Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Monday, March 05, 2007

Boreham and the Doke Connection

Readers of Frank Boreham’s newly republished book, Lover of Life, will get to know the story of his mentor, J.J. Doke. After establishing this friendship in New Zealand, Doke went to South Africa.

The New Zealand Baptist Union in 1962 invited Doke’s daughter, Olive Doke to visit and tell her story. In this article she shares some fascinating glimpses of F W Boreham, her father and her own adventures in Africa:

Like Coming Home
My first words must be those of grateful thanks and praise to God for all His goodness to me in bringing me to this land again. Here I have been so warmly welcomed by Christian friends that I feel it is like coming home. It may be of interest to hear something of the happenings of the intervening years.

It was during my father's pastorate at Oxford Terrace that I gave my heart to the Lord at one of the Rev F. W. Boreham's missions, and even at that early age dedicated my life to missionary service. Shortly after this we went as a family back to England, where in 1903 my father had a "call" to the Grahamstown Church in South Africa and later to the Central Church in Johannesburg.

My missionary call came whilst here to serve in Central Africa, and in 1916 I joined my brother Clement at Kafulafuta in the Ndola district of Northern Rhodesia, then as yet unopened up. He had already been there two years, having been sent up as the first missionary of the South African Baptist Missionary Society (who had taken over the work from the pioneer Nyasaland Industrial Mission), after the death of my father, the Rev J. J. Doke, following a journey to investigate the possibilities for the S.A.B.M.S, to extend their missionary programme. The work was still in the pioneer stages, and a great deal of "trekking" had to be done, involving long journeys of hundreds of miles on foot through the African forest infested by wild animals of every description. It was still the days of primitive travel with native porters carrying the necessary camp equipment and barter goods. One had to depend on one's rifle to secure meat for the pot, as well as to buy meal for the carriers. The country inhabited by the Lamba tribe, extended over 30,000 square miles of forest—and this was our parish!

The Language
The first thing was to learn the language and as there was no written one it had to be reduced to writing by the early missionaries. Journeys were invaluable for language, being out amongst the people. The Message was delivered, falteringly at first, in every village passed through, and as time went on there were little groups of converts, or rather those who were willing to hear more, with whom we stayed longer on subsequent journeys to teach and help them on the way.

As soon as we had sufficient grasp f the language, translation work was tackled and in 1921 the first edition of the New Testament was in print. From the beginning we had a boarding school on the station for the teaching of reading and writing. This work later grew to big proportions with out-schools dotted all over the country preparing the folk to be able to read for themselves the Word of Life. Translation on the whole Bible was finished in 1957 and in 1960 we were able to put it into the hands of the people with humble praise and thanksgiving that we had been privileged to complete this great and responsible work.

The Church
Meanwhile there was the gradual building up of the Lamba Church as the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of these people. There have been wonderful trophies of grace and strong and dedicated leaders have emerged who are now able to shepherd the flock. A New Testament Church is established under the leadership of the Nationals whom God has called out; and it in turn is going out to others. Church government and finance is in the hand of the African himself, and God is blessing the work. There has been medical work going on through all the years, sometimes under most difficult circumstances, but now on the two European stations there are hospitals with trained staff, yet the need is greater than we can cope with. Work among the lepers will be more efficiently done when the leper station is established.

Education and Evangelism
A boarding school for girls functions at Kafulafuta and for boys at Fiwale Hill—these are invaluable for the training of the future generation of leaders. The evangelistic work in the villages is now carried on by the African evangelists themselves and much more effectively than can be done by the European. Our task is in the Bible school teaching the leaders and workers how to use the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. The two ordained ministers are doing a grand work as they have the oversight of the many village churches. They still need much teaching and the Bible school is to some extent meeting this need with its 30 students doing a three-year course. As on every field, increased staff is needed—may He thrust out labourers into His harvest field.

His Power
It has been a wonderful experience to see the gradual working of the power of God through His Holy Spirit in the lives of those with darkened minds and hearts, and to witness their awakening. To God be the glory, great things He hath done. "Not I, but Christ."


P.S.—It has been a great experience to have the fellowship of the Baptist Assembly and to meet the Baptist stalwarts of New Zealand, and I thank you all for the way in which you have included me in your company and made me feel one of you.

Source: N.Z. BAPTIST—JANUARY, 4 1963 page 4.

Image: “long journeys of hundreds of miles on foot through the African forest.”