Respect ME is an exciting new project that is a part of The Message Trust family. It is a schools based program that helps to equip young people to make positive choices that won’t only impact them but those around them. It looks at those areas of our lives that are so important to who we are as individuals yet people find difficult to talk about.
How are you doing it?
We have a range of different sessions and each is rooted in value and positivity. The lessons are interactive and informative, we give overviews, share stories, look at statistics and discuss how we can help make change in our own spheres of life. They are aimed not to tell young people how to make good choices but to go on a journey with them and guide the discovery of these positive choices themselves.
Why are you doing it?
I am doing this project because I fully believe in young people each having God given potential. In a world where we are constantly bombarded by negativity and false expectations I believe it is important for us to know who we are, the value we hold and the depth to which we are loved.
What are the objectives/goals you are aiming for?
I want to see as many young people as physically possible to show them the truth, that they are incredible young men and women that have purposes, hope and exciting futures! I want young people to really have full and happy lives and know their value. I want to see young peoples lives changed and transformed in the way they think about these what have been in the past “sticky” areas of their lives.
On the 29th of October in the early hours of a Saturday morning, our climbers met together to begin our daunting challenge of conquering the 3 peaks in 11hrs. As we gathered for the morning prayer just before we began I could see the excitement and anxiety in the faces of the participants as they looked ahead to climb Devil’s Peak, Platteklip Mountain and Lion’s head mountain. The one question that went through my mind was, Are we crazy? I mean I had never climb 3 mountains in one day!
We started our climb at 7am and we began to climb up Devil’s Peak. I always wondered why this mountain had this name, well now I have first hand experience and one thing I can say about it is that mountain isn’t friendly!
You may be asking yourself if it’s such a climb, then why do it? Our challenge was aimed at raising funds for The Message Trust and we took the mountain as a symbol to the social-ills faced by many of our Cape Town youth daily, challenges such as gangsterism, teenage pregnancy and unemployment.
Everyone was motivated to continue the climb and even though my legs were shaking because of the pain, I gave it my best shot! Our mandate is to effectively share the love of Christ for our young brothers and sisters and we need all the support we can get to help our youth. Our mission is to empower young people to become world changers who will multiply and empower other’s.
We are thankful to all our activists and all our donors and every contributor to our cause, this wouldn’t be possible without your help.
Join us next year and if you want to know more about the 3 Peaks Challenge email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
THE MESSAGE TRUST FAMILY WELCOMED DONOVAN NELSON INTO THE GANGSTAR ENTERPRISES TEAM ON THE 1ST OF AUGUST.
DONOVAN HAS BEEN EMPLOYED AS OUR GANGSTAR SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER AND WILL OVERSEE THE EXPANSION OF ALL OUR GANGSTAR BUSINESSES. WE ARE EXCITED TO WELCOME HIM ONTO THE TEAM!
1.Donovan welcome to The Message Trust! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Born and bred in Cape Town, in the heart of the new era just before South Africa’s first election; born to be a blessing and a song of the living God, Jesus Christ.
In March 2004, I experienced the presence of God like never before in my life and committed my ways to Him at a miracle crusade. My life then, only began. With a background in professional cookery and restaurant management, I love food. I think if eating was a ministry, I would be a food evangelist.
My family is my biggest support and my greatest motivation. My parents serve God and I have the honor of having them as my spiritual parents too. We love going out and experiencing new adventures. My brother, who is 13 years old, loves reading and we often spend time together by playing sports.
In my free time, I enjoy the outdoors and hiking, which I have come to understand brings you closer to God, through nature.
2.The four values of The Message Trust are passion, church, innovation & community. Tell us what you passionate about?
I am passionate about developing and cultivating young people. I believe one of the many gifts I have been graciously blessed with, is to unlock the potential and purpose within others. Many people recognised my own gift to speak and minister before I did.
3.Tell us a bit about your church?
I fellowship at Bezaleel Pentecostal Church, a small church of about 100 members in Lotus River, a community in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. My church has been in existence for over 40 years and has established four other branches in and around the Western Cape. The best way to describe my church is to think of a family that loves expressing their love for one another, that is my church.
4.Before joining us, you have been involved in some interesting community projects. What have you learned through this?
Community work is really hard work. With being involved in the community, it makes you realise how much work it really takes to bring people together for a common goal. One key lesson I have learnt, is probably from the ministry of Jesus. To get any community together, you need a formula. For me, that formula is food, fun and freedom.
5.The Message loves developing new innovative ways to reach youth – what was it that specifically attracted you to join The Message team?
I must be very honest and say that when I first found out about The Message, I thought that there is so much they can do, and that I would love to do with them. I then soon found out that I was the slow one, and that everything that I could think of, they had been already thinking of.
One aspect in particular was the MEP program. I think it is the best thing that has ever happened to our prisons in South Africa, and I can only see it growing to other prisons around the world.
6.If you could say one thing to the youth of South Africa what would you say?
Your vision is greater than you but it includes you. Find a greater cause to live for than just yourself.
SPEAK OUT: STORIES ABOUT THE FUTURE OF INCARCERATED YOUNG MEN.
The Message Enterprise Program (MEP) proudly announces the launch of the inaugural #speakout2016 public speaking event in Drakenstein youth prison.
South Africa’s prisons are notorious for high rates of HIV, overcrowding, abuse, sexual violence and gangsterism. According to South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS), over 360 000 move in and out of prison per year with 80 percent coming back to prison after being released. Joblessness and poverty, rejection by family members and a lack of rehabilitation projects all hinder ex-offenders from successful reintegration. Upon release, they are pressured by their families to provide for them and when they can’t find an income, many will re-offend through the lucrative opportunities offered by gangsterism and crime.
Come and join our first MEP public speaking event where our very own incarcerated students will deliver powerful speeches from prison. These inspirational talks illustrate the power of transformation and hope and it is something you do not want to miss! These personal accounts encapsulate their transformational lives and lead the audience to engage in a conversation about restoration for our local communities.
The Message Trust In-Prison Program calls on the general public to join this event in Paarl on the 20th August 2016 from 09:00am-12:00pm. Entry to the event is free, but booking is essential. For further information go to our facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1147143668676583/. Drakenstein Prison will host the 2016 edition of Speak Out.
The partnership between The Message Trust and Department of Correctional Service continues to grow from strength to strength as we work to reintegrate ex-offenders back into communities as positive influencers. These young men have gone from being the problem to now becoming the solution.
The Message Trust hope that the event will give these young men the opportunity to use their past experiences and draw out lessons that the audience can learn from and bring a positive impact on the greater society.
KICK24 Soccer event helps raise awareness against gangsterism and crime
The Message Trust and Sports Chaplaincy SCZA teamed up to host a 24-hour soccer event at Ajax Ikamva Grounds from 12pm on Friday 3rd June through to 12pm Saturday June 4th. The objective of the tournament was to raise awareness against gangsterism and crime in our communities, and to showcase both of the charities.
KICK24 got off to a rousing start as the KICK24 ALL STAR team (consisting of professional players and local celebrities) showed The Message Trust team no mercy, trouncing them 15-0! From the moment the tournament started there was a great vibe, with the music pumping and good weather playing its part. 24 hours of adrenaline surged as teams such as Legal Wise, AD Properties, PEP Stores and ASD Cape Town took on the pro team. But the pros were up to the challenge presented by their opponents, with the All Star Team comprising such big name players as Ayanda Patosi (Sporting Lokeren), Travis Graham (Ajax), Ricardo Skippers (Santos FC), Jon Armogam (Vasco Da Gama), Nathan Paulse (Ajax), and many more. The celebs weren’t far off playing like pros themselves, having been joined by the likes of songbird Chad Saaiman and Goodhope FM’s presenter Carl Wastie. The 24 hour FIFA Tournament had everyone buzzing as Cole Alexander from Supersport United took a break from the game to grab a seat and join in on the fun. Kids from all ages gathered around the FIFA area eager for the opportunity to get in on the action.
On the hour, every hour, a fresh team was fired up and ready to do battle with the KICK24 All Star team on the Ajax Ikamva Field. At 1am on Saturday morning, teams from Dunoon township took to the field, and to witness the excitement of all the children as they played through the night was truly heart-warming. Their little faces lit up as they scored goals against The KICK24 team. The Tournament ended 24 hours after it had kicked off, precisely at 12pm on Saturday 4th June. Despite being tired, bruised and worn out, when the KICK24 All Star team were asked if they would do it all again, their unanimous reply was “YES.”
Recently we were privileged to have pastors from the Assemblies of God visit our Message Enterprise Programme (MEP) in Drakenstein. Read below a letter of reflection from Pastor Theo Roman and his experience to our MEP class.
To the Reader,
My name is Theo Roman and I am Pastor of the West Reach Assemblies of God (AOG) Church. I am also a father and a community leader in my residential suburb of Westridge in Mitchells Plain. Having lived on the Cape Flats for many years, I have been exposed to the realities of the societal challenges that plague our communities, and the resultant effect upon families, but particularly upon the youth. I therefore carry a burden for fathers and young people.
I visited the Drakenstein Correctional Facility (DCS) in November of 2015 and again in January this year as a guest of The Message Trust. Our perspective of life inside of the prison is formed mostly from second hand knowledge. Great was my surprise when I came into contact with twenty-seven young men who exude hope and discipline with the vision and resolve to give back to the communities that they once took from.
Listening to their stories, the common vein that runs through each young man is that of fatherlessness and the adverse effect this had upon their lives. Whilst they now take personal accountability for their past actions, one cannot shun the lack of proper mentoring and grooming that contributed to rendering these young men vulnerable.
The Message Entreprise Programme (MEP), coupled with the spiritual emphasis inculcated by The Message Trust, demands of churches and church leaders to embrace these young men prior to their release, and to ensure that they are correctly assimilated into society upon release and thereby break the cycle of re-offending.
My visit afforded me the opportunity to interact with these young men, share the Word of God with them and enjoy the Breaking of Bread as commanded by the Lord Jesus. My observation of them is that there is a sense of genuineness without ignoring the flaws inherent to the process of character formation in their past lives. Whilst it is difficult to overlook these, one is imbued with an enduring hope that should they stay true to the programme, and find themselves accepted within a community of people after their release, it will enhance their healing and restoration.
I believe that in communities where the pervasive culture of gangsterism and violence has caused a rift between fathers and sons, we have a mission field in which the 45 pastors that visited DCS desire to aid in the reconstruction of society and the family unit. The church that I lead, is poised to accept a newly released young man from DCS and the membership have been desensitised against stigmatiszation. We believe that we can make a difference and be a role model to other faith-based institutions.
I wish to reiterate my opening comments, by emphasising that I have a burning desire to be a father to sons who have lost their way in life, a father to sons who have need of a mentor. I’ve also surrounded myself with spiritual fathers with similar convictions, and my daily prayer is to see the hearts of the biological fathers turned back to their own sons, so that together we can restore the laughter and joy on the streets of our communities.
(Chairperson: The Assemblies of God, Association – South Africa)
The organisation has existed for two years, assisting youth out of prison and gangs with job-training, mentorship and entrepreneurial support. GANGSTAR ENTERPRISES is a registered PTY Limited Company which is owned by The Message Trust South Africa (NPO) an organisation established in 2014 which is a Christ based organisation, which exists to raise up generations of Urban Heroes.
The launch which took place yesterday 31st March 2016 at Artscape, was to enlighten the public about GANGSTAR ENTERPRISES and all its initiatives. This year’s Artscape Spiritual Festival theme recognised the problem that many poor socio-economic communities face. GANGSTAR ENTERPRISES believes that all ex-offenders have the potential to go from being a problem in society to becoming the solution. The event was attended by business leaders, media personalities, government officials and the general public.
GANGSTAR ENTERPRISES main objective is to provide employment opportunities for GANGSTARs who have graduated through the Message Enterprise Program. We currently run three businesses:
·The Soft Machine: a gourmet soft serve food truck made from a reclaimed caravan
·GANGSTAR FURNITURE – furniture from redeemed wood/materials
·GANGSTAR GEAR – youth orientated socially conscience street wear
We are excited to collaborate and partner with like-minded entities.
Over 450 people attended our third annual Vision Night banquet hosted at Jubilee Community Church. Through the amazing cooperation of the Department of Correctional Services, 21 students from our in-prison Message Enterprise Programme (MEP) were among the guests. Angus Buchan, our key note speaker, had been into the prison earlier that day and shared the Gospel with around 300 offenders, as well as spending some time with the MEP class. “When I look at these young men I have hope for the future of our country… they’ve got fire in their eyes!” he told the Vision Night guests.
Vision Night provides The Message with an opportunity to share stories of what God is doing through the organisation, as well as show appreciation for our partners and supporters.
KineticIV kicked off the evening giving the audience a taste of how they share the Gospel with young people in schools and youth groups across the city. Following Uncle Angus’ inspirational address, Tim Tucker (Message SA CEO) shared about our goals to empower young people, equip the church, eradicate gangsterism and expand into Africa. “We want to see young people become role models, build strong Christian families, become constructive and positive citizens, and be empowered to shape the future.”
Chumani Ndzala gave insight into what this looks like in reality. He works in one of Message’s micro-enterprises – Gangstar Furniture. “My job reminds me of my life. I turn old wood into beautiful products… the things people cast off as rubbish, still have amazing potential. And that is what God has done with my life.”
The evening culminated in a powerful and emotional performance by the MEP students who led the guests in two worship songs. Many in the audience were in tears as they witnessed first-hand the transforming power of the Gospel in the lives of the young men.
Message UK CEO, Andy Hawthorne, closed the evening with a rousing challenge to support The Message and partner in raising up generations of urban heroes.
Meet the newest member of The Message Team Ruan Toua.
Ruan has been employed as our Gangstar Enterprises manager and will oversee all our Gangstar Apprentices and Employees at The Message.
We are excited to welcome him onto the team!
1. Ruan welcome to The Message Trust! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I have two amazing parents and a younger brother, and grew up in the northern suburbs, Parow. As a family we love camping and have been camping for as long as I can remember. I have always been very technically minded and love gadgets and building just about anything. I grew up in the NG church, and gained a lot of bible knowledge. I love spending my free time playing rugby or squash but mostly spending time in nature doing something that gets my adrenaline going!
The four values of The Message Trust are passion, church, innovation & community.
2.Tell us what you’re passionate about?
To be a Warrior for God. To grow His kingdom.
I have a massive heart for people and have always found people interesting, especially the uniqueness of every individual. I love working with people reaching out to others whether it’s in a group or as an individual. I have a strong background in teambuilding and love to watch the dynamics of a group. Teambuilding is my absolute passion, as I love games and seeing people have fun, learn and overcome obstacles.
I have a great passion for evangelism and outreach, as well as shepherding and developing others to be able to carry over what they have learned. I am involved in a number of ministries such as Straatwerk, Prison Ministry and CBMC (Christian Business Man Connection).
The Lord has laid on my heart to purse unity in South Africa through encouraging one another and mentorship. As the future of South Africa, our youth have a critical role to play in uniting our culturally diverse country. I believe that the diversity of our culture holds the potential of South Africa as our greatest asset. We have a lot of groups doing their own thing but we need to unite in God’s presence and fight the good fight together.
3.Tell us a bit about your church?
Urban Edge in Durbanville is my church community and spiritual anchor. The church has such a powerful vision which is “Connecting people to people and people to God”.
I am part of a Connect Group, and serve often. From the first moment, I have felt absolutely welcome at this church.
4.You mentioned you are from Panorama what does community mean to you?
I have moved around a lot which means that I have developed a broad perspective for community. My church is in Durbanville, Straatwerk is on the streets of Cape Town, CBMC is in Bellville and Kraaifontein, therefore community means “unity” for “the broad circles” I live in, to come together, to develop and thrive for the Kingdom of God. South Africa is my “Community” and I believe in the unity of this amazing country.
.The Message loves developing new innovative ways to reach youth – what was it that specifically attracted you to join The Message team?
Prison ministry; I wasn’t aware that The Message was working in the same prison that I was volunteering at, as a facilitator for the Alpha Coarse (at Drakenstein).
What stood out for me the most was Christ Centered Enterprise, incorporated with the goal of ‘Raising up generations of Urban Heroes’ by the joint effort of the 4 streams in The Message.
As an evangelist you often get faced with the question: “What happens when the Individual in prison gets saved? What type of support does someone that lives in poverty have that can help them grow to become the man that God wants him to be, rather than ‘back-sliding’ due to surrounding peoples influences and circumstances?”
A question that I asked myself so many times has been “What can I do to make a difference? What can I do to create more support for someone that comes out of prison or lives on the streets?”
One thing led to another, (“a chain of unexplainable coincidences”) and the Lord led me to The Message Trust, while I was doing prison ministry with Alpha.
6.If you could say one thing to the youth of South Africa what would you say?
You are the Future! No one can make a difference alone, but with God as our center and guide, together – “we can do this”!
For me, there has always been something captivating about South Africa. Before my trip with The Message, I had visited the country on other occasions and had fallen in love with its people, its landscape, its heartbeat. So when I made the decision to spend three months volunteering with The Message – a charity I also love – in South Africa, I was expectant that I would see a great move of God happening. The trip exceeded my expectations!
The Message SA operates out of a little office space in a business park, which in no way parallels the scale of the charity’s vision. I was immediately welcomed in to the Message SA family as if I had been part of the team since it began. The Message in South Africa follows the pattern of The Message UK, with its unashamed focus on evangelism and the power of Christ to restore but adapted it to be relevant to the culture of Cape Town.
Gangsters to gentlemen
Prison ministry is a major focus here because of the powerful grip of gangsterism on South African society. I had the privilege of attending a session of the Message Entrepreneurial Program in Drakenstein Prison. This is led by Jennifer Belcher, a trained lawyer who has been completely captured by the need of the young inmates in South African prisons and spends her time training them to be entrepreneurs. In this class, the men were discussing their own business models and learning to think like CEOs – they were incredibly articulate and most of what they were talking about was way beyond my knowledge level! I was deeply impressed. Some of the men also stood up and shared about their past experiences and were treated by their inmates with encouragement and respect. There was such a feeling of unity within the room. When they led me around their cell, a small room where around 25 of them stayed, I noticed Bibles neatly tucked under pillows and Hillsong posters on the walls. You can imagine how different this must have been to their previous lives.
I was so happy to meet with the guys again for their graduation ceremony, which happens when they have successfully completed a year on the programme. This was such a joyous event, with plenty of family and friends present in the audience and many sweet old mamas tearing up at the sight of their sons in graduation robes. The most memorable moment for me was when all of the class held hands and sung at the top of their lungs, ‘My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…’ It was so powerful seeing young men who were in true physical bondage, jubilantly proclaiming the freedom they have found in Christ.
What I truly love about The Message is their desire to provide support for these young men once they have been released from prison. This is not only spiritual, but practical help. I became close friends with several of the ex-offender that now work under The Message running small enterprises. These include a clothing range, an ice cream company and a furniture business. It was eye-opening learning about their stories – not only the struggle of township life that led that many of them to make poor decisions, but the fact that some of them used to be South Africa’s most wanted men. I couldn’t connect the violent, dangerous men they told me they were to the softly-spoken gentlemen that I knew them to be. Every time I spoke to them, I felt so proud to be part of an organisation that offered men like this such a radical second chance.
Community up close
A third area that The Message focuses on is community transformation, known as Eden. To me, this was all about restoring hope to communities that had long felt forgotten about. I was part of leading a club called ‘Thursday is Girl’s Day’ where the young girls from the local area were invited to the Eden team leader’s house after school. Instead of wandering the streets or sitting alone in their run-down houses, they were able to find a safe haven to socialise, share their hopes and dreams and make rainbow cookies! This soon turned into a Bible study, which was actually what the girls were most excited about.
Eden also partners with a local church to deliver the most amazing feeding scheme for homeless women and their children, the majority of whom live in the most appalling conditions under a railway bridge. The women collect recycling all week and are then able to trade this in for points to spend on toiletries, clothes and food items. This system is especially effective, because it gives the women a sense of dignity as they have worked hard collecting items all week in order to earn points. It further enables them to choose what is most necessary for them at that particular time, rather than being handed a general package. Even though the actual day of points trading was noisy, messy and absolutely chaotic, it was one of my favourite things to be involved in. I loved seeing the delight and appreciation when these women found a little shirt that perfectly fit their child or their favourite flavour of soup was on offer that day.
A dream come true
I also got a chance to see a childhood dream come true and pretend I was part of the Message South Africa’s first mission band, Kinetic IV. I travelled with them to the rural community of Citrusdal to partner with Hebron Community Project. Here, I saw them perform to 250 unbelievably excited children at Paardekop Primary School and lead a three-hour creative programme. The next day, we opened the doors of Hebron’s community centre to the whole village. Tiny infants, high school kids and grandparents came from far and wide for the time of worship, dancing and prayer. I was able to anoint sweet old ladies with oil and pray for healing, despite my inability to speak a word of their language! After our trip, when reflecting on the impact of this mission to Citrasdal, Neil Hall, the Chairman of Hebron exclaimed, ‘The Valley will never be the same again!’ It was evident that the message of Christ had stirred hope and excitement in so many hearts that weekend, and the villagers felt united to one another in a way they had not experienced before.
A final memory for me that I feel is worth mentioning was taking on the Three Peaks Challenge. As The Message’s annual fundraiser, we challenged ourselves to climb the Three Peaks of Cape Town (Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain) in one day – which is an extremely physically exhausting task. There were around 60 of us that attempted at least one mountain and there was such an incredible team spirit present the whole time. I valued every minute because as I climbed, I was able to learn many people’s personal stories – whether ex-gangsters, the charity’s director or an international volunteer just like me. Everybody pushed themselves to their own limit and we raised much-needed funds in the process. Reaching the top of that last mountain was an experience I will never forget and reminded me that achievements worth having take time, effort and overcoming hurdles.
I am forever changed by my experiences with Message South Africa and I am certain that I will one day return to this country and the people that I love so deeply.
If you would like to do a short missions trip with the Message Trust or a one year internship, please email email@example.com