In 1999 Lawrence and Martha Temfwe founded the Jubilee Centre in Zambia. The center empowers and trains churches in under-resourced communities to give integral care to all people — especially orphans and vulnerable children — and bring change to their communities. Currently, they are serving over 94 churches and have a staff of 13 people.
Zambia has a great need for community-based orphan care. “Zambia has a long road ahead,” says Lawrence Temfwe. In this country, over 1,700,000 are orphans and vulnerable children, which is 12 percent of the population, and nearly another two million are considered vulnerable.
Orphans and vulnerable children face many difficulties in Zambia that leave them more at risk of poverty, HIV and AIDS, untreated trauma, and cultural biases. All of these affect social stigmatization and the children’s education, as many are unable to stay in school due to lack of support, funding, and short attention spans rooted in hunger or untreated anxiety and depression.
Church Partnership at the Local Level
The Jubilee Centre and its network of churches give children hope for a better future through spiritual transformation and advocacy programs. These local solutions help communities address their own needs. The Jubilee Centre is partnering with local, urban, under-resourced churches around Zambia to create long-term partnerships for long-lasting change and sustainability.
They encourage churches to train children’s ministry leaders in providing space for safe and meaningful child participation and integrating children into the church and community life. They also conduct trainings for guardians on how to effectively integrate orphans into their families. They have trained over 90 church leaders in psychosocial and biblical counseling so they are in a position to help children who have suffered the loss of parents and homes and other economic pains. They help children begin the long journey toward wholeness. Lastly, the Jubilee Centre supports the churches and communities in advocating at the government level to seek legislative changes that would benefit and protect children.
Church Partnership at the Global Level
The Jubilee Centre has also formed a long-term partnership with a state-side church. Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) in Edina, Minnesota, resonated with the Jubilee Centre’s strong vision, and the organizations’ relationship began in 2008. “Our partnership with CPC,” says Temfwe, “has enhanced our commitment to proactively engage under-resourced churches in urban, under-served communities to address the spiritual, mental, social, and physical issues that inhibit self-sustaining and systemic changes.”
Through the years, CPC and the Jubilee Centre have connected in many ways — including trips to Zambia and Minnesota, financial commitments to support Zambian programs, and long conversations and discussions about partnership and global leadership. Both organizations have learned a great deal over the years about what it means to be in a partnership — and many of the important aspects go beyond financial contributions or helping in tangible ways.
“Showing up physically was a value that I didn’t initially consider,” says Barb Harmon, a member of CPC who has participated in numerous trips to the Jubilee Centre. “Most people think going on a trip means something needs to be accomplished — a house built, or something done — but there first has to be a mutual relationship and trust built. Having a relationship means having a connection.”
Journeys of Faith, a primary publication from Faith to Action, highlights this kind of mutual trust. “By partnering directly with local efforts, churches abroad can provide needed prayer, resources, and service.… [T]hese partnerships are most successful when they are part of a long-term relationship based on mutual respect and trust, with a clear appreciation for the leadership role of the local church in overseeing and determining the course of the ministry.” Over the years, groups from CPC have sat with the leadership at the Jubilee Centre to talk through what partnership looks like and how each can help the other. The time invested has strengthened the relationship between the two organizations and has helped to establish a long-term, sustainable partnership.
In all aspects of the partnership between CPC and the Jubilee Centre, there remains an emphasis on the local leadership to effect change in the Zambian communities. “CPC is sensitive to the fact that it does not want to do for the under-resourced churches what they can be empowered to do for themselves,” says Temfwe. CPC respects the movement of God that is already happening through the Jubilee Centre and its network of local churches, and it seeks to simply come alongside and support.
Temfwe’s vision is for the local church to change the future of the next generation by supporting orphans and vulnerable children. He is excited to have other churches come alongside this vision. Their partnership with CPC has a long view, seeking community transformations led by local church leadership. The Jubilee Centre also partners with Willow Creek and Ridgepoint Community Church. Through the Jubilee Centre’s partnership with CPC and other churches like it, families and communities are experiencing deeper hope and change for the next generation of Zambians.