Averil Perlmutter - Serima Zimbabwe Convention - 2006

Hymn 391

Last month, Debbie and I had a very different day in South Africa.  Two things happened that were very different.  It was a holiday down there.  We were allowed to go to the jail, a big jail where they have high security.  There are murderers and people like that are kept there.  We heard the story about these people in this jail in 2001.  A man and his wife went to that jail to visit one of those inmates.  They went in and talked with this man for one hour only.  They went on Christmas day.  We enjoy Christmas day, you visit your friends.  This couple said that this was the best Christmas day they ever had, to go to visit that prisoner.  When they left, they felt so free.  They went to sit under a tree.  They ate their sandwiches, soggy jam sandwiches.  They said to one another, "We are so happy because we are free."  They were so sorry for those who were in prison. 

There was a reason why they are there, that young man whom they visited.  He grew up in the way of God like some of you children, like myself.  He professed when he was a young boy.  He was later mixed up with bad friends.  He was drawn away and he did something that was not right.  He was on drugs and beer and girls.  He had a girl friend who was not in our faith.  He began to follow her beliefs.  We don’t understand.  He started on witchcraft and things like that.  This girl was killed and this boy was accused.  We don’t know if he is guilty or not.  He says that he was drunk at the time and he does not know anything about it.  Anyhow, he was accused and admitted to solitary confinement, to a high security jail.  This is the result of sin and being with evil friends. 

As time passed, he longed and he tried to speak through a small hole to the man next door to him.  He was a Zulu boy and he came to listen little by little.  The workers went to visit this boy.  They also spoke to this other boy.  About two years ago, our friend made his choice.  Later, this other boy also.  Now there are two of them.  So he tried to talk to another boy who has also done a very bad thing.  He was also drunk when they found him.  He was found guilty.  In 2001, he wanted to listen but he felt that he was too bad.  We asked our friend if this year there would be a chance for this boy to also listen.  "Yes," he said.  He would listen. 

So last Christmas day, we went with the other young couple who first went there to visit.  It is very far.  You know the liberty we have, it is a very wonderful thing, peace within our hearts, freedom with my brother, freedom with God, it is very precious.  You know those boys, young men, they are allowed one hour a month visiting time.  If they make a phone call during the month, it is part of their visiting hour.  When Debbie and I went there, we asked God to give us something to say to these men.  We only had 20 minutes to speak to them, to each boy in a small little box.  The guards are watching us, and they are listening.  You are not allowed to carry anything in.  I said, "What shall I say to help them?"  It touched me to see these three men who are longing to hear because they are in solitary confinement.  Our conversation was very different that day.  We returned home where we were staying. 

That day, there was a marathon run that was run by many, so we saw lots of different people running.  This race starts in Durban and it goes to the town of Peter Maritzburg, 90 kms.  It is far and there are hills and valleys, it is a difficult race.  We also are in a race.  We are many, all different but we are all encouraging one another in the race to keep going.  This race is called the Comrades Race.  It means that we all go together and we all help each other.  That race, it started at sunrise and finishes at sunset.  We also are in a race.  We only have one day, perhaps a few more years to run. 

There was one lady who fell.  Many shouted at her, "Go, run, go run!"  We also have many who encourage us to keep going and they strengthen us.  We went to the end of the race that day.  We saw many who got to the finish line.  Some were crawling.  One woman fell near to the end of the line, and she wasn’t able to get up.  Others shouted, "Get up, get up!"  Her legs refused.  People cried out, "Get up!"  She just tried, and this touched me. 

Wonderful to see others who have almost finished their race.  It is so nice to see it, for there are those who see us and are praying for us so that we will finish and hear the words, "Well done.  You are a faithful servant."  Recently there was a memorial of a war between two nations.  They are seeking peace and unity between nations.  This memorial is to remember those who fought that others can be free.  It is called Remembrance Day.  We remember every day that our Saviour has set us free and we rejoice in our freedom today.