The ministry of Carmel began on 1 May 1954 when Jack and Kaye Edkins, founders of the ministry and donors of the property, took occupation of this magnificent site in response to a clear call from God to establish a Christian guest farm and conference centre.
Initially called “Vierwinde” the purchase price of £10 000 was finally accepted – the same price received for the sale of the Edkins farm in Cradock. Just before occupation, a raging veld fire swept up the hill threatening the house, however, at the last moment the wind changed, and the fire was brought under control. God was watching over His property.
The name Carmel was chosen from Jeremiah 46:18, “…as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea”, meaning “a fruitful place; well wooded; near the sea”, an apt description, and prophetic of God’s purpose for this place.
Initially a 6 bedroomed guesthouse, wholly dependent on rain-water and without electricity, Carmel is a monument to those who trusted their Lord for all things, and found Him faithful to meet every need. Extremely long days and much hard work was involved in running both the farm and the guest house. Genis and Marie Sparks who had moved from Cradock with Jack and Kaye and worked alongside them long into their retirement, made an invaluable contribution in the establishment of Carmel.
As years passed, and Carmel grew, the Edkins realised that the vision was too large for them to pioneer on their own, and The Carmel Evangelical Trust was formed in 1975. In 1983 the entire property and contents were donated to the Trust, who have since continued to be responsible for Carmel and its growth and development. Under the directorship of Alan and Trudy Blackshaw the ministry expanded, new buildings were added, and the Caravan Park established. The ministry and conference programmes were also strongly developed and significant numbers of new visitors began to be drawn in, particularly as they utilised teams of young volunteers to arrange holiday programs for families with young children.
Carmel’s vision and goals remain to offer a place of rest and restoration to believers, and in all we do we strive to share with all who enter our gates the restoring love of Christ.