By Val Waldeck
You’ve been a golf professional for 41 years. How did you get started?
I started my career as an assistant golf professional at the age of 16 in the then country of Rhodesia at the Royal Salisbury Golf Club. After serving a one-year apprenticeship under the resident pro, Dick Morley, I went back to Zambia and finished my apprenticeship under the late Jackie Muir. I was assistant-pro there for seven years.
You’ve travelled quite a bit. Where have you played?
During my time in Zambia, I had the opportunity of playing extensively in East Africa, Zambia and the European Tour. While in Europe, I had the opportunity to be coached and to coach at the Lesley King’s Golf Studio, which was centred in London. That helped me tremendously.
Why did you come to South Africa?
Due to government policies in Zambia and acute foreign exchange shortages, then President, Kenneth Kaunda, decided that sport was not a priority and that put an instant end to my two Pro Shops and my livelihood. I landed in Johannesburg with the princely sum of R17.00 in my pocket – just enough for one night at a local hotel.
Did you meet your wife here?
I was offered a position at the Observatory Golf Club in Johannesburg. I was there for three years and that was where I met my future wife, Joanne. After we married, we moved to the Springs Country Club where I taught for fifteen years. The Lord blessed us with four beautiful children – Fraser, Kirsty, Sheena and Alistair. During this time I played extensively on the South African circuit with some success.
It was at this time that you had a life-changing experience. Tell us about it.
This was one of the pivotal points in my life because we lost our precious son, Alistair, in a tractor accident in 1988. Joanne and I both found the Lord Jesus Christ as a result. We were visiting my brother, Angus Buchan, at Shalom Ministries. Alistair loved to call him ‘Auntie Angus’ and they went on a tractor ride. He fell under the tractor and there was nothing Angus could do to save him. I know what it means to be a broken vessel. My life then was very worldly, but from that time onwards I have served the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart.
Is that when you became a missionary?
No, we committed our lives to the Lord and served Him, but I continued my golfing career. After a time of grieving, the Lord opened doors for me to coach golf in Germany for eight years. He blessed us financially because He knew what was in store for us later. I was struck down at this time with a malignant melanoma and given only a few years to live. The Lord healed me miraculously and called me into fulltime ministry.
My son, Fraser, left Germany to work fulltime with Angus. He accompanied his uncle on the Seed Sower truck on its maiden journey up Africa. We followed him in 2001 and I worked with Angus for five years as Shalom’s Adminstrator. A while back, while on holiday in Germany, I had a telephone call from Fraser. The Lord had called him to start a mission outreach and that very morning Angus had released him from Shalom Ministries. God called Joanne and me at exactly the same time and I was as excited as Fraser at the direction the Lord was pointing us. I couldn’t wait to get home.
We bought a beautiful property in KwaZulu Natal near the Greytown area and opened a Mission Station. It’s called Messiah Ministries. Our vision is to preach the Gospel in areas not often visited by others because they are inhospitable and hard to reach. We work extensively locally and throughout Africa. Interestingly, the property we purchased is the site of a Mission Station originally planted by Lutheran missionaries years ago.
Is golf still part of your life?
Absolutely, after 41 years of being a PGA Professional, golf is still in my blood and I often have the opportunity of playing the SA Senior PGA tour.
Golf reminds me so much of our walk with God that I am planning a series of Golfing Breakfasts - Spiritual Golf Clinics - as an outreach. I will be giving a full-blown professional golf lesson (complete with golf balls!) and, at the same time, sharing the Gospel. We are planning our first one in Durban in the near future.
Golf is a long walk, sometimes through the rough – you never just arrive. That is what the Christian life is like too. People watch you closely and you have to be on your honour. At the same time, it is an individual sport. At the first tee, it’s just you and your golf equipment. Our walk with the Lord is just like that. While we obey the Rule Book (our Bible), we walk down the fairway of life with Him. What I especially love about golf is that it is the game of a second chance. Every day you get to start again. That is a precious truth as we walk with the Lord.
What plans do you have for the future?
Messiah Ministries has a heart for the people of Africa. God has opened many doors for us. We are waiting for our first 4 X 4 vehicle to be commissioned and this will enable us to go further than ever with the Word of God. Our trucks are small and nippy, fully equipped with lighting and sound and we are trusting the Lord for a great harvest. We have already been in Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Germany. We are going back to Zimbabwe soon, taking food, clothing, Bibles and the Gospel. We are really excited about what God is doing.
Fergus, Joanne and Fraser Buchan may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.messiahministries.com.za or 033 445 0056/8/9.