It was the year 1820 when a ships from Britain came bearing a squashed group of 4000 hopeful English came upon the shores of Cape Town. A land of hope lay ahead of the these familes, who had been selected out of a group of some 90 000- all of whom fleeing the rising unemployment facing Britian after the Napoleonic wars.
On the ship was a young Methodist minister whose longed not to escape England, but to preach the gospel.Little did he know how powerful a impact he would have in history. The Cape was very different from the place of his birth in Glasgow, but William Shaw didn’t mind that. Ever since his conversion when he was 17 he knew he wanted to proclaim the gospel and minister to peoples spiritual needs. The group of people he travelled with to Africa would need his ministry.
The first few months on the eastern border of the Cape Coloney, which had been allocated for thes settelers brought bitter disillusionment, that stood in stark contrast to their high hopes of coming to South Africa. The land given them by the British government of the Cape was unsuitable for agriculture, and their living conditions were appalling. The unnamed man who escorted the groups to their territory would always end his tour of their land by saying, “Gentlemen, when you go out to plough never leave your guns behind.” with that he would get on his horse and be off. This didn’t make sense to these settlers, but what they didn’t know was that the British government had decided to bring them hear, not to grow them in prosperity, but to use them as a buffer zone between the hostile and aggravated Xhosa tribes and the Cape Colony. Few managed to stay after the first few months in the area, and for those that did it was a difficult time. Everywhere you looked all you could see were fragile and grotesque looking huts and cottages. These lodgings where built in a style called ‘wattle and daub’. Mats and rugs served as doors, and a white piece of calico served to cover the windows. Some decided to try and dig huge excavations and put a slight covering over them. Few of these early attempts and building a shelter were successful
Shaw was the only chaplain among this group of disillusioned and dejected people. He spent his first three years in South Africa ministering to them and establishing a church among them. Shaw saw to it that chapels were built and that local preachers and class leaders were appointed. Shaw also began spending time assisting other denominations. the Anglicans held services in the chapels he and the Methodists built, and many Dutch Reformed people brought their children to him to be baptized. But Shaw was not happy just to minister to his European counterparts; his vision was filled with the regions beyond, and the tribes that knew not Jesus. Shaw purposed in his heart to reach them.
Shaw spoke with some of his friends, “From the time when I received my appointment to Southern Africa,
as Chaplain to the British settlers, my mind has been filled...