God brought a miracle when He called and sent Missionaries Paul & Helen Haag to South Africa. And that miracle has continued since 1954, when this precious couple set foot in South Africa, and has culminated in the planting of the many churches of the S.A. Evangelistic Mission.
It was a miracle when Missionary Paul Haag passed the medical examination, despite the scars on his lungs as a result of contacting pneumonia when just a child and was given the go-ahead to come to South Africa. There was another miracle when, in transit, they stopped over in England to discover that they had been issued with wrong visas which would take up to a year to correct. However, within seven weeks they were issued with the correct visas.
The miracles continued as Rev Paul Haag learned the craft of construction by trial & error and as they both acquired the craft of ministering to the needs of many, God proved over and over they were indeed “Called & Chosen.”
When Rev Paul Haag was promoted into the Lord’s Presence on 6th April 1983 God’s miracle-working power strengthened Rev Helen and she continued the good “fight of faith,” preaching and teaching, and still travelling every year to the USA to keep the vision ever before those precious ministry partners.
Two of the earliest pastors of the mission are Pastor Caleb Cwele, superintendent of many pastors in the Port Shepstone area and Pastor Freddie Gertze.
Rev David Haag came to South Africa with his parents as a 12-year-old boy and went back to the States with no desire to ever be a missionary. However, God gave him a definite call, and he returned with them to be a missionary in 1958, after meeting Sis Donna, who had a missionary call since childhood. She joined the Haag’s in 1960, and in 1961 David and Donna were married in Port Shepstone.
Missionary Wilma Humphries made her first trip to South Africa in 1965, helping establish Sunday Schools and Sunday School Teacher’s Training Courses. Later she settled permanently in South Africa, working with her great love—bringing children to Christ. Her theme song was, “Have You Got the Sunshine Smile.” She also taught many years in Calvary Bible Institute, teaching Pedagogy.
Missionary Dorothy Cummings, a former missionary to Jamaica, came to assist Sister Wilma in children’s ministry – later helping lay the ground work for and teaching in Calvary Bible Institute, which was opened in 1977.
Missionary Vonne Freeman came to South Africa in 1971 to assist in secretarial work, as well as general missionary work. She also worked with Sis Humphries in children’s ministry, since excelling in that area of God’s work.
Other missionaries through the years were: Clyde and Shirley Jones, Jack and Betty Lockwood, Verne and Merelyn Matson, Nils and Pat Leksen; Ben and Evelyn Henry and Melvain and Lynette Donyes (daughter and son-in-law of David and Donna Haag).
Rev and Mrs David Haag began working in the Port Shepstone area. In 1963 God began to open doors in the Indian community, after meeting George Sookoo. They had open-air, tent meetings, cottage meetings, etc. Many people gave their lives to Christ, including Pastor and Sis Harry Rampersad, who moved to Ifafa and later to Umzinto and Park Rynie to pioneer works. Pastor Steven Frank joined the ministry team when he was about 16 years of age. The first church building constructed was in the Louisiana area. A few years later Pastor and Sis Patrick Govender came from Harding to pioneer a work in Umbango.
Rev and Mrs David Haag moved to Durban in 1968, and God’s work extended to Durban, Pietermaritzburg and the North Coast. Some of the early pastors they worked with were: Lazarus Israel, Algy Lutchmiah, Michael Henry, Derrick Fynn, Samuel Muthusamy, Gabriel Pillay and Aubrey Wilson. Soon many other areas opened, with young people and older people feeling the call of God upon their lives.
The First Team of Workers
Pastor Caleb Cwele known to many as “Baba Cwele” is a pioneering son of SAEMission. Pastor Cwele was converted under Rev Paul and Helen Haag’s ministry in 1955. He is the Supervisor of 25 or more Zulu Churches in Kwa Zulu Natal and has been a faithful pioneer in the work.He was instrumental in establishing many churches and outstations in the Mission
The SAEM launched its ministry in the JHB area in 1965 working with Pastor Bob & Mary Sargent and Pastor Peter Slimmerts who later married Sister Grace.