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Mpumie Kubheka

Sep 18, 2022

Today I had the opportunity to attend Restorative Justice Family Reconciliation Ceremony after an invitation by our Pastor, Amelia (Berner) Lodewyk who is part of the Hillsong Prison Ministry with her husband, Marco Lodewyk in Pollsmoor Prison, Cape Town. Hillsong Prison Ministry (an Outreach Ministries of Hillsong South Africa) is in partnership with the Hope Prison Ministry, which facilitates the Restorative Justice Programme. After a series of logistics issues, we finally managed to attend the session today and the Lord knew I had to be there because that session ministered to me as I went home and reflected on today’s experience.

Before I could send a message to thank Amelia for the invitation, I just had to sit in first and gather my words for what I experienced today. I told her that it was such a moment of awakening regarding some of the realities of God’s people out there. It gave me an awareness about the power of reconciliation and restorative justice which I learned offers internal freedom and healing as part of the process for both the offenders and their victims, which include their families. What Hope Prison Ministry is doing is indeed the Lord’s work, having experienced that first hand today was great. It ministered to me as a believer also in a way that I couldn’t fully digest in that moment.

I got home and thought to myself that, that experience is similar to our relationship with God. We sin against God, and the Evil one tries to constantly accuse us with our past mistakes, sins and wrongdoings to keep us in bondage internally, for if we are chained on the inside, we cannot fully serve God and have a beautiful experience with Him unless we come to a place of constant surrender, to confess and repent from our sinful ways in order to receive the true freedom that God secured for us through Christ at the cross so that we may have life and have it more abundantly in Him. The Devil will not have the power to constantly accuse us if receive the grace and mercy of God. If you haven’t experienced internal freedom, it doesn’t matter what your external reality is. Only God through the Blood of Jesus and by the help of the Holy Spirit can free us from any kind of bondage, including the bondage of our own sins, past mistakes and wrongdoings. Even if they do not compare to what the offenders in the Correctional Services did (sometimes they may), sin is sin and only God can truly free all of us. I am sure most of the offenders today are going to have a proper goodnight sleep after today’s experience because now they can walk on a journey of experiencing true freedom through Jesus!

And I appreciate Hillsong because they preach encourage relationship with God and not religion. Coming from a religious background, I was glad when I first attended Hillsong in Stellenbosch in 2019 because I learned about the power of vulnerability in church when our Youth Pastor, Dave Webster shared his testimony. I also learned that Hillsong speaks more about the God of love and the God of forgiveness which is contrary to the popular message of a punitive God who creates rules for us and punishes us when we don’t get them right. Contrary to that belief, our God is a of reconciliation and restoration, as written in 2 Corinthians 5:18 reiterated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10. And the first verse is a one I came across two days ago, and I went back to it today, and I was like, “This is it Lord, that’s what you were teaching me today”. I am now a volunteer in the Hillsong Cape Town CBD branch, and I serve on the welcoming team; and my favourite Hillsong slogan is the “Come as you are” banner.