Happy Mandela Day!
Goeie Dag! Greetings from Wellington!
South Africa has proven to be one of the most beautiful places on this planet, both with regards to the scenery and the people. As we have been entering prisons for quite some time now, it is fair to mention a few things we might not have expected:
1. We are essentially running Sunday school for people with knives. Since many of these men grew up very fast without much family to speak of we have pretty much been spending our time in prison doing childish things and singing childish songs (like Father Abraham, throwback anyone?), with men who need to learn what it truly is to be children.
2. The average believing prisoner probably knows more about the bible than you do. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that prison is a terribly boring place and books such as the bible provide not only the keys to the door of life, but a way to entertain themselves. So often our bible knowledge has been trumped by that of prisoners. It’s a good thing that God sent us there to love and teach through example rather than through words.
3. We are incredibly safe. While many may have at some point been frightened for our safety, we have found that many of us feel safer on the inside than we do on the outside, a testament to the power of a person bringing hope to a hopeless place.
4. Jesus really loves prisoners, a lot. We have learned so much about the redeeming power of the cross in prisons. God is in the business of turning things around, and in prison, business is good. It is here that we truly see hope in the hopeless and recognize how that is God’s pattern. We remember that the prodigal son realized his need to come home when he was wallowing in the mud of a pig pen, the prostitute was the one who sat weeping at Jesus feet and it is only the prisoner who Jesus sent home to minister instead of taking him along the way. Prison is fertile ground for the gospel because it provides hope to the hopeless and rest to the restless.
Some of the trips highlights so far include hiking up Lion’s head, going to a Stormers game (rugby), playing soccer with kids from a neighborhood in the cape flats known as “Lavender Hill” and the many South African dishes that we have been exposed to. Something that we always look forward to during the week is a restorative justice follow up at Drankenstein Prison (the prison where Nelson Mandela was held prior to his release), where we talk about how we can be better leaders both on the inside and on the outside.
Life in Wellington has been relaxed. Since it is winter here, most of what we do to fill our free time during the week is limited to the inside. So we’ve done anything from watching movies to playing board games, from learning Afrikaans to napping. We’ve been able to go to a few vineyards for tours and tastings to experience what Wellington is most known for, it’s wine (don’t worry we haven’t experienced TOO much, if you know what I’m saying). Many of our weekends are spent around Cape Town exploring the beauty of the city and while we have yet to climb Table Mountain, we have been assured that it will happen.
We thank you all for the prayers that you are sending our way, they are being heard I can assure you of that. God is doing a mighty work in our midst and we are honored to be His partners.
Team South Africa Cape Town (John, Eli, Aaron, Peter)