Teen Challenge Swaziland began in April 1997 as a drop-in centre and coffee shop in Mbabane called “The Lighthouse.” The coffee shop provided a place of refuge for those on the street. However, it soon became abundantly clear that feeding and clothing the children was simply not enough.
We were then introduced to one of the most successful residential rehabilitation programs in the world; Teen Challenge USA (now Global Teen Challenge). Teen Challenge USA was founded by Pastor David Wilkerson, author of “The Cross and the Switchblade” and spread around the world. We were encouraged to visit Teen Challenge UK to research their principles and learn God’s way of working with hurting youth. We brought home these principles to apply to our Lighthouse program and in the process; Teen Challenge Swaziland (now Challenge Ministries Swaziland) was born, with the blessings and the encouragement of Rev. Don Wilkerson.
The Lighthouse program had already begun as a residential program for youth with life controlling habits, in a caravan in Johnston Street, Mbabane. It grew into 12 stick and mud huts and finally into the current structure at Emafini, as Teen Challenge Swaziland Discipleship centre, built primarily by the staff and students of Teen Challenge Swaziland.
Despite the success in ministering to the needs of men and women in the residential treatment facilities, the impact of AIDS and the orphan pandemic impacted our daily lives as we came face to face with the consequences of HIV and AIDS in the lives of the students and their children.
The Ministry of Health, through their social welfare office, began bringing to us children abandoned due to the death of their parents from HIV and AIDS. To address this need, “The Ark” was launched in Mbabane. This new home in Mbabane of three bedrooms provided beds for abandoned and abused children referred to us by social welfare. Many of these children were HIV positive.
In 2001, we were donated a housing complex of four houses in Ezulwini which we rapidly grew out of. In 2004 we were able to move the children’s homes onto Hawane Farm, a 15-hectare farm, purchased with the help of Teen Challenge UK, where we expanded to meet the growing need, building homes, and creating ‘families’ for the children.
The need intensified for a life skills centre for youth as they came of age in the children’s homes and for students graduating from the Teen Challenge
Discipleship (rehabilitation) program, so in 2004 the Ezulwini property became home to our first Life Skills Centre, TC Life Skills School – TCMI.
The centre serves as a life skills training program for youth from the Hawane Farm, once they turn 18 years old & for graduates from Teen Challenge. It is also open to students applying from other churches. The life skills program builds character, preparing the youth to be equipped for life by helping them be teachable, presentable, confident, faithful and knowledgeable.
In 2006 the centre grew further up into Bulembu and then in 2008 moved into its purpose built unit on Hawane Farm. Today the life skills centre is home to 23 students on Hawane, focusing on training the students in skills but also in our five key character traits; to love God, to be faithful in small things, to be teachable at all times, to be loyal to family/employer and friends, to present the Gospel through our lifestyle of worship.
In 2006, we felt led to open a church in central Mbabane. Potter’s Wheel Church began in February of 2006 with a small handful of people meeting in a rented warehouse building in Mbabane. By the one year mark, the church had grown to two hundred. The church was founded by Kevin and Helen Ward, with the help of AG missionaries Tom and Twila Minter and MAPS workers Don and Elaine Smith.
The TC Swaziland Board encouraged us to stop renting, and to build our own church building. They set the target to be moved into the building – ready or not – by January 1, 2009. We made it on time and on January 4, 2009, although incomplete, we had our first service in our very basic building.
The Potter’s Wheel Church is not only home to a fantastic body of believers being trained up into Gods remnant; it also houses the offices of Challenge Ministries Swaziland and is a training centre for Challenge Ministries Swaziland.
From the Potter’s Wheel Church, the ministry of Challenge Ministries expands out to cover:
- The Teen Challenge Discipleship Centre (rehab), Emafini, for young men,
- The Life Skills School –TCMI,
- Hawane Children’s Homes,
- Elusitweni; home for abused women,
- The ICBC church plants (a church, and a pastor’s home, two homes for training up widows/orphans and a health outreach program to help the needy within a ten kilometer radius of the church). We hope to establish 60 ICBC projects within Swaziland by January 1, 2020.
Potter’s Wheel is now the central hub to Challenge Ministries Swaziland and the congregation is growing in its function towards impacting the nation through Challenge Ministries.
We are to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
The Potter’s Wheel’s Jerusalem is found in the home church on Emafini; our Judea is the residential centres (Teen Challenge, Elusitweni, Hawane Children’s Homes & TCMI); our Samaria is found in our outreach programs with One Hope, Luke Commission and Samaritans Purse ministries and our ICBC church plants; and the ends of our earth is found in ministries planted and encouraged outside of Swaziland.
Our God-sized vision is to plant 60 ICBC churches in the worst affected areas in the nation of Swaziland, to impact the communities with the love and life of Jesus Christ. We believe that these are the days of Ezekiel, where the dry bones of hopelessness will now be knit together by the Spirit of the Lord for those who live in the love of God and the revelation of His Word.
It is now our time as the body of Christ within The Potter’s Wheel Church to become available to God, for God, to be active in using our ministry gifts to the profit of the body of Christ, to grow the kingdom of God in the pulpit to Africa, Swaziland!
We believe changed lives, changes lives.
We are here to win people to Christ, to train them up in Christ and to send them out for Christ.