Colin Fraser, a Scot, came to serve the Dutch Reformed congregation in Beaufort West as a minister in 1825. He had some incredible experiences in the Karoo and many of these are written up in a biography, Episodes in my Life, written by his son John. When he arrived in Beaufort West, no real house, nor church had been readied for him. He had to hold his services under a wagon canvas strung between two trees; he continued to preach there and at other local places until the church was built five years later.
Fraser had a huge parish to serve and getting round it was very demanding. He rode out on his favourite horse, accompanied by an elder and agterryer, leading a spare horse loaded with his vestments, communion and communion plate. On one such trip the good reverend was just falling asleep under his “veld kombers” (field blanket) when he heard his elder softly calling: “Meneer, please listen carefully, a big snake has just crept under our blanket and settled on my stomach. Slip out quietly and call the agterryer.” Fraser felt the hair of his neck rising but he slipped out softly and called the agterryer who knew just what to do. He grabbed the blanket with one hand, caught the snake’s tail with the other and flung it so far away that even if they had searched for it, they would never have found it, said the minister.
At times it was a strain of running such a huge parish, so far from the civilized world, took its toll, so Fraser got into the habit of walking out of the village and down to the river to read his Bible. One day, after reading for a while in the warmth of the afternoon sun, he closed his eyes to pray. He must have dozed, he said, but we woke feeling something or someone was staring at him. He opened his eyes and looked straight into the face of a young lion. He closed his eyes again to pray and as he did he heard the cheery chatter of a band of Bushmen passing nearby by. The lion heard them too and fled.
© Rose’s Roundup,March 2012 (No 218)
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