10 on the 10th, The Many Ministries of Kijabe

While Kijabe Hospital is always on our minds, the general population over here in Wilmington, NC has never heard of it. Some even need to be reminded that Kenya is in East Africa. So, it’s usually safe to assume they’ve never heard of a small village named Kijabe or the hospital that’s located there. If you’re reading this blog, it’s highly likely you have heard of Kijabe Hospital. You’ve probably heard about the pediatrics services from Nate or myself. Or maybe you’ve been there yourself? Whatever the case may be, Kijabe Hospital is only one of the many ministries for which our sweet little Kijabe is known.

When asked what I like so much about living in Kenya, my instant response is, “The community.” I’m a people person. Living in Kijabe is a sure fire (from where did this saying originate?) way to meet people from tons of places in a short time. First of all, there are literally hundreds of people from around the world who volunteer, come for services or visit the hospital. We get to hear about many ministries happening all over Africa and beyond, simply because of where we live and the people whose paths we cross. Second, I’m gonna guess that Kijabe Station is the largest mission station still in existence in the world. While we don’t live on a compound, we do live in a community made up mostly of people who work at the hospital, both Kenyan and expat. There are hundreds of locals who live in or around Kijabe that pass through daily. There are also many missionaries and locals who work at the school where our kids attend (see No.1 below). Add in the families of the 400 boarding students that live at the school, who come to visit regularly and that’s a lot of humanity in one place!  Oh how I love it!

But the folks I want to focus on in this post are the ones who mostly live on Lower Station, named because of it’s lower elevation on the side of the mountain…where we soon very soon, will once again live. While they are the minority, surrounded by KH folks on all sides, they represent a number of gospel-centered ministries in which thousands of people in Kenya are being loved on, taught and shown the grace of Jesus. Getting to hear about and even see these ministries with my own eyes has been a huge, unexpected bonus to living overseas.

1. RIFT VALLEY ACADEMY This 450-500 kid boarding school is an enormous ministry to folks like us, who work in Africa, but would rather not homeschool our children. While our kids simply walk up each day to attend classes, most of the students board there from countries all over the continent. I have seen with my own eyes how well the teachers and dorm parents love on these kids like they are their own. They get a top notch education and are spiritually challenged. Dozens of missionaries raise their own support to be able to serve other families by providing this unique place for kids to learn and grow. Whether you’re a teacher, contractor, healthcare worker or just love students, there may be an opportunity for you to join the ministry of Kijabe by serving yourself or partnering financially with those who are already there! For more information about RVA, visit rva.org.

2. RIFT VALLEY WORKSHOPRVW is a place “committed to empowering women, bringing hope and providing the training necessary to achieve economic stability.” My first contact with this ministry was when I went with my friend, Brittney (the one who started the project) to deliver Bibles to the women she was training to sew and sell their products. Seeing their pure joy at receiving their own copy of Scripture was a memory that will stay with me forever. Now the women have their own workshop in Kijabe along with a small storefront and, hopefully coming soon, a coffee shop! Her love for these women is deep, as is her desire for them to know the hope of Jesus as well as be able to support themselves and their families! Want to give your family a unique gift that helps support these women? Love to sew and interested in sharing your expertise? Own your own shop and want access to these awesome fair trade products?  Visit riftvalleyworkshop.org. They’d love to hear from you!

3. OASIS FOR ORPHANS.

Oasis for Orphans is a small network of care centers for children across Kenya. Rick and Ann Smith are the missionary couple who live in Kijabe, but travel far and wide keeping up with the children at these centers, raising funds and making sure they are provided the best education possible through new opportunities. They are even starting a new school at one of their centers! From the first moment you meet this couple, their passion for the Lord and the children of Kenya is evident. You can give, partner by helping with fundraising, sponsor a child or join a short term trip to support this ministry. For more information, go to oasisfororphans.org.

4. NAOMI’S VILLAGE

Some of the first people we heard about before moving to Kijabe, were the Mendonzas, the couple who started Naomi’s Village. Some of the first people we bumped into after arriving to Kijabe, were the Sislers, a family who had just moved to Kenya to work with Naomi’s Village. It took us a while to get down the bumpy mountain road to visit for ourselves, but what a great ministry we saw when we finally made it down there! In their own words: “Naomi’s Village is a fully registered children’s home providing complete care for total orphans. Founded in 2011, we have since rescued over 81 children, including abandoned babies and those left parentless by terrorist attacks, AIDS, disasters, and domestic violence. The plans we have for these children and their futures are part of a remarkable undertaking, a call of God, to one day see the comforting of a vast wound on the heart of African humanity.” To read more about the ministry of Naomi’s Village and Cornerstone Academy, the school they’ve started, visit naomisvillage.org.

5. MOFFAT BIBLE COLLEGE

Our previous home in Kijabe was situated directly across the street from Moffat Field. Our boys loved watching the students, other players and spectators caught up in an enthusiastic game of football (soccer) nearly every evening. The Bible College students stay on the small campus located in Kijabe. We have been privileged to know many of the missionaries on staff at Moffat Bible College. The mission of this school is totrain men and women for effective Christian Ministry in Africa and the World. They aim to be a leading ministry training centre that impacts communities through the application of Biblical truth. For more information about this ministry, visit moffatbiblecollege.org.

6. CARE OF CREATION

Also across the street from our previous home in Kijabe, was Care of Creation. Natalie especially loved to walk through this colorful nursery to check out which trees, plants and flowers they had on hand. I got to know the couple that works with Care of Creation through my women’s Bible Study on lower station. The mission of Care of Creation and the Sorley Family is “to pursue a God-centered response to the environmental crisis in Africa that brings glory to the Creator, advances the cause of Christ, and leads to the transformation of people and the land that sustains them.” They reach this mission in a multitude of ways including education on how to best sustain the land/resources according to God’s design, leadership training and reaching out to many communities in Kenya. To learn more about this unique ministry, go to kenya.careofcreation.net.

 

7. CURE Kenya

I have to admit, I was a little confused that there was another hospital in Kijabe when we first arrived. I naturally assumed it was just another part of Kijabe Hospital until I learned otherwise. Cure International is “a non-profit organization that operates charitable hospitals and programs in 26 countries worldwide where patients experience the life-changing message of God’s love for them, receiving surgical treatment regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity.” Sounds like Kijabe Hospital, right?! The major difference is that Cure is mostly an orthopedic hospital, serving children with conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus. Without treatment, these kiddos have little hope for a future and many would die from their condition. Like KH, they also have a residency for physicians, only their program focuses on those who want to be trained in orthopedic surgery. Two great hospitals in one location. To see more about this ministry, visit cure.org/kenya.

8. SPORTS FRIENDS 

I learned about Sports Friends through my running/jogging/walking/mostly talking buddy in Kenya. Her husband and another family in Kijabe work with this ministry. The vision of Sports Friends is “to see a global movement of local church-centered sports ministries transforming lives and strengthening communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They aim to equip churches in Africa, Asia, and South America to make disciples of youth, their families, and their communities through strategic sports ministry. As a forever athlete, whether I still act on it or not, I believe this type of ministry is one of the most effective out there. Check out sports-friends.org to read more for yourself.

9. KENYA KIDS CAN

One of two things happens when you move to place like Kijabe. You can either quickly become so bogged down by the poverty you see all around you on a daily basis that you are too overwhelmed to do anything at all. Or, you can jump in where you find a place to help and do what you can. Sure, one person can’t do everything…but they can do something! This is, I believe, what spurred the Daubenmier Family to join as the directors of Kenya Kids Can. The Daubenmiers serve at Rift Valley Academy in many ways, but are also passionate about this ministry aimed at enhancing the Kenyan education system through a school lunch program and computer program. The school lunch program of KCC draws children to school and makes learning possible, as chronically hungry children have a hard time focusing and learning. The computer program teaches skills not currently offered in these schools, and broadens future education and employment options. For more info on this ministry, go to kenyakidscan.org.

10. NJOKI KIMANI, JOHN KARANJA, ETC.

The greatest asset Kenya has is it’s own people. I met Njoki Kimani when we began our Kiswahili language study back in 2015. She is one of the hardest working, most God-Fearing people I know. Getting to spend time with her during our language lessons and beyond was a huge blessing to me. She has never been married or had a child by birth, but has been a mother to countless children in and around Kijabe. Her love for God’s children pushes her to work tirelessly and pray (and believe!) without ceasing. She humbly provides and seeks out opportunities for each of her children, all the while giving God all the glory for any successes that may come her way. If you want to get in touch with Njoki to hear the latest on how the Lord is sustaining her, or if you’d like to help her with school fees for one of her children, I’d be happy to get you in touch with her! Better yet, come visit us in Kijabe and I’ll have her meet you over a mug of hot chai. 

Also working in Kijabe, is John Karanja. He works at RVA, but also pastors a church in the camp for Internally Displaced Persons. I’ve met John on occasion, but while I don’t know him that well personally, his reputation precedes him. Many of our friends at RVA have partnered with his pastoral ministry in many ways over the last few years. He is passionate about making sure the families in his church are fed, both physically and spiritually. John’s most recent need is a reliable vehicle to get him to and from his church, work and home. Our friends, The Berrys, who also serve at RVA, have set up a way to give towards this need! If you feel led to donate towards this fund, you can safely go right to this LINK and instantly become a part of this ministry to a group of people in Kenya who greatly need John’s assistance.

As I end each paragraph above with a way for you to learn more, give or partner, I hope you aren’t annoyed or offended. Since becoming a missionary and moving to Kenya, what used to feel unnatural and awkward to me (asking for money!) has become a humbling, yet true privilege. With each ministry listed in this post, I am reminded of just how many opportunities there are to be a part of God’s work going on around the globe! And I’ve only listed the ones I can think of from one little village in rural Kenya.

Whether you choose to partner with any of these or another ministry, promise me you’ll take the time to think about where God might be asking you to share the resources He’s given you. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul when he wrote,  “Really, it is not that I want to receive gifts from you, but I want you to have the good that comes from giving And now I have everything, and more. I have all I need, because Epaphroditus brought your gift to me. It is like a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God, who accepts that sacrifice and is pleased with it.” {Phil. 4:17-18) Most of the people I mentioned above have experienced the “good” Paul mentioned as they give themselves fully to the work they get to do in Kenya. I imagine that good is what spurs them on to continue. Thank you, Lord for allowing us to be the tiniest part of your redemptive Kingdom work!