Fraser thankfully recovered all the old data after severe technical issues when upgrading some of the NetACT servers. Pray for the systems to be up and running for staff and students throughout Africa without much delay. He has now been invited to help another theological college in South Africa with their library set-up.
The NetACT theological journal may see changes in the near future – possibly joining forces with Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa’s new journal.
Thank God that Dawn is developing good relationships with prison staff at Drakenstein and was able to give one warder a lift home today.
She has offered to provide one to one counselling for men at Medium A from the Restorative Justice course. Pray for a suitable time and for promises made during RJ to be kept.
At least 3 Jehovah’s Witnesses attend the Maximum Bible study every Saturday and their influence seems to be growing. Pray they will hear the truth, question what they learn from JWs and know Jesus for who he is.
Pray for the leaders, staff and volunteers of Hope Prison Ministry to be inspired, humbled and surrounded by God’s power and love.
Thank God for 2 good Bible classes at Drakenstein today. In Maximum we looked at Honesty in Earning – how much harder to be honest or trustworthy if everyone else is being dishonest. It was encouraging when one man gave an example from his cell cleaning rota. Some inmates don’t clean properly so it is tempting for him to do a shoddy job too. Then he remembers who he is and who he really is working for, so he cleans the room thoroughly, for God.
Simxolele, a young man with a face full of prison tattoos, sometimes comes to Bible study in Maximum. Most weeks he’s evangelising other inmates and can’t make it. He’d been in and out of prison many, many times, always visited by his parents and thinking he always would be, until his mother told him that if he was sent back again, she wouldn’t visit any more. She wanted him to change his life. The next time he was sentenced she was true to her word. She has neither visited nor answered his phone calls. He was sure she hated him and covered his face with bitter and dangerous symbols. Then he met Jesus.
Now he has left gang activity behind and is living out his faith humbly in the room, helping the older men, washing up for them and showing the change in his life. Give thanks for the warders who care and try to help the men.
Pray that Dawn will have wisdom and understanding to interact with the men. There’s an opening for someone to do another Bible study at Allandale Prison. Pray that Dawn will know whether to volunteer for that gap.
The NetACT Journal Board meets soon to appoint a new editor. Pray for wisdom. Fraser is setting up the Mukhanyo Library system to automatically print spine labels and book plates. It is painstaking finicky work to get everything matching the labels they already have..
Serina, a lovely lady in our Wellington church, holds a street Sunday school in the town, sometimes in a field where the gangsters gather at the edges and gang-related gunfire accompanies the lesson. Pray for her safety and that of the children.
Thank God that the taxi situation is quiet now and the taxi owners, Western Cape government and City of Cape Town authorities are talking to each other. Pray for a fair and lasting situation and no more violence or disruption. Pray that those caught up in the violence, looting and disruption and who are now suffering emotionally and physically will be given peace, healing and restoration.
A topic at Maximum today was sparked by a question from a young man who acknowledged he’d made many bad decisions in his life but is very keen that all his future decisions will be putting what God wants first. Pray that he will keep to this and that all who are eager to put God first will see clearly how to do this in their lives.
Pray that the men will not put on a well-behaved persona in the Bible study but be deeply involved in gangs or other ungodly activities/mindsets when back in the room.
Fraser is now moving to set up definite dates for upgrading some of Hugenote College’s systems. Please pray that this goes smoothly. He is discovering more intricacies with getting the church’s tax status in order.
Ruth is coming to visit us. Pray for a smooth journey on Friday, no taxi disruption whilst she’s here and a good (if short) rest to recover from the Glasgow bugs.
Fraser finishes the Mukhanyo library catalogue this week and next and trains them the week after. The NetACT journal editor wants another issue out at the same time. Pray he can organise his time appropriately.
An amazing week of Restorative Justice at Drakenstein Medium A. Many men have made a connection for the first time between events in their childhood and their propensity to violence, crime and bad choices.
Prison officials feared trouble as we had many lifers and high-ranking members of prison gangs attending. Their fears came to nothing as 8 high rankers publicly, and others privately, renounced the gangs. It’s not hyperbole to say they put their lives on the line, giving up the “benefits” of prison gang membership.
4 courageous women spoke about the effects of crime on their lives – rape, murder and domestic abuse. All the men were affected. One who has committed murders went to the front, acknowledged he had been a boy running around neighbourhoods committing crimes. Previously his victims had been faceless but this woman’s testimony had given them a face and he never wanted to be part of causing such pain again.
A high ranking gang member gave it up on Friday after seeing the effects of his crimes, wanting to live a better life and be reconciled with his family. They didn’t turn up on Saturday’s family restoration day and that shook him. He attends Tuesday Bible studies and professes faith in Jesus. He doesn’t want his nickname “Killer” any more.
Hugenote College where we are based has staff challenges. Pray they would get the right person as the new Dean.
The Mukhanyo library staff are being helpful. Fraser has two alternative methods to improve things before the system goes live. He starts the training when he goes in person on 26th June.
Thank God that Drakenstein Medium A Restorative Justice looks as if it’ll go ahead next week, Monday to Saturday. Pray there’ll be no last minute hitches. Many inmates and staff are unwell at Medium A. There will be over 20 lifers and about 16 others participating – it’s not about being eligible for parole but about changing lives.
Pray that the prison ministry leadership will not cause extra and avoidable stress through lack of forethought, inadequate communications and lack of consideration.
Akhona and Raymond from the Bible study are being released at the weekend. Pray that they will put into practice what they’ve learned, find a sound and supportive church, jobs and really start new lives.
So many people are struggling with poverty, crime and lack of education and opportunities in South Africa. Pray that those in positions of leadership will be honest and work for the good of society, not entitled and corrupt.
We had a lovely week with James and his friend who were able to come and stay with us but it’s always so hard when they go.
NetACT are exploring ways to work with other similar groups to avoid duplicating efforts and want Fraser to attend meetings in Kenya at the end of September.
Fraser’s test of the new Mukhanyo library system went well last week. He is still working towards a deadline of having the system live and running by Monday 3rd July.
Allandale Restorative Justice is complete. Men are confessing and taking responsibility for the first time. Thank God for the 3 women who spoke of the crimes they had experienced and for the men who apologised to them as proxies for their own victims – healing on both sides.
Pray for those who took part in the Restorative Justice course as they go back to ordinary prison life. Some of our team, former gang members themselves, hugely impacted the RJ men, showing it is possible to leave the gangs, turn to Christ and live a different, fulfilled life.
A man in Maximum, only eligible for parole if he admits his guilt and apologises to his victim, insists he is innocent and would be lying if he said he committed the crime. May he have the strength and faith, as a follower of Jesus, to tell the truth, even if it means that he forgoes any chance of parole.
The Restorative Justice process changes lives at a deep level. Many inmates are crying out for it; frontline prison officers see the difference it makes. Pray that the Medium A RJ will go ahead and that the person in a high position blocking this and other spiritually beneficial events will be moved aside and a godly person fill the place.
Fraser continues to work with data from the old Mukhanyo Library system. On testing a sample file of 100 records, he could only match 50 from external sources. Moving the day-to-day running of the NetACT journal to a different organisation is coming to a head, with an important meeting on Thursday.
Give thanks for answered prayer. Last week we asked you to pray for Llewelyn in Maximum as his Muslim children stopped visiting him after he showed them his Bible study certificates. His son visited at the weekend and told him he’d bought a house to give to his father upon his release. So he would have the necessary address to go to rather than live with the sister-in-law who keeps pursuing him. God honours those who flee temptation and live godly lives.
Pray that Howard can overcome his pride, start reading his Bible again and for the discipline, courage and awareness not to be sucked back into gang activities by roommates.
Restorative Justice starts on Monday at Allandale prison. Thank God for the way lives will be changed. The brother of Chantelle, who will be leading the main sessions, died in a car crash recently. Pray for her as her scattered family struggles to get together to mourn and support each other.
Quite a few of the Medium A regulars are due to be released on parole in the next few weeks. Please pray they would go to places which will not drag them back into crime, find jobs and, most of all, find a Bible-believing church to attend.
The government has extended the visa waiver until the end of 2023 though changed visa wording implies we can’t leave and enter the country with it. Our Wellington congregation were very pleased and the Drakenstein Maximum men burst into a round of applause!
Fraser made better than expected progress with the Mukhanyo library data and he heads to Pretoria late June for training before the system goes live at the start of July. Updating software on the NetACT servers did not start well but was sorted out 30 minutes after last week’s prayer notes were sent out.
There are dates in May for the Restorative Justice in Allandale and we hope to hold RJs at Drakenstein Medium A (adults) and B (juveniles) this year – but there is opposition. Pray.
Hylma, Dawn’s 79 year old Drakenstein prison ministry colleague, hopes to relocate to England by the end of June. Hylma has had a severe back problem recently but the men look upon her as a mother. Thank God for her 19 years of faithful service in the prison.
Dawn will most likely take over the Tuesday Bible studies, if her non-South African status doesn’t cause problems. If she has to lead, one-to-one counselling with the list of men who want to speak to her will be impossible.
Men in Maximum and Medium A say their lives are being changed by these Bible studies. Pray that whoever is blocking the RJ course in Medium A be removed and that the Drakenstein area manager change or be reassigned.
Thank God for music. We had three guitar players and an amazing session of heartfeltly sung simple worship songs before we started the actual class. Whatever our circumstances, music can make such a difference.
Fraser is still struggling with the difficulties of setting up a new library system for Mukhanyo Theological College. The amount of remedial work involved is now starting to impact some of his day-to-day work for other colleges. Pray he finds a way to manage everyone’s expectations and that he’d be able to communicate what he needs from Mukhanyo in a very clear way which they will understand and fulfil.
Pray for one of the men at the Medium A Bible study. He was sexually assaulted by a member of staff at a different prison and is being encouraged to make a case which he has reservations about. Pray for healing, courage and wisdom. Unless offences are challenged and brought into the light there will be no change, whether in the prison system or country at large, but it requires courage to do so.
Unless we hear from the Department of Home Affairs by this Friday (March 31st) we will have to leave the country the following week. The men at Drakenstein prison are praying and have faith that all will be sorted out. Thank God that he holds our future, even when we aren’t sure where we’ll be.
Fraser is grappling to extract usable data from Mukhanyo Theological College’s current system to transfer it to a new library catalogue. Pray for a workable way forward with their librarian, maybe having to persuade him to re-catalogue parts of their library from scratch!)
A man in Maximum with a very long sentence cares not if he’s released. He met Jesus in prison and nothing matters as much as his being changed from the man he was outside and far more imprisoned than he is now.
A Medium A Bible study regular was transferred to a different prison several months ago and when he returned was not the same as when he left. Pray for his physical, emotional and mental healing.
Dawn recently led Bible studies at Drakenstein Maximum and Medium A on forgiveness. The rightness of the subject was underlined when a man in Medium A said that the recent session reinforced what was said at their church service on Sunday. The men have much that needs to be forgiven. Several have experienced (and acted on) Holy Spirit-induced sleepless nights about those they need to apologise to, seeking to forgive others and understand why it is hard for victims to forgive them.
Pray for conversation guided by the Holy Spirit at the upcoming Elders’ meeting of our Wellington church when possible sources of disruption will be discussed.
Thank you for your prayers for Ruth’s health. Pray she’ll continue to regain her strength and avoid new viruses.
The government waiver for renewing our visas expires at the end of March. Pray for either a positive answer or a further, but not last moment, extension.