A History of the founding of the Rustenburg Assembly of God
For several months some American Assemblies of God Missionaries held meetings in the barn of Rabie West’s farm; for the African labourers from his and several neighboring farms. Brother West and some friends visited the meetings and were impressed with the messages they heard. The missionaries were committed to work among the African people, and hearing that these people wanted a Church in the City, they referred Brother West and his friends to Jim Mullen, an Executive Presbyter of the South African Assemblies of God. During the last week of April 1965 Brother Jim Mullen called Jim and Rowena Cole-Rous, and asked if they would be willing to move to Rustenburg, where a group of about six people were meeting and had requested to have an Assembly of God congregation.
The Cole-Rous’ were then pastoring, in the city of Kimberley, (the fourth church they had planted) and they had seen healthy growth in the congregation which was just self-supporting after two and a half years under their ministry. Jim agreed to move as soon as the upcoming revival with Bro. Paul Lange was completed at the end of the first week in May. Jim Mullen arranged for Paul Watney to fill the next two weeks at Rustenburg until the Cole-Rous’ could get there.
On the 9th of May 1965 Jim and Rowena drove into Rustenburg. It was Mother’s day, and most of the stores were closed, but they found a lady who advertised home cooked meals. They stopped and had lunch there, to celebrate Rowena’s 31st Birthday, then made their way to the West’s Citrus Farm up near the Rustenburg Kloof.
Martie West was in her 60’s, and had deformed feet, the outcome of polio as a child, so she struggled to walk. She had a faithful African assistant who worked and cleaned house for her. She and this man converted the double garage into an attractive cottage on the edge of their Orange Grove, and it was ready for the new pastors and their adopted baby girl, Sylvia, when the Cole-Rous’ arrived.
The little group procured the use of Anderson’s Funeral Chapel, which was unused and unfurnished. Martie West’s piano was moved in, a pulpit was constructed out of bent electrical tubing, and covered with green Masonite hardboard. Someone found a pile of cast iron sides of old theatre seats, and with the aid of planks and threaded rods, they assembled some small pews for the Chapel. They were anxious to have things start off the best they knew how.
Jim and Rowena both took secular jobs as there was not enough income to cover more than the rent and operating expense for the chapel. Jim was appointed District Manager for Prudential Life Assurance, and Rowena took a job at the Paul Kruger Memorial Hospital as a Registered Nurse. She was in Charge of the African Section of the Hospital. This made it difficult to cope with the growing church, but they did what they had to and the church continued to grow. When conflict of time schedules became apparent, Jim launched his own business, Rustenburg Air Services, doing Business flights for the Mine Executives and cargo flights for the local regional newspaper. He also revived the Rustenburg Flying Club and became the Flight Instructor. This allowed them to schedule their time to serve the Church and still earn a living.
Don Schnetller and his family began attending the church. Jim had known them since his days in the Air Force. Don was a good pianist which helped the meetings have good music.
Jim and Rowena Cole-Rous were passionate about reaching people who were un-churched. Jim rented a meeting room in City Hall for 12 Wednesday nights, advertising meetings to learn what the Bible really taught. Attendance grew each week and several people came to faith in Jesus in those meetings. Two key families joined the Assembly as a result. Jim and Rowena spent most of their spare time visiting every person they came in contact with. A Sunday school was organized and a mid-week Bible Club for Kids was held in the Platinum Mine Chapel, about 6 miles out of town. New families from the mine began to attend the Assembly on Sundays as a result. The chapel was becoming too small for the congregation.
Jim’s contacts with business people in the town made him well known. One day he was approached by a real estate agent, with a suggestion that he look at a large house for sale. It was situated near the entrance to the Agricultural showground’s, on a big corner lot. There was a double-story stable building on the edge of the property, and a borehole, with unlimited water. The owner’s husband had passed away after suffering from Lymph node cancer. During his hospital stay, Jim had visited and prayed with him; and left him audio tapes with inspiring gospel messages. She never forgot that, and when she heard that the Church wanted to buy the property, she did everything in her power to make it happen.
The Congregation unanimously decided to buy the property, and committed to move in. They were given six months to pay the deposit of R6,000 (Six Thousand Rands). Rabie West worked as an accountant for the Chrome Mine, and he lived on ten percent of his income and donated ninety percent of his salary to the building fund. Other members also gave generously.
During these months, a meeting was held in the home of George Dobie, a wealthy building contractor, and Paul Lange was asked to speak. Paul was singularly used of God to help people receive the Holy Spirit baptism, had in fact prayed with Pastor Jim to receive in 1952. George Dobie was a member of another Pentecostal church; in all his life he had never been filled with the Holy Spirit. In that meeting in his home, Paul Lange prayed with George and he was wonderfully filled that night.
When the Assembly moved into the new House, converted into a Church, George and his wife, Sarie, visited the opening celebration. When they got home they decided to make a gift towards the church building fund. Months went by; and they forgot about it.
Finally the last week of the Church’s escrow arrived, and the building fund was at R4,500. Despite every effort made by the congregation, there was still a shortfall of R1,500. Sunday morning Sister Brown, the Church treasurer sat in the Bible Class, with a grey, drawn face. It looked like the church would lose all they had put into escrow.
During the Bible class a large black limo pulled up outside and Pastor Jim stepped out of the class, while Don Schnetller was teaching, to see who had arrived; It was George Dobie and his wife, Sarie. George said he was on his way to his own church but the Lord had reminded him of his intention to give a gift to the Assembly building fund. George handed Pastor Jim an envelope, without saying how much the check was for. Jim thanked Brother Dobie, and went back into the class. When no one was looking he slit the end of the envelope and edged the check out just far enough to see the numbers!
The previous evening George remembered their intention to give a gift to the Assembly, and discussed this with Sarie. He went downstairs to his office, and opened his check book, intending to write a check for One thousand Rands. He felt a check in his spirit, and as he sat there Sarie called down and said, “George, remember last week we closed on the property you just finished building, let’s make it R1,500.00”
Pastor Jim smiled as he slid that check back into the envelope, then, when there was a pause in the lesson, he caught Sister Brown’s eye and offered her the envelope. She seemed confused but finally took it. She pulled out the check, saw the amount of R1,500, gave a whoop and in a moment she was on her feet, shouting and crying all at the same time. The Church was able to meet the escrow with exactly the right amount with just an hour to spare before the closing on Monday!
A few months later, Pastor Jim and Rowena, who lived in the Apartment side of the building had a cat that decided to have 5 kittens just as Sunday night church was about to begin. When Pastor Jim arrived, somewhat late and breathless, in the Pulpit, he saw that he needed to announce the monthly town-hall business meeting of the Church for the upcoming Wednesday. Attendance had not been good at the previous meetings for business; so he told the congregation that anyone not attending, would be donated a kitten! Everyone laughed but they all turned out for that meeting. They knew Pastor Jim would do what he said.
The following week, Rowena answered the telephone, to hear that the Adoption agency which had given them their daughter seven years before this, wanted to know if she still wished to keep her name on the list for a second child. She was puzzled that those people would make a long distance phone call on such a trivial matter, and said yes. When Pastor Jim got home later that day she told him about the phone call. He too wondered, but did not say anything to her.
Friday morning Pastor Jim was in his office when the phone rang again. It was the Adoption agency again; and the lady said, “We have a baby boy for you, can you come and fetch him?” Pastor Jim thought fast, and asked if they might come Monday, as the weekend was busy with Church activities. The lady said that would be fine. Rowena was very excited about this, and instructed Jim to tell the congregation they would be out of town Monday to fetch the new baby.
Sunday Jim announced from the pulpit that the Cole-Rous’ would be out of town Monday, and they were going to “have an addition to the family”. The Kittens of the previous week were still fresh in their memories. The folk all laughed; they thought their Pastors were getting another cat or dog. When Pastor Jim and Rowena arrived with a real live baby boy, the church was totally surprised, but rallied quickly. Everyone wanted to help, and little John was warmly received by all.
The congregation was now near the place where they could support a Pastor. Jim felt the Lord was calling him to be a Missionary; and over several months he prayed with Rowena about this. Finally they announced their intention to resign the pastorate of Rustenburg Assembly, and serve the Lord as Missionaries with the South African Missionary Aviation Fellowship. They left Rustenburg Assembly in good hands with a strong leadership group of men in the congregation.
The Rustenburg Assembly of God was healthy and strong when they left there Dec. 31st 1971 having served in Rustenburg for almost seven years.
Jim Cole-Rous visited the Rustenburg Assembly in October 2008 while on a ministry tour to South Africa. He was thrilled with the wonderful growth and vitality of the congregation, and appreciative of the great work done by those who followed him. Jim and Rowena planted, others watered, and God gave the increase.
© 2013 Jim Cole-Rous
Updated July 2014:
Jim Cole-Rous continues in full time Missionary ministry worldwide. In his 56th year since his original ordination in September 1958, Jim is Director of Content for Network211.com, a World Missions Internet ministry. Since Oct 2008 they have reached over13 million people in 242 countries around the world with the Gospel.
Jim has written extensively and his major works are ‘God’s Honorable Mentions’ published on Amazon.com in 2012. Jim published a biography of his late wife, “Rowena: The Girl Who Wouldn’t Quit”, and his teaching on Pneumatology titled “When the Spirit Moves: Learning to Follow When God Speaks” in 2014. Click to Visit Jim’s Author Page
He sees himself as simply a servant of the Church and of Jesus.