Preaching change

2018-10-23 06:01
Evangelist Chezron Fouten is now using his past to save young children from a life of gangsterism. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

Evangelist Chezron Fouten is now using his past to save young children from a life of gangsterism. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Before he hit puberty, he had already washed the blood of countless people from his hands.

Convicted of murder and gun possession at only 10 years old, he served 10 years in prison before deciding he wanted more from life.

“I was involved in gangsterism for 17 years, I started when I was seven years old. At that time I didn’t get the love I wanted from my mother and I did not grow up with a father. It was then that I started looking for friends and the friends I became involved with were gangsters. That is where it all started,” says Chezron Fouten.

“I was a hitman for the gang and I was good. I took out some of the top guys. The murder I was convicted of was the only one they caught me for. I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder and gun possession and when I was inside, I became a member of the 28s gang.”

He spent most of his prison term not thinking much about what he had done while on the outside. And even though he was still a child, he recalls being ruthless before being convicted.

“I ran around here with big guns. I was not a nice person, I was a terrible person. I did not think twice to come up to you and kill you. I was used on many occasions to take out many people,” he says.

“I used to give my mother a hard time too. I would run home with guns and they had to get out of my way. They knew I wouldn’t think twice to hurt them. My mother would wish I was dead for the way I was acting, or that I would die soon so that I could not be a burden­.”

His body covered in tattoos and riddled in healed bullet and stab wounds – is now a constant reminder of the life he has now left behind.

“While serving my eighth year in prison, I started to see that gangsterism and the friends I had were not worth it, not one of them visited me or supported my mother here on the outside,” he says.

“In my eighth year, I had an appointed time with God and I made a turn around. I was a high ranked officer of the 28s gang – a Captain six rank. I went to the leaders in prison to tell them that I did not want to be part of this anymore. I was asked if I was sure but they did not accept it. They said ‘there is only one way in and no gate out. When you are part of it, there is no turning away’. They wanted to kill me in prison, I had to fight for my life. But God made it possible for them to accept it,” Fouten says.

After serving most of his sentence at a facility suited to juveniles, he was transferred to an adult prison and for the last two years sent to a cellblock of prisoners who had been ‘saved’ and were now worshipers of God.

Released at 18, he is now an ordained Evangelist, continuing the work he started behind bars.

“I realised this is not what God wanted from my life and I am glad for the turn around, because if I did not, I would be dead now,” says Fouten. “I am living by His grace now and I know, before my time has come, I will achieve what I need to do for his work.”

There was little hope for Fouten, with residents having given up that he could reform. But today he is joining local ministers and organisations in spreading the message of change.

But he doesn’t want it to stop there. “I want to go around the Western Cape and preach to gangsters about what God can do for them. What he has done for me, he can do for them as well. Sin is sin in the eyes of God and nothing is impossible for Him,” he says.

He says youth getting involved in gangsterism from a young age is common place in Tafelsig and other parts of Mitchell’s Plain. This was confirmed by police recently, with children as young as six being involved with local gangs.

“The youth need me. I need to tell them what God can do. Here in Tafelsig, things are not going well but I am praying to God that he will change it. I believe he will change it. This task is a difficult task but He will come through for me. The youth need to hear it from someone like me. It is useless that someone who has not been through it, tells them what to do. They need to see someone who has gone through this, to see it can be done. I can tell them what it is to be a gangster, I can tell them what it is to be a number and I can tell them where that road ends.”

He has been at it for the past two years and now in his late 20s, he is carrying his mission forward, aiming to change one young life at a time. Not forgetting his past, he is moving forward, having completely transformed his life. “There was a time when I couldn’t walk here in Tafelsig, but God has made the impossible, possible. Today I can preach here,” he says.

“I was on my way to nowhere, now I am on my way somewhere. I can only thank God for that.”

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