This morning I woke up and nearly completely forgot where I was. I feel this new sense of fearlessness and that my life is so safe in God’s hands. I can’t quite explain it other than I see with new eyes now. His grace is enough for me and under his wings I am so safe. I really do feel that my home is more in heaven than on earth now. Wow!
I cannot quite believe how good He is and how important it is to keep my heart and mind on “faith” and “trust” – no matter how things might look or feel. Just believe.
I am looking forward to today and what it might bring. Never been to a Restorative Justice meeting. So this is really exciting. Jesus bless today with your favour, grace and laughter. May I experience your love and resurrection power in a whole new way!
Car journey to the workshop:
A friend who works in prisons, Lisa, was taking me to a Restorative Justice meeting and on route we picked up a man, Fagan, that she had mentored through prison and had been released for a year. During the ride there, I got to hear his story before, during and after prison. It was unbelievable to hear his wisdom and the truth that flowed out his mouth. It felt like an open heaven. He was such a man of faith, that despite knowing his life was on the line he told me he: “steps in“. I asked him what that meant and he said: “I step into God’s presence as that’s the safest place I can be”.
Fagan showed me some of his work with Restore (my friend’s organisation) that he did while in prison. It was beautiful to see and hear what a journey he has been on. I was also stunned, as just before leaving England I had started a journal book for my journey in South Africa and on the first page I had drawn around my foot and written a poem about “stepping into God’s presence” and I had decided to call the book “Presence“.
It was such an honour and privilege to hear about such a valuable life that has genuinely been restored and redeemed and now shines the hope of Jesus. His faith is unshakeable and he was a fount of wisdom and truth to me that morning. He told me he finds: “The more you choose positive things the more negative things that come to you”. He described that “of course you want to survive. But what do you do when people want to kill you for what you’ve done. You “Step in. You step into God’s presence”.
Later on Lisa asked me if I was ok to be left alone by the car and I didn’t seem so sure but answered I didn’t mind. However, Fagan turned immediately to me and saw straight past my answer and asked: “are you sure you’re ok with that?” And continued to tell me and encourage me to let my heart speak: “Your heart and your mind work together and connect. So if it doesn’t work together it will go to your emotions and then that can lead to stress and stress leads to sickness and death! That’s what my grandmother told me. So you need to live from your heart”.
Later I was talking about why I am here and the project I am doing, his response was:
“Well South Africa is the best place to start your story. Cape Town is the ‘mother‘ city and everything starts with a mother. So you will be birthed here.”
I was stunned by this comment and deeply moved. It felt truly significant for him to say that. Everything does start with the mother. Before coming out to Cape Town, I had felt I would be doing my video documentary about the women who used to be in prison, and now who work with Hands of Hope organisation. As they were the ones who had deeply impacted my heart in my gap year. Yet I had kept feeling this whisper saying that was my ticket to getting out to Africa, but that God would connect me with who the project would truly be about. The more I chatted with this man, the more I knew it was a divine step up and that he would be the one I would love to film the story of.
We had a truly fascinating conversation about gang lifestyle and how he ended up getting involved with it, as I am really interested about how people end up there. His stories were wild and some comments he made that stuck with me were really profound:
“There is a key in, but no key out”
“You have to sacrifice a lot”
Before The workshop began, I chatted with Margot (who was leading the workshop) and Fagan. Fagan kept talking about nothing being impossible and to expect the unexpected. His outlook and perspective was like gold to me. I received gift after gift during the day. Then I ended up chatting with just Margot and I told her a little bit about why I am here. She ended up in tears while I talked to her,
Restorative Justice Workshop
The workshop’s title was “Sawbona”, which means: “I see you”.
IGUGULETU = our treasure. And our treasure is relationships.
Margot asked each of us to write something about the colour that resembles “Justice” to us. I chose red and wasn’t sure why. I wrote a poem related with red and it all felt like a mess, as I couldn’t really collect my thoughts. It was just for a few minutes before she continued with her session.
Margot shared her story with us and I was deeply and profoundly moved. It was a story of which I have never heard before:
She started it with “I am friends with my Dad’s murderer”.
She continued to share the story about how her Dad was murdered when she was 16. It was after he had gone to work on his day off and some robbers were in the store and shot him as a result. Due to the loss and death of her dad, Margot had wanted to commit suicide as a result of her pain. However, she decided to fight for life and started to write. She said: “writing and poetry saved my life”. Her process of grief and processing the pain took 30 years before she published her book. Incredibly her book won an award. On her way back from receiving her award, she received an email from the wife of the man who killed her dad. The wife told her they didn’t want to mean any more harm but wanted to donate towards her book. The husband had found Jesus in prison and come out a new man, had got married and somehow wanted to get in touch with their family. Margot, was the only one in her family, that over all those years had wanted to meet the man that killed her dad. So she replied saying she would like to meet them both. She also wanted to talk to him and hear what her dad’s last words were. So they met and ended up in tears together over the death of her dad.
Ever since they have built relationship. Margot mentioned how she has been completely resurrected and that she has now managed to forgive Glen, who killed her dad, and even be his friend!
What a story!
At the end we each shared our words related with the colour we connect with the word “Justice”. I shared my poem with the group and felt I was mumbling over my words.
Red to me is the colour of passion and fire.
A colour of life, created to inspire.
A colour of depth, meaning and truth.
Red is bold, unafraid to say it from the roof.
Red speaks loudly and is a sign to be bold.
Red starts the rainbow of a promise of gold.
Red is remembered to be the start of it all.
As red allows us, to on our knees then fall.
Justice says what is just and fair.
God is justice and always is there.
He sees the pain, bloodshed and tears.
He knows our longings, heart aches and fears.
He doesn’t leave us to suffer alone.
He asks us to walk to His heavenly throne.
Red carpets are then rolled out to lead us to Him.
So into His presence we will then sing.
Red is courageous and justice is too.
Red will allow us to experience breakthrough.
Red is the colour of blood and paint to create.
Justice leads us to live from a clean slate.
I was deeply moved when Fagan shared something incredibly special with my afterwards. This meant a lot to me personally as it was my first day in Cape Town since my gap year, when I felt I had lost my voice, and had felt God say over this current trip that he wanted to restore my voice and show me the power of my words:
“Your words brought something positive to me about the colour red. As red was the colour of my gang before. So to me it hasn’t been a positive colour. But your words have changed that for me. Especially the bit about “a red carpet to the throne room””.
You write your own story. You hold the pen.