Be an Amateur: that’s all any of us are — amateurs. We don’t live long enough to be anything else.
Happy Birthday to Gen Estonson!
You will be asked to complete a Justice Advocacy Survey this Sunday.
Afrika Choir One —a Tanzanian Choir from Resurrection Lutheran in Oakland will sing at our worship on May 18. Don’t miss this!
Keep in your prayers: Dana Squire and family (Joan’s Memorial Service is May 9 at 11 am), Rich Storelee, Gen Estenson, Greg Grebe, and Annie Haines who are all recovering from surgery.
Here is info about the Abba-Imma Workshop which Kaleo, Elise and I will lead at San Damiano Franciscan Retreat Center on May 10.
(Mudzunga Farisani visited us on Easter and sent me this letter recently. In light of Seminarian Brock’s work with us and the emerging Peace Prison Ministry, I want you to experience her powerful reflection.)
Dear Friends of Peace,
Greetings in the name of the Most High God! The Surprise Guest’s visit still stands. I would like to share with you the experience we had as members of the Prayer Women’s League this past Sunday, the 13th April 2014. There were about twenty of us who visited those who are incarcerated at Polokwane Prison/ Correctional Service. We have a standing schedule to visit this particular prison once per quarter. We are told that permission is granted from Pretoria which is their Head Office.
Our plan as always is to preach and ask for prayer items from those who are willing to share their pains. It is during this time of sharing their pains that you see some inmates crying nonstop. Some of us who brought the word would find ourselves in tears as well. On this particular Sunday we had thought of adopting inmates to become our prayer partners and not just make prayer an occasional event and not focus on individual inmates. Each inmate or at the most two were going to have a prayer partner from our prayer women group.
The plan did not materialize. We always visit women and on Sunday God had a different plan for us. We were surprised that there was a delay to visit inmates on that day. Little did we know that there were fights in the male section and the prison authority wanted us to preach and pray with them. We were in an open space and there over hundred prisoners attending our service. As the service went on, one would see tears in the eyes of those men. Some men could not hold their tears back, they defied the patriarchal society practices where crying is associated with weakness. They became true to themselves and to their God.
During the service we asked them to render musical items and they were so happy to do it. They were so thrilled to have had such a visit.
Sometimes we are not aware of how blessed we are, and we turn and forget to count our blessings and focus on the pain. Amongst the things I shared with the inmates, I made it clear to them that they are in a particular prison but some of us who brought the word of God maybe in a different prison altogether. There is no prison for me when I hate another person, nor do we have a prison for those that are doing evil inwardly, except that they hurt themselves and not another person. What is important is that if we confess our shortcomings, God is able to forgive even if the world may not forgive us. God’s grace is for all of us.
Each time I visit prisons I do not come back home the same person. There is so much to learn from each visit. The prison warders told us that after each visit there is always calmness from prisoners for a week or two. They went further to tell us that we are taking too long to come back and pray with them. Among prisoners there are those who come from neighboring countries and there are some from far away countries. Some family members cannot afford to have frequent visits and others do not have the means to do it at all.
The majority of prisoners feel very lonely although they are always in a crowd. They feel rejected and guilty about their wrongdoing. Prayer for them is key to their challenges, key to connect with God, key to deal with stressful situations, key to unconditional love, key to unlock prison doors, key to everlasting joy, key to Peace with God, and finally, prayer changes things. When we pray we should believe.
I was just overwhelmed by the whole experience. I just needed to share this with you especially after Gun has shown interest and the seminarian is with you.
Many greetings from Tshenu, Nzumbu, Ndamu and Zwo.
Mulalo/ Peace to all members of Peace Lutheran Church.
Your sister, Mudzunga Farisani
Easter blessings and uprisings, Pr. Steve