Somerset West resident Lauren Jacobs-Beukman was recently awarded the 2017 Desmond Tutu-Gerrit Brand Prize for the best Christian debut novel, Yehudit Chosen by God, her third novel, which was published in 2016.
The youngest person at 32 to ever receive the award, she accepted the prize at a ceremony at Kronenberg Estate outside Paarl on Friday May 5.
“The novel draws on the life of Yehudit or Judith, a woman whose stories are found in the apocryphal books of the Bible,” Ms Jacobs-Beukman told Bolander.
An author, journalist, speaker and gender equality activist in the area of abuse within faith communities, Ms Jacobs-Beukman is presently focusing on biblical and historical fiction about lesser known women whose stories show that women have fought wars, led armies, led nations and were change-makers and peacemakers.
“From a very young age, my heart was moved by the disempowerment and abuse which women experience every day,” Ms Jacob-Beukman said.
After school she pursued a degree in psychology and English, attained an Honours degree in criminology and trained as an HIV counsellor and trauma counsellor.
She has worked in the field of domestic violence, and through the stories of the women with which she worked, she has vowed to make a difference.
In 2009, Ms Jacobs and her husband, Timothy, started their own ministry teaching and preaching about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith, as well as working in communities where social justice issues are prevalent.
Ms Jacobs-Beukman also completed a Master’s degree in divinity and was ordained as a minister in 2013. Her Master’s thesis focused on the reality of abuse in the lives of affluent South African women.
“I am passionate about female education, gendercide and about human rights issues relating to women,” said Ms Jacobs-Beukman.
She is actively involved with a number of literacy and advocacy organisations working towards gender equality and the upliftment of women globally.
“I want to tell other young people, especially women, that our lives matter, that we can achieve our dreams through hard work and that we need to make our voices heard,” she said.
“It is in my heart to teach others in the faith community of the church, that we need to rethink theology and include women in it.”
Ms Jacobs-Beukman recently completed a film script for a faith-based film, set for release next year, and she is currently working on her next book.
An international speaker who regularly teaches at conferences, on radio and across different platforms, Ms Jacobs-Beukman may be contacted through her website, www.laurenjacobs.co.za