Zambia. Soccer. And Bono.
Not the first three things you might pair in the name of justice, but for Chip Huber, Cornerstone’s director of athletics and associate vice president for student development, the three are inseparable from the call God has placed in his heart to seek justice.
Let’s start with Bono.
It was 2002 on the campus of Wheaton College when Bono spoke to the HIV crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. Chip remembers that scene vividly: standing out in the audience as Bono wondered aloud about what Jesus would do with the crisis.
“I think Jesus would care!” Bono said.
In that moment, Chip knew: he cared.
For Chip, World Vision would offer a vehicle for connecting him and some other Wheaton friends with God’s global narrative of justice.
Through this work, Chip discovered a heart for Zambia:
“I fell in love with the community where I was working in Zambia. All of it—the people, culture, hospitality. Even our shared love for soccer became a deep connection point.”
Zambia’s people wove love and blessing into Chip’s soul. It’s a bond he cannot shake.
As Chip came awake to the HIV crisis and started working with World Vision, another Wheaton graduate started bringing real and measurable change to Zambia. Lawrence Temfwe saw the needs in his community and believed the church was the answer. Returning home to Zambia in 1999 with his master’s in missions and intercultural studies, Lawrence founded the Jubilee Centre—an organization not only responding to HIV and malaria but also training thousands of local church leaders and pastors, setting up successful micro-finance systems and bringing care to orphans. A holistic NGO and think tank, the Jubilee Centre brought a wide range of services to Ndola and Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. Over time, the Jubilee Centre came to partner with over 200 different Zambian organizations—serving as both salt and light for Zambia’s people.
Lawrence and Chip wouldn’t cross paths until Chip took his position at Cornerstone University. It was then, during one of Lawrence’s visits to the United States, that the two connected over a longing for justice in Zambia and a longing to empower college students to see and support such justice.
So CU’s partnership with the Jubilee Centre was born.
In Chip’s words, the partnership serves as a learning experience for CU students. Their short-term trips to Zambia expose them to the creativity, resources, networking and faith of the Jubilee Centre team in action. Through these experiences, CU students learn about the culture and needs of the Zambian people as well as the impact of the Zambian church.
Oftentimes, the Jubilee Centre will pair CU students with initiatives that match their degree interests: business, athletics, leadership development, healthcare. In these specific learning environments, students meet, learn under and collaborate with Zambian partners and church leaders, discovering all that they can accomplish when the body of Christ comes together.
When you ask Chip about justice and the Jubilee Centre, the two are clearly intertwined. To Chip, justice is a relatively simple idea, but a powerful one:
“God’s heart is for justice. Part of that justice is recognizing that every person is made in the image of God and therefore is to be treated with dignity, respect and access to a flourishing life. God has designed each of us to experience shalom. Justice is our work toward everyone systemically experiencing that shalom.”
In the case of the Jubilee Centre, bringing shalom means responding to those who have been made victims: widows, orphans and people whose circumstances have limited their access to necessary resources like healthcare, clean water and a pathway out of poverty. And in Chip’s mind, it’s not enough to simply experience that injustice during one of the short-term vision trips CU students take. Justice requires letting those experiences shape you forever.
That’s part of the inspiration behind Night of Nets, a fundraiser combining athletics with justice for Zambia. Started by CU athletes who met a Zambian family who had lost a young child because they couldn’t afford a bed net, Night of Nets takes proceeds from a CU soccer game each year and donates them to the Jubilee Centre. These funds then support bed nets that protect other families from malaria.
Designed to serve as a tangible opportunity for students to stay involved in the work of the Jubilee Centre, Night of Nets now garners campus-wide participation and has inspired 60 other university and high school campuses to participate, generating funds for 7,000 nets in 2017 and over 30,000 nets since the initiative began.
Chip believes this kind of involvement and the potential for semester-long internships with the Jubilee Centre offer Cornerstone students a rare opportunity to embrace the “true religion” James writes about in his epistle: extending care to widows and orphans (James 1:27):
“One of the comments that regularly rings true for students on these trips is that the way their Zambian friends live out faith both challenges and encourages them to live out their own faith in their care for others as they get back home. Students realize that their faith has matured and grown because of the Zambian church and the way those people love.”
For Chip, it’s a bit like being Bono as he watches a whole new generation of college students come alive to global need and the call of the global church to meet that need.