12 Dec 2023

‘Following Jesus Is Everything To Me’

We’re passionate about supporting those with barriers to employment as they turn their lives around with Jesus on our enterprise programme. To hear some of the stories, we caught up with two of our Oaks Discipleship House residents in South Africa, Chika and Tsepho.

‘I grew up in Langa township, Cape town, in an extended family house with parents, aunts, and uncles. When I was young, my father left and then me and my mum were forced to leave the family home with nowhere to go. And things got worse for us as I had to watch my mum later be badly treated by a boyfriend. I became more and more angry with the world and started drinking, smoking and getting involved in gang crime when I was 13 years old. Over the years, my crimes got more and more serious until I was arrested and sentenced to prison. 

‘Whilst there, I met some of the Message Trust team; Mthethelei who shared the gospel with me and I responded, and also Mark who helped me with the job readiness programme. When I was released from prison, I was invited by The Message to join the Gangstar furniture team so I could earn money and learn new skills in a supportive environment. I enjoyed being part of the scheme but sadly, after my contract finished, I got involved with the wrong crowd again, slipped back into my old ways and was sent to prison. 

‘This time, though, I remembered my faith and began pressing into Jesus again, dedicating to turn away completely from my past life and instead follow Jesus in everything. So, my faith grew and I reconnected with the Message team who offered me the chance to live in their Oaks Discipleship House. There, I not only got housing, friends to look out for me and had incredible times of prayer, worship and discipleship, I also got stuck into the reintegration programme, Work4ALiving programme and got trained up to be a barista. Now, I love sharing my story with others and telling them about what Jesus has done for me.’ – Chika

‘I had a chaotic upbringing moving around a lot and even had a night sleeping in a dustbin. I felt rejected and abandoned by my parents and got involved in the wrong crowd. Stuck in a cycle of crime, I ended up going to prison, but there, I found Jesus and gave my life to him.

‘My grandmother’s boss actually helped me study for a Bachelor’s degree and sponsored me to live in The Message Trust’s Oaks Discipleship House where I was part of their enterprise programme. Since then, I’ve grown so much and following Jesus is everything to me. 

‘I’m determined to show God’s love in everything I do and share the gospel in every opportunity. I now have a job for a Christian company and things have never been better.’ – Tsepho


Find out more about our prisons and enterprise work here.