St Albans prison near Port Elizabeth has a reputation for being one of the most violent prisons in South Africa. And 99% of the gangland killings in PE’s northern areas are reportedly orchestrated from its prison cells.
It is because of those very problems that God has called for a Christian family conference to be held in the prison from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19, said the event visionary, Apostle Donovan Arends.
Arends who oversees churches in the northern areas said the root cause of the serious gangster problem in the area was fatherlessness. He said earlier this year God had laid on his heart a calling to arrange a conference within St Albans to break the bondage of fatherlessness by creating opportunities for “the hearts of fathers to be restored to their sons, and the sons to their fathers” as prisoners, their families and local believers came together to worship God, listen to Christian speakers and engage in ministry.
Many prisoners in St Albans had drifted into the gang culture of drugs and violence as a result of having no contact or only dysfunctional contact with their fathers. And today, fatherless Grade 6 or 7 schoolboys, whose elder brothers were gang members doing long prison terms, were being drawn into the culture, said Arends.
He said many inmates at St Albans did not have opportunities over the years to make right with their families, so God had created an opportunity for family reconciliation and restoration to take place during the conference.
Arends said the area commissioner of St Albans, Mandla Jam, had welcomed the unusual proposal to hold a family conference at the prison and that the MEC for safety and security, the provincial commissioner of correctional services, and the provincial commissioner of police, were among the invited guests at the event which will be held in a massive tent on the prison grounds amidst extremely tight security.
Zane Meas, founder of the Fatherhood Foundation — and a veteran TV actor — will be one of the conference speakers. Mighty Men founder Angus Buchan has also been invited to speak at the event, but his participation has not been confirmed. Worship at the conference will be led by a group of 30 prisoners.
Other attendees will include about 1 000 prisoners, family members of prisoners, a contingent of Christian motorcyclists, and members of the local Christian community. Arends urged Christian men in Port Elizabeth to be there.
The conference programme is still being finalised. On Friday (November 17) there will be a leadership training time for pastors, and Saturday and Sunday will be family conference time. Attendance will be free.
Arends said because of the strict security requirements everybody attending should bring their ID documents.
More information can be obtained by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org