Here is the full background on Reverend Aaron Chilunjika and his journey:
In 1987, while Reverend Chilunjika was working for Scripture Union as Area Travelling Secretary, he began to notice the growing number of children on the street. He began talking with the children to understand their background, the reason they were on the street, their aspirations, etc. As his conviction grew, he began thinking of ways that he could help. Knowing the background of the creation of Scripture Union, he approached the organization about his convictions of working with children on the street hoping that Scripture Union might start a ministry to the children. Zambia was in the midst of an economic crisis and Scripture Union did not feel comfortable expanding their ministry in a time of restricted giving so they suggested that Reverend Chilunjika consider starting his own organization.
At the time, Reverend Chilunjika didn’t think he should be starting an organization for that purpose and attempted to partner with existing organizations but they wanted to separate religion from their social work. After a period of reflection and talking with various senior leaders in Christian organizations in Zambia, Rev. Chilunjika was encouraged to start working with children on the street. At this time, he faced two challenges, first was lack of funds and the second was that, at the time, the government was not allowing any new organizations to be registered. He went on a retreat to consider this need and secretly hoped that the mantle would be given to another person but at the end of the time he had a strong conviction that this is what God wanted him to do. So, in May/June 1991, Rev. Chilunjika worked with friends to draw up the articles of association. At the time, none of them had any experience with such endeavors but they worked diligently and by September they had completed the constitution and were ready to submit the forms to the government. The new organization had three goals… The first was to work with rural churches on outreach with a special emphasis on children. Second was to raise support for the vulnerable people, especially children and lastly, to work among the vulnerable children.
In 1991, after drawing up the articles, they went to submit their application with the Registrar of Societies. Of course, they knew what the answer was going to be but they were trusting God to open a door allowing them to be registered. They were informed that there was a ban on new Christian organizations but they accepted the paperwork they provided. Shortly thereafter the socialist government lost the election to a new party which was favorable to Christianity. After many months of working with the new government, a sympathetic government Minister helped encourage the Registrar of Societies to provide them a letter of authorization to operate. In 1994 the government repealed the law banning registration of new church organizations. At this point Full Proof Mission was granted their certificate of registration. The Scripture Union provided space for Full Proof Mission for four years. This office was used for the work with the children providing literacy, meals, devotions, etc. A local basic school allowed the organization to use their property for games on the weekends. Youth with a Mission also provided use of their facility for special activities each month.
All this time our work also included rural outreach and resulted in the planting of six churches in the Northern Province and one in the southern province. We also had opportunities to work with churches on establishing ministries for children. During this time we also participated in conferences of different churches in the country. We still are passionate in working with churches in establishing these ministries.
For a number of years we used the Scripture Union office but other tenants in the building were uncomfortable with the children and we were forced to leave the office. For a time we worked with the children under trees in the city as the city was not as large as it now has become. During this time, Youth with a Mission provided facilities for sports, bathing, etc at their facility. Finally in 2003, we got our first drop-in center with the help of the Mennonite Central Committee. Here we were able to do many other activities and introduced the ability to wash clothes and bathe and regular bible studies with the children. It was during this time that we had our first children reintegrated back into their families. We had one boy who was reintegrated with his family in Livingstone and a girl with her family in George compound. We were pleased that before reintegrating these children they had professed faith in Jesus. We have found that most children that professed faith in Jesus had a dramatic turnaround in their life. Also during this period we have many helpful suggestions from the children and many of the things we do now have resulted from these suggestions, such as placing the children in regular schools and providing a shelter for those who could not be reintegrated. It was also a time where a sense of community developed amongst the children where the older children would look out for the needs of the younger.
Again in 2004, the other tenants prevailed upon the landlord to evict the organization as they did not like children of the street being around. With the help of Action Zambia we were able to find a new location for the center. At this time, we had long term care and the drop-in center both operating from the same location. In 2006, we received word that one of the boys we had reintegrated with an uncle was being abused and the social welfare officer recommended that we enroll him in a boarding school. This began a service that we continue to provide for children who are not able to be reintegrated with their families. With the support of a donor through the Mennonite Central Committee, we have sent several more children. By this time, our core programs had been established. We were caring for children on the street through the drop-in center, we had initiated a reintegration program and a shelter for children who were not reintegrated which included boarding school.
Based upon our experience reintegrating children, we found that many families were struggling to provide adequately for the children. We found families were unable to provide for the integrated child and others in the household also at risk of coming to the street. In 2008, we started a prevention program aimed at helping households generate sufficient income to care for the children. During these years we had to increase staff in order to meet the needs of the children. We grew from three workers to seven and, of course, a large contribution from volunteers.
Again at the end of 2008, the landlord sold the property and we were forced to find a new location in Makeni for the long term shelter. In 2009, we found another place nearby in Luangwa compound on Manchinchi Road for the drop in center but after one year, the property was sold again. God was gracious especially in terms of volunteers. We had doctors and nurses and other professionals who volunteered. The number of children also swelled during this period from the original 10 to now having nearly 60 children each day. In June 2010, we found another place for the drop-in center in Northmead, off Makishi Road at 27 Mungulube Road.