Dug Watridge

Dug Watridge

I was born in De Aar, Northern Karoo where I spent the first 10 years of my life. My most memorable times were when we went away on holiday to East London, Pretoria and my granddad’s farm in Aliwal North, yes away from De Aar!   I only have painful memories of school with its austerity and stony dusty playing fields.

My mother was a member of a local church which my sister and reluctantly I had to attend with her.  One of my closest friends was a Jewish boy whose parents owned the local hotel and cool drink bottling company. On most Friday afternoons we were allowed to enjoy a few free bottles of juice – the highlight of my life in De Aar!

Near the end of 1948 my Dad informed the family that he had obtained a job with the Rhodesian Railways (he was a roofing specialist) and we would leave for Salisbury in December of that year.

I really had no idea where Salisbury was but I was told it was 3 days journey by train from De Aar.  That was possibly the best news I had ever heard in my young life.

After settling in Salisbury I attended David Livingstone Primary School which I thoroughly enjoyed. My school work improved greatly and I became involved in sports like soccer and athletics and played on fields that were covered with wonderful green grass. My mother did not attend church again because of transport problems, so I was let off the hook and never entered a church service again.  I became obsessed with all types of sport.

In 1952 we moved to an eastern suburb called Hillside where my Dad eventually bought a piece of ground and built our own house.  I attended Churchill Boys High which specialised in rugby.

About a kilometre from our house was the motorcycling race track where many great champions began their careers. During the race season I would attend the meetings every Sunday afternoon whenever I could.  I was fortunate to find a short cut through the bush which was a long way from the main gate so it was free!

In May 1955 I was on my way to the racetrack when I met a couple of boys I had seen at school but did not know personally.   We all seem to enjoy cycling so met again after school and toured the areas around Salisbury.  Then out of the blue I was invited to attend a youth meeting at their fellowship called the Assemblies of God.  I had never heard of them but was curious so for the first time since arriving in Salisbury I attended church, albeit a youth meeting. There were about 25 young people in attendance and they really seemed to enjoy themselves.

On Sunday 6 1955 June my friend Peter invited me to attend the main Fellowship meetings.  The morning meeting which was a fellowship was nothing like what I thought church was all about. There was much singing, praying and speaking by various people – very mystifying, very different. I agreed to attend the evening Gospel meeting and for the first time in my life (about 16) I came under the sound of the true Gospel.  I was the only one to respond to the altar call to accept Christ as my Saviour. I knew without a doubt this was the true Gospel.

When I eventually got home that night I awoke my parents and with much joy told them I was saved and born again.  My dad muttered a few incomprehensible words and my mom said “That’s very nice”,   but had no idea what I was talking about. I was soon attending First Principle meetings, Bible Study, Prayer Meetings, Breaking of Bread and all Sunday Services, Youth Meetings, three Open-Air preaching meetings in town.  I could not get enough because I just knew this was very real and was the truth.

All the posters on my walls came down; I no longer had time to visit the motorcycle race meetings.

My dad observed all this and the only comment he made was that “This is just another teenage thing” and in three months I would be chasing a new craze! Well this “new thing” has lasted over 60 years.  Friends at school scoffed that I had got religion. No, I had met with the living Christ Whom to know is Everlasting Life.

I met Margaret my wife at the Salisbury Assembly and on the 4 May 2018 we celebrated our 55th Wedding Anniversary.  Thank the Lord for a wife who loves the Lord with all her heart.

The Lord has kept us through many difficult experiences; we are both cancer survivors. When we look back over the years the leading and care of the Lord is clearly evident.

I worked in the financial section of the Governments department of works and after the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was employed by the head office of the Rhodesian Department of Works accounts department, centralised in Salisbury.  The department later decentralised the accounts department and opened branches in the four main centres of the country. I was sent to Umtali in the beautiful eastern highlands to initiate the first decentralised accounts department.

We became very involved in the local Fellowship, particularly with the Youth Work. After 3 years I was being promoted to the much larger Bulawayo office, bypassing the Gwelo department. We were concerned about the Fellowship in Bulawayo where an independent Assembly operated. We committed the matter to the Lord and went to Durban on holiday before the scheduled move to Bulawayo.

My desire has always been to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness“, and He has never failed to provide my needs. In Durban we met with Mike Attlee and family and explained our position and concerns. Brother Attlee was at that time a director of Edment Builders, which was rapidly expanding and was in urgent need of an accountant familiar with the building industry!  Well, I had spent about ten years in the accounts section Department of Works and building maintenance. Coincidence? I think not!

I was offered a job, a house to buy and a car to lease.  About 3 months later, having sold up in Umtali and giving only two months’ notice instead of the required three months, we arrived in Durban to begin our new life in the Moore Road Assembly. The Work of God began to grow rapidly, and we relocated to the Pinetown Assembly working with faithful brethren like Peter Hawyes, Laurie Nielsen and Gary Potgieter.  It was wonderful to see the Work of the Lord expanding throughout Natal.

Some years later I was asked to step into fulltime work in Port Shepstone, but shortly afterwards received a call telling that there was a greater need in Windhoek!   Miracle after miracle took place to eventually get us to Windhoek with a 1 year old son, a dog and cat.  I am sure every Fulltime Worker can write a book about their experiences! The Lord graciously blessed.  We praise the Lord for the believers who were in fellowship such as Rick and Faye Fickling, the nursing sisters Nola, Hetta, Shirley, Suzie, Johnny and Moira Dean to name a few.

From Windhoek we transferred to Kempton Park and Edenvale before returning to Durban to again work with Mike Attlee as the accountant of Conatt Construction. We continued to be very much involved in various Assemblies in the Durban area before settling in Paradise Village and Sarnia Assembly. Does not the Scripture teach us “… be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”!

I now look forward to the Hope set before me when I shall see the Lord Jesus face to face!