Ashley John van der Westhuizen is a Swartlander from Westbank Malmesbury who was recently legitimated as a proponent of URCSA. But who is this person who is so fond of rugby, cricket, tennis and football, and who likes academic reading and even sometimes a good engaging novel?
Ashley was born in Malmesbury on 9 July 1970 as one of five children – two sisters and three brothers. His parents are the late Nicky and Ivy (Ivonne) van der Westhuizen.
He started his primary school career at Liebenberg Primary School and completed his secondary school education at Schoonspruit Secondary School in 1990, also in Malmesbury.
Many people have an determining influence on the development of a person’s life. In the case of Ashley, he exempt the important role his parents played in this regard. “They had a strong influence on my life as a child,” he says. “My faith life and faith journey began through my parents’ dedication of faith to God. My parents laid a Christian foundation that influenced and inspired my entire personal and spiritual life. The persistent perseverance in prayer of my mother for her children, encouraged me to have a spiritual growth that laid the foundation for me to stand alive today and to successfully achieve my ministry in the ministry. That is why I am so grateful to God and to my praying mother.
“As a child I was part of the Kinderbond, Sunday school, Youth Association, etc. The teaching and learning of these associations painted for me pictures of who God is. It cemented and confirmed my beliefs as a true Christian warrior. Faith opened and opened my spiritual eyes – that Jesus is the Son of God and that we are saved by grace. I firmly believe in the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“In my teens, Rev. Eugene Beukes (as a young pastor) inspired me a lot through his close involvement with our youth association. And it was Rev. Beukes who encouraged me to pursue and successfully complete theology as my first passion and calling. In my adult years it was Rev. Micheal Lemboe and Prof. Marie-Anne Plaatjies-van Huffel who played a major role in my life and the decision to value church history so highly. I also regard Rev. Walter Philander as a great influence, for his rigor and constructive criticism and analysis on my trial sermon exegesis.”
Ashley commenced his theological training in 1992 at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) but due to heavy financial pressure was unfortunately forced to discontinue his theological training in 1995. In 2019 he obtained his BDiv (Baccalaureate in Divinity) and his MDiv in 2020.
But how do he see his ministry? “I am a community people and you will find me among the outcasts, the outcasts, the orphans and those who live on the fringes of society,” says Ashley. “That is why I believe that you must be God’s outreach hands and feet. My passion is to serve and to get your hands dirty. Outreach opportunities for street children and underprivileged children are very important to me. That’s why my wife and I have been feeding and serving the underprivileged children in our community for the past few years with a Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. Our projects such as ‘Sponsor a child’ involves a gift and a piece of clothing; and secondly we sponsor school clothes or school shoes. Thirdly, we focus on aftercare activities such as to support learning problems, reading handicaps and to provide spiritual education that includes moral and ethical values. I am also involved in pastoral care and counseling that includes death related matters and funerals.
His dreams for the church and especially for his future congregation Ashley explains as follows, “I believe my thesis gave my true visible vision and dream for URCSA. I completed my thesis in Church Law and Church History: A church judicial-historical research on the Confession of Belhar and Church Unification (BDiv 2019). Belhar Confession – A church judicial-historical research on Visible Church Unification between Westland United Ring and Wynland United Congregation ((MDiv 2020). I believe that the atoning work of Christ becomes visible in the church as a faith community of those who are reconciled to God and to one another. I believe that unity of the church of Jesus Christ is therefore a gift and a command – but at the same time a reality, which must be pursued and sought – so that the world can believe that diversity, enmity and hatred between people and groups of people is a sin, already overcome by Christ. I believe that everything that may threaten the unity of the church may have no place in the church of Christ, but must be fought. That is why the church (URCSA) is called to do justice to the oppressed, to protect the strangers and to help orphans and widows and to block the path of the wicked. I believe that the church should stand as the property of God where God stands, on the side of the wronged; against the iniquity as well as that the church as witnesses of Christ must testify against all the powerful and privileged who out of selfishness seek their own interest and possess others and harm them. I believe that God has revealed Himself as the One who wants to bring justice and true peace among people and therefore God wants to teach URCSA to do good and seek justice.”
Ashley is married to Joline Janece van der Westhuizen, a Grade-R teacher who specializes in learning, reading support and she possesses an aftercare centre. They have two children, Kyle (33) and Ashwin (30) and two daughters-in-law Vileen and Celeste. They are blessed with two grand children Noah (5) and Kahlo (3).
Contact Prop. van der Westhuizen at [email protected] or 074 146 9207 / 071 044 0212 for more information.