A Farewell to the Hasenknopfs

A short timeline of the Hasenknopf’s ministry: from college to KwaZulu-Natal to COVID-19.

Calling to the Mission Field

Thomas and Laura Hasenknopf felt their calling to South Africa in 2007 while still in Bible college. While reading a book called Bantu Prophets in South Africa, they felt God revealing the people He wanted them to minister to. They started researching the indigenous churches in South Africa. And it wasn’t long before they encountered the amaZioni and ZEMA.

After a couple of years of fundraising and further training in cultural studies and missions, they moved to South Africa in 2009.

Early Ministry with SIM, by Greg Seghers

I first heard about Thomas and Laura in 2009 when they had just arrived in South Africa to work with the amaZioni. SIM missionaries working at Mseleni Hospital reported there were many Zionists in their area. They said Mseleni may be a good place for the Hasenknopfs to focus on learning the African language and culture. This was true. Placing the Hasenknopf family at Mseleni gave them African insight up-close and personal! Thomas and Laura benefitted from the cultural and language learning they gained at Mseleni. They lived the challenges and hardships of rural Africa in ways that many Westerners never see.

The entrance to Mseleni Hospital in Nhlamvu, South Africa [photo by Laura Prewett via inmedblogs.us]

mseleni_hosp_entrance-e1410984363138
The community at Mseleni, in those days, was located at the end of a long sandy road. And the Hasenknopfs did not have access to a vehicle. Knowing how much time I spent in my vehicle

driving to amaZioni services, I knew what a challenge Thomas must have been facing. I had never met them, but I hoped to encourage Thomas as older missionaries had inspired me in years past. So I contacted Thomas and asked if he would like to go with me to an all-night Zion service. Traveling the Mseleni “beach” road, I admired this German family’s tenacity and how they were coping with the transition from life in Germany to this undeveloped community.

Finding a specific rural location was way more complicated in those days before the days of Google Maps. And what would have been difficult, Thomas made simple by meeting me on the side of the road.

The Mseleni beach road [photo by Edward Christiansen via inmedblogs.us]

The Mseleni beach road [photo by Edward Christiansen via inmedblogs.us]
Before and after that service, Thomas and I had several hours that he was able to share about their family’s experience. I realized that if this family were to survive for the long term, they needed a support system. I felt that possibly ZEMA could help.

Soon after, we at ZEMA partnered with the Hasenknopfs more directly. And they achieved many great things for God as a part of the ZEMA family.

IsiZulu Language Study and Beyond, by Eric Binion

Thomas and Laura did their isiZulu language study here at Union Bible Institute. They were still new to South Africa and we enjoyed extending our hospitality to them and having the whole family around.

In recent years, we have appreciated their hospitality. We have had monthly ZEMA KwaZulu-Natal prayer meetings at their house. It has been so refreshing to be able to laugh together and share our prayer requests and be encouraged by what God is doing. We hope that in their new work they will still be able to visit us here.

Ministry in Pietermaritzburg and Durban

Since 2012, Thomas and Laura Hasenknopf and their children, Noemi and David, have been based in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. They ministered to the many Zion churches there and taught at four local ZEBS. They partnered with the Seghers, Swarts, and Sullivans in this work.

Sunbury Pictured: The 2017 ZEBS teachers.

The Hasenknopfs heart is for the amaZioni to be known in South Africa as people who know and understand the Bible. For the amaZioni to be role models of what it means to follow Christ wholeheartedly. It is their desire that the amaZioni be agents of change in South Africa, steering society towards righteousness and godliness.

I, Kim, found Laura’s words in one of the life-group meetings to be so powerful as she shared her own challenges in their journey to Africa. She was encouraging us to seek God as our provider above all other things that can distract – to wait on Him even when things are not comfortable or easy. I found Laura easy to talk to and a safe place to seek Christian council. She has such a gentle and loving way of listening and understanding and I am so excited to see this next chapter that God has for her and her family.

It was during the second half of 2019 that I, Jeff, felt that my journey with God was going to take a different path. I planned to leave my formal employment to take over a maintenance business from a retiring friend.

It was during my resignation term that I asked Thomas if I could come with him to the local township of Tshelinyama to see what he was doing for ZEMA. He and Lara were so excited! They shared with us that they were considering an offer of a new position back in Germany. They had been praying for a replacement for his ZEBS teaching. This prayer was being fulfilled with a couple right under their noses… us. Wow! We have all enjoyed seeing God’s hand and timing in every part of our short introduction to the ZEMA family.

We will miss their company and the “realness” that they always portray with humility. That was always the most attractive part of their characters. We love you guys.

Pictured: Thomas with 2018 ZEBS graduates.

A Legacy and a Heartfelt Goodbye During COVID-19, by the Livingstons

We attended Red Point Church in Pinetown, Durban, with the Hasenknopfs for four years. We loved fellowshipping with them. Thomas was a member of our midweek Lifegroup and he always entertained with his dry sense of humour and taught from a heart full of wisdom and love.

I, Kim, found Laura’s words in one of the life-group meetings to be so powerful as she shared her own challenges in their journey to Africa. She was encouraging us to seek God as our provider above all other things that can distract – to wait on Him even when things are not comfortable or easy. I found Laura easy to talk to and a safe place to seek Christian council. She has such a gentle and loving way of listening and understanding and I am so excited to see this next chapter that God has for her and her family.

It was during the second half of 2019 that I, Jeff, felt that my journey with God was going to take a different path. I planned to leave my formal employment to take over a maintenance business from a retiring friend.

It was during my resignation term that I asked Thomas if I could come with him to the local township of Tshelinyama to see what he was doing for ZEMA. He and Lara were so excited! They shared with us that they were considering an offer of a new position back in Germany. They had been praying for a replacement for his ZEBS teaching. This prayer was being fulfilled with a couple right under their noses… us. Wow! We have all enjoyed seeing God’s hand and timing in every part of our short introduction to the ZEMA family.

We will miss their company and the “realness” that they always portray with humility. That was always the most attractive part of their characters. We love you guys.