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.