Jubilee provides emergency aid to some schools

Throughout the month of April, Jubilee publicized a campaign raising funds to pass along to Jubilee schools hit hard by the sudden COVID-19 financial crisis.

Why are these schools in need? Most of our schools work with very thin financial margins. In other words, they tend to live month-to-month, and don’t have much of a financial cushion to fall back on when an economic downturn hits.

The COVID-19 health crisis and subsequent shutdown of the nation’s economy have had unprecedented impacts on working families in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor through April 11, 2020, Pennsylvania has lost over 1.3 million jobs during the first month of the crisis, making it the state with the fifth highest effective unemployment rate in the nation, at 21.9%. New Jersey lost nearly 700,000 jobs during the same period, making it number eleven in the nation, with an effective unemployment rate of 16.7%.

As I delivered the laptops donated by Jubilee to students who needed them to participate in distance education, I was struck by the fact that some parents who were there to pick up the laptops also took home boxes of food provided by the schools. Many of our students belong to families whose hourly and service-sector jobs were the first to be eliminated in the financial crisis. And, they’ll likely be the last to be re-employed when a recovery begins. As a matter of fact, one of our heads of school informed me just last Friday that an astounding 91% of her school’s families were either completely unemployed or had work hours cut.

What this means for many of our schools is that families who paid even partial tuition are generally unable to make tuition payments any longer. Schools who depended upon April, May, and June tuition payments aren’t receiving them. Plus, many schools hold their annual fundraisers in the spring. Those have now been cancelled, and the critical cash they would have brought in to the schools to pay current expenses is lost.

Faced with the prospect of many schools cutting staff and programs, Jubilee began its emergency campaign on March 30. As of April 30, a total of $80,681 came in. Jubilee will add $60,000 of its own reserves to this amount, so that we will be able to distribute $140,681 to our hardest-hit schools. We hope that this emergency infusion of cash will allow many of our schools to retain current staff and programs, as well as to retain students whose parents are temporarily unable to make tuition payments.

To many of you who responded to our campaign, our schools and our students thank you for your generosity!

 

Thanks from Spring Garden Academy for laptops!

Candace Wegner, head of school for Spring Garden Academy in Philadelphia, thanks Jubilee’s donors for the 16 laptops her school received in April.

Spring Garden Academy’s laptops were part of the 71 laptops provided by Jubilee for our schools’ students during the COVID-19 school shutdown. Without them, many of these students would be unable to participate in distance education provided by Spring Garden and other schools.

 

Jubilee gives laptops to students

A family from Valley Christian School receives a computer to enable distance education during the school closure.

A global pandemic wasn’t an event any of the 24 schools in the Children’s Jubilee Fund network anticipated.

On March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf determined that all schools in Pennsylvania should close for two weeks to mitigate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. The order was extended at the end of the two weeks, and in mid-April, was further extended to close all schools through the end of the academic year.

Virtually overnight, Jubilee schools throughout the region were faced with the necessity of offering distance education to their students. Teachers and heads of school worked day and night to revise lesson plans and to format lessons to be compatible with online learning platforms.

But there was a problem. In order to take part in distance learning, students need computers or tablets and internet access. Many lacked those basic tools, and lacked the resources to obtain them independently. Without them, these students would be left behind because they’d miss out on the same educational opportunities as their peers.

Where they could, schools loaned computers to students, purchased computers for students, or found people willing to donate them. But there were still 71 students in nine of our schools who were without computers they could use for school. And those schools had no resources left to obtain computers.

Monitoring the situation, Jubilee decided in early April that it would fill the gap. Jubilee determined that no student should be left behind in this crisis. We purchased 71 laptops for those students, and delivered them the week of April 13. Doing so, Jubilee ensured that 100% of students in our network had access to distance learning. We thank all of our donors, who made these gifts possible.

Is Jesus really with me in challenging times?

[Jesus speaking] “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

These
words of Jesus from John’s Gospel come at the very end of an extended teaching
segment that began back in Chapter 13. The context is that Jesus is about to be
betrayed and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a matter of fact, these
are the final words of instruction that Jesus gives to his disciples before he
prays for them, and is arrested. And the final words of hope that Jesus gave to
his disciples apply to us, today.

Let’s
look at the four main ideas in this concluding statement from Jesus, and see
what hope they offer to us today. Imaging Jesus is speaking these same words to
you, right now.

“I have said these things to you…” In the preceding chapters,
Jesus speaks to his disciples about the suffering they’re about to experience:
suffering that touches the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of their
lives. The religious authorities will call them heretics. Their very lives will
be threatened.

Yet
intertwined with many prophecies of suffering, Jesus clearly makes promises of
his presence with his followers as they go through those hard times. Here are
some of them:

  • John 14:3. Jesus says that he goes to
    prepare a place for his people, and that he will come and take them to himself,
    so they will be together forever.
  • John 14:16. Jesus promises to ask the
    Father to send his people the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever.
  • John 15:4. Jesus invites his people
    to abide in him, and he promises to abide in them. To abide with Jesus means
    not only to live with him, but to experience the benefits of his love and
    presence.
  • John 16:22. Jesus acknowledges that
    the disciples will experience sorrow now, be he promises that he will be with
    them again, and that they will have joy that perseveres no matter what
    circumstances they face.
  • John 16:27. Jesus tells his followers
    that God the Father already loves them, and is ready and able to provide what they
    need in the face of suffering.

“…in me you may have peace.” What does peace in Jesus while enduring suffering
look like? Trusting in God’s purposes and provision, mostly…even if the end
of our suffering doesn’t seem to be in sight.

There
are two examples of what this peace looks like in the Psalms.

  • Psalm 123:1-2. Here, the image of people
    at peace are of two servants: a man and a woman, each looking to the hand of
    their master and mistress for what they need. The “hand” in Scripture is frequently
    an instrument of strength, of provision, of protection. Here, the servants look
    patiently and expectantly to the hands of the people on whom they depend to
    provide everything they need. In doing so, they trust their masters to provide
    for them, because the servants are loved.
  • Psalm 131:1-3. In verse 2, we encounter
    the image of a weaned child with its mother. An unweaned child will fuss
    and cry until it is fed. But a weaned child on its mother’s lap knows, even if
    it is hungry, that its desired food is coming. All it needs do is wait
    patiently.

Each
of these examples gives us a different picture of what it looks like to
experience peace in Jesus. He alone is the strong Master who will protect and
provide for us. With the love and tenderness of a nursing mother, he will give
us precisely what we need. And because he is Jesus, we can trust him to do
both.

“In the world you will have tribulation…” Another word for tribulation is trouble. And you and I experience it daily. Perhaps your particular
trouble today focus around finances, employment, anxiety over coronavirus, your
children, or loneliness and isolation. Perhaps it’s something entirely
different. No matter what, I find it actually encouraging that Jesus says, flat
out, that trouble is something that everyone will experience. Not only does
Jesus know in a general sense that you and I will experience trouble, but he knows
in detail the particular trouble you
and I will face.

But
not only does Jesus know everything about our trouble, but he is perfectly and
sovereignly in control over that trouble. Even in the midst of our hard
circumstances, Jesus keeps them from being as bad as they could be. That isn’t
to say that they might not become severe and bring us almost to our breaking
point—sometimes, that does happen. But we accept by faith what the Apostle Paul
tells us in Romans 8:28-30: that the Lord works
everything together (even the very hard things) so that some good results for
us. And that good is usually that we would see his love, mercy, provision, and
power at work—and that we would trust him more.

“…take heart; I have overcome the world.” The same world that
presents troubles to us is a world that has been overcome by Jesus in his
resurrection. God tells us in Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I am making all things
new.” That renewal of the world isn’t only a future event. It began when Jesus
rose from the dead on Easter. He conquered not only death, but all of the
rotten fruit that death brings: suffering, disease, hopelessness, misery,
heartache.

We
begin to see that victory in small ways as we cling to Jesus. Even in hard
times, we often see the seeds of good and blessing at work. And even if we
can’t see those seeds yet, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

Jesus
calls us to share in his victory over death, and to be his instruments of
making all things new in the here and now. Even if you find yourself now in the
midst of challenging times, it is a comfort to realize that you are not alone.
Jesus himself, the One who has conquered sin and death, and viruses and the
suffering they bring, is with you. And he invites you to rest from the
struggles of life in the embrace of his powerful and faithful love.

Jubilee Welcomes New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of Children’s Jubilee Fund (“Jubilee”) invites you to join us in celebrating God’s goodness to our ministry in the past year, as well as in this new year.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” I Chronicles 16:34. First, we want to give thanks for answered prayer. We are pleased to announce that Tim Geiger has accepted our offer to become Jubilee’s Executive Director and has commenced his new role as of January 13th. Tim brings a strong commitment to see the Lord work in the lives of Jubilee scholars, their families, and their schools. He has significant experience in developing and leading a multi-million-dollar Christian nonprofit organization.   For the last 12 years Tim worked with Harvest USA; spending five years as the Pittsburgh Regional Office Director, then serving as Executive Director for the last seven years. During his time at Harvest, he played an integral role in growing and expanding the organization, while leading with a servant’s heart. Tim is extraordinarily hard-working with a steady focus on grounding his work in Christian principles and values. He has over a decade of successful experience in development and fundraising. Tim’s management skills, personal integrity, Christian testimony, as well as his broad experience in addressing organizational growth and expansion, position him to provide the leadership the Board sought to implement Jubilee’s mission, vision, and strategic plan.

[G]ive thanks in all circumstances . . .” I Thessalonians 5:16. God has also been faithful in making 2019 a year of financial growth for Jubilee and positioning us for continued growth in 2020. Your support for Jubilee this past year included an annual increase of more than 35% in giving to Jubilee, which has enabled us to provide more than 450 scholarships to children from Philadelphia, Camden, Chester, and Norristown for the current school year. This is due to the significant hard work and effort of our Interim Executive Director, Andrea Cohen. During her eight months in this crucial role she worked tirelessly to cut expenses, initiate operational improvements, and provide exceptional support to our schools and donors. The Board was saddened when she recently informed us of her decision to resign to pursue other opportunities and avenues of service. We sincerely appreciate all her passion and diligence for Jubilee, its mission, and the children it serves, in the various roles she held during her time with us. Thank you again, Andrea.

Last, we thank God for leading and growing Jubilee through the blessings and challenges we experienced in 2019. We thank God for each of you and the direct impact you have on our success.  We also want to thank each of you for your ongoing prayers, support, and, of course, financial contributions. We look forward to working with all of our partners and friends during 2020 to continue to help provide quality Christian education to children who could not otherwise afford it.

Respectfully,

Milton Vélez, Esquire

Board Chairman