Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ayimba are a people with a passion for wholistic transformation. Married 20 years ago, the duo are making a real difference in Baba Dogo, one of the Nairobi’s informal settlements, through conducting a wholistic ministry that serves the spiritual as well as educational needs of the community.
Pastor Richard attended a VISION Conference organized by one of the CMS-Africa trainers Meshack Okumu under Carlile College early 2005. CMS-Africa is actively involved in the process of training and equipping servants of God on the ground to then turn them into ‘champions’ who can really transform the communities in which they live. Pastor Ayimba and his wife Elizabeth are such champions, who after receiving the training and being encouraged to start SEED Projects in their locality, thought of starting a school to go alongside the church.
The school was thus initiated in early 2007 but the impetus and need became much clear in early 2008 when political violence broke out following disputed presidential polls.
“Christ Kingdom Mandate Ministries was launched in 2004 and 4 years later gave birth to Life Christian Education Centre in a 2 roomed house. We started the school with Ksh.2500 at the height of post-election violence in 2007/2008. We started the school at a strategic place, a bridge that connected two warring communities in Kenya at the time - the Luos and Kikuyus. The centre served as the meeting point first for the children from the two communities then for the parents and their communities as a whole.” (break up)
“We started with 1 child and waited for 3 weeks before we could admit 5 more children. That marked the pilgrimage of our learning centre due to swelling numbers of learners who day after day kept thronging our humble and tiny facility. That led the school to operate at 5 different localities as we searched for a suitable place to converge,” says Mrs Ayimba.
The need at the time was for day care to the numerous women who worked in factories within Baba Dogo and had no one to leave their young children with. This started off therefore as a day care but first transformed into an educational centre providing basic education. The 2 rooms they had begun with soon became too squeezed as the number of children increased thus necessitating expansion.
Pastor Ayimba says, “In 2015, the Lord opened doors as we took time to pray. We were led to an eighth of an acre plot which where the Life Christian Education Centre operates now. We thank God for providing us with a more spacious place and we trust him to set up a n education complex encompassing a school, a church and a college to serve the people of Kasarani area in Nairobi County.”
All the current infrastructure, land and building, have been set up using local resources and financing. Pasto Ayimba continues to trust God for partners and sponsors to help him better serve the community where God has called him in Baba Dogo Nairobi, Kenya.
The school currently serves slightly more than 400 students, the majority of whom are destitute, orphans and of poor background who would otherwise not attain formal education. The first candidates to sit for the national examinations last year and performed well attaining a mean grade of 300 out of possible 500 marks.
Through his ministry, Pastor Ayimba has inspired many to follow in his footsteps of wholistic mission. The people he has trained through locally organized VISION Conferences have initiated their own SEED projects that have transformed their own individual and corporate lives. Pastor Mburu, Mr. Okwaro and Pastor Maina all have started schools alongside their churches from their years of learning from Pastor Ayimba.
The sharing of resources between the church and the education centre has in many ways helped the two to propel one another. The church facilities and properties are used by the school and the school items are also used for the church. This is a perfect case of making use of what you have to make a difference and not waiting for something from elsewhere when you have not utilized what you have in your own hand.
The biggest impact for Ayimba then is that many children in the slums can now access basic education, something that was out of reach for many. Many who would have ended up with limited futures if it were not for them getting a basic education, allowing them to proceed to high school and them hopefully to university in years to come.
The biggest challenge that Pastor Ayimba has had to deal with while serving informal settlement is issues surrounding worldview. Due to a lack of resources and hardship, people have often resigned to fate and rely on being helped. Dependency syndrome has taken root in the minds of the people and so Pastor Ayimba has the two-fold role of deconstructing such perceptions while at the same time helping the needy individuals in the society in line with the commands of Jesus Christ.
The belief that the schools must have sponsors has worked against Pastor Ayimba’s teachings on work and self-reliance as many bring their children to school in faith that the school will somehow educate the child at no cost.
Owing to the informal settlement nature of the locality, Pastor Ayimba confirms his main challenge has been insecurity with people breaking into his premise several times. He has also had to battle challenges of corruption, especially in dealing with education officials. Financial handicaps, which have stalled most of his projects that would improve the delivery of services to the community has remained a constant headache forcing him to take loans at times to ensure that the school keeps running.
The HIV pandemic in informal settlements in Nairobi is yet another major challenge that Pastor Ayimba has to contend with. HIV rates are high and so many of the children who come to his education centre have an ailing parent or are orphans who are living with grandparents or other relatives.
Pastor Ayimba continues to preach on wholistic transformation both in his church but also to parents of the Life Christian Education Centre. He has also initiated a Man to Man training that focusses on the God, Work and Masculinity. The other helpful training that Pastor Ayimba undertakes in the community, particularly to self-help groups, is the sustainable livelihood programme.
Prayer and support to Pastor Ayimba and his wife will help them deliver a wholistic gospel now and in the future.
By John Ndeta