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1773 A.D.:  Wolraad Woltemade and Vonk the Seahorse Give Their All







  Wolraad Woltemade is pronounced Vole Raard Vol duh Marder.  So I have read!

  For this account let's quickly remember the following scriptures, words spoken by Jesus:

 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”                Mark 12:28 - 31  End Quote

  And secondly:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.        John 15:13        End Quote

  Humans can't earn their own salvation.  We were given covenants where we were allowed to try, but it turned out that we were not able to live our lives without sinning against our Maker and His laws and commandments for us.  So, one last covenant was offered to us:  Yahweh sent His Son Jesus to teach us and then to die for our sins.  Then He sent the Holy Spirit to help us understand Jesus' teachings and teach others about what we know. 

  These new rules sounded simpler than the rules of the Mosaic Covenant:  Love God with all of your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind.  And secondly, love your neighbor as yourself.  But, loving your neighbor as yourself, though the lesser and so presumedly the easier of the two rules, requires a lot of soul searching.  Yet, some have been willing to go so far as to die for their neighbor, and as the scriptures tell us.....there is no greater love that we can show our neighbor than to give our life in trying to save theirs.  That's the sort of love that South African dairy farmer Wolraad Woltemade held in his heart, and in South Africa, they remember it even today.

  Born in 1708 A.D. in Hesse-Schoumberg, Germany, Wolraad came to Capetown South Africa to work for the Dutch East India Company, and became a dairy farmer for the company.  He married and had a family, and his years passed there, and eventually it was 1773 A.D. and he had begun to be an older man of 65, and it is likely that he had no illusions of having anything especially amazing happen to him at that point in his life.  He was a fairly old dairy farmer finishing out his days in South Africa, I suppose it's likely accurate to guess that he was a hardy enough man, still working at the farming, caring for the cattle, riding his horse.  But....his retirement years were close at hand.

  Where he lived was near the ocean near to a place called Table Bay where the Salt River runs into the sea, and ocean going ships were often moored there.  But it could be a very stormy ocean and bay at times, especially in winter, and in South Africa the month of June was the heart of the winter. 

  On the night of May 31, 1773 a storm came up when 5 ships happened to be moored in the bay, and it became a fierce gale of a storm, and it was cold that day.  One of the ships - the 'De Jong Thomas' - came loose in the high winds and rough waters, and began to float towards the rocks.  Her anchors could not hold to the floor of the bay and soon she was at the mercy of the winds.  It was about midnight, there were over 190 people aboard the cargo freighter, and its Captain, Barend Lameren, could see big trouble coming for his ship.  He had the presence of mind to fire the cannons in an effort to wake up people on shore, people who might possibly be able to render aid to them.  The cannon shots were heard. 

At about 5 A.M. in the morning the ship was driven onto rocks there in the bay and it broke open.  There were many people who drowned then, though a few of the most powerful swimmers made it to shore.  The flow from the river swept a great many out to sea, however. 

  Whe the tragic news was received a contingent of about 30 soldiers had been sent by Governor Van Plettenberg to try to do something.  They arrived, and as it became light the soldiers and a large crowd had also gathered to watch the spectacle of the stranded passengers on the ships wreakage.  A fair number of people were visibly still clinging to the broken vessal's remains out there in the freezing storm, but the soldiers told everyone to stay out of the dangerous ocean.  They themselves had not decided upon a plan of action, it was cold, windy, and rough seas, and so there was no one making any effort to help the survivors who were still out there in the disintegrating ship, suffering the elements and in grave danger. 

  Among the crowd it was said that some of the onlookers were there out of concern, some out of curiosity, and some had come to see what valuable things might be salvaged from the ship's cargo.  As bad as it may sound to someone not raised near a coast, shipwrecks have been looked upon as a tragedy with a silver lining by some who live along the beaches.  There have been more than a few small fortunes made by what washed up on the beach after shipwrecks.  But, to get back to the point, there were many on hand to render aid, but no one was doing so.

  Among the soldiers was the son of Wolraad, Corporal Christian Woltemade, and when the old farmer heard the news of the imperiled ship and that the soldiers were there, he knew his son would probably be there.  He saddled up his black horse named Vonk (meaning 'Sparkle') and went out with some provisions for his son.  But, when he arrived, he was shocked to find that there was no one moving to help the men still clinging for their lives to the wreakage of the De Jong Thomas. 

  The old dairy farmer was not made to do nothing in such a circumstance.  Perhaps when you spend your life tending to the needs of a dependent dairy herd it just affects your thinking, or perhaps he was just that way as a man.  He could not sit idle and watch, so he took some available cloth articles and made a sort of a tow rope to tie to the horses tail, and he led his horse out into the ocean, into the freezing rough ocean and the terrible winds of the storm, and the old dairy farmer began the swim to the ship. 

  He made it, and was able to get two men to hold his tow rope, and the strong horse and the brave old farmer swam to bring them back.  Bystanders quickly came forward to help the rescued men.  But, once back, he turned around, his horse faithful to try, and they swam again to the ship as those on the crowded shore watched, and again he made it.  And again he brought some men back.  But, Wolraad just turned out to the sea and swam out to rescue more endangered men.

  We can only wonder what his son must have thought, watching a 65 year old man, his Dad the dairy farmer, show more love and more courage than the 30 soldiers and who knows how many people - spectators only - lining the shores.  You have to imagine that his heart was breaking even as it swelled with pride.  And what was keeping him, or any of the others from joining in the rescue effort?  He himself was probably under orders to restrain the crowd, but you have to imagine that he felt like disobeying those orders.

  As everyone else stood idle, fearing to risk their lives or for whatever other possible reason, the old farmer and his worthy horse made a third, a fourth, a fifth trip...a sixth and a seventh, all the while growing more frozen and more tired.  Hours had passed during these many storm tossed swims.  But then, finally, dropping off the two latest of the rescued, he turned around to do an eighth trip against the advice of the men on shore.  He arrived, but it was obvious that this might be the last chance for rescue.  The ship was breaking up, and the old farmer could only take so much. 

  As Wolraad arrived for the eigth time at the ship, four to six desperate men jumped at once to try to be saved instead of just two, and it was just too much for Vonk and his owner.  The crowd on shore watched as the panicked men plunging downward into the water drove the horse and its owner beneath the waves.....not to rise again.  The courageous old man had done what he could....all that he could, holding back nothing....and every man on the shore line watching must have stood in admiration and perhaps shame, and must have known that they had looked upon a true hero with the heart of a lion and a horse of matching character.

  The next day the drowned body of Wolraad was found.

  The sources I reviewed varied in their estimation of the number of people who were aboard the De Jong Thomas, but the lowest number I saw was 191.  Of these, it was agreed that 53 lived, and of these 53, the old dairy man Wolraad Woltemade and his powerful horse named Vonk were responsible for saving 14.  And he was 65 years old, fighting out the last hours of his life in the turbulent winter waters of the cold wind tossed bay.  

  It is possible that a string of living descendants, sired by some of these various 14 saved people after their rescue, walk the world today; people that know life only because of the brave actions Wolraard and his strong horse Vonk took that day. 

  God put great courage in his heart, and great fear for his neighbor.  He is a worthy example of a person that would love his neighbor as much as he loved himself.  The South Africans who heard of his actions agreed, and they honored him in many ways.  For a long time their highest civilian honor was named 'The Wolraad Cross For Bravery'.  Streets and buildings have also been named after him, and he is apparently a pretty well known name in South Africa today.  But I hope Wolraad's greatest honor will come at the hands of the Father Almighty and His Son, because he truly honored the commands of Jesus.  He loved his neighbor as himself.  May God bless him. 





    I personally believe that realizing how many great deeds of God have actually occurred through out history will lead some people to be saved giving their life to Christ.  If you agree, then please, take the time to be a 'missionary', to love your neighbor enough to care about their soul.  Please mention and recommend visiting the Deeds of God website on any social media sites that you belong to.  Tell a favorite account to your friends or family, and tell them where you read it.  To know God is to stand in awe of Him, but too few people know Him today.  Accounts like these are yet another way to come to know Jesus and the Holy Father, and the Spirit of Truth that helps us understand.  Thank you.  Dan Curry





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