The Reintegration Programme officially launched on Monday, 18 September with a group of 10 men freshly out of prison, excited to change their lives and learn how to be urban heroes in their communities. These men, once convicted of crimes, are now convicted with the desire to not only empower themselves, but to help empower young people in their communities to make healthy life choices instead of destructive ones. One by one, they stood in front of us and expressed their desires to make a difference and live a positive, purpose-filled life.
Here in South Africa, it costs the Department of Correctional Services around R10,000 a month to keep one person incarcerated and 7 out of 10 end up returning to prison after their release. By helping young men successfully reintegrate back into society, this programme can not only help the government and society save money, but help them contribute and give back to their families, communities, and nation.
For 3 months, these men will be involved in intensive, holistic training, to help prepare them for a successful life outside of prison. They will be learning life-skills such as budgeting, setting and reaching goals, responsibility and accountability, job readiness, and much more. With weekly evaluations, mentorship, and discipleship, we want to help them build a foundation of stability, as well as empower them with the resources to be able to stay on track and not allow negative influences to pull them back into their past. In partnership with local companies and NGO’s, we hope to provide them with interview experience and job opportunities after graduation. We are excited to follow their journey and see them become a solution to the problem they were once a part of within society.
Next month we will be starting a new initiative at The Message Trust. The Message Reintegration Programme is an extension of our Message Enterprise Programme in prison. Though the years we have seen the huge challenges many young men face once leaving prison. It’s not easy for someone to just get on with life after they have been institutionalized for so long behind bars.
Dysfunctional families, lack of employment opportunities, gang ridden environments and the stigma of a criminal record place place huge barriers in front of young men who want to leave a life of crime and gangsterism. This program will be inviting young men who want to grow in faith and life to participate in a three month training program that will equip them for life and the workplace.
At The Message the Reintegration Programme will facilitate change reintegration through the following:
Identify: We identify young men in and out of prison who have a intrinsic desire to change.
Platform: Once we identify these young men, we provide a platform for them to flourish in faith and life. We do this through a holistic 3 month discipleship curriculum including spiritual, economic, social and emotional development.
Mission: Through the platform each young man continues his journey in becoming a productive citizen that impacts his family, community and nation positively. This creates a ripple effect, where each young man inspires others through his own story of transformation.
If you would like to know more about the Reintegration Programme or recommend someone out of prison, please email [email protected] for more information
One of our enterprises at The Message Trust (The Soft Machine) were recently invited to a workshop held at Christel House High School in Cape Town. This invite was one which carved a significantexperience not only for business but for the students as they were given skills in building and running a successfulfood truck business.
FutureMe is a holistic, technology-enabled programme aimed at assisting high school learners to be work-ready when they leave school. The purpose of FutureMe is to assist young people in becoming more self-aware and confident; more aware and knowledgeable about subject, study and career choices and employment opportunities; and more prepared for, and effective in the working world. In this way, FutureMe intends to act as a bridge between youth and the working world. We are really passionate about addressing the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa, as well as the skills gaps in the working world.
We were there to share about The Soft Machine and the work we do as well as how these learners could empower themselves if they chose to take the path of running a food truck. The power in it all was the hunger for success we saw in the eyes of the young people at Christel House High school.
The most important part of the day was when MT shared his story with the students, many who are impacted daily by the negative cycle of gangsterism, crime and poverty. One of the grade 7 students said: “mam, just yesterday 6 of my friends became gangsters and now they want me to join too.” MT shared the realities of joining a gang and how this set him back for 13 years of his life. The students were eager to know how they can make a difference and where they could find help.
As we left Christel House High on the day we knew there is hope for our future and it lies in the hands of the young people in our country and it’s our duty to empower our youngsters and support their dreams. It’s the least we can do, but what’s more important is for any young person to know that you care.
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.
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.
At The Message we are committed to seeing young people flourish in every area of their lives. It gives us great joy to welcome Nathan Hans to our team! Nathan will be working in our Soft Machine business at Gangstar Enterprises. He will be responsible for driving our ice-cream food truck and serving at events. We met Nathan through our Eden Salt River team’s relationship with Beth Uriel Home for young men in Observatory, where Nathan stays.
Get to know Nathan below in this short interview with our Operations Director Mark Slessenger.
Mark: Welcome Nathan to The Message Trust! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Nathan: Hi Mark, my name is Nathan Hans and I am the last born of six children. I was born and raised in Seawinds which is on the Cape Flats in Lavender Hill. I attended Steenberg primary school and Crestway high school in Retreat. I regard myself to be honest and hardworking and I adapt well to new environments. I love playing soccer and enjoy all kinds of sports.
Mark: That’s great! At The Message we have four values which are passion, church, innovation & community. Tell us what you passionate about?
Nathan: I am passionate about various things which range from sports, work, and my studies. I am also passionate about helping where I can and inspiring people around me.
Mark: It’s great to hear your passion for these things. Can you tell us a bit about the church you belong to?
Nathan: I have been attending Jubilee Community Church for around four years and I really like it there. I grew up in an Anglican church but I have enjoyed Jubilee and the way they worship as a community.
Mark: You mentioned above that you are from Seawinds, in Lavender Hill what does community mean to you?
Nathan: Community means to be connected, to unite, and be in a family like environment with your neighbours, this is what I long for in Seawinds.
Mark: We are so happy you are with The Message Trust and joining our Soft Machine team. What was it that specifically attracted you to join The Message?
Nathan: What attracted me to the message was all the ways they reconnect people back into community. Also I love the way The Message are providing unemployed youth in South Africa with opportunities to develop skills whilst learning and receiving a salary for their efforts.
Mark: It’s great to see a young person like you focusing on positive things.If you could say one thing to the youth of South Africa what would you say?
Nathan: I would encourage all young people to focus on their potential instead of the limitations that they face. This is what I am trying to do in my own personal life.
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”!