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Helping the little and the lost meet Jesus in South Africa

GTWO_logo2015BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS  |  Kaley Payne

Thursday 17 March 2016

Your church could help this church.

In Johannesburg Correction Centre, the male inmates of Medium B begin their church service with singing. A gentle rumble of voices deep in praise echoes through the concrete hallways.

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A church service in Johannesburg Correctional Centre, Medium B.

In the exercise yard of Medium B, most prison inmates scatter to soak up the sun before they are locked back in their cells. This is precious time. But the group singing songs of worship are clumped together, swaying to and fro to the music as they make their way across the dirt and into another room. There are bars on the windows, concrete benches, a sink in the corner. This rectangular room was once used as a cell. It would hold up to 70 inmates. Now, it’s being used as a church.

A group of about 40 inmates have gathered here for the weekly service. The church is well established in Medium B. There’s two guards who take part too, mixing in with the inmates in their seats. The group has organised for Pastor Willy Dengler, from the local Mayfair Baptist Church to come and teach them from God’s word. Pastor Dengler is well known in Medium B. He and his team are allowed to visit often. His team also runs a correspondence discipleship course here, and in 200 other prisons around South Africa – teaching inmates the love of God and offering them a Bible in their own language upon completion.

After the church service, Pastor Dengler presents new Bibles to the inmates who’ve just completed the discipleship course. One of the recipients is Janiela. Visitors are asked not to speak to the inmates about what they’re ‘in’ for. Some tell us anyway, but Janiela, who has been in Medium B for several years already, prefers to talk about the second chance he has received from God.

“Everyone’s got a second chance to change his life. God is the one who has planned my life. Maybe he planned that I must change my life in prison. Now, I’m saved. God has got my plans.”

While we talk, Janiela cradles his Bible. “It’s my first Bible that I have in my hands. It means a lot, it means a lot.”

“God, I think, will help me in everything that I want to do. It’s not like when I’m in prison that I can’t do anything. It can’t help me to just sit and do nothing in the sun. I must keep on doing my courses, going to church, encouraging the other guys to change their lives and follow our heavenly father. And on the outside, I pray I will continue to do those things, in God’s family.”

Hundreds of church services like the one in Medium B are happening inside South Africa’s prisons. Inmates like Janiela are meeting Jesus on the inside, and their lives are changed. In 2016, your church or small group could help a church like the church of Medium B, making Bibles available to thousands of inmates finishing the discipleship courses. For most, the Bible will be their first. And the message of God’s love will be the only loving message they will hear.  

Your kids could help these kids.

This is Dudu Makhubo. To visit Dudu, you need to walk to the heart of the Windmill Park township, east of Johannesburg. The roads here are little more than rubble. Family shacks are cobbled together with scrap metals, with large rocks sitting on top of corrugated iron roofs to stop them flying away in the wind.

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A Grade R class at Impendulo.

This is where Dudu started a day care centre called ‘Impendulo’, which means ‘answer’ in the Xhosa language. Dudu and her team care for 63 children who would otherwise roam the streets without food or hope. Impendulo is hope surrounded by hopelessness.

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Dudu Makhubo teaching her class at Impendulo.

Many schools in South Africa are overflowing with students and even those children who can find a place may not have access to materials. Poorer schools often don’t provide Grade R (kindergarten) to give the youngest a foundation in reading and writing.

This is where Bible Society’s Get The Word Out programme steps in. Bible Society has created a series of Bible-based literacy booklets to help children prepare for their first grade at school. For thousands of children, just like those at Impendulo, it’s also one of their only opportunities to learn from the Bible. The programme puts the powerful word of God in the hands of children who need it most.

“It’s helping us a lot,” says Dudu. “Now the children know how to pray, how to talk about God and who God is. They can know right and wrong and who can guide them. [The books] help them to read, and learn the alphabet. They know a lot more now.”

Your Sunday school, school or small group could get together to help Dudu and her children at Impendulo and other schools and centres around South Africa seeking to teach the country’s poorest children.

Our Get The Word Out 2016 pack has lots of fundraising ideas for kids to be part of God’s work in South Africa. They can go on safari to learn more about what life is like for kids in South Africa, following GTWO characters Leopold the Lion, Ellie the Elephant and Ginger the Giraffe as they meet new friends, have fun and pray for God’s Word to go out in South Africa.

Start fundraising now!

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