Today a group of us had the opportunity to visit Drakenstein Correctional Centre. This is the prison where Nelson Mandela spent his last few years of incarceration and from which he took his first steps of freedom after 27 years. Our host and guide today was the long-time chaplain, Pastor Archie. He explained to us the different classifications of prisoners and the work he does with them. We were able to walk through the prison and meet several of the young men there. We prayed with them and I think Pastor Vicki went through an entire bottle of anointing oil during our visit! We even had the chance to sing and praise the Lord with their praise team who was practicing. We sang "How Great is Our God" and "Celebrate Jesus." It was amazing.
Many of the prisoners are there due in part to the circumstances of their upbringing. They had abusive or absent parents or difficult childhoods for a variety of reasons. Pastor Archie encourages the men at Drakenstein to forgive their parents for past transgressions in order to begin healing.
Our God is so good that he knew that visiting that prison today is EXACTLY where I needed to be. When I arrived in South Africa on this trip, I learned that my father has passed away while I was traveling. This morning I woke to the news that my mother had died the day before. To put it simply, I had a difficult and complicated relationship with my parents. But, I know that it does not begin to compare with what these young men endured. So, if they can forgive their parents, who I am to complain about my life? I was able to let go of my hurt and found such profound peace.
As this is my fourth trip to this beautiful country, I have some very poignant and special memories of this place, but today may just top them all. God Bless.
|Pastor Archie and his wife|