Joybelle's Story - It could have been a hopeless case – but it wasn’t

Joybelle's Story - It could have been a hopeless case – but it wasn’t

We’ll never know exactly whose donations funded the Alpha course that changed Joybelle September’s life.  But the generosity of those donors did a powerful and wonderful thing.

This is Joybelle’s story.

            “I was 3 when my parents were divorced, and because my mother was a domestic worker, I ended up being shuttled between two aunts as I grew up.  Although I never went hungry, I was empty inside.  The ‘never belonging’ made me very rebellious. I started smoking, ran away, and got involved with a boyfriend.

            “My teenage life became a blur of being sent to a place of safety, naively not believing that I could be pregnant with twins, time spent in an industrial school, and three more pregnancies.  As I hadn’t been ‘mothered’, I also couldn’t ‘mother’. Alcohol and marijuana became my escape.

            “No job lasted very long, and my drug taking moved from marijuana to mandrax.  Needing money to feed my habit, I joined a shoplifting syndicate working from the Cape to Johannesburg and back.  The thrill and the risks were equal, but the money never lasted very long, and for 15 years I was in and out of prison.

            “Then I got caught on an old case and was sentenced to six years in Pollsmoor.  I angrily and accusingly questioned God on ‘why must I got to prison’ when all I was doing was looking after my kids.

            “In those days, going to church in prison was compulsory. And a girl in for fraud invited me to a Bible study.  I only went to get her off my back, but it was there that I met two ladies who fascinated me because they looked so free.

            “During the third week, one of these ladies started to run an Alpha course.  I signed up because I wanted what they had, and also needed credentials to get out of prison.  Halfway through the course, I committed myself to God.  Finally seeing my life clearly, and how I’d hurt people, I went on a restorative justice programme in the prison. Seeing the damage I’d done, I had to ask forgiveness from all those I’d hurt.

            “When I finally got out of prison, my shoplifting friends kept calling me to work with them again, but I didn’t succumb. God sent me people to support the little sewing business I started, and the temptation got less and less.

            “Because I know the rejection and challenges they face, I also joined Hope Prison Ministries to support ex-offenders.

            “I knew my change was genuine, but it took eight years for my family to believe in me and trust me again.  We’re now reunited, and my mother, my children, and my grandchildren are my joy. I thank Alpha, and I thank God for where He has taken me.”

In 2017 over 3 000 inmates attended Alpha in a South African prison in five provinces across South Africa. This work is a high Alpha priority in transforming lives.

Alpha is also free to all churches, and to all those who join the course – but it takes money to provide this life-changing gift.

You have the power to change the lives of individuals, even whole communities.  So please will you use your power right now to make your online donation by clicking here –  to help change more lives? Thank you.

Joybelle with grandchildren Leon, Cindy, Rubi and Nikah. | PHOTO: Tonya Hester

Joybelle with grandchildren Leon, Cindy, Rubi and Nikah. | PHOTO: Tonya Hester

Find an Alpha near you

Try Alpha

Find out more about Alpha

Learn more