“I am looking forward to seeing hardened criminals and murderers converted and having fathers and sons relationships restored,” said Apostle Donovan Arends — organiser of a family conference in one of South Africa’s toughest prisons.
The “Real Men Follow Jesus — Bring Back the Heart of the Fathers to the Sons” conference at St Albans Prison near Port Elizabeth from Friday November 17 to Sunday November 19, is a bold campaign aimed at taking the gospel of Jesus Christ into a jail where gangsters orchestrate murders that are executed on the outside, and where guards live in fear of being stabbed to death.
Arends, who oversees churches in the gang-afflicted northern areas, believes that fatherlessness is the root of the area’s serious gangs problem. He said God inspired the idea of the conference and that area commissioner of St Albans, Mandla Jam, had welcomed the event which will include much-needed morale-boosting training sessions for prison personnel and leaders — and ministry times to be attended by both prisoners, prison staff and visitors under very tight security.
“We have invited families to come and reunite with their sons [in prison], There has been a very positive response from families — they see it as a first, as historic — and they are going to stream to come and make peace with their sons,” he said.
Veteran TV actor Zane Meas, who founded and leads the Fatherhood Foundation, will be speaking at both training and ministry sessions. Others who will speak during the weekend include Pastor Jimmy Crompton and ACDP councillor Lance Grootboom.
Prisons and police VIPs are also expected at the conference, as well as a large contingent of Christian motorcyclists who will be in the area for a rally.
The services will take place in a massive tent on the prison grounds.
Arends urged men in the Nelson Mandela Bay area to attend the conference services on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Entry is free but anybody wishing to attend should register by 12 noon on Wednesday November 15. You can register by calling Pastor Ashlene Arends at 041 812189, or 076 7775018 or by emailing email@example.com You need to provide your full name and ID number when registering and your must present your ID book on arrival at the prison gates and be in possession of it at all times during the conference.
The conference times are:
Friday November 17 — 7pm to 9pm — seminar for prison personnel and leaders
Saturday November 18 — 9pm to 1pm — workshops for prison personnel
Saturday November 18 — 7pm to 9pm — revival service
Sunday November 19 — 10am to 12 noon — church service — permission is currently being sought from the Department of Correctional Services to baptise new believers at the Sunday service.