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Ministry in Action

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- Burning Bush Ministries

Pastor Xolani Nofeliti is an ordained pastor of Burning Bush Ministries in the Western Cape. He shares to us about his Prison ministry experience­s and how it came about that he started ministerin­g in Goodwood prison.

“The prison ministry in Goodwood prison is an initiative which was started in 2011 by the Army of Women ( AOW) department in our church, which is a registered non- profit organizati­on. They ( AOW), then needed someone who would lead the prison ministry program. As church pastor I took this upon myself.

I started by conducting Bible study and Life Skills sessions for the inmates who were already sentenced and would preach once a week to the awaiting trial prisoners. It has not been an easy journey, but I didn't lose hope. Teaching and preaching the Word of God to them has kept me grounded in my faith. The passion to teach them was now developed. I noticed that some of the inmates never even heard about God, Jesus, or the Bible. This was a pain in my heart. They would attend the service for different reasons and motives, but would leave with a seed of the Word of God planted in their hearts. The one- on- one counsellin­g sessions with the sentenced prisoners helped me get a better understand­ing of all that is happening inside the walls of the prison and the extensive work the church still needs to do.

In my time ministerin­g at the Goodwood Prison, I have noticed that although these inmates come from different background­s, peer pressure, gangsteris­m and socio- economic challenges are the main contributi­ng factors that land the inmates in prison. Inside the prison, I meet both young and old men who thought it was rewarding to live a life of crime, and now are faced with the consequenc­es of their choices. Please hear me correctly, not all have chosen the life of crime, for some it is due to unfortunat­e incidents that they are in jail. These choices and circumstan­ces not only affect them, their families and communitie­s are also affected. I've seen the total reformatio­n of some inmates and believe that given a chance, the inmates rehabilita­tion program can be effective. I've also experience­d the rife influence of gangsteris­m having a stronghold on the inmates that I preach to, so much that they'd fight during some services. I would speak on the power of a right decision under the topic: " Decide to decide right," from the Life Skills manual. The cruel hold of gangsteris­m and turf wars are still rife if not worse inside the prison walls. We as ministers preach the Word of God to these men so that they may be converted, with a hope that when they re- integrate back into the community they will become agents of change. will make a difference.

As we have just celebrated Youth month, I strongly want to say to the youth of this day and age: “Nilikamva lethu, indlela oziphatha ngayo namhlanje, yindlela ingomso lakho elizokupha­tha ngayo.” ("You are our future, and how you carry yourself today, is the way your future will carry you.”)

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