Peter and Vivian Jenkins are a Zimbabwean–born couple who have spent the last thirty years serving the Lord in their own native land, and in neighbouring Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Married in 1976, at Victoria Falls, on the banks of the Zambezi River, Peter worked for five years in the mining industry as an extractive metallurgist, while Vivian has always been a passionate junior school teacher. In 1980 they took time out to spend two years at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas, before returning to Zimbabwe in 1982.
Leaving the mining industry behind, Peter started working as an assistant pastor in a local church in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Vivian returned to teaching and was the major breadwinner, which says a lot as teachers were notoriously badly paid in those days! Zimbabwe had only just come into existence, following the civil war that saw the end of white-ruled Rhodesia. In those unsettled times there were huge needs – and opportunities – in Zimbabwe.
With Vivian’s passion for education, one of the first projects the Lord opened up was the establishment of a Christian School in Gweru, which has been a major focus ever since. Getting permission to open this school was a process that took a year, and in the beginning there were fewer than thirty pupils – meeting for classes in converted stables on a small plot of land on the outskirts of the city. Since then, a junior school of 400 students has been built, as well as a high school of nearly 600, and a teacher training college that has graduated nearly 200 qualified teachers to date. Vivian had a very hands-on role in the schools, while Peter was involved in the development program.
At the same time, there was a clear need for training of pastors in the network of churches that Peter was involved with. As a result Peter and some of the team of leaders in Gweru established a Bible College and also ran in-service seminars for local church leaders. They also responded to needs in neighbouring Zambia.
Initial progress was very encouraging, but it soon became clear that the financial constraints on these growing ministry ventures would severely limit further development. As a result Peter visited the States in 1986, and through a series of amazing “coincidences” met up with the late Doug Kiesewetter, who introduced him to a number of very generous folk associated with the Christian Community Foundation. Some of these, including Doug Kiesewetter (II) have become lifelong friends and supporters of the work the Jenkins are doing in Africa.
The details of what the Lord has done over the last thirty years would take much time to relate, but the bottom line is that God put together a partnership across continents using special folk in the States to back the team working in different nations (now including also Congo and Mozambique) through financial and prayer support – and some memorable visits from both sides! In brief thousands of Bible College students have been trained many church buildings have been roofed; pastors have been housed and some have received bicycles and even some pick-ups, while others have received help with agricultural inputs to start self-help projects; the teacher training program has been largely funded through Waterstone, as has the purchase of three used Yellow School Buses.
The ripple effect of faithful giving through Waterstone has literally touched and improved thousands of people’s lives, and helped to raise a new generation, in three different African nations, that will be better positioned to make an impact in these countries and beyond. May the Lord bless each one who has given and those who have faithfully stewarded these resources!
13 June, 2012