Jason asked for guidance about how to give his life to Jesus during the Bible study in Maximum this morning. Heavily involved in the prison gangs and the drugs that are readily available inside, he was transferred to a room with Christians (to his disgust), went through a time when he was technically dead in the hospital, and now has decided to hand himself back to God.
Pray for an increase in halfway houses for prisoners who are released but need somewhere to help them reintegrate into society. It was encouraging today that one of the inmates said that Dawn and Hylma bring life into the prisoners’ lives.
Like so many charities, Hope Prison Ministry’s finances have been badly impacted by the covid pandemic. Pray that there will be funds for the life-changing RJ courses.
Last Monday Fraser talked to colleagues in Nigeria who wanted to offer online courses in biblical languages if NetACT could find a provider. On Tuesday, quite separately, Fraser learned that Hugenote College had told NetACT colleagues they wanted to offer online courses in biblical languages if there was interest. There is no such thing as coincidence!
Today a prison officer beckoned Dawn out of the Bible study in Maximum. A prisoner was acutely suicidal; they’d tried psychologists to no avail, perhaps a spiritual worker could help. The man had attended the Bible study last week so Dawn wasn’t a complete stranger, but we are all inadequate in such a situation. Pray that he will be there next Tuesday to meet Dawn again and that the Holy Spirit will take over that encounter.
Theswin, a big man in stature and in the prison gang system, had always retaliated when provoked and made people regret messing with him. He has been a follower of Jesus for some years. In a recent disagreement, another inmate punched him in the face. Theswin thought about getting his padlock and punching back, about taking the kettle of boiling water and throwing it in the other man’s face. Instead he sat on his bed, feeling an incredible feeling of peace washing over him that could only have come from God, incredulous he hadn’t retaliated.
Dawn has been told that “due to lockdown the processing time (for visa renewals) cannot be estimated anymore.”
Castle Street Church had a very encouraging evening Zoom session with Fraser and Dawn on March 7th.
It’s a sign of real spiritual maturity when incarcerated people admit that they would rather be in prison and experience the relationship and life change which Jesus offers than be on the outside imprisoned by sin. Thank God that Dawn has been able to lead the Bible study in Drakenstein Medium A again and get into Maximum too.
Pray that prison officers would not take their Covid-fatigue out upon the inmates. Pray for freedom from fear, safety in their dangerous jobs and that their influence would help to show a better way of living.
An inmate in Medium A has identified as a satanist and is requesting a visit from his “spiritual worker”. Pray for wisdom for the overall prison chaplain, Mr Mouriss, and the medium A chaplain, Mr Pekeur. Pray that the man will listen to those who try to counsel him, that the power of God will sweep over him and he will see the truth.
A Covid-related shortage of electronic equipment in South Africa is holding up Fraser’s new laptop. Please pray it would come very soon before the old one gets so bad that he can no longer do his work and has to take a holiday.
Fraser asks for insight and wisdom for himself and the other church elders as they discuss how the church should be post-covid.
Dawn had a good meeting at Zebulun church – the meetings are going well.
A staff member from one of the NetACT partner colleges in Ethiopia has reported that the civil war/unrest in the Tigray region has left the region highly unstable. Hunger and rape are being used as weapons in the ongoing conflict.
28 articles have been submitted for the second issue of the NetACT journal. Based on the quality of the journal submissions, NetACT is trying to organise an online writers’ workshop later in the year.
On Tuesday Dawn had a meeting with Ashley, Heston and his wife Magdalena to discuss the discipleship groups connected with the church Heston pastors which draws its members from a Wellington area plagued by gangs. Dawn and Ashley will be attending the Zebulun church youth group on Friday night and then having a group for adults on Saturday afternoon.
Dawn got into prison today! At very short notice but it was good to see the men in Medium A. When asked for prayer requests, the consensus was for the ability to follow Jesus, be self-controlled and choose to love despite provocation (we had been looking at 1 Peter).
Fraser had a very positive meeting on Monday aimed at making world scholarship available in Africa and African scholarship available to the world. A hard-drive loaded with resources to be put on the NetACT portal has gone missing in Stellenbosch University library office.
Pray for the leaders of Hope Prison Ministry as they plan for the coming year. We hope that “spiritual workers” will be allowed back into the prisons by next week.
Dawn and Ashley have visited another minister to discuss the idea of small groups.
South African visas which have expired have been extended until the end of March, so please continue to pray that Dawn’s visa application will be properly granted soon.
The Nehemiah Bible Institute in Wellington concentrates on training ‘informal’ church leaders, some with only a Primary School education, and needs imaginative ways to use the Portal for this training.
Young boys and adolescents are being reinforced by pit-bull owners in the idea that violence and intimidation are what makes a man. Pray that someone will promote a healthy alternative, a model of manhood that honours God and teaches true respect, not “respect” through fear.
Inreach groups in Nigeria are closed due to terrorist threats but threats against staff in Jos continue. Pray also for the 120 people from a Muslim background who were converted through Inreach and moved to a discipleship centre last year where they now need to remain for security reasons.
It seems unlikely that we’ll be back to the UK this summer, so if anyone could arrange a video chat, a Zoom meeting or record an interview with us, please get in touch.
Pray for the prison officers, who have seen many of their colleagues fatally affected by covid19, to be strengthened in a difficult and dangerous environment. Many of the gang initiations involve stabbing an officer. The prisons are still closed to visitors so even the relief of seeing people from the outside is not available to the inmates which, combined with fear of covid19, can lead to rising tension.
Dawn recently started volunteering weekly at the SPCA community outreach clinic in a black area and occasionally at the main Wellington base, helping to care for God’s creation, reach out to dog owners and lighten the burden of the full-time staff. Pray that she will be a blessing and not bring too many of the abandoned animals home with her.
Fraser was part of a Zoom meeting last week with representatives from theological colleges across Africa. Education authorities in some countries insist that online courses during Covid-19 are not the same as the in-person equivalent and need to be re-validated, creating an extra administrative burden and impossible in some cases. Please pray that the authorities will think sensibly beyond bureaucracy and that solutions will be found.
The banning of faith based gatherings outright has been lifted, but our church has not yet decided how to restart. Pray that Dawn and Ashley will follow the road the Lord has prepared in starting small local church groups.
Hugenote College doesn’t know when face-to-face teaching can restart. Fraser’s skills in online learning and technology are so appropriate at this time. He is completing more training materials for teaching staff to make better use of the online learning platform. Students throughout the partner colleges have to surmount challenges of electricity supply, infrastructure and finance to get available online resources.
Pray for Christ’s followers in prison with prisons now closed to visitors again. Pray their behaviour and attitudes will give hope and comfort to officials and other prisoners.
Dawn had a good meeting with Ashley about starting small groups to help people learn more about the Bible and God. Ashley’s heart is broken for the drug dealers and gangsters he knows from his old life. Groups are banned at the moment so we should put off starting until the regulations have been lifted.
Many people are being infected, hospitalised and dying with the new variant of covid19. May those who follow Jesus stand out by his strength and introduce others to Him.
Dawn still hasn’t heard back about her visa. Please pray it won’t be lost in the system.
Fraser was granted his new visa and he collected it last week. Dawn’s application is still awaiting an outcome so please continue to pray that it will be sorted out soon.
Fraser has some server updates scheduled for the end of the year (the only time no student needs access to the resources). Pray it goes smoothly with no technical hitches.
God doesn’t leave us to travel along the wrong path without giving warning signs. Thank him that some of those in the prison ministry realised they were heading the wrong way and sought help before things got too bad. Pray that they will be restored and grow in maturity, wisdom and faith.
Pray that the parolees in the recent restorative justice course can put into practice what they learned over the Christmas period.
Pray for the ability to pass on God’s message even when it’s not welcome.
We wish you all a blessed and joyful Christmas and thank you for the part you’re playing in supporting God’s work.
Edward Stoffels is now caretaker and unofficial uncle with board and lodging (but no wage) in a home for young men. He has the opportunity to help and guide the young men.
Last week’s Restorative Justice follow up session went well. Men told of challenges they’d faced but had been better equipped to stay out of trouble. One, refusing to go with old associates to get drugs, later heard they’d been arrested. That would have landed him back in prison. Another, after an emotional encounter with his mother, said that now, if they disagree, instead of getting angry they talk, separate, consider, and come back together to resolve the issue.
Denzil, from the Drakenstein Maximum Bible study, asked prayer for his stepbrother (an ex-prisoner) who is drinking heavily, taking drugs, fighting with other brothers and being very disrespectful to his mother. Hearing about family problems that they can do little to help is one of the most tormenting factors for prisoners.
Fraser continues to struggle with a backlog of paperwork. The NetACT end-of-year office meeting was very positive with ideas and projects for next year. Their key figure retires at the end of 2021 and will need to be replaced.
Pray that there is no problem delaying Dawn’s visa application at the Department for Home Affairs in Pretoria.
Jacksons – November Update 2
Give thanks for the effect last week’s Restorative Justice for Parolees course has already had. Many who said at the start that they had things sorted out admitted by the end of the week that they had learned a lot. Pray that they will act upon the effect of their actions on others.
One man returned stolen goods to a woman and apologised, admitting to the group that it had been very difficult but he felt as if a weight was off him. We had talked about victims and he just couldn’t sleep for thinking about what he’d done and the pain caused and was glad to be able to make it right.
Another participant brought a bag mobile phones he had robbed from people on a train four years earlier but now wanted to give back. The course is unashamedly based on Christian principles.
Fraser is working out possible avenues to get a NetACT group account with a major online theological e-book supplier – a long way out of Fraser’s comfort zone!
A huge backlog of official paperwork in the church we attend in Wellington must be regularised before a full-time minister can be called. A lot of the work falls to Fraser.
NetACT has to decide whether to spread a grant from a major Christian charity in America across all their partner colleges or concentrate on a few colleges which have realistic project proposals in place. Donald Garvie in Jos has asked Fraser to help with hosting and setting up their online catalogue. Fraser is also exploring the possibility of getting a NetACT group account with one of the major online theological e-book suppliers.
Dawn finally got back into prison and had to lead the sessions at short notice. Fewer are allowed to the Bible studies but it means we can have more of a discussion than a class. The last 9 months have been tough but covid19 never took hold in Drakenstein. It can’t be a coincidence that many have been praying. There was a hunger amongst inmates for the “spiritual workers” to be allowed back in.
The prison staff are looking worn down. Pray for them, especially the chaplains Mr van Dyck and Mr Pekeur.
30 candidates have to be whittled down to about 18 for the Parolees Restorative Justice course. Pray for insight and discernment for the Hope Prison Ministry staff, that any incipient weak spots will be identified swiftly and dealt with in a God-honouring manner and that the participants will be committed to the week and arrive on time each day.
In November 2017, the Western Cape was suffering from a severe drought. There was a lot of prayer. Now the reservoirs are full. It’s important to connect the dots and give thanks!