A younger retired minister, Hannes Theron, has taken over the responsibility for running the NetACT office and developing relationships with the colleges across Africa. The Theology Faculty at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the larger universities in South Africa, is interested in joining NetACT.
Fraser is struggling with the latest issue of the NetACT journal. The ‘copy-edited’ files he has been sent are a mass of inconsistencies, requiring a complete re-working to make them ready for publication.
Only 10 men are allowed to attend prison Bible study. One man says he would follow Jesus up to a certain point, fearing that, if he showed weakness, he would be trampled on and humiliated by other prisoners. Pray he would follow Jesus completely, not just up to a point. He was, however, glad for a long sentence as he met Jesus in prison whereas he’d not known him outside.
Fahiem, the Muslim background man was the first to arrive at the Bible study this time, clutching his new Bible protectively, eager to make right choices and change his life, and appreciative that he be included in these prayer notes. In 2021, 4 close family members have died so he wants to live a changed life and show them a better way – amazing that people in another continent can have a prayerful impact on those so far away. Dawn was able to go into Maximum and Medium A at Drakenstein today to lead classes on emotional and spiritual maturity over the next 2 weeks. She has started a discipleship group at Zebulun.
Edward the ex-prisoner, now working with the young men at Beth Uriel house in Cape Town, is still faithfully following Jesus in the way that he lives and is a great encouragement to the parole officers who see so many men return to prison. Pray he would obtain the wood and other resources to renovate the hut he want to live in on the Beth Uriel grounds.
Dawn was allowed back into prison today for a Bible study in Maximum. We hope to include Medium A soon. Ebrahim in Maximum writes and plays songs to encourage the other believers. A Muslim inmate was felt drawn to join us to learn more about God and has said he’ll return next week. He’s asked for a Bible.
There’s a great problem with violence in South Africa. Many inmates come from families where beating a child unconscious or hitting him with a brick is an acceptable form of discipline. Some people working in prison ministry or church circles say beating is what they need, it’s what they understand. What we understand can be changed.
Pray for a revolution in thinking that all who follow Jesus trust him enough to turn the world’s thinking upside down.
Pray for smooth arrangements for us to visit the UK in November! Ruth had a positive phone call with someone from Student Finance but the information she sent in hasn’t solved the problem.
A meeting last week discussed how Hugenote College can create online biblical languages courses and make them available to other colleges in the NetACT network throughout Africa. Everyone involved was very positive and determined to move ahead. Pray for the next issue of the NetACT journal which is due out soon.
Dawn’s Mum has a significant birthday in November. We haven’t seen James and Ruth for a long time so hope to go to the UK in November for two months. If anyone would like to meet up whilst we’re there, let us know.
An outbreak of rabies has reached a township on our side of Cape Town (about an hour’s drive away). Pray that the disease would be contained.
Please pray for South Africa’s prisons. A 60% increase in crime will worsen the already severe overcrowding, violence and societal breakdown.
Gangs in Drakenstein Maximum are demanding the blood of a warder to keep peace inside the prison. A Christian inmate has been stabbed and is in hospital but his blood is not enough to satisfy the gang leaders.
A major cause of crime and deprivation is the breakdown of family life with many children growing up without fathers or in uncaring homes. Dawn has offered to run “The Marriage Course” at Zebulun church to strengthen marriages and family ties and educate married couples in ways to show love, communicate, forgive and learn to grow together.
Fraser was finally able to successfully update the software he was struggling with. Issues impacting Fraser’s work are the next issue of the NetACT journal, new NetACT email addresses, racial/cultural bias (conscious or not) and the extent to which NetACT should involve itself with continent-wide issues in its overall focus as an organisation.
The leadership of our church in Wellington have some big decisions to make about the church property and the future direction of the church.
Half of the Drakenstein inmates have been vaccinated against covid, the others have refused. Thank God that there haven’t been the major outbreaks we feared. Pray that the “spiritual workers” will be allowed back in.
The Wellington area is now a covid hotspot with many cases and deaths. Pray for those who sleep on the streets.
Prisons might not reopen to spiritual workers until level 1 (level 3 at the moment). A prison officer was murdered at a Johannesburg prison this week. Pray for the safety of officers, and for Christian officers and inmates to be encouraged and distinctive in behaviour and attitude.
Dawn’s friend Beauty lives with her 2-year-old daughter as a single parent in a township on the edge of Cape Town. Abused and exploited by co-workers and others, she is still trying to live all out for Jesus, holding down a job selling clothes at a stall, attending work-based training, running a Bible study group, the music team at church, the youth group, attending the weekly prayer meeting and discipling individuals without much practical support from church leadership who just seem glad she’s taken on most of the work. Pray for love and pastoral concern.
Covid is still rife in the Western Cape. Pray that people will take sensible precautions.
Continue to pray for South Africa after looting and riots and for how communities are coming together to clean up and rebuild. Give thanks that churches were allowed to open last Sunday for people to meet in person.
NetACT partner colleges are keen to make greater use of the portal but Fraser is still struggling to update one NetACT site with a new and improved version of the software. He also faces a couple of sensitive and challenging issues requiring wisdom, tact, courage, one concerning attitudes amongst NetAct colleagues of different backgrounds, and the other with church in Wellington and the attitude and hang-ups of another person in leadership.
Prisons are still closed to spiritual workers. Pray for men who struggle to follow Jesus with no other encouragement and those tempted to return to gangs to be protected. It’s always challenging to be released after a long prison sentence but in these days especially so.
Dawn asks for wisdom as she meets someone who believes all sorts of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories.
A couple at church live by a river in Wellington where many people sleep rough. They are generous and try to show God’s love but have been robbed many times, often by those they’ve previously helped. It’s a terribly stressful situation in which to live. Pray for protection for them.
Edwin and Mbulelo were released in July, need to join a Bible teaching church, be loving and patient as they rebuild relationships, and be protected against the temptations to return to their old ways.
Pray for a peaceful resolution to the standoff between ex-president Jacob Zuma and his supporters and the South African state.
Pray for prisoners who can have no visitors and are missing the spiritual input. Pray for prison officers as they have a dangerous and difficult job. Pray especially that those who know Jesus will be strengthened and able to minister to colleagues and inmates.
Dawn has delivered textbooks for men in Drakenstein Medium A to start a Bible study course. The chaplain has to work as an ordinary officer in the single cells section and no one is providing spiritual input for the inmates at all. His concern is that some men will slip back into the gangs. Pray for believing inmates to encourage and strengthen each other in God and volunteer spiritual workers will be allowed back in.
Fraser is waiting for Stellenbosch IT dept. to help him with a computer problem as the IT department has retained control over certain aspects of his laptop
Jacob Zuma’s supporters have incited rioting and violent protests, businesses are being looted, locals are resorting to “mob justice”, the covid19 vaccination rollout is being halted and the army deployed.
A lot of shootings are occurring among the taxi firms in Cape Town, making it hard for those from the townships with no other means of transport to hold down honest jobs. So much seems to be conspiring against ordinary families.
South Africa went back into lockdown level 4 on Monday and all gatherings, including churches, are prohibited. Pray for those who need the encouragement of a weekly meeting to keep them going but who are now denied even that. Prisoners haven’t had proper family visits for a long time and volunteer spiritual workers aren’t allowed in.
Pray for the men, warders and chaplains in Maximum and Medium A. Dawn was arranging the enrolment of some of the men onto a Bible course run by George Whitfield College but they will now have to wait for their textbooks. Pray they won’t lose heart.
Dawn and Chantelle from Hope Prison Ministry will visit Theswin’s daughter with some baby supplies. A couple in Scotland made a donation for “the spiritual encouragement of the prisoners” at just the time to show Theswin his prayers and reliance on God to provide were answered.
Fraser had been trying to limit his involvement to the online side of a conference which started last week, but he was sucked in to setting up the venue.
Fraser’s dental work went very smoothly. He had four teeth out, so feeling a bit battered today.
In a beacon of hope, former president, Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of the court which was trying him for corruption. Too many people in power think the rules don’t apply to them. Too many of the weakest in society pay the price of their arrogance and selfishness.
In Maximum this morning Howard stood before the class to express his thanks for the application study Bible he’d been given. He was in tears as he explained that four years of reading an unannotated Bible hadn’t brought him to the depth of understanding that a couple of weeks of using his study Bible had. An (ex) gangster does not shed tears in public easily. From a donation to use for “the spiritual encouragement” of the prisoners, Dawn has been able to buy more study Bibles. It’s not a good idea to splash cash around so pray for local Christian intermediaries who will identify specific needs that can be supplied.
In Medium, Theswin (another ex gangster) talked about his pregnant 16 year old daughter. She has no job and they are worried about how they will be able to buy things the baby needs. Theswin said he could easily call his old drug-dealer buddies and they would provide everything but he won’t because Jesus has changed his life.
Pray for Hersel, a committed follower of Jesus while in the juvenile section. He left the prison gang but, when moved to the adult section and asked by gang members, “Who were you?” he was afraid and has ended up returning to the gang.
Fraser has been contacted by Mukhanyo Theological College in South Africa to ask him to help them install a new library system. Give thanks for this new contact.
Tesfay Hadera, the principal of a Theological College in Ethiopia had attended the NetAct workshops in Stellenbosch and was then incarcerated by the Ethiopian government in troubled Tigray. He has just been released. Please keep him in your prayers.
NetAct want to translate their recently published book on African Public Theology into Portuguese and French. Please pray for funding. Fraser had a good meeting this afternoon with the editor of the NetACT journal. Pray that he would be more ready to include Fraser in the editorial process. Pray that NetACT partner colleges would realise the benefits NetAct offers and would use them.
Pray for wisdom as NetAct want to start a conversation about Chinese neo-colonialism in Africa and beyond without being accused of political motives or inciting threats against partner colleges across Africa.
Dawn’s self-discipline in not launching back into activity too soon after her illness seems to be paying dividends.
Edwin, a regular at Bible study in Drakenstein will be released on parole shortly. He sees his time in prison as God’s answer to his prayer, regretting the relationships affected and broken by his behaviour and incarceration. His priority is now to be a good father and grandfather in a way that honours God.
The ex-gang leader Theswin’s 16 year old daughter Luzaandrie is 8-9 months pregnant. Pray that she and the baby will escape the cycle of depravity and addiction to find new life and hope in Christ and that Theswin will have wisdom and patience in his relationship with her.
South Africa has increased lockdown levels this week in fear of a third wave of Covid.
Fraser is now in his new office but can’t work late as he usual (until 6pm) as the building’s alarm is faulty. The NetACT AGM was successful but he would love partner colleges to make more use of NetAct support.
Dawn finally got her new visa, granted until the expiry of her current passport in September 2022.
Zebulun Church wants to start “investing in the youth” by offering music lessons on Saturdays. Pray that youngsters will be led to God as well as music-making.
Edwin and Marius should be released soon, aware of how they intend to behave outside prison and how their desire to serve and live lives pleasing to God, will be greatly tested by the temptations and stresses of life outside. Pray that the men will learn from our current lessons on anger and take to heart and practise how to deal with it.
James leaves Glasgow this week having finished his degree in English literature. Dawn’s parents are helping him move and providing a bed until his Masters course begins. Ruth is continuing her degree course in Glasgow.