Keith and Kathy Ham: ‘Serving 30 years in Kenya has been a privilege!’
Keith and Kathy Ham have spent 30 years “watching God work” in Kenya, and continue to feel that their service with CMF there has been a remarkable “privilege” – a word that comes up often when the Hams talk about their ministry career.
Kathy Ham says she “grew up praying for CMF missionaries every night” because her dad is a very strong CMF supporter. She and Keith affiliated with CMF in December 1988 in Colorado Springs and have spent their 30-year career in Kenya with their four children – first in Turkana from 1991-2002 and then in Nairobi from 2003 to the present.
Living among the people of Turkana and sharing life with them was a highlight reel of experiences for the Hams.
“Watching a whole community embrace Jesus and then slowly, slowly, coming to understand what that means was a privilege,” said Kathy. “We were able to use all the cultural tools and biblical truths that we had been taught and then stand back and see what God accomplished.”
“It has been a roller coaster ride in the extreme, but one that we don’t want to get off of,” added Kathy.
One of the high points of the Hams’ lives was when MOHI began working in Turkana, and the school that the Hams had started in 1995 in Kangagetei village became a MOHI school.
“This bringing together of our two ministry worlds was such a sweet gift from God,” said Kathy.
Another good memory is the day when both Keith and Kathy were ordained at Outreach Hope Church.
“It was so amazing to be ordained in an African church,” said Kathy. “Such a privilege.”
Although the Hams served through some difficult times in Turkana and in Nairobi, their ability to provide resources for the Kenyans was a huge blessing for their ministry.
“We lived through two famines in Turkana, the election violence of 2007-08 in Nairobi, and now the pandemic,” said Kathy. “We were able to respond and provide true resources and relief because of our incredible supporters.
“To be able to respond when people are truly hungry gives you a feeling that is hard to put into words,” added Kathy. “It is because of the generosity of God’s people that our experience has been so positive.”
Serving as a family
Kathy admits that like most missionary families, they experienced the ups and downs of raising children on the field.
“We didn’t have to share our kids with so many activities, and we learned to lean on one another,” said Kathy. “There wasn’t a strong cultural pull to have them grow up fast, either. Being our own ‘circle’ has paid off in the long run; we are still very close although we don’t live near one another now.”
On the other hand, “all the back and forth in their lives led to some painful times for them that we are just now starting to understand,” said Kathy. “The years when they were in universities were really hard on all of us. Also, taking them away from their grandparents and cousins … nothing was ever more painful than that.”
All the kids are grown now, however, and the Hams are gratified to see that “their compassion and desire to make a difference in the world comes from their first-hand knowledge of different peoples.”
Daughter Karisa is a now a nurse in Vancouver, Washington, planning a June wedding and graduating with a master’s degree in writing from Seattle Pacific University in March. Daughter Kelsey taught middle school science, then took a leave of absence to pursue a master’s degree in strategic ministry from Johnson University and feels a call to full-time service.
Son Jesse is living and working in San Diego and planning his next steps, while Jonathan is a PhD student and teaching assistant in cognitive science at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“We have one child in Washington, one in Arizona, one in California and one in Pennsylvania,” said Kathy, “and Keith and I are back in Kenya!”
And true to form, the Hams are developing a new passion project for the children of Kenya.
“Right now, our hearts are turned to the Angaza Discovery Camp,” she said. “We know that God is in this and we have felt His leading from the very first concept.
“To get our kids from the slums out of their situations and let them breathe in the beach air, play in the waves, go for hikes in the nearby forest and learn how to care for creation, all while focusing on their relationship to Jesus, is going to bring such transformation to their lives,” said Kathy. “We cannot wait until September 5, when the first group of sixth-graders get on that train to the coast and arrive at Angaza! Glory to God!”
Keith and Kathy would be thrilled if you would help them celebrate their 30th anniversary of service in Kenya with a gift to the Angaza Discovery Camp. It costs $150 to send a child to two weeks of camp; $75 for one week of camp per child. You can donate here.