A Slice of Heaven
11 Sep 2017
Peter and Jill live and serve on an island in Fiji, a popular holiday destination. But away from the resorts, the harsh reality of life in Fiji is complex, and often spiritually dark. The Fijians that Peter and Jill are called to serve are not on the beaches, in the markets, or even in the many churches. They serve the inmates of seven of Fiji’s prisons.About nine years ago, Peter wrote a curriculum called “Step Out, Step Free”, a two to three week course for men serving a prison sentence. The course takes them on a self-confronting journey, looking at who they have been, and how they came to be in prison. They identify key events and decisions that took their lives off course. They deal with past sin, learning about forgiveness and repentance. They also look forward, preparing for when they are released from prison and will face all the same friends and temptations they had before. As part of the course, the gospel is openly shared and there is opportunity for prisoners to make peace with God, and give their lives to him.
So how do slices and cakes fit into this ministry? Knowing that food is a such an important part of relationship and culture in Fiji, Peter decided when he trialed the first classes to stop for a morning tea break each day, and to bring in food from outside, food that the men might be missing. And so, it began. Jill provided home-baked food every day for the duration of that first course. Now, many years later, with Step-Out, Step-Free courses running in seven prisons, Jill is still providing morning tea each day of each course for up to 24 prisoners, plus the ministry team, not to mention the guards who like to pop their heads in right at morning tea time. That is a lot of Fijian men, and a lot of baking!
Why go to such an effort? Why not just take in a couple of packets of biscuits? Relationship is the key. When you visit a family in Fiji, you always take food. It is an essential part of talking and fellowshipping. In the Step-Out Step-Free classes, the material is heavy going, and quite deep. During morning tea, Peter and the others in the team are always about, available for the men to come up to them and say, “can you pray for me about what we talked about this morning” or to ask questions they are too shy to ask in the group.
There is something very personal about food that has been specially baked for them. It creates an environment of warmth and acceptance. The morning teas have even become a drawcard. In every prison, there is a waiting list for men wanting to do ‘Step Out, Step Free’ classes.
Jill is not only investing her time and skills in baking for the men’s classes. Jill ministers in a women’s prison, particularly focusing on the women serving life sentences. She has run a special trauma healing class with 15 of these women, seeing incredible transformation in many of their lives, something that only God could do. Does Jill take slices to the women’s courses? You bet your chocolate iced, biscuit base she does!
Chocolate Weetbix Slice
(A favourite with Fiji inmates)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup desiccated coconut
3 Weetbix, crushed
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa
Preheat oven to 180◦
Melt butter and add vanilla
Combine dry ingredients together in a bowl
Pour in butter and mix well
Press mixture into a lined slice tray
Bake at 180◦ for 15 minutes, or until firm
Allow to cool, then ice with chocolate icing
Sprinkle with coconut or sprinkles
Cut into squares and store in an airtight container
In a small saucepan mix:
2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons water
Heat, stirring, until warm
Pour and spread over slice