NOP Stories to Share With You...
News about Bethany Christian College
By Barbara Jacobson - Bethany Christian College was located in Mathare, a seriously impoverished area. Residents are generally poor and lack access to basic necessities such as water, electricity and waste disposal.
My first trip into the heart of Mathare was when I followed the elementary school principal to see his school. I followed him back into the area of dwellings off the dirt road. The path was lined pieces of plastic bags mixed with garbage. I jumped sewage ditches, wound around walls of garbage and children digging through the piles. The school was a small building, mud brick on the bottom half, pieces of wood and cardboard on the top half and roofed with rusted pieces of tin. There were 4 little classrooms, and I visited the children in each one. “We have 18 students,” the principal told me. “But the school is new, and we need books and supplies.”
After visiting the school, I started thinking about opening a library for all the school children. What if we set up a library at the college and then we could invite all the elementary schools to come, setting up a schedule so they wouldn’t all come at once.
Janice, another missionary in Kenya, and I used our funds to have a bookcase constructed. It consisted of two 12-foot-long and 7-foot-high cases of shelves hooked together with hinges and on wheels. Both sides would come together, locked, and set against the back wall of the chapel when not in use.
Then Janice and I went on a book buying spree. We both had some money donated to our missionary work from our church and family connections. We bought reading books as well as textbooks that were required by the schools but often could not be afforded by the children.
Noting the lack of playgrounds in the nearby primary schools, the college made room in a grassy area between the chapel and the cafeteria for the children to have playtime. I could hear the children from my open office window. Squeals of joy! It filled my heart with happiness.
We also found a section of ground to erect a swing set. I found someone to make it and arranged for it to be assembled at the college. It took a few weeks before it came, but it was beautiful. Pained in yellow, blue, and red stripes and 4 swings! Many of the children had never been on a swing, and some were a little timid at first. But soon they flocked to it, standing in line for their turn, and running to get back in line for another swing.
Some of the schools that came to the library and the playground:
St. Benedict, a place that takes in street children. They brought about 20, mostly around 8 or 9 years old, but some as young as 5 and as old as 18.
MEFAG is a German Missionary society that established this school for needy children. I had met the director when I was out inviting the schools and he told me that one of the students at Bethany had been to his home and had prayed with him.
The college students took their faith on the road with crusades, involving long trips to remote villages.
They would also set up their instruments outside the college gates to play, sing and preach their love of Christ to the Mathare community.
More in depth News about -
BETHANY CHRISTIAN COLLEGE
Bethany Christian College was started in 1997 by a Korean Missionary called Rev. Sung Jin Kang, in collaboration
with American – Korean from Bethany United Methodist Church – NJ, as a Theological college to train Pastors from
poor backgrounds providing them with full scholarship.
It stared in a rented house in an estate called Pangani in Nairobi City (Kenya) that bordered – Mathare Slums – the second largest slum in Kenya.
The name at inception was Pangani School of Theology. From a student population of 15 students, it grew very fast
and 2 years later the missionary acquired a parcel of land in Mathare Slums and started constructing a new college
with hostels on the property.
At this time, he sought the support of the Bethany United Church in New Jersey USA who helped support the
construction and expansion of more scholarship opportunities for more students.
The population of the students doubled and in December 1999 the college moved to the new site and changed its
name from Pangani School of Theology to Bethany Christian College (BCC) to identify with the newfound sponsor
(Bethany United Church, New Jersy USA).
In the year 2000 the founding missionary Rev Kang took a sabbatical leave and went back to South Korea and
missionary Isaiah Kim was sent by Bethany United Church to take over as new Principal from Rev Kang.
Kim steered the college into great expansion with over 200 students and opened the college chapel into a full
church open to the public. BCC was also uniquely established as an official college that trained Chaplains for the
Kenya Armed forces, who became many of the students.
3 years later in October 2002, Rev. Kim was recalled back to the USA for another assignment, and he handed over
the college to a local church organization. This church organization appointed a principal who was an over
ambitious man, and he opened a door for inclusion of secular courses at BCC. This led to large enrollment of
students and led to secularization of the college, introduction of college fees to all students and the withdrawal of
scholarships for the needy students.
Many students were forced to drop out without graduating and this marked the onset of the downfall of the
college. In 2004 disagreements between the church leadership and originally registered organization of the African
Rural Mission ensued. The founding officials were being totally ignored in all this change in the purpose of the
college. Their only recourse was to file a lawsuit in the High Court of Kenya to stop this illegal take over. This led to
court cases which halted the operations of the college.
The African Rural Mission won their case in court and the church was given an order to vacate by the High Court.
Upon their departure the church vandalized the college, carrying away every piece of furniture, equipment, books,
hostel beds, computers, and motor vehicles, leaving the college empty. This marked the death of BCC to date.
Currently Rev. Otieno is pastoring the church in the college with a sizable congregation that remained after the
fracas that really affected the church. He is equally trying to pick up the pieces to see if the college can be revived.
However, this has not been easy because the damage caused to the college by the church was devastating.
The alumni, prior professors, supporters, and missionaries are coming together to work on reviving this great
college that impacted the lives of many. Bethany is a cherished heritage to many of us.
We have obtained the assistance of Cliffmax Kenya Enterprises building contractors to evaluate the condition of
the college and provide a detailed estimate of the cost to restore the facility.
We are ready to do all we can to revive this college and we pray for God’s help and direction.
News about OUR TEAM IN SIERRA LEONE
KEBBIE is a teacher in rural Sierra Leone. He has developed an agricultural program where the community works together to grow crops such as swamp rice and ginger.
KADDIE is our loving volunteer at the orphanage home registered in the country as Network for Children in Need orphanage. She is mother to all these lovely children.
OSMAN is a student we are supporting in the University of Sierra Loene. His heart is with the less fortunate in Freetown. He has recently formed a nonprofit organization named Adolescent Mothers Empowerment Forum (AMEF) which strives to educate, provide skills training, and end the cycle of poverty and dependence of young single mothers.