Residents’ interest would have been piqued by a man shouldering a large wooden cross around Hout Bay last week, an undertaking he says is “God’s will”.
For the past two years, Johan and Winnie Marais have been traversing the Western Cape and other parts of the country in their camper van, spreading awareness about the Gospel.
On reaching a destination, Johan will walk with the cross, weighing more than 30kg, to remind people that Jesus died for their sins.
The Sentinel caught up with the couple on the beach on Friday September 1, shortly before Johan was scheduled to begin his afternoon “pilgrimage”.
Born in Cape Town but growing up in KwaZulu-Natal, Johan has always been religious, serving as an evangelist while also working as a web developer. (correction: Johan have not always been religious but became born again in Christ 1st May 26 years ago)
“A few years ago, I asked God, ‘What more can I do for you?’ The Holy Spirit came to me, and told me that I should make a cross and walk to all the towns of the Western Cape, reminding people what Jesus did for them,” he said.
While Winnie was initially sceptical of what it was God wanted the couple to do, a stroll on Bloubergstrand convinced her that her husband’s calling had to be answered. She came across a stone on which a perfectly formed cross motif had formed and she took this as a sign.
Since then, the couple have travelled to many parts of the Western Cape, including Fish Hoek, Cape Winelands, Klein Karoo, the Atlantic Seaboard and Cape Town CBD, spreading their message.
They have also visited Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal.
The couple can spend anywhere between a few hours and a month in a specific location, “depending on what God required of them”, Johan said.
On some occasions, Winnie will walk alongside her husband as he carries the cross, which is fitted with a small wheel at its base.
At other times, she will stay in the camper van praying for the town in which they find themselves.
“People are generally receptive of us, but some people do call me crazy and show me signs as I walk. I don’t let that bother me. I do have books and tapes I offer them, and it’s fine if they don’t accept. The Gospel can’t be forced on you,” Johan said.
He conceded it was “a challenge to live like this”, but they managed. “We do have a small group of people who support us with donations, and people do give us some money. But if we are in a place and we don’t have money for petrol, then we believe God is keeping us in that place for a reason.”
Recently, the couple acquired a tent and public address system, enabling them to preach to people more effectively.
“We still have 40 towns in the Western Cape we must visit, and we are looking forward to that. We would also like to visit Llandudno. We have been following what is happening in Hout Bay, and the other day I went to pray near the traffic circle outside the township (Imizamo Yethu). We pray for unity among all the communities of Hout Bay.”
(Article written by reporter from Sentinal Newspaper Houtbay)