At Drakenstein Maximum Bible study Walter, a long term resident and regular Bible study attendee, objected to another man sitting beside him, got up and sat by himself at the back. Dawn reminded him that, as a follower of Jesus, you are to forgive anyone who offends you. Walter returned to his seat. Later in the class he apologised to the other man. That took – strength and humility.
Ebrahim in Maximum says he’s innocent and it often leaves him very depressed. His wife believes and supports him.
Teswill in Medium A is quietly evangelising, particularly with Smee, a senior general in the 26 prison gang. The Holy Spirit seems to be moving in Smee’s life. Pray for wisdom for Teswill as he relates to Smee.
At the year-end events in Maximum and Medium A, many men came to individually thank Dawn and Hylma for being there all year. They delegated a man to give public thanks and a letter including thanks to our husbands for their support, assuring them we’d be looked after if there was any trouble. Another man, very talented in art, gave each of us an original work of his. At Maximum, Dawn played 3 carols with men of the guitar group and the rest of the men singing along. It was quite something.
A prison officer wanted to talk to Dawn one to one for counselling. They have a very difficult job with great strains on their family lives. Thank God she is there to listen, maybe another great opportunity. She returns to Maximum next week for one-to-ones with 3 men and hopefully a proper chat with the officer.
Fraser is still trying to get the latest NetACT journal issue published before he leaves for the UK. He travels to the UK on Thursday. He is in the Dingwall area from 5th-21st December. He flies home with Dawn on January 18th.
Everything seems to be in place for Fraser’s trip to Lesotho next week. One of the trainees is so keen that he has already started using the software.
Ryan Faber, an American missionary based in Zambia, has agreed to take responsibility for updating contact details for the NetACT community.
Dawn’s session at Maximum was again cancelled, this time because there was no member of staff available to sit in with the Bible study.
The Drakenstein Prison Commissioner is not friendly towards spiritual work within the prisons and has the capacity to block many things. Pray that she’ll see how God can make an unimaginable difference in the lives and behaviour of the men, that she’ll rise above the character she’s displaying at the moment and that whatever makes her hostile will be overcome by God’s healing touch.
We still don’t know if the twice postponed Restorative Justice process at Drakenstein Medium A will go ahead from November 28th. Sometimes the inmates lob difficult questions at Dawn and Hylma. Pray for wisdom and the ability to communicate clearly.
Pray for Alfred in Medium A who longs to break the cycle of prison – release – prison in his life. He has never had a South African ID number and South Africa is a country where it’s hard to do anything without your ID card.
A man whom Dawn was trying to help get over alcohol problems has starting drinking again to the dismay of his family. Pray for wisdom for Dawn as she tries to help.
As Fraser hasn’t been back in the UK since November 2017 we planned for him to go for a few weeks in December/January. Due to expense, Dawn was going to remain in South Africa. The Lord is very kind. Some South Africans were concerned that we would be apart, so offered to buy a ticket for Dawn.
Fraser’s trip to the Theological Seminary in Lesotho is now set for 7th to 11th November. Unless the South African Department of Home Affairs gets our new visas organised before then, he will be travelling across international borders (and back, hopefully) on the receipt for our visa applications. We have been assured it’ll be recognised but it still feels like an act of faith.
Dawn was expecting to be part of Restorative Justice in Drakenstein Medium A this week but it has been postponed again until the last week in November. Pray that the inmates who’d been expecting to take part will not be discouraged and that these extra weeks will be times of fruitful preparation for them and the ministry team.
Pray for the leadership and team of Hope Prison Ministry. We all have different ideas about how things should be done. May the light of Christ shine overwhelmingly through each person.
The usual Tuesday Bible studies at Drakenstein were cancelled too today. Pray that the men will not be cast down but will be able to draw strength from their individual relationships with Jesus.
Some people may regard the postponement of the RJ as an opportunity to accumulate health and strength: Dawn sees it as more of a chance to catch something else.
Give thanks that Fraser is home safely from the NetACT AGM in Johannesburg, where the need for partner colleges in the various countries to collaborate was emphasised, without expecting the central office to arrange everything, and for the joy in meeting colleagues face-to-face after only being able to video call over the past two years.
There was one new partner at the AGM – Presbyterian Theological Seminary from the English-speaking part of Cameroon (http://ptskumba.com/). They have no dedicated library staff and are keen for Fraser to assist in training one of the academic staff to look after the library. One possibility is for Fraser to arrange a team visit with librarians from other NetACT partners to help with the cataloguing backlog which they have.
Pray for Fraser as he arranges to visit Morija Theological Seminary in Lesotho in the next 4-6 weeks and if we should pray for a librarian volunteer from overseas to come on a cataloguing trip.
God is moving in the lives of prisoners at Drakenstein.
Simphewe told Dawn today how much he had changed since leaving the prison gang and following Jesus. His family noticed the change when they visited for the first time for years.
Alfred has realised he needs to tell the truth and apologise to the family members he’s hurt with his lies and denials. Pray for courage and the right words for him, and for the many men who suffer from depression and anger to find peace and encouragement in focussing on Jesus.
Continue to pray for our visa renewal situation. The current extension expires September 30th. Please pray the government announces a further extension so we don’t have to arrange flights out of the country at 24 hours’ notice.
Give thanks that the final transfer of live library circulation data to Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary’s new library catalogue went smoothly. They are now using their new system and start using an online learning system soon.
Fraser is arranging everything needed to Zoom and live-stream the NetACT AGM in Johannesburg at the end of the month with participants coming from many countries. Please pray for everything to fall into place for this.
A last minute Restorative Justice course at Drakenstein medium A has been arranged for the end of the month (when Fraser is away at the AGM). Pray for enough table facilitators as over 30 men have expressed a desire to participate and for the right men to sign up. Pray for the ministry team – many unpleasant or disruptive things happen to team members and families around the RJ week.
Dawn made it into Drakenstein prison today. Khanye is having to face hard choices about his involvement in the prison gangs and his desire to follow Jesus. He sees how they are mutually exclusive. Pray he would be allowed to move into a room where there’ll be someone willing to help him read the Bible as his eyesight is badly damaged.
Pray for a full recovery to health and strength for Dawn and continued good health for Fraser.
Fraser may well get a lift to attend the NetACT AGM in Pretoria in late September, without having to persuade airport authorities to allow him to fly on a visa waiver.
Though his laptop needed a complete re-install of Windows for Stellenbosch University IT department, it only took him a day to do this and be back up and running again.
He hopes to launch a new simplified version of the library resources portal at the AGM and needs to get the last technical issues sorted by then. He has also been asked to do more data cleaning for the new Volmoed Retreat Centre library catalogue. Pray he can schedule his time appropriately.
Dawn has completed the follow up of the March Allandale Restorative Justice programme. The Paardeberg and Obiqua men have engaged with the process and have already started changing their behaviour and attitudes.
Dawn has met two Drakenstein Medium A parolees at Hylma’s church in Cape Town. Thank God both men are eager to continue in God’s way. Pray that they’ll find jobs.
She now has a fluey bug, maybe picked up at Drakenstein where several inmates have had it. Pray for a swift and complete recovery and patience in the meantime.
The students say the Explore course run by the George Whitfield College in Muizenberg – such a good foundation – really helps them understand the Bible and Christian faith. Pray those taking the exam will do themselves justice as they’ve worked hard on the material.
Fraser has got the library catalogue for NETS Namibia working properly. His re-organising of Hugenote College’s online learning system is now complete and library catalogues for Mukhanyo Theological College and Volmoed Retreat Centre in South Africa are progressing. He has also been asked to preach at our Wellington church on two consecutive Sundays.
The Paardeberg and Obiqua Restorative Justice prisoners have just completed their final follow up sessions with Dawn. Please pray for the man who has to decide whether to destroy his arsenal of weapons when he is released.
The family of a man in the Medium A Bible study has agreed to visit him after 9 years. He is nervous about the questions they will ask but he wants to tell the truth.
A man in Maximum, though a believer in Jesus, is plagued by suicidal thoughts, probably no coincidence as 20 years ago he was into the occult and Ouija boards, with cracks the enemy can exploit, yet he never abandons his children. A believing cellmate encourages him and points him back to promises in the Bible.
Pray for the Hope Prison Ministry leaders and God’s vision for the future, for Ruth as she applies for grants to fund her two-year church apprenticeship and for James as he continues to look for a job.
Please pray we would receive our new visas soon.
Fraser had a very productive meeting at the Volmoed Retreat Centre on their new library system. Things are going well for his re-formatting of the NETS (Namibia) library data to make it transferable from their old to a new system.
The elderly parents of a man doing Restorative Justice follow up sessions at Paardeberg have received a phone call saying their son would be killed in prison if they didn’t pay money. Pray that the culprits would be found.
It would make things easier if Dawn had a South Africa ID number. With our volunteer rather than worker visas, there appears to be no possibility of getting one.
Ten years ago, on August 2nd, 2012, we left the UK to go to Nigeria and start a life serving God overseas. There have been plenty of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, fun and danger and a lot of hard work, but throughout it all God has been faithful.
When anyone asks, “How long will you stay overseas?” our reply is always, “Until God moves us on.”
Thank God for the way he’s watched over James and Ruth through a somewhat unconventional childhood. James is praying for a job. Ruth has been accepted onto the 2-year apprenticeship at the Tron church, Glasgow.
Fraser had a very successful trip to Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary. Pray for his moving them to new library catalogue and online learning management systems.
The father of his host family there, Willem Steenkamp, graduated in theology in 2017 and is a businessman. A tiny congregation in Windhoek wants him to become their minister. He is wrestling with how to support his family if he accepts. Please pray for him.
Pray for Fraser as he integrates anti-plagiarism software into Hugenote College’s current systems and that he will be available when they want to organise training.
Pray for inmates who are going through RJ follow up sessions. Many say the material is helping them see things differently and want to put desired changes into practice.
There were many new faces in Bible studies at both Maximum and Medium A last week. Pray particularly for Revon in Maximum, that the Holy Spirit would cleanse him of all unrighteousness and that he would find true freedom in Jesus.
Pray for Aljar at Medium A, wrestling to forgive and trust, that he’ll decide to enter into a living relationship with Jesus and follow his teachings.
One of Dawn’s prison contacts put her in touch with a local charity that provides sanitary protection for women. Dawn told Magdalene who rejoiced in an answer to prayer. She’d been holding a service at a local farm. Sanitary protection for the farm women was a need she’d been praying about.
The Restorative Justice course was allowed to continue at Voorberg even though the gang-related stabbing of an officer caused the rest of the prison to be shutdown.
The first day brought early insights to one man who told of abuse towards him and his family by the farmer they worked for and on whose land they lived. This produced a great hatred of all white people, expressed in his crimes against them. He was also plotting how to destroy the farmer and his family once he was released from prison.
Just a few hours into the RJ process he realised that what he was doing was wrong. Instead of planning murder, now he’s planning to write a letter to the farmer, explaining the effects of his actions and taking a step towards changing his future.
We frequently hear “I’d never known that before.” Several confessed they’d been planning revenge once released but now know it’s not the way to go. It’s about presenting the facts and encouraging the men to look at themselves and their actions honestly.
39 inmates take part in a room with no covid-distancing and acoustics that make it difficult to hear what the men say. The family restoration day on Saturday was a big occasion but facing tough questions from loved ones and telling the truth makes a huge impact. The families who came heard the truth from their men, which is sometimes hard to bear but marks the start of a restored relationship.
Pray for Fraser’s trip to Namibia in July, that he will be able to fit everything into the time he is there.
We presented our applications for our visa extensions for the next three years in Cape Town last week.
James flies out to visit us next week, arriving on Tuesday. He and Fraser haven’t met in the flesh since August 2018.