DR PM BREMER AND THE CMF
6/11/1922 – 11/6/2017
The Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) of South Africa was initiated on 27 April 1950 when two doctors, WH Opie and John Wilson, and six medical students from the University of Cape Town formed a steering committee. At least three of these students became missionaries and one, Ted Germond, was later to become General Secretary of CMF in South Africa.
At first the work was largely limited to Cape Town. A regional inaugural meeting was held there in March 1951, with 50 doctors and students attending. This can be regarded as the inauguration of the CMF in South Africa. Dr RP Hewitson returned to Cape Town from the UK in September 1951 and became the driving force in the development of the CMF. The first conference was held in September 1953 and the main speaker was Dr Paul White of Australia. A formal committee was established in 1956. The work grew slowly until all the cities with medical schools each had a local CMF committee and was actively at work amongst students. In 1962, Dr Bob Foster, a medical missionary from Zambia, visited all the medical schools on behalf of CMF.
A National Council of CMF was formed in September 1965 with representatives from Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban. Dr Harold Robertson represented mission hospitals, while Dr PM Bremer was elected as the first National President. He was committed to developing the CMF of SA on a sound biblical base. This included a clear Evangelical Confession of Faith and a well thought out Constitution. Publications, newsletters, good personal communication, well regulated financial and administrative planning prevailed under his watchful eye.
Dr Bremer was of the opinion that regular, in depth, Bible study was essential and he encouraged this throughout his tenure with the CMF and beyond. Under his guidance the CMF focused on regular regional and national conferences and other meetings. He was a very proficient chairman and committee member who strongly believed that international contact was necessary for CMF to prosper. In this regard he arranged for many prominent Christian doctors from other countries to visit and lecture in South Africa. His skills and dedication were soon recognised abroad and ultimately he became President of The International Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA). Dr Bremer was a true leader in the best possible sense of the word, a gifted and wise mentor and patriarch of the CMF of South Africa.
Dr Paul Bremer was very passionate about serving his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. He loved the Lord deeply and deliberately included Him into every aspect of his life. This was certainly also the case with respect to his career as a prominent and highly regarded obstetrician and gynaecologist. He conducted a private practice in Pretoria for about 45 years. He was known as a doctor who put the patient’s needs above his own. He wrote the following in 1983:
A Gynaecologist’s recipe for job satisfaction
Do a good day’s work – do it well
Do something for nothing
Do a little more for a little less
Have a sound indication for your operation
Though you don’t use your knife above the umbilicus
Care for the whole person
Take time to communicate more effectively
Care for your patient and she will care for you
He also had a special interest in enabling medical students and nurses to grow in their faith. He conducted regular spiritual meetings for them at the academic hospital in Pretoria over many years.
Dr Bremer was devoted to Bible study himself and became interested in the Bible Society of South Africa (BSSA). Later on he became chairman of the BSSA, a position he held for 28 years. A few months before his death, he attended a meeting of the Cape branch of the BSSA in Cape Town. The Bible and the translation of the Bible in Afrikaans and other South African languages, were very close to his heart.
Dr Bremer’s wife, Elfride, passed away in 2013. Their five children, all daughters, are all alive and living in various parts of South Africa. There are 14 grand children and 15 great grand children. For the last 18 years, the Bremers lived in Rondebosch, Cape Town, where both of them also lived as children. Dr Bremer’s father was Karl Bremer, a former Minister of Health of South Africa.
We thank the Lord for letting us have a Christian brother of this calibre for so many years. The CMF of SA and all its members over five decades salute him. He is now with his heavenly Father, whom he loved so much during his life here on earth.
Prof Johannes Swart
Prof Hennie Cronjé