A small team from Agri-Stewards of Lebanon, Ind., returned to Kenya recently for 10 days to assist with the farming operations at Missions of Hope’s (MOHI) Girls School at Joska.
Brian Smith of Agri-Stewards and Karen Thompson, Senior Research Associate for Pioneer, were very encouraged to see the progress and production that had occurred over the past six months.
“John Wamui Kinyajui, the farm attendant, and his team of workers have been working hard,” said Brian. “We were amazed to see how much spinach was harvested over the 10 days we were with them. The sweet potato patch looks to be quite productive, as well.”
Here are the areas where Agri-Stewards concentrated its work at Joska:
- Hoop houses (greenhouses) The sun and wind have been hard on the four hoop houses over the past five years. Three days were spent working with the farm team installing upgrades on two of the houses. They also were able to improve the irrigation system because the property now has electricity. They deleted the old bag tanks, improved the water pressure and installed overhead sprinklers to cool the hoop houses during the heat of the day.
- Keeping records Karen Thompson spent a great deal of time mapping and measuring the Joska farm, which will improve data collection. The team also met with the MOHI accounting team to update and streamline the farm crop sales records. John Kinyajui will also begin keeping planting/harvesting records at the farm, which will make it easier to plan what crops to grow in the future.
- Teaching “Farming God’s Way” Pius Mutie, the lead FGW trainer for Kenya, joined the team for three days of teaching in the classroom and in the fields. Students included MOHI staff and five members of the local church at Joska. They were very excited about planting a 20-by-20-meter demonstration plot on the church property so the community can learn about “Farming God’s Way.”
“Agri-Stewards has been working at Joska since January 2011,” said Brian Smith. “We are excited that we are gaining momentum, and blessed by seeing how ‘Farming God’s Way’ is continuing to grow in this region.”
Dr. Alan Ahlgrim serves as the Director of Pastor Care for Blessing Ranch Ministries in New Port Richey, Fla. He recently shared this story on his blog, “Blessings Ahead,” about the work that CMF partners Wallace and Mary Kamau have been doing in Nairobi, Kenya, for the past 15 years.
I’ve once again been rubbing shoulders with two powerful world changers! When three other pastors (Dick Alexander, Tim Harlow, Eddie Lowen) and I made our first trip to the slums of Nairobi in 2007, we were stunned. The darkness, filth and poverty were overwhelming. Yet, what amazed us even more was the astonishing, light-shining work of Missions of Hope led by Wallace and Mary Kamau.
Wallace is an accountant and Mary is a teacher, both gifted university graduates who could have chosen a comfortable life. Instead, this exceptional pair of committed Kenyans has been devoting their lives to serving the poorest of the poor for over 15 years. After the first seven strenuous years they had somehow managed to bring 300 children into a school to teach them the basics, and far more. Today, over 13,000 children are now in 16 Christ-exalting schools, and their lives have been radically changed forever!
This is impossible by human standards. If something like this was proposed in the U.S. we’d say it was impossible. How much more miraculous it is in The Mathare Valley! This wretched slum appears to be a hopeless place where gangs abound, sewage flows in the streets and many of the women sell themselves to survive. Yet, once again we’re seeing how God does some of His best work in the most unexpected places. Light always shines best in the darkness.
The Kamau’s have faced countless hurdles and heartaches. Wallace told me of their recent challenges and the sense of intense spiritual attack he had experienced. Wallace finally concluded that the work they had been called to was God’s work all along. Only then was he able to once again rest in the assurance that the One who had called them to this rigorous ministry would see them through.
I love the humble hearts of this pair and I’m not alone. This week, leaders from 30 large churches in the U.S. gathered in Denver to hear more about this strategic partnership. We were all humbled as we listened to them share more of their brilliant, light-shining dreams.
It’s been said that at the end of your life the world will ask one question: “Did you do what you were supposed to do?” We all have many laments over opportunities we have missed. By God’s grace one lament I will not have is failing to visit Africa and missing a partnership with Wallace and Mary. My African friends have not only changed their world, they have changed mine!
I’m once again looking forward to introducing a few more pastors to this miraculous ministry. It’s the least I can do for those who are doing so much for “the least of these.” Let me know if you, or another pastor you know, are ready to have your world changed for the better!
Giles and Alison Emery are three months into their new lives as CMF missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, and are already immersed in both language learning and their work with Missions of Hope International (MOHI). Part of Alison’s role is to collect and share some of the many stories of transformation that are happening every day in the Mathare Valley. She shares one of those stories here.
In a dimly-lit, 10×10 room, three women take turns pouring brightly-colored wax into a trough, scraping off the excess wax, trimming wicks, and packaging the final product: candles that will be used to light the darkness in many homes throughout Kiamaiko.
These women are part of a larger community health evangelism (CHE) group– 22 members in total– that began at the Missions of Hope (MOHI) Kiamaiko center in 2013. The group aptly named themselves “Bright Mothers.” They produce approximately 80 taper candles each week, separated into 10 packets of eight. The women sell their packets of candles in the community for a total profit of around $22, which they share. They also share the work. Each woman in the group is assigned a separate duty in the candle-making process, and they work together to create the final product.
CHE is the bedrock of all MOHI programs. CHE empowers a community to identify its own needs and the local assets to address those needs. MOHI social workers and CHE trainers who work in a community assist community members in forming groups and identifying potential projects to meet a need in the community. Additionally, spiritual lessons are taught as CHE group members experience personal and community transformation.
The women in the “Bright Mothers” group researched their options for potential projects, initially desiring to sell maize (corn) flour, which is a staple in the Kenyan diet. However, they learned it would be too expensive to process the maize for sale. Recognizing the lack of electricity in Kiamaiko homes, they decided to make candles instead.
According to the MOHI social worker who trained them, the women saved their own money —approximately 50 cents per week — to purchase a candle-making machine and supplies. The women learned the entire candle-making process in a single day.
Currently, the women are saving a portion of their weekly profits to purchase a bigger machine that will make at least twice as many candles, potentially doubling their profit. They also re-use the scraps from each batch of candles to make more candles, maximizing their resources and reducing waste.
The women in “Bright Mothers” shine their lights in Kiamaiko in more ways than one. Once a month they give back to their community by performing a service project as a group. Recently, the group cleaned the home of a woman in the community who is bedridden due to illness.
By being empowered to succeed, the women in “Bright Mothers” are free to share their gifts with the community as God continues to transform them spiritually. The hope that they share with others holistically transforms not only their individual families, but also their entire community.
To read more of these stories please visit MOHI’s Facebook page and website. You can watch a video of the candle-making process here!
Before the new well and water system were completed in November in the community of Miton in the Rift Valley of Turkana, Kenya, people were moving away, diarrhea was rampant and the children were too sick to come to school. People spent most of every day walking five to 10 kilometers to the closest well with their animals and water jugs.
Things are very different now, and the Maasai community at Miton recently invited CMF missionaries Gene and Melba Morden to return to Miton to see the new system.
“The 11-person water committee, the area chief and other community members met us at the water kiosk (distribution point),” said Gene Morden, who has been working to install clean water and irrigation systems in Kenya since 1995. “We have never felt more appreciated than we did that day. ‘Miton’ means ‘desolate place with no trees or water,’ but thank God, that is no longer the case.”
The new water system was a joint project between CMF donors and the community.
“CMF dug the well and installed the pump, but the community installed the piping (700 meters), the 10,000 liter storage tank, the water kiosk for the people and the 100-foot water trough for their animals,” said Gene.
The changes in Miton since the Gospel has been shared and the water system installed have been enormous, according to Gene.
“When people began to accept the gospel and begin praying to God, seasonal rains have come, and they now have shrubs and trees,” he said. “People have returned to the community, school enrollment is up and absenteeism has nearly been eliminated, and illness has been drastically reduced. The most anyone walks now for water is three kilometers, and most walk less than a kilometer.”
The Turkana water team dug 31 wells in 2014 and 25 of them were successful.
“Praise God that at least 10,000 more people now have access to safe water, just like you and me,” said Gene. “Please pray for supporters for 30 new wells in 2015.”
If you’d like to help provide clean water through a solar-powered irrigation system for a Turkana community, go here. If you’d like to help provide a hand pump and well for community go here.
Vince and Stephanie Brooks, CMF missionaries in Nairobi, Kenya, want you to know that Kenya is Ebola-free, as is the rest of East Africa.
“We’ve heard of a few instances of people wanting to travel to Kenya but are concerned about Ebola,” said the Brooks in a recent email. “Kenya is taking very serious steps to ensure that the country continues to remain free of the virus.”
Kenya Airways has suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone and has temporarily suspended entry into Kenya of anyone who has travelled through Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, with the exception of health professionals and Kenyan citizens. They will be admitted to Kenya, but they will undergo extensive health screenings and be closely monitored.
The Brooks also point out the Africa is a very large continent made up of 47 countries.
“If you live in Indiana, you are closer to Ebola than you would be if you came to Kenya,” they said. “The distance from Dallas to Indianapolis is 899 miles, with only three states separating the two cities. The distance from Liberia to Kenya is 3297.39 miles, with nine countries in between!”
“We hope this calms a few fears that people may have about traveling to Kenya and contacting Ebola,” added Vince and Stephanie. “We are praying for the teams that are coming next year to serve alongside Missions of Hope International and the people on those trips. If God is calling you to go, then you can’t live in fear of the ‘what-ifs’ and you must put your trust in the One who is calling you.”
CMF International Consultant Dick Alexander recently returned from Kenya, where he was privileged to attend a celebration at the Pangani Center of Missions of Hope in Nairobi. And what a party it was! Here’s Dick’s account of what happened.
On a beautiful Thursday afternoon in early October, more than 200 people gathered at the Pangani Center in Nairobi, Kenya, for a two-and-a-half-hour “branding party” and celebration of the Hope Partnership between Missions of Hope International (MOHI) and CMF.
The party brought together staff from MOHI, two groups of students from MOHI schools, and U.S.-based CMF leaders who were in Nairobi for strategic planning meetings with the mission and churches. Short-term teams from Cy-Fair Christian Church, Houston, Tex., and Swiss Cove Christian Church in Jacksonville, Fla., were also in Kenya that week and joined the party.
The October 2 celebration included worship, children’s poems, leader’s talks, gift giving, and prayer in honor of what God is doing through MOHI and its 10-year partnership with CMF in pioneering holistic urban ministry. The gathering also celebrated the official unveiling of new logos representing the holistic ministry of MOHI. The logo expresses in simple graphic form the four crescents representing aspects of MOHI’s exceptional holistic ministry — education, health, business, and spiritual development — around a dove, representing the Spirit’s power.
A second logo, now seen on both the MOHI and CMF websites, represents the partnership of these African and U.S. organizations that is fueling highly effective ministry. This year marks the 10th anniversary of CMF missionaries meeting with MOHI co-founders Wallace and Mary Kamau in Nairobi, where they laid the foundation for an international partnership that now involves more than 40 U.S. churches supporting 13 ministry centers in Kenya with financial and human resources.
CMF’s work in Kenya is geared toward partnerships with exceptional African leadership to develop a holistic ministry model for reaching the largely overlooked urban poor. Sixty percent of the residents of Nairobi, the capital city of one of Africa’s strongest nations, live in almost unthinkable poverty, mostly ignored by their government. They are a harbinger of a coming tidal wave of urban poverty, which, according to some estimates may include half of the world’s population by the middle of this century.
A music festival spearheaded by a 17-year-old Maryland high school student to raise money for missions was a resounding success, meeting the goal of bringing in $3,000 for Dennis and Renda Curran, CMF missionaries who are serving in Turkana, Kenya.
Holly Hutchinson with musicians Chris and Jenna Badeker.
More than 175 people attended the late August event called “Elevation Festival” at Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Md., organized by Holly Hutchinson to fulfill a commitment she made at a Christ in Youth conference in the summer of 2013.
“The last day of the conference, every student had to option to receive a Kingdom Worker card,” said Holly. “The trick is, if you open the card, you’re committing to fulfill the challenge on it.
“I’d love to say that I felt that God was guiding me to open it,” she added, “but honestly, I’m just horrifically curious! My challenge was to raise $3,000 to support a missionary.”
When Holly heard a few months later that the Currans, members of Mountain Christian whom she knew well, were leaving to serve in Turkana, “something sparked in me,” she said. “I knew my challenge would be to support the Currans.”
A few months later, she attended a concert and the band “3 Shades of Blue” opened. She and her friends laughed about the idea of holding a music festival and asking “3 Shades of Blue” to headline it.
“So I contacted the band, and told them my idea,” said Holly. “Shockingly enough, they said they would play!”
3 Shades of Blue performs at the Elevation Festival.
Two other bands, “Chris and Jenna” and “Anchor and Armor” joined the line-up, and a Tikiz Shaved Ice food truck and a variety of games were added to the outdoor event.
The event tickets were $10, and all of that money went to the Currans, Holly said. She also sent out sponsorship letters to friends and church members and raised $1,000 toward her expenses.
Holly’s mother Denise was solidly behind her daughter’s project, and appreciative of the help Holly received from the staff and people of Mountain Christian to pull it off.
“I was so excited to witness God working through this major undertaking,” she said. “I was also deeply touched by this Mountain body of servants who were encouraging her, standing in the gap and stepping up to assist this one fatherless high-school student in fulfilling her commitment. I’m so honored to be her mom!”
Anchor and Armor perform at the Elevation Festival at Mountain Christian Church, Joppa, Md.
The Currans were also quick to express their appreciation for Holly’s efforts.
“We are honored and humbled that Holly thought of our ministry to the people of Turkana when she decided to step off the sidelines and truly make a difference for the kingdom,” said Dennis.
Holly takes little credit for the success of her efforts, and says her faith and relationship with Christ have been strengthened by the experience.
“God worked in every aspect of this; He was the one controlling it,” she said. “On the Friday of the event, people kept asking me how I felt – planning this and then seeing it come to life – but to be totally honest, I don’t feel like I’m the one who put it together. I’m just incredibly blessed to say that He could work through me.”
“Please sing and shout, beat your drum, play the harp and thank our Almighty God, for we have hit an ocean (of water) at Ololchura!”
The excitement in CMF missionary Gene Morden’s words leaped off the computer screen last week as he reported the big news: after two long years of searches and surveys, prayers and persistence, water has been found on the campus of the Ololchura School in Masaailand, Kenya.
There were many times along the way when it looked like the dream of a well for the Ololchura community would never come to pass, in spite of the funding provided for the project by Crossroads Christian Church, Corona, Calif., according to David Giles, CMF’s Director of Church Catalyst Ministries.
“We had one unsuccessful attempt to drill, and a driller who ran off with our deposit,” said David. “Some of the surveyors said there was no water at this drilling site, but Gene (Morden) had so much faith in Brother Dario, a water douser, that we stepped out on faith and drilled where he told us to.”
“I had experience with Brother Dario, a water douser in Turkana, who has a 98 percent success rate throughout Kenya, compared to the scientific methods that yield less than a 50 percent success rate here,” said Gene. “He came to Maasai and marked where he thought water would be found at three different schools and all three were successful. So the more I prayed, the more I felt like we should try to drill at the spot he marked at Ololchura.”
The drillers, from Christian Relief Fund, began drilling on the spot marked by Brother Dario, and hit some water at 35 meters, just as the water douser had predicted.
“They kept going then because there wasn’t enough water there (at 35 meters), but they hit the ocean at 170 meters,” Gene said. “They test-pumped for 24 hours and the static level of the well stayed at 26 meters throughout with a very high flow. I am now praising God for this because it will greatly reduce the cost of the water pumping system. The drill team says this is the best well they have ever seen!”
“We were on our last bit of hope,” adds David Giles, “and then we hit the ocean. We are thanking God for this, as well as Gene for his hard work, the drillers from Christian Relief Fund and our funding partners at Crossroads Church for sticking with us through this long process.”
A team from Africa Fire Mission will depart Oct. 30 for Nairobi, Kenya, for another round of firefighter trainings and fire prevention education with Missions of Hope International (MoHI) and fire professionals in the greater Mathare Valley community, reports Dave Moore, the founder and director of the non-profit based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“We’ll be working with MoHI and community members in the Mathare Valley to develop new community fire prevention initiatives,” said Dave. “I will also be trying to make connections with more upper government officials in Nairobi again on this trip.”
A container filled with equipment and supplies was shipped to Kenya in late July. While they are in Kenya, the AFM team will distribute the supplies and officially donate the firefighting equipment to the Nairobi Fire Department.
Dave will also spend two days in Turkana in northern Kenya to see the MoHI school there and meet with various government officials.
“As far as we know, there is currently no fire protection in Turkana, but there is a growing government infrastructure,” he said.
The AFM group of six will travel and work with a team from LifeSpring Christian Church, Cincinnati, which will provide a medical clinic and a VBS program. Nancy Moore, Dave’s wife, will assist the MoHI staff to develop an assessment tool that MoHI can use with families in order to measure change in the Mathare Valley.
Africa Fire Mission is holding a fundraiser to support its work with firefighting and community fire protection on Sat., Oct. 4, at the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati. Go here for more information and tickets.
A small team led by outreach leader Brian Smith of Agri-Stewards, Lebanon, Ind., recently visited Kenya and Tanzania to share how the principles of “Farming God’s Way” (FGW) can help farmers there increase their crop productions.
First stop: Arusha, Tanzania
The team first visited Megan and Michelle Moss, sisters who went to Kenya and Tanzania with Agri-Stewards in Feb. 2013, and are now CMF missionaries.
“Our biggest project was re-plumbing a large garden area,” said Brian. “We brought some T’s and valves and got to work.”
The team also took over items to consider as micro-enterprise opportunities: a 10-bucket Chapin drip irrigation kit and a hand-crank corn sheller.
“I would guess that 95% of the corn is still picked and shelled by hand in Africa,” said Brian. “You wouldn’t believe the excitement we created when we demonstrated that simple device.”
A final project was helping BUV Tanzania, another CMF ministry project, add a planter to its lineup.
“We adapted a Yetter 71 single row unit to a two-inch tube to slide into a receiver and assembled it in the BUV shop, then gave it a trial run,” he said. “I believe a lot of mechanization can be accomplished with the BUV, including threshing, shelling and grinding.”
Second stop: Eldoret, Kenya
The goal of this stop was to introduce four communities to the principles of FGW and trainer Ryan Boonstra. Each community invited Ryan to return in February to lead the trainings so they can increase their harvests.
Final stop: Missions of Hope’s Joska Farm, Kenya
Agri-Stewards has previously spent time working at Joska, but on this trip, the group planned to teach the full FGW curriculum, with two days in the classroom and a full day of demonstration.
Thanks to the FGW training by Pius Mutie in March 2014, the Joska farm had thrived, said Brian.
“The highest yield in the surrounding community was 20 bushel to the acre,” he said. “At Joska they harvested 54 bushels to the acre! Many had taken notice of our plot, and assumed the white guy had brought magical seeds. They were shocked to learn that we had used a local variety.”
Pius Mutie led the extended training, and taught in Swahili.
“I believe the participants understood the teaching at a deeper lever than ever before,” said Brian.
Other accomplishments at Joska included harvesting some sweet potatoes that were planted in March.
“We planted these as an experiment to see how well they would do in this soil and climate,” said Brian. “We were very pleased with the results, and learned that sweet potatoes are a prized snack at Joska School during their tea time!”
Agri-Stewards hopes that the farmers who have been taught Farming God’s Way principles will be willing to break from their traditions and seek God’s ways.
“Many Kenyans have been taught conservation agriculture methods, but prefer to go along with the crowd and not break tradition,” said Brian. “Only God can bring true, lasting change.”