Wm. F. P. Burton
Millions of pounds are made and lost on the alluvial diamond diggings. The diggers stake out a claim, dig up the gravel and spread it out on a tightly stretched cloth, shovelful by shovelful. They sort it over speck by speck, pebble by pebble, with a triangular piece of steel. The sparkling gems show up brightly against the dull gravel background. At the end of the day, the successful digger takes his gems to the licensed dealer.
Naturally, there is a lot of roguery and theft, for a diamond no bigger than a pea may be worth hundreds of pounds, and the man who yesterday could hardly find food and clothing for his wife and children can today afford an expensive car and grand piano, while in a few weeks, through a run of bad luck, he will be as poor as or poorer than ever.
The gambling element is so strong that they say, "Once a digger, always a digger." They cannot leave it alone. The hope, the triumph of a digger is to find "a twenty carat blue" and they even die with the longing for a "twenty carat blue" running though their brain.
Old Father O. was a faithful Gospel preacher and brought up his family of sons on the ancestral farm, around the well-worn Family Bible.
All his spare time was spent in going round from farm to farm, village to village, faithfully preaching God's message of free salvation to all guilty sinners who would repent and turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ. Hundreds of both Whites and Natives owed their eternal salvation to his faithful ministry. They rejoiced to see his old Cape-cart and horse jogging along the country roads that joined their farms.
The boys did well at school and turned to the diamond diggings for a livelihood, married ambitious, go-ahead wives and were soon quite well off. Their diamond diggings yielded excellent gems, so that they had nice homes, expensive cars, and somewhat looked down on their old father, whose only aim in life seemed to be for souls for the Lord Jesus.
At last they wrote, "Dad, it's well enough for you to go wandering, preaching all over the colony, but don't forget that you have sons of your own. Come and pay us a visit."
Of course, the wives felt a bit ashamed when their father came jogging up the road with his antiquated Cape-cart and almost equally ancient horse.
"Father, tomorrow you must spend a day with us on the diggings and try your hand at turning over the gravel and spotting the gems."
In the morning it must be confessed that they felt a bit hypocritical when the old man insisted on a time around God's Word and a talk on their knees to the Heavenly Father before they proceeded to the gravel pit.
Once at work, they showed their father how to turn over the rubbish with the steel blade and to spot the glittering gems.
"Now Dad, you have a try." To please them he worked at it for a while. They whispered to each other, "If he gets the diggers' fever, he will stay with us for good." so now and again, they surreptitiously let drop a really valuable diamond among the stuff that he was sorting, and when he turned it up, they professed excitement. "Why, Father, that's worth more than you can make in a month on a farm. Your luck is in today."
At the end of the day's work they took him to the licensed diamond buyer and received some hundreds of pounds but he did not seem in the least pleased. "Here, lads! Take it!" he said, blowing his nose to hide the tears. "This isn't in my line," and he handed them the diamond buyer's cheque.
Next morning when they rose and prepared to go to their diamond digging, they found that the old man was up before them and was already harnessing his horse.
"Boys," he said, as he bid them goodbye, "Precious souls saved for the Lord Jesus, and washed in His precious blood, will last on and on, when these glittering baubles are forgotten. One soul won for Christ can give more satisfaction than all the diamonds you can gather in a lifetime on these diggings," and urging on his old horse, he jogged away to his poverty and his preaching.
The Church at Gun Hill is an Elim Pentecostal Church