Taverns are not where one would expect to find men of God, but members of the Men4Peace Network recently started visiting taverns in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, in an attempt to bring change to the crime and violence situation.
“Crime such as domestic violence, rape and robberies are perpetrated by men, especially when there is alcohol involved.” says reverend Zola Moses, founder and chairperson of the Men4Peace Network. “Our network wants to change men through men and draw more men to God.”
During September 15 Men4Peace members attended a four-day Tavern Intervention training programme and have since visited four taverns.
“I have never been to a tavern before or was never drunk, so I was rather challenged during the training,” says Moses. “At first you see the alcohol, but when you have experienced a young man breaking down because of circumstances in his life which led him to drink, you do not see the alcohol anymore. You see a life, a man who might be crying for help. ”
Members of the network, which has grown since it started in February this year from three to 49, visit taverns weekly on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons — times when it is safer. “Only those who are strong in the Word can go, as there are many temptations in the taverns,” says Moses.
“Our angle is to address the crime and violence, not to take away customers from the taverns. So we try to build close relationships with tavern owners to stand together against the abuse of alcohol. People will always use alcohol, but it is the abuse that is the problem,” he says.
Through his former position as chairperson of the Council of Churches in the Metro, Moses had good relationships with tavern owners. He says these are the 15 registered taverns, but there are more than 100 unregistered taverns where the biggest problems are.
Bishop Nkosekhaya Dikana, a Men4Peace member, says they don’t carry bibles when they visit the taverns. “We bring love in action. The people are keen to hear from this new message and are being touched. They come with problems and we debate with them and share solutions such as how to forgive. There is so much hurt. And they are intrigued, because they know who we are and don’t expect us there.”
And lives are changed. Moses is presently walking with four young men who took to drinking due to family problems. “One of the young men’s fathers is a pastor who preaches the holy life, but has adulterous affairs. He [the young man] therefore left the church and indulged in a life of drinking. But he wants to change and we are leading him and the others,” he says. “Many of the men do not want to be there, but their circumstances and hurts push them to drinking.”
Reverend Moses started the network due to the challenges in the communities.” Being a man, father and brother myself, I felt God’s call to bring about change for men through men. By bringing men of God together we can move Motherwell and the rest of Port Elizabeth,” he says. “Our network is a vehicle to take God’s Word to men according to 2 Timothy 3:16 and is based on Matthew 5:9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers…’ “
“When I drive past taverns there are about 60 cars at one tavern. At the church there are only about 10. I felt a bit jealous. We minister to many women and children in church and when they go home, the men not attending church have the deciding voice and much of what they learned is strangled. You lose these children,“ he says.
Men4Peace Network focuses on young men, but work with all ages. The group meets every second Monday to strategise, pray together and encourage each other with the Word and testimonies.
The official launch of the network is planned for November with a gala evening. “We are targeting 300 men from all over the metro. This is a cross-cultural movement as long as they are men,” says Moses.
Though the members of the network at present are mostly from Motherwell, there are a few from Zwide, KwaZakhele and New Brighton and only 12 of them are pastors. The idea is to start small committees in the different areas all over the city who can function independently and only have a coordinating body.
“We would like to train more men but we need sponsors for accommodation and meals. If the men are not taken away somewhere, they tend to not be present all the time. Most of the men are unemployed which makes it difficult to ask for contributions. When we did the training, we stayed at the Red location Lodge which keeps it the township style and does not create all sorts of expectations. We were sponsored by a Johannesburg movement called Men as Peacemakers. They also facilitated the training, but those of us who attended can now facilitate the training ourselves,” says Moses.
Men4Peace Network also wants to start a schools programme through which they want to talk to boys and girls. “As fathers and brothers we must find the young child and girls have challenges as well” Moses says. “Many of the taverns are close to the schools so children go there during break times, even if it is not allowed.”
The Vision of Men4Peace Network is:
- To mobilise men of all cultural backgrounds and languages in the fight against violence, especially women and child abuse.
- To stimulate men of all ages to be more actively involved in the day to day life of their respective communities.
- To work with government, police and all relevant community structures/organization in bringing stability and calm in our country and our world.
- We are to challenge any stereo types that make men feel it’s okay for them to abuse or be violent in any way.
The networks Mission is:
- We will do this by means of organised gatherings, workshops, talk shows, road shows, and any other effective means.
- Working together with men, we will identify areas of concern and work together for the betterment of everyone.
- The Network will work as a vehicle that represents men and be the voice of men against violence.
- Police and the police forums will be our primary partners as it is the duty to enforce and ensure peace and keep order in our communities.