Andrew Murray

(9 May 1828 – 17 July 1917)

Andrew Murray, a well-respected minister of the Dutch reformed church, was born in Graaf-Reinet on the 9th May 1828. At the age of nine Andrew and his brother John were sent to Aberdeen for their education where they both graduated at Marischal College. Following this, the two brothers traveled on to Utrecht where they furthered their theological studies as well as received qualifications in Dutch. During their tie spent studying in Utrecht they formed the first Student’s Missionary Society at the college.

In 1848 they returned to South Africa where the eldest, John, went on to become the minister of Burghersdorp.  Andrew was sent to Bloemfontein in 1849, to become the only DRC minister in the area at the tender age of twenty. During his time in Bloemfontein Andrew became familiar with the Voortrekkers and often visited the more nomadic farmers in the outskirts of the Free State as well as made special visits with the propose of baptizing their children. On these visitations, the sermons would be held in the open and under tent sales which would be hung between the wagons. Farmers from the surrounding areas would flock to hear his sermons and he would perform serval marriages and baptisms in one service. This continued for seven years and the constant travel and work combined with attacks of malaria broke down Andrews’s health and eventually he was sent to Europe to recover.

Upon his return he married Emma Rutherford (in 1856) and continued his work in the Free State until in 1860 he received a call to Worcester. While in Worcester, the revival which had spread across America and Great Britain, reached South Africa and begun in Andrew Murray’s own congregation just six months after his arrival there. It was during his time spent here in Worcester that he wrote many devotional books which led to his name becoming all the more known in the country. He was also chosen as the moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church (1860) and he worked in the struggle against the rationalistic teachings of Holland which arrived in South Africa during the 1860’s. 

In 1864 a vacancy appeared in the Cape Town church and Andrew Murray accepted. However, his health took a turn of the worse due to the immense strain of the workload of the collegiate system, as well as the joint pastorate and, in 1871, he left the position to take charge of a smaller congregation in Wellington. Here he and Emma remained working until he passed away in 1917. 

During his time in Wellington, he became interested in the education of women and assisted in the founding of the Huguenot Seminary for girls, which later opened branches in Paarl, the Free State and Natal. Andrew also took an active role in the mission work of the church and begun the Mission Training Institute in Wellington with the aim of educating young men to become missionaries and teachers. He was the chairman of both the Nyassaland and the South African General Mission Council and worked closely with the Dutch Reformed Church to further both home and foreign mission work. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 250 books most of which are still printed and available in countries such as America and England.