Who We Are

Our Board

Brendy Alsup

Brendy is a wife, mother, and homemaker in Templeton, California.  She is married to AJ and they have seven children. Brendy is a graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Human Development and Psychology with a concentration in Early Childhood Education.  She has a variety of work experience ranging from marketing, event planning, the non-profit sector and full-time youth ministry.  Whether speaking at Vacation Bible School, leading small groups or sharing one-on-one, Brendy encourages youth to serve God with their whole hearts for their whole lives.

 

 

Sandy Lebens
Sandy’s life has been devoted to children and young adults.  She enjoys helping young people develop a passion for service within the community and around the world.  She obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska and a master’s degree in Administrative Services from California Polytechnic State University.  In addition to working as a teacher and administrator for the Lucia Mar Unified School District, she coordinated curriculum for the district and provided leadership to the district’s K-12 mentor teachers.  She has also served in numerous capacities at her church including as a Stephen Minister, as co-leader of the Social Outreach team, and extensively in the child and youth programs.  As a board member, she is committed to the facilitation of God’s work in Africa and in other underserved areas of the world.

 

Travis Messer
Travis is a husband, father, and current Director of Ministry Streaming at the Salem Web Network, a division of Salem Communications Corporation.  Over the past 15 years, Travis has consulted with Christian non-profit organizations in the areas of online media strategies, donor development, email marketing, and database management. Having personally visited Arua, Uganda on two separate occasions, Travis is passionate to see the vision and outreach of Zozu succeed in its endeavor to provide new hope and life to the children of Arua, Uganda.

 

 

Katy Griffin
It is Katy's passion to see de-churched people become fully devoted followers of Christ. She has studied at Sonoma State University- Nursing degree, Fuller Seminary Extension Courses - Commissioned Lay Pastor, and has completed a Masters Diploma in Biblical Counseling. Most of the days you can find Katy hanging out with teens at Girl Talk, taking a missions team to go serve and learn, or jogging. Katy was honored and humbled at the offer of being on the board of this amazing ministry. After prayer, and talking with her husband, Katy replied yes. As a Mission’s Pastor, Community Advocate, and Cross Country Coach (need lots of energy for that) she is expectant to what God has planned for the future of the Zozu Project.


Zozu Executive Committee

Pastor John Paul Sewava

Pastor John Paul Sewava, fondly know as Pastor JP, is the founder and director of Solid Rock Christian School in Arua, Uganda and senior pastor at Arua Community Church. Before coming to Arua, Pastor JP co-founded Gaba Community Church, one of the largest non-denominational churches in Uganda, and Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM), the largest non-governmental organization in Uganda, to develop and equip generations of Christian leaders.  ARM grew through a network of affiliated churches to include a medical center, an orphanage, a university and over eight thousand students in sponsorship.  Pastor John Paul served as Missions Director where he coordinated the Fellowship of Community Churches, and as the Missions Pastor at Gaba Community Church. Pastor JP has served on the board of directors for Maranatha Christian School, Maranatha High School Wenzt Medical Center,  African Renewal Saving and Credit, and Africa Renewal Management.In 2011, Pastor JP heard God’s call and moved with his family to Arua.  Along with his wife Rose and their two children, they left friends and extended family and relocated to an area of Africa with a heartbreaking history and in desperate need of help.  

Elaine Remy Lebens
Elaine’s passion for other cultures lead her to Arua, Uganda in 2013.  She felt an immediate connection to the people of Arua.  Unable to shake the memories of the beautiful children she met in Arua, she organized a campaign to build Solid Rock School and subsequently founded the child sponsorship program through Zozu Project to provide ongoing support for the school and surrounding village.  Elaine is privileged to work as a physician on the central coast of California.  She is married to Mick and they have three children. 

 

Mick Lebens
Mick lives in Templeton, California with his wife, Elaine, and their three children.  He attended UCLA and then the University of Rochester School of Medicine where he earned his medical degree.  He currently is in private practice working as a Family Physician.  He has traveled to Haiti, Peru, and Uganda to help run medical clinics with a short-term mission team from His Healing Hands.  His experience with the people in Uganda and their needs cultivated his desire to have God use him to help start Solid Rock Christian School in Uganda and the Zozu Project.  Mick also enjoys coaching his children in their sports and is active in Templeton Presbyterian Church.

 


Our Staff

David Ssemuvubi - Headteacher at Solid Rock Christian School
Principal David grew up in Southern Uganda, and from the start has had a passion for education. After graduating with top marks from high school, he went on to earn both a diploma (associates degree) and a degree (bachelor’s degree) in Education. He holds certificates in Monitoring and Evaluation, Project Planning and Management, and Leadership. He always felt called to work in Christian education, and after his degree, Principal David started teaching Social Sciences at a Christian school. He was promoted to deputy principal, and then Principal of the school. David served faithfully as Principal for 4 years, and then came to Solid Rock. Leading Solid Rock has been a challenge, as the students in Arua face large obstacles to learning. He often finds himself stepping in and filling the roles of parent and guardian as well as teacher to these children. A faithful leader, David also leads prayer meetings on Wednesdays at Arua Community church, and is known and loved by all members.

 

Richard Aguta - Director of Social Services
Richard Aguta was born and raised in Uganda, is the last born out of four children, and his parents have been married for over 50 years. He is a Christian who is passionate to serve humanity because it’s his profession. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration, a Diploma in Child Development, has completed short courses in disability, special education, computer basics, and the leadership training of John Maxwell. His parents paid his school fees through high school, but were unable to pay for the University. He prayed to God to give him a job so long as he could get money to educate himself. He thanks God who connected him with pastor Jeff Artherstone, the former Vice Chancellor of Africa Renewal University, who a gave him an opportunity to work in the University farm and attend University. During his subsequent internships before coming to Solid Rock Christian School, he worked in the Africa Renewal Ministries Child Development Project, and as a counselor in the Department of Child and Family Protection in the Uganda Police Force.

 

Elsie Soderberg - Director of American Communication
In early 2017, Elsie flew to Uganda to see the work of the Zozu Project in person. With a degree in Communications and Entrepreneurship from UCLA, past experience in communications start-ups and small international charities, and a touch of fearlessness, it was a good fit. Working full-time to see the poorest families thrive has been a challenge of unexpected proportions for her, and a blessing of unprecedented privilege. To this day, Arua, Uganda remains the most remote and un-westernized place that she has traveled to. She believes that the Lord is working through all of the people she has met and loves working alongside them.

 

Susan Nemwa - Accounts Assistant
Susan Nemwa was born into a family of 10, and therefore has always been a good team player. She holds a degree in Business Administration from Ndejje University in Kampala. In July of 2016, she left the comforts of the modern city to come to live in Arua, Uganda and serve the school as the Accounts Assistant. Her managers are continually impressed with her infallible bookkeeping. Susan is married to her husband who is also working in finance, and she also serves as a teacher at the Sunday school and Awana Programs at Arua Community Church. She is affectionatly known as Auntie Susan to many.

 

Our Uganda Team

We have the privilege of working with an amazing group of local leaders in Arua, Uganda.  With decades of experience in ministry, business, poverty alleviation, and in leadership training, they are our greatest resource.

 

Zozu Project supports 22 fulltime Ugandan salaries including teachers, cooks, janitorial and medical staff. Their dedication, faith and love for the children of Arua make them our greatest resource. 

 


The Founding Family 

The original vision of Zozu Project came from three youth after their first trip to Arua, Uganda.  With the help of their aunt and uncle, Tom and Julie Lebens, Zozu Project was established. 

Jessa Lebens

I have a passion for helping children and it's been an absolute privilege to get to invest in the beautiful kids of Uganda.  I can't wait to see all that happens over there in years to come!

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4

 

 

Ryan Lebens

During my first visit to Arua, Uganda in 2013, I met a little boy named Cesar who was so excited to show me his treasured belongings,  which consisted of a paper clip and bottle cap in a small, rusty candy tin.  Meeting children like Cesar who were grateful for so little and lacked the opportunities that I had taken for granted convinced me I needed to help.   

 

 

 

Nathan Lebens

During my trip to Arua, Uganda in 2015, I was blown away by the impact Zozu Project had in such a short time!   I could never have imagined that so much change could even happen.   So many people have made this possible, and I want to thank everyone who has given of their time, skills and finances to create change in Arua.    It has been such a privilege for me to help connect people in need to those who want to help. 

 


 

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