A team from AgriStewards of Lebanon, Ind., made its annual spring trip to Kenya in March to assist with the farming operations at Missions of Hope International‘s (MOHI) Girls’ School at Joska and Boys’ School at Ndvoini.
Brian Smith of AgriStewards, which has been working at Joska since January 2011, and Karen Thompson, Senior Research Associate for Pioneer, were once again encouraged by the progress they saw.
“This was my fourth trip to Joska and it was all about healthy-looking spinach and kale, as well as deliciously sweet melons and giant sweet potatoes,” said Karen. “I love looking at data and on this trip we got to see quantitative results!”
Cosmas Katana, the new farm manager, compiled the farm production records for July through December and provided them for the AgriStewards team to evaluate.
“How many crates of tomatoes, bags of kale, spinach and sweet potatoes – each number was proof of God’s blessings on the farm,” said Karen. “On the previous trip we measured out the size of each plot, so using all this information will help Cosmas and the team plan for the future. This doesn’t sound exciting to most, but it will affect the future of the farm.”
Farming God’s Way
Team leader Brian Smith was excited to have two opportunities on this trip to teach the “Farming God’s Way” lessons to new audiences.
“The first opportunity was near Eldoret, with nearly 30 farmers attending,” he said. “This area had some larger farms, ranging from three to 15 acres and using some mechanization. Many had three to five dairy cows, but (the farmers) had no idea of the value of their manure and were purchasing chemical fertilizers!”
Brian led a second training at the Sunshine Church near the Joska Girls’ School.
“Many of the local farmers had taken notice of the crops grown at the school and were anxious to learn this new farming technique,” said Brian. “This area of Kenya is very dry, and so they are very dependent on a good layer of mulch to conserve moisture. We had a wonderful group of participants.”
The team left MOHI more excited than ever before with the progress at the farms.
“Joska is finally performing at a high level of production,” said Brian. “John and Cosmas have done an excellent job applying what they have learned. We focused our efforts this trip on bringing Ndvoini Boys’ School farm up to the same level of production as the girls’ school and discussed ways of educating the students in FGW and how we can integrate them into some projects.
“And we drove nearly 50 miles to Machokos to purchase some items and never saw any crops better than what is being produced on the MOHI farms,” he added. “We give God all the glory!”
Two pastors with Missions of Hope Outreach churches in Nairobi, Kenya, made the long trip to TCM International Institute in Vienna, Austria, to take advanced ministry classes, thanks to support from Bright Christian Church, Lawrenceburg, Ind.
Fanuel Opisa Lipapu, pastor of Huruma Outreach Hope Church and Clinton Ikanga, pastor at Joska Sunshine Outreach Hope Church and a Spiritual Officer at Joska Schools, were selected for the training by CMF International Consultant Dick Alexander and MOHI Directors Wallace and Mary Kamau. Pastor Fanuel already has a BA in Biblical Studies and is working on his Master’s degree.
The two men were most recently in Vienna for a 10-day Transformation Leadership course, where they were the only Africans in the group of students. They are now taking a Research Methods course online.
“The length of the program is four years,” said Fanuel Lipapu. “We plan to do a combination of online courses and on-site courses in Austria, depending on the availability of tuition funding.”
The men are excited about the potential to become more effective in the service of God as they receive more advanced educations.
“After taking the Transforming Leadership course, I implemented a lot of changes in my church to put what I’m learning into practice,” said Fanuel. “I want to train up additional leaders to advance the Gospel and plant churches in other areas with leaders that I have trained.”
Great things are happening in the Mara North cluster of the Community Christian Church in Kenya, reports William Koya. William is a long-time leader in the Mara North cluster, located near the Maasai Mara Game Preserve, and also serves as the Field Operations Supervisor for the Community Health Partners clinic.
“On Sunday, June 28, we came together to witness the ordination of Jackson Kotikash Mereru as pastor of the church in Enchoro Oosidan,” said William. “The regional overseer, Pastor Patrick Sayialel, presided over the event, and 11 people were saved.”
Just a week later, on July 5, a new Community Christian Church officially opened in Erishata Oondoinyo, an area that has been highly resistant to Christianity.
“The church was officially opened and dedicated to the Lord by our Mara North cluster overseer, Pastor Julius Olosinke,” said William. “People from all the CCC churches and neighboring churches gathered together, praising and worshipping the Lord.”
And more good news is still to come: Yet another new CCC church will open on July 27 in Ntumot.
“Pray with us as the Lord is opening and widening his work in Maasailand,” said William.
Mark Firestone left his position as the head of CMF’s child sponsorship program to move to Nairobi, Kenya, and serve in the program in a more direct way as a CMF missionary with Missions of Hope (MOHI). Here are some of his thoughts after his first two weeks in Kenya:
This past Sunday marked two weeks since my arrival in Kenya. These two weeks have been filled with adjusting to new culture, getting settled into a new place to live, re-learning how to drive, and all the ups and downs that come with those and so many other things related to making an international move. After two weeks of getting acclimated, I was eager to get out and see the fruits of the ministry I’ve come to serve with. So on Sunday, when the opportunity arose to attend church out at our boarding schools, I jumped at it!
Missions of Hope has 13 schools within the Mathare Valley and surrounding slums in Nairobi. Our boarding schools are actually about an hour’s drive outside of the city on roads that become less “road” and more dirt trail or ditch the further out you go. We actually have two boarding schools, one for girls and one for boys. They house students as young as Class 6 (6th Grade) and as old as Form 4 (High School Senior). The boarding schools provide our students with their own beds, bathrooms and showers with indoor plumbing, and three nutritious meals a day in addition to their rigorous study schedule.
Our first boarding school, Joska, opened in 2007 to both boys and girls. It was launched at a time when the students who had begun attending the first MOHI school were approaching Class 6. Students in Kenya take a national exam in Class 8 that determines their eligibility to get into high schools. Students who don’t achieve high enough marks on this exam face the possibility of not being able to continue their education. For our students, this would almost guarantee a life condemned to living in the slums with no hope for a better future. The idea was to bring the students to the boarding school where they would be able to focus on their studies in preparation for their national exams without the distractions that come with life in the slums.
Just five years after Joska opened it was already bursting at the seams and there were more students in Mathare reaching Class 6 than could be accommodated on the campus. And so in 2012, a second boarding school was opened about a mile away from Joska. This new boarding school, called Ndovoini, became an all-boys school, while Joska was converted to all girls. Both campuses eventually added high schools, which enabled some students who were unable to attend a public high school to continue their education.
As the schools back in Mathare continued to grow, it wasn’t long until both Joska and Ndovoini were out of space again. With few options available, the strategy changed to begin adding sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes to the primary schools back in Mathare. Today, the students selected to attend Joska and Ndovoini are chosen based on what their home life is like. Those students who are the least likely to be successful are selected to attend Joska and Ndovoini to give them a better chance. These are students who may be orphaned, who come from abusive backgrounds, whose parents have a harder time providing for them at home, or any other number of factors. It’s NOT that these children are poor performers in school or have bad grades. They are bright young men and women who just got dealt an even worse hand than some of their peers.
And so it was among these students that I found myself singing, dancing and worshiping our Lord this past Sunday.
Our first stop was the Ndovoini boys school. I’ve been to both of these schools before during previous visits to Kenya, and I knew exactly what a church service would look like before we even got there. But this time was different. I wasn’t just a visitor who was there just for the week to see and experience what this ministry is doing. I’m part of it now. This is my job, my purpose. I live here now. As my eyes welled up, I suddenly was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched these students – who come from the worst of the worst living conditions – singing, dancing and giving praise to our God with every ounce of joyful energy they had, knowing that this is the result we are all hoping to see achieved. This is why we’re here. This is why I’m here.
As I looked out over the sea of around 500 boys, I realized how important the work is that we are doing. I couldn’t help but wonder where these boys would be if they weren’t there. What would they be doing? Would some of them even have survived to live to this age? What kind of hope or future would they have? Would any of them know Christ?
And as I stood there, the feelings of joy from what I was seeing quickly turned to heartache for all of those children back in Mathare – tens or even hundreds of thousands of them – who are still unreached and may never have this kind of opportunity. There are so many who can’t get into our schools because we don’t have enough room, or because we don’t have enough sponsors, or because we simply wouldn’t be able to manage many more students with current processes.
We still have work to do. And that’s why God brought me here.
After touring the campus at Ndovoini, we drove the mile or so back to the Joska Girls Centre, where we also toured the campus. While waiting to depart for the return trip to Nairobi, the girls were on a break and I had a chance to just spend some time talking to some of them. We talked about what they’re studying in class, about career aspirations, about football (that’s “soccer” for you U.S. folks), about my family, about their families. I showed them some pictures of my family, particularly my nephews. I even showed them some pictures I had taken the week before of my visit with David, the boy I sponsor back in Mathare. When I mentioned my visit to his school, their eyes lit up as some of them fondly remembered friends they have there.
It was a great time to get to know some of our students on a more personal level and hear their stories. Despite all the ups and downs I’ve been experiencing in getting adjusted to a new culture and lifestyle, the day served to reinforce and remind me of my true purpose for being here: to be the hands and feet of Christ to these children and their families.
You can help change the life of a student at Joska or Ndovoini by encouraging them with the gift of sponsorship. Click here to sponsor a girl at Joska, or click here to sponsor a boy at Ndovoini. For more information, click here to download a brochure in PDF format.
This week, 17 pastors from Missions of Hope International’s Outreach Hope churches participated in a four-day, hands-on training at our Pangani center to learn how to use Logos Bible Software. During the training, the pastors were taught how to access library materials and other special features of the software for preparing sermons and leading Bible studies to further equip them to preach and teach Scripture.
The training was developed, coordinated, and implemented by MOHI’s partner, CMF International, and taught by Professor David Fish from Ozark Christian College in Missouri. Earlier this year, CMF arranged for the pastors to each receive laptops with the installed software. Each pastor contributed 25 percent of the total cost of the computers and software, a significant economic sacrifice for them. Private donors from the United States provided the remaining amount.
“CMF came alongside these pastors to provide high-quality training, equipping them for the challenging work they do,” said Dick Alexander of CMF, who was instrumental in arranging the training and engaging donors to assist with this effort. “Many pastors of MOHI’s Outreach Hope churches grew up in the slums, which gives them a natural connection with the people they serve but also places them in very challenging ministry situations. They are the ‘green berets’ of ministry, facing extremely demanding situations on a daily basis. Along with mentoring, continuing their formal schooling, and regular seminars by pastors from partner churches in the U.S., this new tool is one more way of helping Outreach Hope pastors become more effective in transforming lives and transforming their communities.”
Pastor Fanuel Lipapu Opisa, senior pastor at Huruma Outreach Hope Church, said that for him, the training came at the perfect time. “I’m currently completing my Master’s degree, and this software will help me with all of the research and writing that I’m doing,” he said. “Also, the commentaries on particular passages of Scripture will help me prepare my sermons and give me an added resource to teach and disciple other pastors in the community. I truly want to thank all those who made this possible because it is a timely blessing from God.”
Professor Fish, who traveled to Africa for the first time to conduct the training, said that just days before coming to Nairobi, he was cleaning out his office and found several instructional DVDs with additional, in-depth lessons about how to use Logos Bible Software. He had just enough DVDs to give one to each pastor at the training.
“The hands-on training provided this week, along with their use of the DVDs for follow-up training, will allow the pastors to build on their knowledge and effectively use this new tool in their ministries,” said Professor Fish. “Overall, the training was a very positive experience for the pastors and me.”
A new church in the London neighborhood of Narok, a town west of Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, will open its doors this Sunday, June 7, according to CMF missionary Joe Cluff. The church is a new plant from the Community Christian Church of Narok, and has been in the planning stages for three years.
“The biggest hold-up was land,” said Joe. “The group finally found a plot they can rent and will construct a semi-permanent building using 40 pieces of mabati (roofing tin) and some cedar posts that they collected.”
Elijah Kisaine will serve as the pastor at the new church plant. He has worked as the assistant to John Saitet, the senior pastor of the Narok church, for several years.
“On Thursday, people from the church will go door-to-door to evangelize,” said Joe. “They will have a crusade on Friday and Saturday, and then the first service will be on Sunday.”
“The church is doing this entirely on their own initiative and with their own funds,” Joe added. “God is good!”
The water ministries team in Turkana completed the establishment of two irrigated farms, began work on two new farms and finished five more wells by the end of February 2015, according to CMF missionary Gene Morden, who serves as director of the water team.
The two new irrigated farms are Atapar and Kokoi. The latter was set up as a training and demonstration farm.
“Kokoi farm was established for training new farmers and planting demonstration farm plots that will educate and challenge the current 540 farm families to commit to a higher level of excellence and productivity,” said Gene.
The Atapar farm was funded by a grant of $17,550 from International Disaster Emergency Service (IDES) of Noblesville, Ind.
“In addition, IDES has committed to send four more grants of $17,550 each for four additional irrigated farms in 2015,” Gene said, “for which we are very thankful. These will have a huge impact on the families who live in the desert region of Turkana.”
New missionaries Giles and Alison Emery have been in Nairobi, Kenya, for just a few months, so they see the poverty and sadness with fresh eyes and try to share a glimpse of it with folks back home. Here’s an excerpt from their recent newsletter about the young boys of Mathare and the hope that is offered to children through education at Missions of Hope, thanks to the CMF child sponsorship program.
We see him nearly every day on our drive into Mathare Valley: a young boy between the ages of 10 and 12, meandering aimlessly down the road, his hand clasping an open, plastic bottle filled with a yellowish-brown liquid. We’ve learned that the liquid in the bottle is glue, homemade and toxic. Countless street boys like this one (too many) sniff from these bottles all day long to receive an instantaneous, temporary high. We also encounter them when we leave Mathare and exit onto one of the busiest thoroughfares in Nairobi. Clusters of street boys stand in the median, streams of traffic on either side, and approach the waiting cars to wash their windows and receive a few coins in exchange, all the while clutching their plastic bottles.
Seeing these kids deeply saddens us. Who is there to take care of them, to tell them that this isn’t the life they should choose? When no other options seem possible, when the painful reality of the present is so consuming that dreams are unimaginable, perhaps this seems like the best alternative, finding a way to escape, to temporarily numb the pain.
We are blessed to work alongside an organization that seeks to end this cycle of despair. Missions of Hope helps kids dream and achieve their dreams through education. Most importantly, MOHI teaches these kids about the One who is worthy of their faith and trust, to place their lives and dreams in the hands of Christ to guide their footsteps.
Two years ago when we visited MOHI on our vision trip, Pastor Wallace Kamau, a founder and director of MOHI, shared with us Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.” Pastor Kamau commented that this truth is why MOHI does what it does. Many kids in the slum have lost the capacity to dream. They only see what’s before them each day, a fight to simply survive hunger, darkness, disease, and despair.
But at MOHI, countless numbers of kids from Mathare Valley, one of the poorest slums in the world, achieve the improbable. Kids who passed rigorous national exams for admittance into prestigious high schools now spend their weekends and holidays mentoring younger kids just starting their academic careers. Young girls teach their sisters science, math, and God’s word. Young boys who once spent their days sniffing glue or stealing or marauding with gangs now attend school every day and participate in church every Sunday. Parents truly believe that their kids can have a different life than they have had, that their dreams are actually attainable, and that they can make their communities and neighborhoods better.
If you’d like to help a child begin dreaming about a better future for his life, consider CMF’s child sponsorship program. Go here to find your child!
There’s a new congregation of Jesus followers in Turkana, and CMF missionaries Dennis and Renda Curran were invited to attend the church’s dedication service last Saturday.
“The new church is in the community of Nawayalim, about 10 kilometers from Napusimoru,” said Dennis. “More than 60 people gathered under a tree to pray, praise, and celebrate as they became the eighth church plant from the congregation at Napusimoru.”
On the next day, Sunday, the Currans returned to the spot for the congregation’s first Sunday worship celebration, complete with 42 baptisms!
“How do you baptize someone in the desert, you ask?” said Dennis. “Well, first you dig a grave. Then you line it with boards and a plastic tarp to hold the water in and the dirt out.”
More than 80 people gathered for the worship and baptismal service, which was followed by a couple of hours of singing and dancing.
“It was truly a glorious day,” said Dennis.