A Tribute to Mrs Dorothea Scarborough

Dorothea Olivet was born on Valentine’s Day 14 February 1936. She was the eldest of 5 children: her younger sisters: Madeleine and Wilhelma, her brothers Wolf Heinrich and Theo. Her brother Wolf Heinrich died tragically at age 8. Her father was a Supreme Court judge. Her brother Theo was president of the Supreme Court. An uncle was Prime Minister of Hanover.

Dorothea Olivet grew up in a Europe at war. Even though very young at the time, she remembered the trauma of the Allied Bombing Raids, starting on28th March 1942, raining death and destruction upon Lübeck, her home in northern Germany. The bombers came in 3 waves causing most of the destruction on Palm Sunday 29 March. The Wellington and Sterling bombers dropped over 400 tons of bombs including 25,000 incendiary devices. A number of 1.8 tonne blockbusters dropped in the first wave opened the brick and copper roofs of the buildings and the following incendiaries set them afire. This was the first firestorm bombing of any city.

Lübeck was an historic cultural centre and the bombing of 28 and 29 March 1942 left 25,000 people homeless. It also destroyed the historic Lübeck Cathedral (which dated back to the 9th century), St Peters Church and St Mary’s. Because Lübeck consisted of many timbered medieval buildings, Officer Commanding Bomber Command, Arthur Harris, described Lübeck as “built more like a fire-lighter.” Harris wrote that Lübeck “went up in flames. It was a city of moderate size. It was not a vital target, but it seemed to me better to destroy a town of moderate importance than to fail to destroy a large industrial city.” Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin congratulated Churchill on the destruction of Lübeck, expressing his satisfaction at the “merciless bombing” and expressing the hope that such terror attacks would cause severe damage to German public morale. Actually the morale of the citizens Lübeck held up remarkably well throughout the traumatic war. Mrs Scarborough recalled also seeing the sky red from the fires of the firebombings of nearby Hamburg and Kiel.

Despite the devastation of her homeland, Dorothea grew to love the Lord Jesus Christ and to commit her life to following and serving Him.

Charles Scarborough married Dorothea in the still bomb damaged and only partially restored Lutheran Cathedral of Lübeck, Germany, in 1958. She was the pastor’s wife in Cemetery Road Congregational Church, Sheffield, England. Then a missionary, along with her husband, Rev Charles Scarborough, with the London Missionary Society to the Gilbert Islands, on the equator, in the Pacific Ocean.

In 1969, after serving four years with LMS, Dr Charles Scarborough accepted the call to pastor Sea Point Congregational Church which he did for 25 blessed and fruitful years. Charles and Dorothea Scarborough were in the forefront of launching the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches (EFCC). Mrs Scarborough served as Secretary of the EFCC. For many years Mrs Scarborough also led the Women’s World Day of Prayer. She was the Editor of the International German language Vox Afrikana and UCANEWS. She also founded Gospel Defense League which grew to a large readership with over 18,000 on the mailing list. Some of her publications had over 100,000 printed.

It has been my privilege to know Mrs Scarborough for almost 40 years. After my first mission to Mozambique, in 1982, Mrs Scarborough invited me to speak to one of her women’s meetings and interviewed me for Vox Afrikana. Before Frontline Fellowship had an office or a photocopier, Mrs Scarborough invited me to make use of her office. So Gospel Defence League was where I would go on my motorbike to make copies of our Frontline Fellowship newsletters, or Bible study and lecture notes.

Over the years Mrs Scarborough became one of my most trusted advisers and an invaluable member of the Board of Frontline Fellowship. There was many a time when Mrs Scarborough was my main and sometimes only encourager, supporting me in ventures and in the stands that most others sought to discourage me from taking. She understood the mission of Frontline Fellowship and was our most firm and faithful friend. Steadfast.

After the death of my mother in 2001, Mrs Scarborough became like a mother to me, correcting and rebuking me, urging me to take time to rest and recuperate, encouraging me to ignore malicious backbiting and attacks by antagonists, motivating greater efforts to advance the Kingdom of God. She was quick to stand up and speak out on our behalf. Mrs Scarborough was a Missionary Mother, Motivator and Mobilizer of prayer.

Many were the projects, publications, outreaches, campaigns and events which we planned and worked on together, including SACEL 1985, The Archbishop and the Bible 1986, Kirchentag 1987. These were battles in the world war of worldviews, fighting the good fight of Faith, exposing and opposing false teaching, un-Biblical heresies, Marxist liberation theology and other threats to the Christian Church. We were involved in debates with liberation theologians in townships, at church conferences and on university campuses. Mrs Dorothea Scarborough was faithful, dependable, courageous, principled, steadfast, fervent, dedicated and relentless. Dorothea Scarborough was a formidable defender of the Faith.

Mrs Scarborough was also a founder member of the Reformation Society in 2005 and of Livingstone Fellowship in 2006. For 15 years she attended the Thursday night Reformation Society meetings and Livingstone Fellowship services at Livingstone House. She was an enthusiastic supporter of our Reformation 500 movement and never missed a Reformation Day event at the Huguenot monument in Franschhoek.

Even as her body grew older and weaker, her mind was sharp, her analysis incisive and her convictions like iron. Mrs Scarborough was gracious and friendly, but she had a doctrinal backbone of steel. She would not back down, she would not bow and she would not bend on any matter of Biblical faithfulness, truth and principle.

The Scripture says that it is better to go to a funeral than to a party, because the living should always remind themselves that death awaits for us all (Ecclesiastes 7:2).
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die… ” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
“…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

There is nothing more certain than death and nothing as uncertain as the time of dying. We should therefore be ready at all times for that which may come at any time. “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
Dorothea Scarborough’s heart proved loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Lord strengthened her.

We do not know when, or under what circumstances, our lives will come to an end. But we do know that when we die we will stand before Almighty God – our Creator and Eternal Judge – and we will have to give an account of our lives – to Him. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” John 5:28-29

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:12-15

Many religions believe in an after-life. But what is unique to Christianity is the distinctive belief in the resurrection of the body. Christ’s Resurrection guarantees that those who die believing in Him, shall one day be raised in His likeness to be with Him forever. Through Christ, death has lost its sting. We can face death in the sure knowledge that Christ has delivered us from the coming wrath and from eternal Judgement. We praise God that Dorothea Scarborough knew the love and salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ and that she served God so faithfully throughout her life on earth. Who can calculate how many lives she impacted by her faith and writings.

We grieve, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” Philippians 1:21

Dying Christ destroyed our death.
Rising Christ restored our life.

“Jesus said: ‘Whoever hears My Word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life
and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.”
John 5:24

Death for the Christian is not fatal. Death for the Christian is not final. We serve a Risen Savior. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
“Jesus said to her: ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25

Where are you going to spend eternity? Some of us have already made that choice and can say: I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Praise the Lord! No turning back. Others of us may not want to think about our eternity right now. But, in time, death will come to us all. We should soberly consider our immortal soul and the day when we will stand before our eternal Creator and give an account of our life. At that point your choice will be final. What will God say to me on that great Day of Judgment. Will you hear: “Well done! Good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord”?

“Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
Mrs Scarborough was wise and she turned many to righteousness by faithfully standing up for Jesus, contending for the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Ecclesia Reformata Reformanda est. Semper Reformanda! The Church, being reformed, must continue to be Reformed. A Mighty Fortress is our God!

Dorothea Scarborough can truly say at the end of her long and productive life on earth:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *