- Our big God adventure: Episode 1 — God saves us and delivers me from racism
- Our big God adventure: Episode 2 — God sends three angels
- Our big God adventure: Episode 3 — A ‘scary’ woman takes off her shoes
- Our big God adventure: Episode 4 — Countdown to Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 5 – Finally setting out for Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 6 – Water from Heaven
- Our big God adventure: Episode 7 – Reaching the unreached
- Our big God adventure: Episode 8 – A ministry and a child are born
- Our big God adventure: Episode 9 – How our small playgroup became one of the largest ACE schools in Kenya
- Our big God adventure: Episode 10 –Election violence, cookies and a poem
- Our big God adventure: Episode 11 — How God used an attack on our lives to soften hearts
- Our Big God Adventure: Episode 12 — From the deep hole of depression to the ‘one set of footprints’
- Our big God Adventure: episode 13 – The blessing of the boy under the bush
- Our big God adventure: episode 14 — Six homeless boys bring Isaiah 58:7 to life!
- Our big God adventure: episode 15 – God rescues a little Samburu girl from certain death
- Our big God adventure: episode 16 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 1)
- Our big God adventure: episode 17 – “… and you will dream dreams and see visions (part 2)
- Our big God adventure: episode 18 — God ‘interrupts’ our lives to plant school in remote village
Missionary Lydia Venter testifies of the good fruit that comes out of obeying God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense
In Episode 9 I shared how a little playgroup developed into one of the largest ACE schools in Kenya. Well, it should also be remembered how this ACE school gave birth to several satellite nursery schools in remote areas.
Education in Kenya, back in the day, was very different from now. The 8-4-4 system – brought in by former president Daniel Arab Moi in January 1985 – produced a very rigid learning system with long school hours and little time for creative thinking or to develop problem-solving skills. Although all exams in Kenya are in English, the multiple-choice system can result in students going through primary level without learning to speak English. This leads to serious problems in secondary school where students are suddenly required to operate at a much deeper level of understanding.
Three of our children were in a local school doing this system and so we had first-hand experience of the devastating results, especially with our youngest daughter, Joy, who suffers from dyslexia. It was while seeking God’s face for the way forward, that I clearly heard Him say that whatever good we want for our kids, we should create ourselves. How little did we know that by starting YASHA Mission Academy, many children would eventually be impacted in a powerful way.
In the 10th and 11th episodes of our God adventure, I shared about the traumatic events of 2008 (post-election violence, an attack on our lives, me suffering from depression, etc). So, let’s fast-forward to December of that year.
On Sunday, the 14th, Wilco was asked to minister in the church that we had planted in Teret, a village at the foot of the Mau Forest. My job was only to greet the congregation and maybe share an encouragement. At that point I had dreamed about bringing quality education to remote locations, but because 2008 was such a challenging year, it was not even a topic that we had visited, I don’t think even once. On top of that, I was fighting major depression as a result of the brutal attack on our lives in March that year.
As I stood in front of the fairly small group who attended that day, I heard myself saying that we’re opening a nursery school in that area in January 2009. I was like “Say WHAT???!!!” I couldn’t believe my ears and it totally felt like I was a bystander hearing those words from Someone else.
People were cheering and you could clearly sense the excitement. Although I felt like asking Wilco to kick my behind, I remained calm … smiling … hiding the fact that I was secretly arguing with Holy Spirit in my mind: “God, You know we have no money! You know we just got a 9-month-old baby boy, and we’re not even sure how we gonna care for him. Lord, You know I’m currently struggling with severe depression and some days even getting out of bed feels like a major accomplishment. Jesus, I never even discussed this with Wilco … what will he think of me? He’ll think it was all my idea, when seriously Father, I’m as flabbergasted as he probably is right now.”
Luke 11:28 – He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’
Thankfully Wilco felt the confirmation in his spirit as well, and so the first thing we did was to call for a meeting with our school staff in Njoro, informing them of what the Lord was laying on our hearts. The days and weeks that followed were filled with prayer and getting strategy from Him. It felt simple and clear: using value-based Christian education to not only impact the children with the Gospel of the Kingdom, but to also teach them to speak, read and write English. We would take the pre-school (Grade 0) and ABC’s with Ace and Christi (Grade 1) and turn it into a two-year nursery school programme.
Education in Kenya is in English and it is expected for a child going to Class 1 to already be able to read and write. This was hardly every realised at that time, so one can imagine the constant pressure the little ones faced when entering primary level and very soon many of the youngsters would feel frustrated and even dumb. Students in towns and cities struggled — how much more children in villages where most kids didn’t even speak Swahili, never mind English. Statistics proved during that time that only 10% of the kids in the forest ever proceeded to secondary school, and so we felt a strong conviction that what we were doing was high on the Lord’s agenda.
We entered the educational arena with a system nobody in Teret had ever heard of. On top of that we were talking of the Kalenjins who are of the same tribe as their former president Moi, so they were obviously very loyal to the 8-4-4 system. When we sat down with the chief of the village, we humbly asked him to give us just two years. If, after our first batch of graduates, he felt that this was not benefiting the community, we would close the school. He agreed.
We then called a meeting with stakeholders and it was decided to open YASHA Learning Centre on Monday, the 19th of January 2009. However, we had to postpone the opening until Wednesday, the 23rd, as too many people brought their children that day. We literally could only take in 20 students. The project was blessed from the beginning and it was evident that this was bringing joy to the Father’s heart.
We could have hardened our hearts when the Lord spoke by His Spirit, as circumstances were very tough at that time. Or we could have argued that, although God had spoken, that surely the vision was meant for a later stage. The Lord had given us the grace to follow blindly and beyond reason.
2 John 1:6 – ‘And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love.’
We felt that this truly was a ministry of love towards those very precious little munchkins. We ran the school in Teret for many years until the government started in 2019 to make life very hard for private schools by imposing almost impossible demands. Corona came in 2020 and so we felt the season came to an end for us in this regard. However, the lives that were touched over the years would be celebrated in the spirit forever.
Most of our students would even skip Class 1 and proceeded directly to Class 2 and even Class 3. The chief begged us to open more schools, but we felt led to rather give our attention to more areas, and so we ended up with several satellite schools in difficult places. We continued following up on former students, and were blessed when one of our Yasha kids became the number one in the province with the highest score.
We think back on those days with gratitude towards Abba and, just like the sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32, we supernaturally find ourselves at peace when seasons change. This can only be by the Lord’s Spirit (Rom 8:14) and not by our own doing as it is God Who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose. (Phil 2:13).He still has a lot in store for those who are eager to walk in obedience.
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