It's where I've dreamed of living since I was a young girl. I'm one of those weirdos that thought living in a hut sounded awesome!
I've mourned the fact that I don't live there but have embraced the life that God has given me. However, the love I have for the people hasn't gone away. It still wouldn't take much for my husband to convince me we should sell everything and head there. Or to adopt a little one from there. But for now, that's not the plan, yet my heart burns with a passion to do something.
There are SO many excellent efforts taking place in Africa to help those who desperately need physical and spiritual help. There are excellent opportunities to invest your money in orphans, widows, young children's education, clean water, and AIDS relief... just to name a few.
But there's one ministry opportunity that is a little different than those I've seen before. Something that may have a bigger impact and fill a bigger need than the relief efforts that I see so many of.
I know. BORING! And it doesn't pull at the heart strings much, does it? I prayed and contemplated over this very fact for a long time as I chose this new aspect of ministry that When You Rise was going to pursue.
Think about this...
Relief efforts have been going on for decades in Africa. In some areas improvement has been noted, but many of the problems that have plagued the continent for years, still plague it today.
Many have suggested education as an answer, but here is why it hasn't been all that effective to this point:
1. Lack of opportunity. There just aren't that many colleges available. In the state of Pennsylvania there are 65 four-year higher education programs that are state-funded (this doesn't included the private institutes that put that number closer to 200!). Zambia has 3 for about the same population...
2. Lack of funds. Hello! College is ridiculously expensive and most of Africa isn't exactly known for being wealthy!
3. Lack of education. Even completing secondary school (similar to American high school) may not leave one prepared for the college level depending on the place you went to school.
4. Lack of a biblical worldview. We all know that improvement in any economy and culture outside of Christ is really no improvement at all. These hardships and heartaches are surface level. The gospel is the true need of all Africans and every human being on the face of the planet.
So, how can this be resolved?
Enter: African Christian University. A new higher-education "dream in the works" to be built in Zambia.
What about this school could make the difference?
1. An opportunity. One more school in the area to provide higher education.
2. Student work program. This set up is incredible! It provides students with an affordable education in exchange for their work on campus in order to keep the university going. This also allows students who need financial help to get it, helps the ACU with long-term sustainability and provides an opportunity for students to put into practice what they are learning (change of heart and mind + serving and living it out). Some of the board member for the ACU actually came and got some information and got to see this system in action at a college very near to me. The program works beautifully and the school in my area is thriving!
3. A "preparatory year." For those who still need a little more teaching to be prepared for the college level, there is going to be a "preparatory year" to help fill the gap between secondary school and college. (AND even if they only attend the ACU for this one year, they study the gospel as part of their curriculum and have an incredible opportunity to hear and understand the gospel all year long.)
4. A biblical worldview. This final element is the most critical in my opinion. Though there will be some who come for just a year (the preparatory year), some who come for a 4 year education in other vocational callings of the humanities or sciences and some who come to earn a degree in theology, every student who enters this school will be exposed to the gospel and a biblical worldview.
After speaking with leadership from the ACU and finding out more about what it is all about, I am more and more convinced that this endeavor could help facilitate the lasting change that is so desperately needed in this area of the world.
Change from within. Change in the leadership, goals and approach could be the game changer this broken place needs. Tomorrow I will introduce a fun way you can get involved in helping this university come to fruition. I'm giddy with delight about jumping on board with this project and hope you will join me!
Note: As with any project where you are potentially investing your hard-earned money, it's nice to know that it's "legit" before you sign on. I feel very comfortable putting forth great effort with the project based on my experience so far.
You might be interested to know that there are a couple of "big names" behind the project including board member Tedd Tripp (author of Shepherding a Child's Heart - part of our giveaway!) and Conrad Mbewe, long-time pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia and has his hands in many other projects.
|ACU Founders from left to right: Conrad Mbewe, Ronald Kalifungwa, Ken Turnbull|
My church has also been on board with this project for the last couple of years. I have personally been in contact with Ken Turnbull, another member of the board, and have full confidence in the integrity of this ministry. Hope that helps for anyone who is new to the African Christian University!