It relates historically to the emigrants of the 1830s and 1840s who left the Cape Colony (British at the time, but founded by the Dutch) and moved into the interior of what is now South Africa. The Great Trek consisted of a number of mass movements under a number of leaders.
But it’s the precise meaning of the word that is interesting, because the word “pioneer” does not exactly fit the nuances suggested by Voortrekker.
It contains the ideas of exploring new territory, overcoming hardship and difficulty to establish sustainable community, but also running ahead of the pack and “seeing forward.”
Voortrekkers have to travel light.They see life as journey, rather than destination.
In Voortrekker Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where we eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but we don’t mind. Who needs comfort when you are called to adventure?
Jesus is the ultimate Voortrekker. He rides out ahead to find our which way we should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. He suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians. Through his words and actions he reveals the true intentions of the trail boss. By looking at him, those on the trail are inspired to go forward.
- The Voortrekker Monument and “the many mistakes” of the Afrikaner past (africasacountry.com)