In 1900, at the southern tip of Africa, a war was raging. The Boers had given the British Empire a bloody nose. One of the fighters on the Boer side was Lambertus Wannenberg, a farmer from Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape. While on a sortie against the British, his group had strayed into Mozambique. Here they were captured by the Portuguese and sent to an internment camp for the rest of the war. Meanwhile, an English speaking missionary was called to Portugal by the Lord. He went to the internment camp and preached to the Boers held there. This resulted in Lambertus accepting Jesus as his Saviour, and his being baptised in water.
The Scorched Earth Policy and concentration camps
At home in South Africa the British instituted a Scorched Earth Policy to conquer the Boers. They went from farm to farm destroying the crops and killing the farm animals. The women and children were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. Lambertus’ wife Engela Wannenberg, and her two daugthers, Johanna and Adriana, were taken to Johannesburg and held in the Rosetteville concentration camp.
Recovering from the war
When the war ended and the Wannenbergs returned to their farm, Tom, their faithful farm worker had managed to hide the oxen in a cave, only bringing them out at night to graze. He had ploughed the land and planted a crop, which was half grown. This gave them an enormous head-start in their recovery from the war.
A Pentecostal Movement
Initially, the rest of Lambertus’ family fought against baptism, but eventually all were baptised. (In those days they were baptised in a river, fully dressed in their Sunday best, including hats for ladies. It was quite common to see a hat floating down the river after a baptism service.)The Wannenbergs were one of the very early families to accept the Pentecostal outpouring – which came to South Africa in 1907 – as an outpouring from God. They were also enthusiastic founder members of the Pentecostal Movement.
Revival in a Sunday school
Lambertus and Engela’s daughter, Johanna Wannenberg, married a Pentecostal pastor and settled in Johannesburg. Their second eldest daughter, Adriana, married an English 1820 settler called Clifford Hudson, with whom she had four children, one of them being Catherine (later Cathy Crompton.) In 1925 Adriana began a Sunday school for the children of the farm workers. This developed into a full scale revival. Here, Catherine (later Cathy Crompton,) had a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit, which changed her life.
A miracle at dinner
In 1933, Catherine had left school and went to stay with her aunt Johanna in Johannesburg, looking to find a job. One day there was no food in the house. Cathy asked Aunt Johanna what they should do. “Set the table,” said Aunt Johanna, which they duly did. When the time came for them to eat, they all sat down and gave thanks. Suddenly the front doorbell rang. There was a lady at the door with a large pot of food, enough to feed Aunt Johanna’s large family. This had a major effect on Catherine. If God could do that for her aunt Johanna, then why not for her?
Basil Crompton becomes a pastor
Meanwhile, a young man called Basil Crompton was growing up in Pietermaritzburg. He matriculated when he was fourteen years old and though his sister tried speaking to him about his soul, he would have none of it. But when he converted, it wasn’t long before he became the assistant pastor of the local assembly – earning nine pounds a month.
Smith Wigglesworth comes to South Africa
When Smith Wigglesworth came to South Africa, Basil Crompton was asked to drive him around the country in his Ford V8. Smith did not believe in single pastors, so made Basil’s singleness a matter of special prayer. He spent a great deal of his time in South Africa looking for a wife for Basil, with amusing results. On one occasion Smith accepted an invitation to tea from the family of a young lady he considered suitable for Basil. Basil told Smith that he could not go because he was to preach that night, and because Smith himself never accepted invitations before he preached, the same applied to him. So Smith ended up going to the tea alone!
A marriage made in heaven
When Basil Crompton and Smith Wigglesworth arrived back from their tour, they found that Basil’s room had been reallocated by the landlady to a young lady called Catherine Hudson. Basil had never before taken the dog for a walk to the railway station, but now he met Catherine (Cathy) there every day and walked her home. Not knowing any different, she assumed he always walked the dog at that time and that it was a coincidence. Then, one full moon Sunday night Basil offered Cathy a ride home and spent the whole evening explaining why they could not get married. She accepted him anyway. It was a marriage made in heaven, and lasted until 1978, when Basil passed away.
Free accommodation for born-again missionaries
In 1940 and ’41 Basil and Cathy were earnestly praying to find the will of God for their lives. They had dedicated their lives to God. They heard the same answer from God at the same time. They were to open a missionary home in Cape Town which would provide accommodation to all born-again missionaries at no charge. So they approached a church. “We like your idea, and we do have an empty parsonage which you can use, but we have no money to give you,” was the church’s response. They decided to go ahead and trust God to supply their need.
God provides for the Crompton family
Says Jeffrey Crompton, “The thing I remember about the war years is that we always had a large pound of Gouda and a large cheddar cheese, with six pounds (two and a half to three kilograms) of butter and plenty of milk in the fridge. The local dairy kept us fully stocked even when in short supply, at no charge.”
God is faithful to supply every need
When Cathy and Basil received a six month electricity bill, they placed it before the Lord. A thousand kilometres away, one of Cathy’s sisters was planning to travel down to Cape Town to visit her. Just before she left the farm another sister said, “I would like you to take a gift to Cathy.” She emptied her purse and sent the total amount. It was the exact amount needed to pay the electricity bill.
Jimmy Crompton is born
In 1943, Cathy gave birth to her second son, James (Jimmy) Crompton, named after Smith Wigglesworth’s son-in-law, James Salter. James Salter was a pioneer missionary to the Congo and Basil’s best friend. He was known as “The Prince of Preachers.”
God is in every detail, even the tea cups
In 1944, Cathy was running short of china cups and saucers – with which to serve tea to the missionaries – and it was impossible to buy any, so she put the matter before the Lord. Shortly afterwards, a sister in a neighbouring church spoke to her pastor. She told him that God had told her that the one china cup, saucer and side plate she had on display in her lounge was to be sent to Mrs Crompton. So she gave this set to him. When he went home and told his wife, she said “You know I also have a plate, saucer and side plate that I can give.” By the time the pastor arrived at the missionary home he had enough cups and plates to last Cathy Crompton until the end of the war.
Cathy Crompton becomes a prayer warrior
In 1945, Cathy had a special meeting with the Lord while praying at the Pentecostal Park near the Strand in Cape Town. The Lord showed her that the freedom of the Spirit is under attack. From this time forward she became a real prayer warrior, spending many hours praying for revival with her prayer partner Bessie Saayman.
A lineage of Revival
Jimmy Crompton was just another kid in the church until the night he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The church was singing “We’re marching to Zion” and boy, did he march to Zion that night. It wasn’t very long after this that Jimmy became the youth pastor of the church. When Basil retired, Jimmy took over as pastor, a position he held until he accepted the call to Port Elizabeth.