A chance encounter in Illinois between CMF Executive Director Doug Priest and two fellow University of Oregon “Ducks” fans has led to a partnership between CMF and a brand new CrossFit facility in Salem, Oregon.
Doug and Missions of Hope (MoHI) Director Mary Kamau visited West Side Christian Church in Springfield, Ill., last year for the church’s emphasis on child sponsorship in the Bondeni village in Nairobi, Kenya. During a fellowship break between worship services Doug noticed two men wearing his alma mater’s colors: green and yellow for the University of Oregon.
“I immediately accosted them with ‘Go, Ducks!’ ” said Doug, “and the father and son, Terry and Ryan Savage, introduced themselves, noting that Ryan had been to Kenya with a team from the church.”
In further conversation Doug learned that Savages were preparing to start a CrossFit gym in Oregon, and hoped to use some of the income from the gym to sponsor children from Bondeni, where Ryan already sponsors a child. They asked Doug how they could sponsor more children, and a partnership was born.
Last week, Doug and his wife Robyn were in Oregon and stopped by the new Cherry City CrossFit gym in Salem.
“Ryan met us at the gym and showed us around,” said Doug. “At the gym reception desk there’s a photo of a girl from the Mathare Valley, and cards of children available for sponsorship are available to members. Ryan’s dream is to sponsor one new child in Bondeni for every five members enrolled at the gym.”
“The three of us prayed for the success of the gym while we were there,” added Doug, “asking God to bless the desire of the Savage family to make a difference in the lives of the least of these.”
The entire community of Missions of Hope schools in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya, erupted into joyous celebrations recently when the results of the high school exit texts for the first graduating class of MoHI schools were announced, reported CMF missionary Keith Ham.
Keith, who has been there from the beginning of CMF’s partnership with MoHI, characterized that Monday as “the day we all have been waiting for.” Fifty-six high school students took the placement test, which determines their future educational pathways.
“We were hoping that these children, born in abject poverty, could rise about their circumstances and be lifted, through what they have learned of God and His grace, through education and nutrition, and through the many people who have been the hands and feet of God actively serving these children,” he said.
Twenty-four got the marks necessary to move ahead in Kenya’s university system, well beyond anything the community of Mathare has ever seen before. The MoHI student who got the highest result, Clyde, was even hoisted on the shoulders of the kids as they began a victory march into the village.
“Everyone in the village was celebrating,” said Keith. “They were hugging Mary Kamau and acknowledging that without her commitment, love and sacrifice, this day could not have happened. They were hugging each other and singing and dancing and carrying on. It was pure joy!
“It’s the first time that anyone from Mathare Village One has ever gotten such good marks and is entering university based on his marks and tests,” Keith added. “Of the 24 who did well and will move on, several are from Village One. When you know where they come from it provides a different perspective.”
And what are the prospects for the other 32 graduates who didn’t receive the necessary scores?
“Of the 32 remaining who didn’t make the top marks, several of them will enter university through what they call ‘parallel programs,’ meaning they can go to college but they just can’t access low-interest government loans. Others will attend polytechnic schools,” explained Keith.
”My expectations for college-bound kids from MoHI, considering where these kids are coming from, has been exactly this percentage, about 50%,” said Keith. “Entering college here is hard and they make it hard for many reasons. We’re excited to see where the total 56 land in the next few months — 24 in university with government grants and loans, others in community college, others in ploy-tech and still others will land a job.”
The results were a very sweet moment for Keith and Kathy Ham and the many others who have worked for years with Missions of Hope.
“It was one of those moments when everything just comes together,” he said. “For a moment you can see the big picture. For a moment, all of the work, effort, tears and especially prayers seem to culminate in something that makes absolute sense.”
A British man living in Dubai will ride across the Alps next week while raising funds for a Missions of Hope International school in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya.
Tim Hooker, his American wife Fiona Petrocelli, and their son Quinlan became acquainted with the work of MoHI, CMF’s child sponsorship partner in Nairobi, when they were planning a luxurious safari holiday in the Masaai Mara in 2011. Fiona wanted to add a different perspective to the trip by spending a day doing some type of service for local people.
“Some friends of ours put us in touch with Mary and Wallace Kamau at MoHI,” said Fiona. “I didn’t want to arrive empty-handed, so Quinlan and I collected 100 pairs of used Crocs from friends and teachers at his school, and passed them out at the Baba Ndogo school.”
“The school was very tiny then, 200 children squeezed into a makeshift building made of corrugated tin,” said Fiona. “It was heartbreaking to see the condition of most of the children’s shoes, but such a joy to see the smiles on their faces as they walked away with their new, used Crocs. But then we ran out of shoes, and the only response we could make was to say we would come back next year with more!”
Upon their return to Dubai, Fiona sent photos of their day at Baba Ndogo to Crocs UAE. Moved by the photos, the company donated 800 pairs for Fiona and Quinlan to take back to Nairobi, which they did in April 2012. These visits became the subject of a photography exhibition staged by Fiona in Dubai in January 2013 to raising awareness of life in the Mathare slums.
Given his family’s close connection with MoHI, Tim Hooker, an avid cyclist who completes challenging rides with a group of friends every other year, decided to add a fund-raising challenge for MoHI to this year’s ride.
“This year the group, which called itself the ‘Jebel Raiders,’ decided to take on the Raid Alps (the name of the ride course), and added a day to tackle the Alpe d’Huez, a famous climb often featured in the Tour de France,” said Fiona.
The ride is 835 km from Lake Geneva to Antibes on the Mediterranean coast, and includes 19,000 meters of ascent. The group flies out of Dubai on May 29, and the ride will take seven days.
“Two members of the group and their families had heard about our experiences in Mathare and were keen to raise money for the kids of Baba Ndogo School,” said Fiona. “At some point they, too, want their children to have the experiences that Quinlan has had of seeing how many people in this world live and provide a balance to what is a very privileged upbringing here in Dubai.”
The cyclists set a goal of raising $5,000 to sponsor two children through their entire elementary years at Baba Ndogo School, and reached that milestone by May 19. Contributions are continuing to pour in, and the total now stands at nearly $7,000. You can follow the Jebel Raiders on their ride across the Alps here and make a donation to support their efforts on behalf of Missions of Hope here.
Missionaries love to share good news, but most will admit they are understandably hesitant to share their discouragements and struggles. Here CMF missionary Joshua Barron shares some past difficulties that have now led to some very good news.
A number of years ago, before we arrived in Kenya in January 2007, CMF founded Narok Bible Training Institute as a venue to train elders, pastors, and other leaders in the churches we were planting among the Maasai. This venture was not a success, but while it was quietly fading away, a CMF colleague of ours was laboring with some Maasai church leaders to establish Mission Institute East Africa. This had a top-notch curriculum and a wonderful missions emphasis, but unfortunately, this venture failed also. All of this was as frustrating and as discouraging as you might think. The only good news at the time was that in the far northern deserts, the Turkana Bible Training Institute was still going strong.
Eventually, the resulting dearth of ministerial training opportunities for the Maasai believers began to finally be felt. Maasai churches and church leaders began to recognize the need for their church leaders, elders, pastors, and teachers to receive quality training and discipleship to equip them for their ministries, and began to push CMF to help them renew this type of ministry. For our part, we pretty much refused to start something new, but we let them know that we would joyfully assist them in whatever ways possible in anything that they began.
So steam began to build. In 2012, Community Christian Church leaders sitting in a meeting with two CMF missionaries demonstrated a desire and a willingness to step forward. In that meeting, they requested that I should be the one to lead in helping with that task. The CCC churches formed a committee and appointed me to chair it. (While we were on furlough, our teammate Joe Cluff took over for me.) A uniform curriculum for the new training institute was set and the Community Christian Bible Training Institute (CCBTI) is in the process of being born.
Turkana Bible Training Institute is the first campus for the new school. The church leaders on the steering committee of the Kajiado Training Center in Ng’atataek contacted the CCBTI committee and asked for help to establish another branch campus, Kajiado Bible Training Institute. Classes will begin there in January 2015. The best news is that the Kajiado Bible Training Institute budget is (at least on paper) self-sustaining, and will not require the large financial subsidies needed by the previous schools.
Seven of the Kajiado Training Center committee members have said they will be among the first KBTI students, and they are willing to pay the higher fees necessary for the budget to be met. Pray with us that in January 2015 a bright morning really will dawn for the new Community Christian Bible Training Institute and all of the CCC churches.
Two congregations in the Mara North Cluster of Community Christian Churches near the Maasai Mara Game Preserve in Kenya have recently broken ground for new buildings for their growing flocks, and expect to have the completed structures in use by July.
Mbitin is a young church that began in 2008, according to William Koya, a long-time leader in the Mara North Cluster and the Field Operations Supervisor for the Community Health Partners clinic.
“They used to worship under a tree, but now they are blessed with some funds to build a church,” said William. “The congregation is 218 members.”
The building will measure 30 by 50 feet and will be the congregation’s first permanent building made of stone, according to CMF missionary Lynn Cazier.
“This is being built with financial assistance from CMF of about $5,900,” Lynn said. “That is about half the total cost of the building. The rest of the cost has been raised by the Mbitin church and the others in the cluster. In well-organized clusters like Mara North, all the churches work together to raise funds for the next building on the list, and then move on to the next one.”
The Olkimitare Church, on the other hand, is a more established congregation with 260 members, said William Koya, and is building its second building.
“The first Olkimatari permanent building was constructed in 2002-03 and was one of the first built with cooperative assistance from the CMF church-building fund,” said Lynn Cazier. “Unfortunately, it was essentially built in a swamp on too much black cotton soil and has had many problems with settling and cracks in the walls and floor.”
The church has been discussing replacing or moving the building for the past few years, but each individual congregation receives assistance from CMF to build only one permanent building, so they knew they had to really step up financially for this project. They will also re-use some materials from the old building to construct the new one.
“What is so great to see about this one is that Olkimitare CCC and other churches in the Mara North Cluster have combined to raise nearly $20,000 to construct its new building, making this the first permanent CCC building constructed totally and completely without financial assistance from CMF,” said Lynn.
“This is truly a day for rejoicing in the ongoing maturity of the Community Christian Church, to celebrate with these believers and thank God for this accomplishment,” said Lynn.
A team of 13 people traveled to Mission of Hope’s Joska Farm in Nairobi, Kenya, in March on a 10-day trip with Agri-Stewards of Lebanon, Ind., with “grand plans of planting nearly 30 acres,” said outreach leader Brian Smith. “But God had something else in mind.”
Agri-Stewards, a non-profit founded to teach “Farming God’s Way” principles to families and communities in third-world countries, has sponsored many such trips to Kenya, and last year arranged the donation and transport of a container of mechanized farming equipment – including a tractor — to the farm. But the team’s plans to put the tractor to work this year were halted by unexpected early rains totaling nearly five inches over three nights.
“Our plans would have allowed only a couple of days’ work at the farm at Joska with the ag team, with the majority of our time spent at Ndvoini and the 24 acres,” said Brian. “We quickly had to draw up a new game plan. We firmly believe that God’s desire for us was to work side-by-side with the MoHI farmers.”
So instead, the group cleared and planted two greenhouses, repaired the tractor, planted fruit trees, mulched, started a compost pile and started planting sweet potatoes.
“All of this work with the Joska team led to numerous teaching opportunities explaining the advantages of conservation agriculture versus the traditional Kenyan farming methods,” said Brian.
Team members also had various opportunities to share with the science and agriculture classes at Joska about careers in farming and bee-keeping.
“Our goal is to broaden the minds of the girls that farming is not just swinging a hoe in the hot sun,” said Brian. “There are multiple opportunities to use math and science in the field of agriculture.”
The team was also able to broaden its ministry to the young women of Joska on this trip through Bible lessons and craft projects presented by a teacher, Jodie Lamb, and a nurse, Betty Brandenstein, who accompanied the group.
“Jodie and her assistants did a wonderful job sharing with 250 high school girls how God loves and cares for them,” said Brian. “They combined Bible lessons with crafts to build up and encourage the young ladies, some of whom have come through very difficult experiences while growing up in the slums of Nairobi.”
As always, the team members felt that they were the ones who received the blessings on the trip.
“We were all touched by the stories we heard, and saw how God is at work through MoHI, transforming the Mathare Valley,” said Brian.
Nurse Betty Brandenstein and Lebanon, Ind., farmer Dave Chance help a member of the Joska ag team start a new compost pile.
Tony Richardson, Lamb Farms, Lebanon, Ind., and Farron Miller, a mechanic from Veedersburg, Ind., work with the Kenyan mechanics to fix a tractor problem. The tractor became important as a “mud runner” instead of a field worker.
Lebanon, Ind., farmer Dave Chance teaches Joska farm workers the basics of soil health and the ‘why’ behind the way “Farming God’s Way” works.
Team members and farm workers load the tractor-pulled trailer with food supplies for the Joska Boys’ School, located about three miles away. The rain made it impossible to travel without using the tractor.
Students in CMF’s Discipleship Training School (DTS) are taking their lessons to heart, planting two new churches recently and making plans to start seven others.
Francis Yenko, a Maasai who was mentored in DTS and trained to lead the classes, recently shared some of the amazing work his students are doing in the Elangata Enterit cluster of Community Christian Churches.
“Praise God with us for the new church planted a week ago by the DTS students at a place known as Naitiami,” said Francis. “This is a very remote place where there had been no church before, and these men prayed over 85 people last Sunday who gave their lives to Jesus. We plan to send people from Olepishet Community Christian Church and other DTS students to Naitiami each week to encourage and teach the new Christians.”
Another new church was opened recently in the village of Olashaiki, added Francis, and an elder from the Olepishet CCC, William Masiyioi, was commissioned to serve as its pastor.
DTS is a five-to-six-month, full-time program that gives participants an opportunity to discover their passions and their part in God’s purposes for the world. It includes both lecture and outreach phases. Frances is excited about the changes he has witnessed in his students, and appreciates CMF’s role in the work.
“You are all part and parcel in what God is doing in Maasailand,” he said, “and especially in this discipleship training school.”
The work of Community Christian Church in Kenya continues to expand through committed and capable national leadership, according to David Giles, CMF’s Director of Church Catalyst Ministries.
“Francis went through DTS and was later mentored to lead DTS by a missionary, and now he is leading DTS and his students are planting churches!” he said. “The goal of effective church planting movements is to ‘entrust to faithful men and women who can train others,’ and it is so encouraging and exciting to hear stories of how what was poured into faithful men and women in CCC is multiplied as they train others.”
“There is so much God is doing in the more than 170 CCC churches that we cannot keep up with the number of church plants and baptisms,” added David. “Please continue to pray for these faithful workers.”
Four-year-old Natalia Ochieng didn’t know it, but the day she walked into the medical clinic at Missions of Hope’s Bondeni Center in Nairobi, Kenya, was the turning point in her young life.
Natalia was burned and severely disfigured at age 3 when she fell into a pot of boiling water. The man leading the clinic that day was Dr. Alvin Hartness, a retired pediatrician from Fayetteville, N.C., and a member of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, which is a partner with CMF in Bondeni.
“Our hearts immediately went out to her and her mom,” recalled Dr. Hartness. “Children like this are shunned. She may not have much of a life if she has to live with these disfigurations she has.”
Dr. Hartness, a veteran of many medical mission trips around the world, felt a real burden for Natalia’s situation. When he returned to the U.S., he began praying and searching for people and funds to help her. Through a series of medical connections, Dr. Hartness found a plastic surgeon, Dr. Peter Nthunba of Kijabi Mission Hospital about 30 miles north of Nairobi, who could do the surgeries right there.
“Dr. Nthumba and I emailed back and forth, and he said if I could raise the funds, he believed he could do all of Natalia’s procedures there at Kijabi Mission Hospital,” he said. “This act of compassion saved thousands of dollars in medical and transportation costs.”
Dr. Hartness and his wife Shirley went right to work, contacting friends, relatives and church members, and by the end of November has raised more than $4,000 and wired it to the hospital.
“Natalia had her first procedure Dec. 17 and tolerated it well,” he said. “She is now in the stage of stretching the skin with saline infusions. George Kimani, the nurse who has been shepherding Natalia and her mom from Mathare to the hospital, says she is a very good patient.”
Natalia has also now been accepted into the MoHI school in Bondeni, and is sponsored by a Sunday school class at Snyder Memorial church.
Things are going well, but Dr. Hartness emphasizes that the family needs continued prayer and financial support for additional surgeries, transportation, meals, and other logistics. If you are interested in helping support Natalia and her family with your prayers and funds for her ongoing plastic surgeries, please contact Dr. Al Hartness at email@example.com for more information.
Unity and outstanding church growth were the themes of the January meeting of the leaders of the Mara North cluster of Community Christian Churches in Kenya, reports David Giles, Director of Church Catalyst Ministries for CMF. Mara North is one of the 27 clusters that make up the 170 congregations in the CCC.
“As each Kenyan leader began to report on the growth and challenges in his church, all the leaders were amazed and excited to hear how God had been working among them,” said David. “In just three months, from November 2013 through January of this year, 196 people have been baptized and four churches have been planted.”
Although these leaders often feel inadequate for the task of carrying the Gospel and discipling believers, they were reminded yet again that they are not alone.
“The growth in these churches in Kenya is not simply the work of missionaries, although many strong and dedicated people have served in this capacity, nor is it solely the fruit of the work of the national church leaders, although many wise and courageous Kenyans have led the way for their people,” said David. “Each of us is blessed to join God for a time in His work, but the work is indeed His.”
The leaders will meet again on July 6.
“We are waiting with great anticipation to see what God is going to do with His Church in Kenya between now and then,” said David. “We are already looking forward to the reports of His goodness and are proud of these men who are united in His purposes.”
This past year was a good one for the churches of the Narok Central Cluster in Masaai, Kenya, according to Kenson Otuni, a key Maasai church leader who serves in the Ewaso N’giro congregation and as manager of the Ewaso N’giro Training Center for church planters.
“There was unity, cooperation and good teamwork among all our leaders in 2013,” he reported recently. “We were able to plant churches in Esupetai, Oldonyio-orashha and Orgilai, and plans are underway to open a new church at London Estate in the northern part of the town of Narok. In addition, 48 people from those churches gave their lives to Jesus and were baptized in 2013.”
The Narok Central Cluster is one of a dozen or so church clusters in Kenya that comprise the Community Christian Church. Each cluster of churches has leadership and fellowship and work together to oversee the efforts in the cluster and initiate new ministries.
“We are experiencing God’s presence in our cluster,” added Kenson. We are doing well and expecting God to do more powerful things through us in 2014.”
Other good news this past year concerned a long-standing dispute between the community and the Ewaso N’giro Training Center.
“In the last few years, the leadership of the Center was turned over to the cluster, with Kenson Otuni as manager, and now the issue has completely died down,” said David Giles, CMF’s Director of Church Catalyst Ministries. “We are happy to hear from Kenson that there is now a relationship of peace and love between the churches and the community.”