‘Noah’ laid to rest

2015-12-02 06:00
LEAVING the church with the coffin of the late Hendrik “Ou Hennie” Arries (insert) are from the left, Wilfred Molatlhwe, David Maloka, Hendrik Smith, Molora Esau, Hendrik Bobe and April Dibane during the funeral on Saturday (28/11).  Photo: Boipelo M

LEAVING the church with the coffin of the late Hendrik “Ou Hennie” Arries (insert) are from the left, Wilfred Molatlhwe, David Maloka, Hendrik Smith, Molora Esau, Hendrik Bobe and April Dibane during the funeral on Saturday (28/11). Photo: Boipelo M

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IT was with pride and dignity that members of the Evangelising United Church stet in Phuthanang came in their numbers to bid farewell to one of their own, Hendrik “Ou Hennie” Arries (75), at his funeral on Saturday (28/11).

Arries was the first member of the congregation to be buried from the church, fulfilling the wish of its pastor, Rev. Dennis Thole, to bury his congregants in a dignified manner.

The congregation referred to Arries as their “Noah”.

He earned this nickname after making it his personal goal to erect the church structure of the Evangelising United Church with his own hands.

The church used to hold its services in a shack on a piece of land given to it.

According to Thole, their spirits were dampened after Arries’ efforts to complete the church had failed several times.

After laying the foundation himself, the structure that he attempted to erect collapsed three times and was re-built every time.

The dreams of the congregation were however turned into a reality when Norman Shushu, MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, came to the church’s aid by donating roofing material to the church in the spirit of Mandela Day.

Collin Joel, a good Samaritan who runs a construction company, volunteered his services by giving expert advice on re-structuring the building.

Shushu officially opened the church on Sunday, 9 October, and different churches were invited to the celebration.

Arries’s funeral service was the first to be held in the newly-built church.

At the official opening of the church the contribution of Arries, as well as that of other dedicated members, were formally acknowledged.

He was one of the oldest members of the church and had committed himself heart and soul towards completing the church structure.

One member of the church said that although the church building had not been fully completed, it had been provided with quality roofing and was a work in progress.This showed that “the devil is a liar”. Most members recalled how they were on the verge of giving up, quitting the church or ceasing to pray after the third time the building had collapsed.

Thole said the opening had marked yet another chapter in the development of the church since its members had broken away from its mother church due to church politics. The church had been established by Bishop John Matlabe and Rev. Thole on 30 May 2010.

Thole said they felt blessed when the foundation phase was completed and that this had led them to start raising funds with the view to complete the construction.

“That was when the storms and winds started and we continued to ask God where we had sinned,” said Thole.

“My heart ached when people started talking and being judgemental regarding the continuous collapses. They asked whether the builder was a drunk or whether we were unable to mix the concrete and cement properly.”

Thole revealed that he had met Shushu at another funeral some time ago and had decided to present his case.

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