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!
The Restorative Justice course in Allandale prison should have already started but has been postponed until next week – it may be cancelled altogether because stricter lockdown levels for prisons would not allow certain intrinsic elements of the course. The ministry leadership prefer to wait until the course can be run fully. The RJ planned for November will involve men on parole and will not be subject to such strictures.
Some spiritual workers are now being allowed back into prison – the Covid-19 lockdown has brought home to the inmates how much they missed it. Pray that they will open up to God. Pray for Dawn’s discernment and stamina.
Fraser had received the full text of all the NetACT journal articles, in time to publish the first issue around the end of last month. But he is currently having an issue with the host server on which all NetACT platforms are sitting.
Give thanks that Fraser now has the full text of all the NetAct journal articles, hopefully in time to publish the first issue before the end of September.
Edward Stoffels has found a place to live in Cape Town and, unbeknownst to him, his name was suggested for a caretaker’s job. Please continue to pray for him.
A local prison has just asked for a Restorative Justice course for 12-17 October. So there is pressure to find volunteers to provide lunches. Pray for the inmates who can take part and for the Hope Prison Ministry team. Pray that Dawn’s stamina will be built up between now and then.
Wednesday, 30th September, we submit our application to renew our visas. Please pray for no complications.
Pray that a parcel from the UK with books for a vulnerable young woman will not be delayed at Customs or lost.
Fraser helped facilitate an online meeting last week for over 100 Principals of Bible colleges, theological colleges and seminaries to discuss collaboration, sustainability, and the practicalities of online education, and especially to listen to the African viewpoint.
Dawn attended the first general Hope Prison Ministry meeting since lockdown in Cape Town yesterday. The prisons are still closed to visitors; pray that a way for ministry teams to return would be found. The lockdown has imposed stresses on many relationships, including those of ex-inmates who now work for the ministry.
Edward Stoffels, the ex-Drakenstein inmate, is still trying to live faithfully in a God-honouring way but must find somewhere else to live by the end of the month.
It’s heart-breaking when people who really intend to live honest lives find themselves in situations where the temptation to fall back into criminal activities is too great for them.
Our South African visas expire at the end of October. We had planned to have the renewal process well advanced but covid19 put paid to that. Please pray there will be no hitches in the granting of visas for the next two years.
Ruth started her new degree course this week, James’ final year begins soon as well.
Last Friday, Fraser ‘electronically hosted’ an online Zoom meeting of all the NetACT College Principals from across Africa, live-streamed it on YouTube, and facilitated various text-based discussion forums. There were over 60 in ‘attendance’ and the afternoon went very well.
A second Zoom meeting for the Portuguese-speaking colleges, was quite a challenge for the translator who listened to the main Zoom meeting on one device and translated for the Portuguese group on a different device.
Fraser was delighted that all 50 NetACT partners sent in a response to a questionnaire regarding the post-Covid19 future of theological education in Africa.
The next stage is a joint meeting, planned for Wednesday 9th September, with as many other Bible colleges, theological colleges, and seminaries as possible.
Prisons are working at half-numbers and were short-staffed even before covid19 hit. Security could so easily be compromised through fatigue, burnout, temptation, and violence. The majority of wardens do their best with little appreciation under difficult circumstances. It is especially challenging for women wardens in male prisons.
The general impression here is that many people are too important to be held to account. Pray for courage, integrity, and protection for those in a position to stand for good leadership and honesty.
Both Dawn and Fraser are still experiencing some of the after-effects of their bouts with (suspected) covid19. Pray for their restoration to health, especially lungs and stamina.
NetACT hope to have the first issue of their African Theological Journal for Church and Society online by early September.
The NetACT office staff are discussing how to capitalise on the enthusiasm raised by the Barnabas Fund conference on Online Theological Education a couple of weeks ago. Pray that attendees will see how to creatively use what they learned. Fraser meets with the Hugenote College admin to discuss how to progress with their online learning platform.
Recently Boko Haram threats have greatly increased in severity and detail in Nigeria. Pray for the Nigerians who facilitate InReach: that Boko Haram would not find them, that their evil schemes would be thwarted and that they would encounter Jesus in a powerful and life-changing way.
As ministry inside the prisons is not permitted at the moment, Dawn has contacted a local initiative giving the unemployed opportunities and opening their eyes to the value they have in God’s sight. From first impressions it could be a good fit.
Our internet access has been very poor for a while but give thanks that the internet is working properly again.