plans to visit brickmakers in a neighbouring town, Hofmeyer. He also wants to establish a creche at the Ashoop.

Spiers’ wife Margaret and his four daughters are all standing with him in his ministry. At Sunday’s service, two of his daughters, Hendrika, 11, and Henrietta, 9, stood on the back of the truck and led the worship in song. I was privileged to participate in this joyous time. Spiers also introduced his neighbour, Ivan, who is assisting him with preaching. He said God has also blessed him with a keyboard and speakers and a church friend to play the keyboard.

PE Karoo Mighty Men Conference coordinator Lance Walton(right) hands over a Bible to Hendrik Spiers. Walton led a group that donated Bibles to the Ashoop residents.

Watch a video of the joyous time of worship:


  1. Dankie Here vir bakstene en Bybels en die blou Karoolug!