Reg Cowie – Tribute
Our dear friend and co-worker Reg Cowie was taken from us on Tuesday 8 December in a tragic car accident. He was on the way to our year-end function that was supposed to be celebrating what God has done in Hope Prison Ministry for 2015. He cannot be replaced.
Reg and his wife Nancy have been a vibrant part of our community for many years, and his loss does not weaken the power of his legacy—a life and ministry fashioned from many strong choices. The day after Reg’s death, I met with a group of juvenile prisoners in a centre where Reg had worked for eight years. Some inmates were angry and others were crying. Soon I was crying as well. We spoke about the choices Reg had made, and how they can be an inspiration and a challenge for us.
Choice. His father was South African, but chose to move to America. However, Reg would proudly say: “I was born American, but I choose to be South African.” He decided he would live in South Africa until he died. We cannot choose how we die, only where we are standing. Reg chose to take ownership of a community that he loved. He chose his country, his ministry and his friends, and he chose well. Even the hardest prison gangster holds the secret fear of dying alone and forgotten. Reg’s death—and the celebration of his life—was a challenge to these young men. Choose to stand for something eternal, and not even death can shake the power of your example.
Choice. Reg did not have biological children, but Reg chose to be a father. I will always remember him praying over a group of prisoners and weeping as he claimed them as his children. There is a fatherless generation of young men in South Africa’s prisons, and these were Reg’s sons. He was faithful—there are prisoners that he worked with for many years, even after their release. Many of the young prisoners we serve already have children on the outside, but they are not acting as fathers. As we remembered Reg together in Drakenstein prison, the students were challenged to make the choice for fatherhood.
We celebrate. We cry. We remember. Reg Cowie was a unique part of Hope Prison Ministry and all of our lives. We will continue his work with inmates and with correctional officers. We go forward with confidence that God has welcomed Reg into His perfect, eternal love. The imperfect love that Reg courageously chose to offer so many during his short time with us is now made perfect. Let us each choose to honour Reg’s life by loving so well.
Reflection by Andrew May, Operations Director
Please visit this site in the coming days for details concerning the memorial service and testimonies about his life and ministry.