Alpha for Prisons grows in Africa
Alpha for Prisons has a huge open door in Africa. In the last 18 months, Alpha courses have grown from 21 to 235 prisons in 11 countries with the biggest growth taking place in South Africa and Zambia where the prison authorities have given Alpha permission to run courses in every prison in their countries. Similar permissions have just recently been given in Burundi, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
Prison GATs have played a huge part in this growth. Over the last 2 years, National Alpha Offices in Africa have invited teams of volunteers from Asia, Canada and the UK to speak at Prison GATs. These include Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda. As a result, lives are being drastically changed by God. The Director General of Prisons in Ghana, Michael Kofi Bansah, said at the opening of the Prison GAT in July 2010, “My administration takes profound interest in using the Alpha course as means of spiritual and moral transformation of officers alike.”
One example of a life transformed by God through Alpha is a Zambian ex-offender called Paul Swala. "I was in prison in 1997 where I was arrested for treason. At the time, we had few chaplains in the prison. It was hell on earth. We saw preachers and prison fellowship people in the prison. I thought they were spies from the government as I didn’t trust anyone. Through reading a book, I began to believe. Then I went on an Alpha course and gave my life to Jesus Christ. I started to encourage other prisoners and asked God to give them one more chance."
He is now the Zambia Alpha for Prisons National Coordinator and Lusaka Prison Fellowship Coordinator. He travels around the country helping prison chaplains to start Alpha courses and working with partners to improve the conditions in the prisons.
In the current political crisis in Zimbabwe, there is huge suffering in the prisons where there is not enough food and medical care for the inmates or prison officers, and many are dying. It was in this context that the Zimbabwe Prison GAT took place from 17th to 19th August. The GAT was an opportunity to train all the prison chaplains as well as church teams how to run Alpha and continue to support ex-offenders upon release. It is the desire of both the Chaplain General, Rev Morgan Dewah, and the Zimbabwe Prison Service to see Alpha run in all 72 prisons of Zimbabwe.
If you are interested in leading or joining a team to go on a Prison GAT next year please do get in touch with us.