Laughter – loud, joyous, contagious laughter – that is what most people comment on when they remember Pastor Len Weston. As children, when in a large crowd and we didn’t know where our parents were, we would just stand for a moment and wait for the laugh . . . making Dad easy to find.
Pastor Len Ernest Weston, born 3rd of November 1949, in Chingola Zambia, was the youngest of four children. Len attended boarding school in Lusaka, Zambia and then completed his schooling at Gifford Tech, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
During his high school years, while on a family vacation in Cape Town, he met Dagmar – which resulted in him moving to Cape Town and spending a year at General Botha Naval Academy in 1968. Len was quite the wild child, by the age of 21, he had been in 21 car accidents (he was only driver in 4 of them) . . . the last accident being when he put his MGBGT sports car under a train, whilst dicing a friend, in the Cape Town harbour.
After the Academy, Len worked his way up the ranks in business until he was factory manager for a Leather luggage company. Leonard and Dagmar married in 1972. Their home was the notorious party spot and they were the neighbours nobody wanted to have!
One afternoon, in the midst of reveling with friends, Len had the sudden urge to attend an evening church service and told his friends to lock up when they’d finished their drinks. Two weeks later, the same urge hit him and that night, after hearing a message of the stoning of Stephen, Leonard responded to the altar call and his life changed drastically.
From then on, Len became very involved in the local church and in 1980 felt called into fulltime ministry. At this stage, Len and Dagmar had two young children, Robert and Simone. They sold up everything and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, USA for Len to study at the Southern Baptist Seminary for 8 years.
Whilst there, their youngest, Natasha, was born. During those years, Leonard co-pastored a vibrant, fastgrowing charismatic church with his brother, Dr Owen Weston. Upon completion of his Theology studies, the family returned to South Africa whereupon they received a call to the then Piet Retief Christian Church, in January 1989.
At that time, the church had undergone a split. One of Leonard’s conditions of accepting the post was to restore the two factions, which, with the help of the Lord, was accomplished within the first year.
Prior to the 1994 elections, Leonard was the Chairman of the Peace committee and was also key in networking with pastors in Swaziland and surrounding towns. This networking resulted in lifelong friendships and in him being made chairman of the Lighthouse Board, Mbabane – which now oversees Bulembu, Teen Challenge and Potters Wheel Church.
The PRCC grew, adjacent properties were bought, Maranatha School was started and the original building became too small. It was apparent that a larger building was necessary. To this day, many people still joke about “Len’s gym” – where the church folk would help with building the new church on Saturdays!
The new building was opened in 1997, with not a cent owed: debtfree, such a testimony! In the years that followed, different ministries sprung up from PRCC, namely: Kebar Bookshop, Assegaai Revival Centre (Commondale), River of Life Church Plants and Uzwelo Home. At this time the leadership decided that a name change was in order, to encompass the various ministries – thus Wellspring Ministries.
In 1999, Pastor Len completed his Masters degree in Ministry. Pastor Len was an integral part of Piet Retief’s pastors fraternal and a great encourager and motivator for many ministries. He was also a part of the Fellowship of Elders – a meeting of Senior Pastors from all over South Africa. Since 1998, Pastor Len mentored Sheldon Hallis and frequently referred to him as his “Timothy”.
On Sunday, 18th March 2018, Len officially handed over the mantel of Senior Pastor of Wellspring Ministries to Sheldon, unknowing that this would be his last time at the pulpit. Pastor Len began having heart problems in 2013, resulting in a pacemaker. Sadly, on Monday 26th March, Leonard went home to be with the Lord.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Dagmar, 3 children, their spouses and 7 grandchildren. The Weston family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from Wellspring and from the entire Piet Retief community, for which we extend our gratitude.
Pastor Len often challenged young pastors and mission students, “If God had to take your church out of the community, would anyone notice?” With this we would like to challenge you to make a difference in your community and to continue Pastor Len’s legacy.