Trusting Africans to contextualize their own solutions

By Laura Gossman

Editor’s Note: Many of the Praxis organizations that have been profiled in recent months are either based internationally with nationals and westerners leading the enterprise or have headquarters in the US, with national leadership abroad, or some combination of both. To continue with our international partnership series, I interviewed Remmy Hamapande, Africa Director of Forgotten Voices. For more information on the organization’s start-up story, read here. To consider some of the research that has been done on partnerships like these read here. Below, Remmy reflects on both the strengths and challenges he has had throughout his experience with American partners.

Remmy Hamapande is thrilled to use his previous business experience in risk assessment for Barclay’s Bank, as well as his theological training in Zambia through the Theological College of Central Africa (TCCA), to help Forgotten Voices navigate several exciting developments. He currently serves as the Africa Director, overseeing the organization’s work across Zimbabwe and Zambia. He also serves as Zambia Director.

Remmy Hamapande, Africa/Zambia Director for Forgotten Voices.

Remmy Hamapande, Africa/Zambia Director for Forgotten Voices.

His role in the organization is to coordinate the ministry work with the local church partners on the ground. He also consolidates their relationship with the seminary network of graduates they partner with, from where they identify the local church leaders to partner with. The organization has grown in its partnership with local church orphan care ministries to include not only sending orphans back to school, but also building capacity through sustainable projects and supporting trainings and workshops in collaboration with other local professional Christian organizations.

Remmy confidently shared that the US partnership is based on mutual interests in supporting children orphaned by HIV and AIDS, and their caregivers through the local church’s ministry in surrounding communities. This support involves education and locally planned sustainable projects.

“In the early 1900s, there were nine million Christians in Africa and now we have over 540 million. This shows how much the church in Africa has grown. Ryan Keith, the founder of Forgotten Voices, has recognized this transformation. Together, our team at Forgotten Voices is harnessing the potential of the local leadership by innovating orphan care through the local church. The American church and ministries are privileged in that they do have financial resources, and now the African church has the human resource to initiate programs that can help,” reflected Remmy.

Remmy Hamapande (front), takes notes as Pastor Sarah Fundulu talks with volunteer orphan caregivers within the Zambia Baptist Association network in Ndola, Zambia.

Remmy Hamapande (front), takes notes as Pastor Sarah Fundulu talks with volunteer orphan caregivers within the Zambia Baptist Association network in Ndola, Zambia.

At its core, his partnership with American leadership comes from friendship. He and Ryan Keith, the founder, share a common desire to each play the roles God has equipped them to play. Remmy states, “like the relationship with the American church to Africa’s church, Ryan and I work together to help create a trustworthy relationship that allows Americans to help in a way that equips local churches in Africa.”

This most significant strength of this African-American relationship is that it gives the local churches leverage to determine their course of action in discovering contextual ways of addressing the challenges faced by orphans. “Americans prayed for the church in Africa to grow. Now it has, providing us with a tremendous opportunity to impact children more effectively than ever before if we partner well,” said Remmy.

Despite this strength, Remmy confessed that there are areas that could improve. “I sometimes feel that it is taking a long [time] to convince the American church that the African church has come of age and is capable of addressing most of the social and spiritual needs of its people.”  For Remmy, what they need most from the American church are resources that are given in such a way that allows locals to determine their course of action in addressing issues such as orphan care support.

Vincent, pastor of Ndeke ECZ, a Forgotten Voices' Zambia partner, chats with Denis Keith about leadership differences internationally and how the Church can partner more effectively across oceans. Denis is Ryan's dad and is pastor at North River Community Church outside, Boston, MA that supports Forgotten Voices and a leadership coach.

Vincent, pastor of Ndeke ECZ, a Forgotten Voices’ Zambia partner, chats with Denis Keith about leadership differences internationally and how the Church can partner more effectively across oceans. Denis is Ryan Keith’s dad and is the pastor at North River Community Church outside, Boston, MA that supports Forgotten Voices, and is a leadership coach.

As Remmy considers the future of Forgotten Voices, he is hopeful that the US – African partnership will find ways of supporting local sustainability, through localized plans and continued financial resources in order to support orphans beyond high school education. He would like to see tertiary education and skills training opportunities more readily available and offered to successful students. Remmy proudly reflects, “through a ministry like Forgotten Voices, our talented network of carefully vetted pastors provides American churches with the expertise they require to make a significant impact on the orphan crisis, without taking away the God-given desire of the local church to meet the needs of its own people. It can work, and the future we long for is closer than we think if we all partner more effectively. That’s where Forgotten Voices can really help and it’s working.”

Remmy Hamapande, with a local pastor in Solwezi and Pastor Sarah Fundulu (red), Ryan Keith (red shirt), Royal Excellency Chief Mumena (with arm around Rob; a Christian chief in northwestern province of Zambia), and Rob Pepper (administrator at Messiah College) to look at the role of partnership across cultures, strengthened by our common faith in God.

Remmy Hamapande, with a local pastor in Solwezi and Pastor Sarah Fundulu (red), Ryan Keith (red shirt), Royal Excellency Chief Mumena (with arm around Rob; a Christian chief in northwestern province of Zambia), and Rob Pepper (administrator at Messiah College) gathered to discuss the role of partnership across cultures, strengthened by their common faith in God.

Many partnerships assume that the largest role Americans should play is providing various resources, especially financial when it comes to addressing local African need. What is often forgotten however, is the way in which these resources are handed over. If a trusting relationship and organizational model to channel these resources already exist, American leaders must take great care in entrusting local African leaders to contextualize the use of the resources. Even if certain projects aren’t as successful, the way in which an American partner responds can be just as empowering, if not more, than the financial provisions themselves.

Laura Gossman lives in Pasadena, California. She is the Director of Operations at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and a recent new mother to son Benjamin and wife of Adam Gossman. She received her M.A. in Cross Cultural Studies from Fuller in 2006.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. We would love to hear from you about people, businesses, or other organizations we can interview or feature. Please email the editor at Fieldnotes Magazine.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.