David was a missionary in the Philippines before coming to Enhlanhleni, Umsinga/KZN. He was the successor of Dr. Daniel Mattson, who also worked for Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and specifically for “World Missions.” He was a very sociable man, who liked to connect with the German congregations in that area – Elandskraal, but also as far as Uelzen – especially as they were eagerly getting into English ministry in those places. David Schneider tried hard to put things into a theological perspective – like in his devotional book. He was very much for creative worship and for innovative church-growth methods. So, in a nutshell: He did things rather differently than my people – the Bleckmar missionaries. Let him speak for himself in this biographical YouTube video.
At the time, I was a young pastor on the borders of Swaziland and rather far removed from these upheavals in KwaZulu. Obviously, I visited my parents now and again and we did have old Bishop Schulz, deans Dube and Ntuli over in Wittenberg to update us on the workings in the young church, it´s mission and seminary. Schneider was not part of that visiting crew – and so I witnessed the development from the side-lines and not quite as attentively as I would have, if I had known the way forward then already. I was invited to some pastoral convocation, where I lectured on Lutheran Spirituality in home, congregation, church and mission. Together with Schneider Radikobo Ntsimane published the fruits of that in the Festschrift for my father in 2000.
That was the time, when Schneider was ready to retire back home to the United States. The Lutheran Church in Southern Africa and the Seminary Supervisory Board under the able leadership of Mr. Rifford Thwala was working hard on the succession. Plans were that the son of Bishop Schulz would move from Serowe, Botswana back to Natal to take up the call as professor. When he left for CTS Ft. Wayne, IN instead, Dr. Armin Wenz from Görlitz, Germany was invited to this option. However, after a longer stay in Southern Africa and also visiting us in Wittenberg, the Wenzens did not take up this call either. Perhaps there were other attempts to win young missionaries for this task, but I did not learn of them. It has always been a big challenge for the church to find workers for the harvest. Back in those days, I heard by the wayside, that teachers were especially difficult to come by, but to have them move to the fringes of civilization and out in the sticks of Enhlanhleni was nearly impossible. Well, in the end David Schneider and his supervisors at World Mission came up with the idea of calling me into that vacancy. So, at my father´s and Schneider´s farewell in Pomeroy – December 2000, I was installed together with moruti Musawenkosi Mntambo – thanks to the support of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and it´s branch World Missions in close cooperation with the Lutheran Church of Southern Africa and the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa.
David Schneider visited South Africa afterwards still – and came to see the new Seminary in Pretoria too. He stayed in close contact with my father – communicating by email – over the next 2 decades. After all they had been good neighbors for nearly a decade – living not even 200m apart – on that mission outpost.
Now my mother told me of his passing last week. She knows firsthand, what David´s beloved wife Dalene is going through right now. I am sure, that the letter of condolences shows, how good Christian wives share the strong comfort of our common faith even in “death´s dark vale.”