My pledge: Committed to change Contents

Picture of Life Skills

My pledge: Committed to change Contents

Contents

Introduction
Wild Dandelions Poem
Christian Prisoner’s Pledge
Workshop information and suggestions to leaders

Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Lesson 6
Lesson 7
Lesson 8
Lesson 9
Lesson 10
Lesson 11
Lesson 12
Lesson 13
Lesson 14
Lesson 15
Lesson 16
Lesson 17

My Pledge to Sign
In Conclusion
Course Test


Introduction

A wild dandelion is a wild flower with long tubular petals and a beautiful bright yellow colour that reminds us of God’s glory, just like the sun. Although it is bright and beautiful, the wild dandelion has an element of sadness: At a certain point, it closes up and dies, just as Jesus died.

However, it soon reopens to reveal a multitude of white, feather-like seeds. These may look dry and dead, but when the wind blows through them they are gently spread to reproduce new life. In the same way, the Holy Spirit blows through you, awakening the seeds of greatness hidden within you, bringing new life.

A wild dandelion represents time passing, which makes it a fitting symbol for transformation of both prisons and inmates. It is time to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to die to self and to renew our minds and hearts – for a better South Africa for all.

Every person is worth more than their worst day. Every prisoner is in prison for their weakest moment, a grave mistake made by their lesser self, a lack of mentorship or a misguided path they chose to follow.

Despite society’s hatred of their transgressions, it is possible for each prisoner to rise above their past and become whole again. With God’s intervention, every person is capable of rising up and not being defined by their moment of weakness, but by their dedication, strength, courage, commitment and willingness to change.

A country can be judged by how it treats its lowest citizens.
– Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Many years ago my son, who lived with me in Cape Town, decided to try living with his father in another province far away. He was happy there, but after only two years he moved back to my home. While he was away his grandmother, with whom he had a very close relationship, had died. This affected him negatively, causing his school marks to go downhill. Eventually, he failed his grade.

Relocating to Cape Town was a challenge, as no school wanted to accept him after he had failed. Although he was a soft-hearted, loving child who would do anything to help others, he was rejected and seen as a “problem child”. It seemed all schools, even the Christian ones, had the right to reject the broken-winged in favour of society’s “prime beef.” During this process, I realised that my son was being rejected based on his inabilities, rather than being given the chance to prove his abilities. It was easier for the schools and society to blow him off, like thistles off a dandelion, than to bother to assist him.

That very painful experience encouraged me to write this programme for prisoners – for people society has given up on, but whom God would give second and more chances. The outlaws, the forgotten and the rejected still have so much potential locked up inside of them. If they are given the chance, and the attention they need, they will excel in the talents God has given them and the purpose for which He has created them. I call these people the wild dandelions. The wild dandelions in our prisons all have the potential to make South Africa a better place for all who live here

With inmates who are willing to make a pledge to themselves and their country, we can work together towards combating crime and seeking solutions that will benefit everyone. South Africa has so much potential, but the people of our country need to work together to bring about change.


Wild dandelions poem

The view of Table Mountain
For years Madiba’s only consolation
If only he had wings to fly
To promote the freedom cry!
Democracy united
A nation once divided
God sees all the pain
Of a land crying in vain
As boundaries come down
Refuse to wear the crown
That causes all the sorrow
Let’s build a new tomorrow!
The dandelions are scattered
By the wind that blew
Forgive the mess it caused
Healing the nation will be renewed!
Respect your neighbour
Be kind to those who fall
Your pledges are a commitment
To produce a better life for all!
– Val Hamann


Christian Prisoner’s Pledge

Ubuntu means you cannot exist as a human being in isolation. What you do and how you choose to do it, affects everyone around you.

The Christian Prisoner’s Pledge consists of affirmations that will encourage you to live by the values of Ubuntu. Please read through it carefully and think about the meaning and implications of each promise in this pledge.

In the following lessons we will consider this pledge point by point, look at Biblical texts related to each point and discuss its application in our lives.

After all the lessons you will have an opportunity to sign this pledge, thereby committing yourself to live according to these values of Ubuntu.

Since it is a Christian-based pledge programme, it is obvious that you will only be able to fulfil this commitment with God’s help and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before you sign the pledge, make sure you understand well what it is about, and that you are indeed willing to make the following pledge:

  1. I undertake to uphold the constitutional values, including human dignity, non-racism and non-sexism.
  2. I affirm that I will uphold the principles of respect, honesty, integrity and honourable conduct.
  3. I will avoid all wrongdoing, including violence, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, bullying and manipulating others.
  4. I pledge to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect, both inside and outside the prison classrooms, work places, prison cells, sports fields, visiting rooms and court rooms.
  5. I will not violate the rights of others. I freely pledge to respect the rights of other people and to cause them no harm.
  6. I acknowledge and understand that I have rights, and with those rights come responsibilities.
  7. I pledge to treat others, including my fellow prisoners, wardens, spiritual coordinators, teachers, volunteer organisation leaders, family members, the elderly and friends who visit with dignity and courtesy.
  8. I will not cheat, deceive, steal, punch, stab or kill others.
  9. I will put my selfishness aside by helping others whenever I am able to do so.
  10. If I see a fellow prisoner without soap, I will cut mine in half and share it with him or her.
  11. Change starts with me; thus I will uphold a common vision for a better country and for all who live in it.
  12. I will work hard at obtaining an education, and I will strive to excel in sports.
  13. I will learn all I can to educate and empower myself while trusting God with my future, because his love will sustain me through all of my days.
  14. I will reach my full potential by serving God, my country, my community and my fellow citizens.
  15. I will preserve the environment, be it my fellow human beings, animals, plants or water around me.
  16. I will do my best to keep my prison cell clean and neat, even if those around me do not.
  17. I am a proud South African and will embrace my country’s wonderful history, heritage and culture.
  18. I will remember that, as a nation with different races and cultures, united we shall stand, but divided we shall fall.
  19. I will be proud of my achievements and will strive to be a better parent, role model and citizen of this beautiful country.
  20. I will never think less of myself for being a prisoner.
  21. In the past I have made mistakes; however, I know God will help me, by creating opportunities for me to make better choices in the future.
  22. I am imperfect, but God will never reject me; therefore I will never reject myself.
  23. Jesus thought me important enough to die for; therefore I will choose to live for Him.
  24. I will serve God, my true Father. With God on my side, how could I fail? I will follow my dreams and make them come true.
  25. Even when I experience difficult times and circumstances, I will never give up.
  26. I realise that I am not alone; God cares about me intimately, and I am connected to all humans through him. Therefore I will be a vessel used for God’s glory, caring for those around me.
  27. I will love God first and love my neighbours as I love myself.
  28. I acknowledge that my actions and reactions affect those around me; therefore I will continually strive to improve my ways, to impact people positively.
  29. I will let go of my anger, guard my mouth and think before I speak.
  30. I will strive to follow Nelson Mandela’s example by not being bitter or angry. More importantly, I will strive to live out God’s vision of uniting all people by way of forgiveness, and I will try to win over the hearts of my enemies.
  31. Because God placed me here, I will love South Africa despite its shortcomings and mistakes. I will strive to make it a better place for all to live in, by leaving a life of crime behind me and by embracing God’s principles of creating a better future for all.

Workshop information and suggestions to leaders

  • Propose a prison ministry leader. Elect once screened.
  • Propose a deputy prison ministry leader. Elect once screened.
  • Propose two table leaders for every six participants. Elect once screened.

(Prison ministry leaders are to be proposed by way of a screening process, ensuring that they are people who live with integrity and who are in good standing in their church and community. At least one character reference from their pastor or employer should be submitted prior to the leader being elected. Once the screening process has been completed successfully, proceed to officially elect them.)

  • The ideal class size is 24 to 36 participants.
  • Take a guitar along if allowed by the prison head or DCS spiritual coordinator.

For the most effective learning experience, all leaders and attendees need to implement the following:

  1. Each participant must be equipped with a Bible, a lined workbook and a copy of this book. Crayons, Khokis and pastels are needed for the drawings, and pencils or pens to write with. All items are to be counted before participants enter the class and counted again before the participants exit the class. If any items are missing, the facilitator must take the necessary steps, in order for the perpetrator to be taught wrong from right. The principle matters more than the value of the item.
  2. The first rule of prison ministry is “nothing in, nothing out”. Do not write personal letters to participants to hand to them in the class. This is disrespectful towards the prison head and could compromise the whole programme and ministry.
  3. No money, food, cell phones, scissors, cameras, glue, plastic bags, handbags, writing pads, envelopes or stamps are to be taken into the prison without a written request and proper permission obtained through the correct prison channels.
  4. No participant is to be given special treatment, and there may be no special visits during the programme. Letters of encouragement may be sent via the legal prison system. These are to be written with integrity and without emotional attachment or suggestion of a personal relationship.
  5. Read the pledge statement pertaining to the lesson of the day out loud together, then read the relevant Bible verses and discuss them in depth.
  6. There are 31 pledges; however, only 25 have been selected for detailed discussion. The facilitator in charge of the programme is welcome to elaborate on all the points of discussion, in order for the participants to understand the pledge that they are committing to. Pledges are only to be signed after the last lesson has been completed.
  7. Leaders must prepare lessons beforehand.
  8. Split into groups to discuss the questions, and where necessary, write the answers down in a lined workbook. Emphasise points that need to be remembered for the test at the end of the workshop.
  9. Allow the participants to speak freely about their perspectives, as long as they do not endorse racism, defame someone’s character, or pass judgement on the perspectives of others.
  10. From Lesson 2 onwards, discuss how many interesting South African facts you can remember from the previous lesson, and quote at least one Bible verse from the previous lesson out loud.
  11. After the last lesson, participants must be given the opportunity to testify about how this workshop has affected their perspectives and morals, and how it has encouraged them to live according to the principles of Ubuntu. They must also be given ample time to write their tests and sign their pledges.
  12. Later, at the closing ceremony, all the sealed letters participants were instructed to write during the second-last lesson may be read aloud to remind them of their commitment. Copies of their signed pledges are to be handed to them, along with the results of their tests and a certificate of completion. Participants must then split into two groups to enact a play based on what they have learnt.
  13. Cake, snacks, fruit and props for the plays may be taken to the closing ceremony, with prior permission from the prison head, requests to be made through the DCS Spiritual Care Pastor.
  14. Always hand in a report to the DCS Spiritual Care Pastor, as to the progress of the inmate before, during and after the program.



Sections

Contents

Introduction
Wild Dandelions Poem
Christian Prisoner’s Pledge
Workshop information and suggestions to leaders

Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Lesson 3
Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Lesson 6
Lesson 7
Lesson 8
Lesson 9
Lesson 10
Lesson 11
Lesson 12
Lesson 13
Lesson 14
Lesson 15
Lesson 16
Lesson 17

My Pledge to Sign
In Conclusion
Course Test

Introduction

A wild dandelion is a wild flower with long tubular petals and a beautiful bright yellow colour that reminds us of God’s glory, just like the sun. Although it is bright and beautiful, the wild dandelion has an element of sadness: At a certain point, it closes up and dies, just as Jesus died.

However, it soon reopens to reveal a multitude of white, feather-like seeds. These may look dry and dead, but when the wind blows through them they are gently spread to reproduce new life. In the same way, the Holy Spirit blows through you, awakening the seeds of greatness hidden within you, bringing new life.

A wild dandelion represents time passing, which makes it a fitting symbol for transformation of both prisons and inmates. It is time to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to die to self and to renew our minds and hearts – for a better South Africa for all.

Every person is worth more than their worst day. Every prisoner is in prison for their weakest moment, a grave mistake made by their lesser self, a lack of mentorship or a misguided path they chose to follow.

Despite society’s hatred of their transgressions, it is possible for each prisoner to rise above their past and become whole again. With God’s intervention, every person is capable of rising up and not being defined by their moment of weakness, but by their dedication, strength, courage, commitment and willingness to change.

A country can be judged by how it treats its lowest citizens.
– Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Many years ago my son, who lived with me in Cape Town, decided to try living with his father in another province far away. He was happy there, but after only two years he moved back to my home. While he was away his grandmother, with whom he had a very close relationship, had died. This affected him negatively, causing his school marks to go downhill. Eventually, he failed his grade.

Relocating to Cape Town was a challenge, as no school wanted to accept him after he had failed. Although he was a soft-hearted, loving child who would do anything to help others, he was rejected and seen as a “problem child”. It seemed all schools, even the Christian ones, had the right to reject the broken-winged in favour of society’s “prime beef.” During this process, I realised that my son was being rejected based on his inabilities, rather than being given the chance to prove his abilities. It was easier for the schools and society to blow him off, like thistles off a dandelion, than to bother to assist him.

That very painful experience encouraged me to write this programme for prisoners – for people society has given up on, but whom God would give second and more chances. The outlaws, the forgotten and the rejected still have so much potential locked up inside of them. If they are given the chance, and the attention they need, they will excel in the talents God has given them and the purpose for which He has created them. I call these people the wild dandelions. The wild dandelions in our prisons all have the potential to make South Africa a better place for all who live here

With inmates who are willing to make a pledge to themselves and their country, we can work together towards combating crime and seeking solutions that will benefit everyone. South Africa has so much potential, but the people of our country need to work together to bring about change.

Wild dandelions poem

The view of Table Mountain
For years Madiba’s only consolation
If only he had wings to fly
To promote the freedom cry!
Democracy united
A nation once divided
God sees all the pain
Of a land crying in vain
As boundaries come down
Refuse to wear the crown
That causes all the sorrow
Let’s build a new tomorrow!
The dandelions are scattered
By the wind that blew
Forgive the mess it caused
Healing the nation will be renewed!
Respect your neighbour
Be kind to those who fall
Your pledges are a commitment
To produce a better life for all!
– Val Hamann

Christian Prisoner’s Pledge

Ubuntu means you cannot exist as a human being in isolation. What you do and how you choose to do it, affects everyone around you.

The Christian Prisoner’s Pledge consists of affirmations that will encourage you to live by the values of Ubuntu. Please read through it carefully and think about the meaning and implications of each promise in this pledge.

In the following lessons we will consider this pledge point by point, look at Biblical texts related to each point and discuss its application in our lives.

After all the lessons you will have an opportunity to sign this pledge, thereby committing yourself to live according to these values of Ubuntu.

Since it is a Christian-based pledge programme, it is obvious that you will only be able to fulfil this commitment with God’s help and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before you sign the pledge, make sure you understand well what it is about, and that you are indeed willing to make the following pledge:

  1. I undertake to uphold the constitutional values, including human dignity, non-racism and non-sexism.
  2. I affirm that I will uphold the principles of respect, honesty, integrity and honourable conduct.
  3. I will avoid all wrongdoing, including violence, sexual misconduct, sexual violence, bullying and manipulating others.
  4. I pledge to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect, both inside and outside the prison classrooms, work places, prison cells, sports fields, visiting rooms and court rooms.
  5. I will not violate the rights of others. I freely pledge to respect the rights of other people and to cause them no harm.
  6. I acknowledge and understand that I have rights, and with those rights come responsibilities.
  7. I pledge to treat others, including my fellow prisoners, wardens, spiritual coordinators, teachers, volunteer organisation leaders, family members, the elderly and friends who visit with dignity and courtesy.
  8. I will not cheat, deceive, steal, punch, stab or kill others.
  9. I will put my selfishness aside by helping others whenever I am able to do so.
  10. If I see a fellow prisoner without soap, I will cut mine in half and share it with him or her.
  11. Change starts with me; thus I will uphold a common vision for a better country and for all who live in it.
  12. I will work hard at obtaining an education, and I will strive to excel in sports.
  13. I will learn all I can to educate and empower myself while trusting God with my future, because his love will sustain me through all of my days.
  14. I will reach my full potential by serving God, my country, my community and my fellow citizens.
  15. I will preserve the environment, be it my fellow human beings, animals, plants or water around me.
  16. I will do my best to keep my prison cell clean and neat, even if those around me do not.
  17. I am a proud South African and will embrace my country’s wonderful history, heritage and culture.
  18. I will remember that, as a nation with different races and cultures, united we shall stand, but divided we shall fall.
  19. I will be proud of my achievements and will strive to be a better parent, role model and citizen of this beautiful country.
  20. I will never think less of myself for being a prisoner.
  21. In the past I have made mistakes; however, I know God will help me, by creating opportunities for me to make better choices in the future.
  22. I am imperfect, but God will never reject me; therefore I will never reject myself.
  23. Jesus thought me important enough to die for; therefore I will choose to live for Him.
  24. I will serve God, my true Father. With God on my side, how could I fail? I will follow my dreams and make them come true.
  25. Even when I experience difficult times and circumstances, I will never give up.
  26. I realise that I am not alone; God cares about me intimately, and I am connected to all humans through him. Therefore I will be a vessel used for God’s glory, caring for those around me.
  27. I will love God first and love my neighbours as I love myself.
  28. I acknowledge that my actions and reactions affect those around me; therefore I will continually strive to improve my ways, to impact people positively.
  29. I will let go of my anger, guard my mouth and think before I speak.
  30. I will strive to follow Nelson Mandela’s example by not being bitter or angry. More importantly, I will strive to live out God’s vision of uniting all people by way of forgiveness, and I will try to win over the hearts of my enemies.
  31. Because God placed me here, I will love South Africa despite its shortcomings and mistakes. I will strive to make it a better place for all to live in, by leaving a life of crime behind me and by embracing God’s principles of creating a better future for all.

Workshop information and suggestions to leaders

  • Propose a prison ministry leader. Elect once screened.
  • Propose a deputy prison ministry leader. Elect once screened.
  • Propose two table leaders for every six participants. Elect once screened.

(Prison ministry leaders are to be proposed by way of a screening process, ensuring that they are people who live with integrity and who are in good standing in their church and community. At least one character reference from their pastor or employer should be submitted prior to the leader being elected. Once the screening process has been completed successfully, proceed to officially elect them.)

  • The ideal class size is 24 to 36 participants.
  • Take a guitar along if allowed by the prison head or DCS spiritual coordinator.

For the most effective learning experience, all leaders and attendees need to implement the following:

  1. Each participant must be equipped with a Bible, a lined workbook and a copy of this book. Crayons, Khokis and pastels are needed for the drawings, and pencils or pens to write with. All items are to be counted before participants enter the class and counted again before the participants exit the class. If any items are missing, the facilitator must take the necessary steps, in order for the perpetrator to be taught wrong from right. The principle matters more than the value of the item.
  2. The first rule of prison ministry is “nothing in, nothing out”. Do not write personal letters to participants to hand to them in the class. This is disrespectful towards the prison head and could compromise the whole programme and ministry.
  3. No money, food, cell phones, scissors, cameras, glue, plastic bags, handbags, writing pads, envelopes or stamps are to be taken into the prison without a written request and proper permission obtained through the correct prison channels.
  4. No participant is to be given special treatment, and there may be no special visits during the programme. Letters of encouragement may be sent via the legal prison system. These are to be written with integrity and without emotional attachment or suggestion of a personal relationship.
  5. Read the pledge statement pertaining to the lesson of the day out loud together, then read the relevant Bible verses and discuss them in depth.
  6. There are 31 pledges; however, only 25 have been selected for detailed discussion. The facilitator in charge of the programme is welcome to elaborate on all the points of discussion, in order for the participants to understand the pledge that they are committing to. Pledges are only to be signed after the last lesson has been completed.
  7. Leaders must prepare lessons beforehand.
  8. Split into groups to discuss the questions, and where necessary, write the answers down in a lined workbook. Emphasise points that need to be remembered for the test at the end of the workshop.
  9. Allow the participants to speak freely about their perspectives, as long as they do not endorse racism, defame someone’s character, or pass judgement on the perspectives of others.
  10. From Lesson 2 onwards, discuss how many interesting South African facts you can remember from the previous lesson, and quote at least one Bible verse from the previous lesson out loud.
  11. After the last lesson, participants must be given the opportunity to testify about how this workshop has affected their perspectives and morals, and how it has encouraged them to live according to the principles of Ubuntu. They must also be given ample time to write their tests and sign their pledges.
  12. Later, at the closing ceremony, all the sealed letters participants were instructed to write during the second-last lesson may be read aloud to remind them of their commitment. Copies of their signed pledges are to be handed to them, along with the results of their tests and a certificate of completion. Participants must then split into two groups to enact a play based on what they have learnt.
  13. Cake, snacks, fruit and props for the plays may be taken to the closing ceremony, with prior permission from the prison head, requests to be made through the DCS Spiritual Care Pastor.
  14. Always hand in a report to the DCS Spiritual Care Pastor, as to the progress of the inmate before, during and after the program.

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