Rev. I.E. 'Doc' Watson passed away in a hospital in Margate on Thursday, October 24th 2002. He was 79 years old.
'Doc' Watson was a tall man with a ready smile, a keen sense of humour and an unusual love and understanding of children. He was named 'Doc' after Sherlock Holmes's assistant, Doc Watson, while a soldier during the Second World War. 'Doc' began working in children's ministries immediately after his return from his military service in Italy in 1946.
He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1948, but, sensing the call of God to the ministry, he left to study at the Bible Institute of South Africa in Kalk Bay, Cape Town. Here he first came into touch with the work of Scripture Union, which led to his involvement in many S.U. camps and holiday missions.
During this time 'Doc' was the pastor of Three Anchor Bay Baptist Church (1951 - 1957) and the pastor of Boksburg Baptist Church (1957-1958). 'Doc's' extraordinary gift of working with children was recognised by Scripture Union and from 1958 to 1970 'Doc', together with his wife 'Ma Doc', pioneered the work of Scripture Union in KwaZulu/Natal. 'Doc' was then called to be General Secretary of the Cape Town YMCA, working with young men aged 18 to 25 until 1976.
From 1976 to 1983, 'Doc' was the pastor of Pinelands Baptist Church. It was during this time that I was converted and discipled under the ministry of 'Doc' Watson. Coming from an unchurched background, I was reached by a special evangelistic crusade being held in a local cinema. Within three months of being converted, 'Doc' had me working on a Scripture Union holiday mission. By the end of the year I was teaching Sunday School and leading the youth group. 'Doc's' vision for evangelism, particularly amongst children, was contagious. Most of the people in the world today are under 15 years old. The overwhelming majority of Christians testify that they were converted to Christ as children. No Christian worker should remain uninvolved in children's work. Reaching young people with the Gospel and the love of Christ is the greatest missionary priority. Missions are the lifeblood of the church and children are the largest mission field.
From 1983 to 1987, 'Doc' was the pastor of Pietermaritzburg Baptist Church, and then from 1987 to 1990, he was the pastor at Elgin Baptist. It was during this time that 'Doc' performed the marriage service for Lenora and I at the B.I. chapel. From 1990, 'Doc' was the seniors pastor at Margate Baptist.
From 1985 to his death, Rev. 'Doc' Watson was the Chairman of Frontline Fellowship's Board. Throughout his life, 'Doc' maintained his Chartered Accountancy membership and always took a keen interest in the financial records of the mission.
One thing our bookkeeper and accountant always knew, was that when 'Doc' came to visit, our books would be inspected! 'Doc' had a keen and critical mind, and many were the constructive criticisms that our mission benefitted from.
'Doc' married Peggy, who became known as 'Ma Doc', in 1956. Peggy Watson had served on the CSSM teams at Gordons Bay in the late 1930's. This was followed by nurses training and four years as a medical missionary in Rwanda, under the Church Missionary Society during World War II. 'Doc' was married to Peggy for 46 years, and pastored for 51 years.
|In 1997, 'Doc' Watson authored and published Fantastic But True, a manual for Christian workers amongst children and young people. This book continues to be one of the most popular titles of Christian Liberty Books.
I will always be grateful for the vast amount of time and energy which 'Doc' invested in discipling me and guiding our mission, particularly in its formative years. He was a great and effective evangelist and pastor. The principles, priorities, projects and programmes explained in his book are battle-proven, tried and tested. God abundantly blessed 'Doc's' ministry amongst children and his pastoral ministry. I know a number of key Christian leaders across the country who trace their conversion to Christ back to the holiday missions of 'Doc' Watson. May God keep us faithful and diligent in proclaiming the Word of God and in winning lost souls to Christ.
"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the Heavens and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars, forever and ever." Daniel 12:3