SIM South Africa missionaries Johan and Trudie Robbertze are hoping a farm they bought last year will produce much fruit for God’s harvest.

“We want to develop a retreat centre for youth, where we want to have youth programmes running and also church programmes, giving people a place to really settle and become quiet but also have the opportunity to use the centre for more challenging and leadership training,” Trudie said.

“A safe place for them to hear the gospel, … where people can come and hear the voice of God and where we can serve the Lord,” agreed Johan. 

Johan and Trudie have been with SIM for many years. They formerly served in Tanzania, where Trudie was the country director. Her most recent assignment was as receiving personnel coordinator for South Africa, but she found that position required more time than she could spare from her and Johan’s work repairing and developing the farm.

SIM South Africa missionary Johan Robbertze describes their plans for the ministry centre.

The 14-hectare smallholding is located near Ifafa, about 90 kilometres south-west of Durban. It includes hills and forests, as well as several different crop areas. A portion overlooks the Indian Ocean.

“The little walkways, especially at night, when you have the LED string lights there—it is so beautiful, and the birdlife is incredible here …. It’s quiet, very quiet,” Johan said. 

Much of the farm had become overgrown, so they have been working to clear some of the fields and orchards. They are grateful for those who have already come alongside them, and they pray for additional funds and helpers.

“We know that we cannot do this task alone and therefore we need a team of people with us. People in different areas …. We would need maybe short-termers who have a vision to come and work for the Lord—literally work for the Lord. Maybe help us to build things, help us to clear the ground, but we also need people with skills for after the setup is there,” Trudie said.

Their plans for the property include multiple uses. There will be a “kingdom area” built as a Zulu kraal or isibaya with a two-meter-high wall surrounding a circle of huts, available for accommodation and a wedding venue. In other areas of the property, there will be self-catering facilities, isolated huts for those who seek quiet and solitude, and a zip line and obstacle course they hope to rent out to a business.

All of those (as well as crops) could help provide income that would help support the Robbertzes and help them make the property available to churches and ministries.

“There’s a lot of poverty in the area. There’s a lot of work that’s needed,” Trudie said, adding that they would like to work with local churches to develop programmes for children and youth. “We are looking forward to starting into what the Lord has been doing in this area. Many times, we think, ‘Oh, I want to start this and this and this,’ but we need prayer to know what the Lord has been doing so that we can get into what he wants us to be involved with.”

They have also been working to learn Zulu.

“Zulu is a nice language—it’s a beautiful language—but you need to learn it nicely,” Johan said.

“We need to talk to the people,” agreed Trudie. “We cannot make ourselves understandable if we cannot speak to the people. We are privileged enough to be here, but it’s rural, so there’s no falling back to English.”

“I’d love it to be the same as how we could speak Swahili [in Tanzania]. It was nice to hear the people in the street,” Johan added.

As much as Johan and Trudie need physical helpers and financial supporters, they said the thing they can’t live without is prayer support.

“We need you to pray for this, because if the Lord is not in it, then I don’t want to be in it,” Trudie said. “So, let’s pray together that the Lord will send the right people on this team that needs to develop this ground. We need people with vision who can tell us, ‘Listen, your idea is not good, maybe include this. What about this?’”


This article is reprinted from SIMnow issue 157, available for download at

Text and photos by Brian Heffron, SIM South Africa Communications Manager