There is much talk from politicians about tackling gender based violence but the courts are starved of money and staff and refuges are closed down. Pray for wisdom for Dawn as she thinks about the direction of her service in South Africa.
Fraser has been helping to run a 3-day course on Online Theological Education aimed at African Bible Colleges. More than 450 people signed up to attend online.
Unfortunately, many of the speakers appear to have little knowledge of actual life in Africa, advocating techniques and equipment either not available or unaffordable to most theological colleges. Pray that Fraser will be able to give sensitive and helpful feedback to the organisers
We may be unable to visit the prisons but have faith that His work goes on through his people (warders and inmates) whether publicised or not.
The knock-on effects of the lockdown restrictions become more apparent each day. Queues outside soup kitchens lengthen as people starve because their usual day by day work has been prohibited. Corruption in local and national government mean that money, supposedly for covid19 relief, disappears and food parcels are not distributed.
Pray that Dawn and Fraser would know how best to help.
The new NetACT journal has now received an International Standard Serial Number. Technical issues hindering Fraser helping Nehemiah Bible Institute with their online courses have now been resolved.
The students on this course all come from one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, and some will struggle with the level of internet access needed to download the course. Many townships rely on informal connections to power lines which are unsafe and illegal and often cause devastating fires in the crowded conditions.
The prison ministry team are meeting to discuss the possibility of running Restorative Justice courses to parolees and others outside prison as we are still not allowed in.
Running courses within prison brings many challenges; there are just as many for courses outside. There is a desire within the team to achieve quality of impact upon lives rather than quantity of people who attend courses.
The InReach team in Nigeria are under surveillance and at serious risk of kidnap and violence by people who are not happy with the way God has been using InReach to introduce Muslims to Jesus.
Fraser had a NetACT Executive Committee meeting on Friday, organising an online AGM, and looking at ways for NetACT to address Chinese economic colonisation of Africa. As NetACT grows, the staff team is having to develop new regional organisational structures.
Fraser has been asked to help develop online courses for Nehemiah Bible Institute which provides pre-degree theological education. Fraser is now in better health and able to be up all day.
Hugenote plans to allow some students to return next week with the challenges of enforcing social distancing within the student accommodation.
Pastor Fillies of Drakenstein Medium A retires at the end of June, has to move out of their prison bungalow and needs to find somewhere suitable in the area for himself and his wife to move to. Covid 19 is spreading through the staff and inmates in the prisons. Pray for the staff and inmates.
People in Nigeria still ask us for financial help. Pray for wisdom in knowing how to respond to particular requests.
Many NetACT partner colleges have been able to source funding to cover lack of tuition fees caused by lockdowns.
Drakenstein prison has seen its first cases of covid19. One section is now a quarantine area. Many of the men are immuno-compromised with HIV/AIDS, years of substance abuse and unhealthy living so are at greater risk of complications.
Hope Prison Ministry is delivering food parcels for released prisoners and the families of those still inside. Pray that donations will continue to help as many as possible.
The team running InReach in Nigeria is being pursued by people (presumably from Boko Haram) trying to find their locations and arrange meetings with no good aim in heart.
South Africa is gradually easing lockdown restrictions, although Covid-19 cases are still rising. Hugenote College is planning to open on 15th June. Pray for those working out the logistics. Churches have permission to re-open, though over-60s should still not come out.
Jacksons – May Update 2
InReach in Nigeria is being greatly used to help Muslims encounter Jesus. This is often not safe. A group of converts are still across Nigerian borders, being discipled and looked after in a safe place.
One of the men involved in their escape was captured by Boko Haram but recently managed to escape – he has been left extremely traumatised. Pray for his healing and continued safety. Pray for the InReach team – Boko Haram know who they are and are gathering information on them.
Please pray for wisdom for all those in authority who are having to make decisions that affect people’s lives, that their decisions will be made selflessly and with integrity, without regard to their personal aggrandisement.
Pray for the congregations that have no facilities for online services, that people will not drift into misinformation and conflict.
Dawn had many of the Covid 19 symptoms 4 weeks ago and Fraser took to bed with what looked like the same thing. But Dawn’s strength is holding up and Fraser is gradually progressing in the right direction.
Barnabas Fund is continuing to support NetACT partners and investigating how to help with salaries. Pray, however, that those colleges which are involved in teaching and proclaiming Christ would live up to their verbal profession and not take advantage of the situation by grossly inflating what they claim to be their operating costs.
Fraser is running a one-man ‘helpdesk’ operation for Hugenote College tutors starting to try online learning tools. Pray that the students in their homes will be able to access the courses and be able to pay for the internet data required.
Dawn has had Covid 19 symptoms for a few weeks but is now getting better. Some prison officials are not taking Covid19 precautions. Pray they will be responsible, especially as cases recorded in prison so far are thought to have been brought in by staff.
One of the NetAct partners, the Evangelical Reformed College in Angola, sends this report:
“If the lockdown continues it will affect the 2020 harvest because people won’t be able to work in the fields. The products will rot in the field. There will be a shortage of seed for cultivation next year. People are now consuming the seed for planting in 2020-2021. Our denomination has no resources for the vulnerable and the poor, and government support is insufficient for the elderly and the children.
The theological school receives no income from whose who support it because everywhere everything is closed. Teachers and students have returned to their families and congregations.”
Most NetACT partner colleges have no cash reserves, and student fees trickle in throughout the year. So during the lockdown, there is virtually no money coming in and paying salaries becomes a real challenge.
Give thanks for the Barnabas Fund’s BCEN initiative. They are working with NetACT among others to identify and meet needs across Africa. They have paid all the partner colleges’ NetACT fees for 2020, allowing the colleges to divert that money to local needs. They will be making grants to colleges and churches where the need is greatest.
Give thanks that Ruth is much better now.
South Africa is locked down. For the millions in the townships, prisons and remote areas without basic utilities, the pressure will be immense. There are no facilities to self-isolate when people live cheek by jowl in wooden or metal shacks. Many are already immune-compromised thanks to AIDS, TB, drug use and malnutrition.
Edward (the released prisoner) is leading daily devotions for his housemates in Cape Town.
Fraser had only 2 days to train the Hugenote College staff to keep online contact with their students so that they could try using the online learning platform before teaching starts again on the 20th April, probably still on an online basis.
Many students from poor areas will find it difficult to stay online, especially with the closure of libraries, the chief providers of free internet connection.
The Barnabas Fund is keen to help Bible colleges and seminaries in Africa to find ways to cope with the Covid-19 lockdown and has asked NetACT to help to facilitate this. Fraser has online meetings on Wednesday and Friday to discuss the best ways to move this forward.
We cannot return to the UK for any reason until the pandemic situation calms down.
Ruth is alone in student accommodation in Glasgow and displaying progressing symptoms of Covid-19.
Fraser is busy with a final report for the American trust who paid for the training events last year, praying that they continue to support NetACT.
Hugenote College moves to full online learning during the coronavirus shutdown, Fraser having to develop more training materials quickly. NetACT’s Executive Committee need wisdom in deciding whether to cancel their AGM, planned for Ethiopia in July.
All prisons are closed to any visitors for at least a month. May inmates and officials, especially followers of Jesus, be ready to give answers about their rock, hope and faith.
A man at Medium A wanted to surrender a weapon which he had concealed. It has been found where he said it would be and so there’s one less firearm on the streets.
Schools close tomorrow, a major problem in a society where people live hand to mouth – if the parent cannot work, there is no food. If the virus gets into the township areas where people live at extremely close quarters, the effect could be devastating.
Please pray for Ruth as she decides upon the next stage of her journey in life.
Fraser has completed the setup for the library catalogue for Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary, and the USB has now arrived safely in Namibia. The new Hugenote College Good Citizenship course (mentioned in the last update) is now complete and the new online Theology Degree is gathering steam. Some IT systems at Hugenote College are less than satisfactory and Fraser needs wisdom as he determines how much effort he should invest in them.
It’s hard to resist siren voices of a past life when not in prison – to men inside it sometimes seems impossible. Cecil in Medium committed his life to Christ about 18 months ago but is sliding back into behaviour he’d broken from months ago. His old gangster cellmates indulgently say they knew it was just a phase. He worries that he didn’t count the cost beforehand and the way is harder than he expected. God is shaking Cecil up and not letting him back to his old ways.
Another man in Medium is an active believer, changed from the person he was when a murder conviction brought him to prison. The victim’s family have forgiven him and wish him well; he knows God forgives him but is frequently haunted by the memory of what he did nearly 20 years ago.