When you hear the story of Northrise University, you hear a story of gratitude for God’s faithfulness, and a clear recognition that with God, anything is possible.
“To God be the glory,” Dr. Moffat Zimba said repeatedly as he spoke to a group at Grace Fellowship Church recently about God’s faithful guidance and provision in bringing a dream to reality in the form of the first private university in Zambia.
According to its mission statement, “Northrise University is a Christ-centered educational institution dedicated to equipping men and women to work in ministry and business to contribute to the spiritual and economic transformation of Zambia.”
School doors opened in 2004 and the first classes were taught by Moffat and his wife, Doreen; both were born in Zambia, and both suffered from the lack of educational opportunities for high school graduates that still characterizes their country.
Moffat learned to read and write in the sand in hopes that he might have a chance for a better life. His father was a farmer but died from a cobra bite while working the garden.
Doreen was raised in the city, but also faced the fact that only one in twenty qualified high school graduates attends university due to lack of space or inability to afford tuition. The lack of opportunities for higher education has left many Zambians stuck in poverty.
Moffat and Doreen felt God called them to start a university in Zambia as a way to restore hope for their nation. They first attended a Bible college in Australia, and then went to Southern California where Moffat received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary and Doreen received her MBA in technology management from the University of Phoenix.
Moffat joined the pastoral staff at Grace Fellowship Church, and enjoyed a growing ministry in Orange County, but they were faithful to God’s call, and returned home to do their part to help transform Zambia.
Zambia, a nation roughly the size of Texas, is landlocked in the heart of Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 82 percent of the country’s 13.9 million people live on less than $2 a day (per capita income is $1,500), making it one of the poorest countries in the world. Presently 45 percent of the population is younger than 15.
“Northrise is a different ministry than so many others, “ explained Linda Patton, Newport resident and Northrise employee. “For one thing, Zambia is not in the news very much here in the U.S. so people may not know about the life-transforming work that is going on there. Moffat and Doreen are incredible, and I love their hearts. It’s truly been amazing to see what God has done in such a short time; and the future is going to be even greater because there is so much potential.”
Northrise University Initiative, a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation, was established in 2001 to support Northrise University in Zambia. It allows donors to sponsor students, as most Zambians cannot afford full tuition and enough food for a day on their own. Giving what seems like a small amount to us can make a life-changing difference to young Zambian students’ education and therefore their future.
Moffat began the evening by thanking God and thanking those in the audience, many of whom have not only been faithful supporters, but have also traveled to and offered their different skills and expertise to the growing University in Zambia.
“I can only see it as God’s hand moving in your lives, helping us get where we are,” Moffat said. “God has been at work and He has been gracious. We serve a great God.”
Moffat said that currently there are 358 students and NU offers 11 undergraduate programs, 1 postgraduate program and 2 online programs. In its eight years of operation, the university has graduated more than 100 students; each one is employed in his or her area of study and some graduates are now working at the University. Northrise has begun partnerships with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, Dordt College in Iowa, and universities in Shanghai and the Netherlands.
Additionally there are a newly built medical clinic, a faculty duplex under construction, water wells and reservoir, and Northrise Farms, all important pieces to reaching the University’s goal of self-sustainability.
“We have bananas, chickens, and cows which provide food for the students, food for the community and revenue for the University,” Moffat explained. “We thank God for all He has given us. We want to exhibit Christ in our teaching, and empower Zambia, one student at a time.”
For more information, go to www.northrise.org.