ICBC and Teen Challenge were born out of a vision for change at the local level. Kevin Ward, a pastor in Swaziland, saw the need for effective change in his country. The problem of addiction and the problem of poverty have something in common…. they are a trap. They hold those affected with a grip, and for many, with no way out. With a heart for people caught in a snare, Pastor Kevin was determined to bring hope and opportunity.
Teen Challenge is a global ministry that offers rehabilitation for those affected by addiction. It is a year long residential program with emphasis on Christian living, life skills and counseling. Pastor Kevin knew that this program was a solution to the problem of addiction in Swaziland and thus Challenge Ministries was born.
Meanwhile, at the community level, the need was muti-faceted; there was obvious need for food, education, income, healthcare and basic services. Many foreign ministries have also identified this need, but Kevin had vision for something different. He saw the need for local leadership identifying local needs with local people. As Pastor Ward was moving toward a vision for change in Swaziland, an American pastor in Ohio was catching wind of this vision. The 2 men had never met. Living on 2 different continents, they could not be further apart, yet this vision for change at the community level was brewing in both of them.
Along with a handful of members from his own church, Christian Life Center in Dayton, Ohio, Pastor Stan Tharp came to Swaziland on a vision trip. The team prayed that the right opportunities would present themselves and the right people would come into view. Through a set of unplanned circumstances the 2 men met, the mutual vision was cast and thus the birth of the ICBC ministry.
There are a few things that are consistent with each new ICBC community:
- A pastor is identified
- The construction of a church, pastor’s home, and an orphan home or preschool
- Income generation projects are developed and training is offered
Many other projects and plans follow once the project is established, such as community gardens, animal husbandry, outreach ministries, and more, but all is done in partnership with local leaders. It is the conversation with these people that informs the direction of the ministry and areas of focus.
Like the spokes of a wheel, it is difficult to enter communities such as these and address only one area of need. To address the problem of education, one must address also the problem of nutrition, as children come to class hungry and malnourished. Working on the problem of the orphaned, trafficked, and at-risk youth can only truly be solved if the health of the adult community is strengthened and incomes can be generated, where adults are healthy and can provide for their children. The aim of the ICBC ministry is to address all of the issues in the community at once, bit-by-bit, raising the standard in every area, with the goal of a healthy, thriving, community where its members are served and Jesus is known.
The change that is happening through Challenge Ministries in Swaziland and now with Pure Nard Ministries in Zambia is measurable. It is palpable. People are breaking free from the grip of addiction and poverty. Leaders are leading, community members are participating, the health of the land and of the people are improving, children are being educated, and the community’s needs are being met, all as an outreach of the local church and to the Glory of God.