Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School Emmaus Milimani
Holy Cross Lutheran Church and School
Near Moi’s Bridge, Kenya
The Emmaus Hill School is in its third year of operation. The School year runs from January through November with the months of April and August recessed. This school has been a welcome addition to the community due to the fact that the towns of Milimani and Jaribu Kagoto are predominantly very low income areas. Present schooling options are either at too great of a distance or incur too great of a cost for the majority of families that inhabit this area.
Until recently, the church building of Holy Cross Lutheran Church at Emmaus Milimani had been used as the only school building. For the opening of the 2011 school year a new school building has been constructed which contains two classrooms, each able to adequately hold approximately 40 students each. The construction of this building was a joint effort. The land had been donated by Anna Sagala as well as the timber from the Sagala farm for the construction of the walls. The iron sheets for the roof were a donation from the CLC Kinship committee. The cost of classroom furniture, labor, doors and windows was donated by Holy Cross Ev. Lutheran Church, Phoenix. Several church members also donated their time and talents in the installation of the iron sheets onto the roof, the preparation of the foundation, and the hard work of mudding the walls. Mary and Anna Sagala were the chief coordinators for the construction project.
For the 2010 School year, the school had 107 students enrolled in three different grade levels. This included Baby Class (Pre- School aged children), Kindergarten, and First grade. These three grade levels were served by only two teachers who, initially, were receiving little to no compensation for their long hours of work. Holy Cross has since starting sponsoring the teacher salaries at a rate of KSH 3,000 (Approximately $40) per month for each teacher. Having the teachers sponsored frees up any and all school fees that come in to be applied towards the purchase of school supplies, school uniforms, and food for the school lunches. With the addition of the classroom building another grade level (2nd Grade) has also been added in order to carry along students who had started at the school. In the 2011 school year there have been no final enrollment numbers reported, but the school is staffed with 3 full time teachers, one assistant for the lower grade level, and a cook. These teachers have had many years of experience working in various private schools in the Matunda/Moi’s Bridge area. They also attend divine services at Holy Cross Lutheran Church at Emmaus Milimani regularly. Approximately 30 of the students at our school are orphans.
For the first year and a half of the existence of Holy Cross Lutheran Church at Emmaus Milimani the Sunday Services were led by the president of the congregation, Mr. Samson Otieno, resident of nearby Jaribu Kogoto. Anna Sagala would teach Sunday School and also assist the congregation in learning parts of the catechism. Upon the arrival of Missionary Gurath, he was requested to establish an order of worship service similar to one that is practiced here in the United States – liturgical in form, centered around the Word and Sacrament. During his 5 months serving this church Missionary Gurath personally had performed 23 baptisms. He had to wait until the Kenyan Church of the Lutheran Confession registration papers were processed until he could produce official baptismal certificates.
They have not reached the point where they celebrated the Lord’s Supper together at the church. Many of those attending church were coming from various church backgrounds and it was important to explore the Bible teachings together as presented in the Catechism before we united together in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The preaching and the teachings were very well received and attendance at the Sunday services averaged close to 80 people. Everyone who attended church regularly and joined us for Catechism instruction following the service received a Kiswahili Catechism produced by CPH (Concordia Publishing House). These catechisms along with several issues of Good News Magazine in the Kiswahili language, and Hymnals in the Kisii language were donated by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation based in Nairobi, Kenya. (This is an independent Lutheran Mission organization which is heavily involved in many translation projects all throughout Africa.)
Catechism instruction took place after every Sunday Service and lasted 1 to 2 hours. Before leaving, Missionary Gurath had produced small hymnbooks so that the congregation could become familiar with about 50 hymns in Kiswahili and be able to follow along in the worship service without the use of bulletins. These are normally produced by our missionary for every service while serving in the area.
Two men were selected by the congregation to attend the CLC seminary in Chotororo in the Kisii area of Kenya. One will attend for two years to be an evangelist and to mainly assist in the work of the congregation at Milimani: Jasper Juma Musakali. The other, Amos Otieno, who is the son of the president of the congregation, will attend the seminary for the full four year term in order to serve the congregation at Milimani in the future as their full-time pastor. These two students will be sponsored by the CLC KINSHIP committee and expect to begin their studies in May. Since the seminary is some distance away, there is a need to help with the cost of taking the bus to and from the seminary for these two students. The cost for this comes to $35 per student each month.
Semi-regular adult instruction classes were usually held during the week on Fridays. There were various people in attendance and the Schierenbeck instruction booklet “Shadows and Substance” was used. Weekly Bible study was held at the church along with time for prayer. They used the edition of the Good News Magazine that was on hand, the issue centering on prayer, specifically the Lord’s Prayer.
In the interim, while Missionary Gurath is away, the president of the congregation, Samson Otieno is conducting the worship services. He is well grounded in the Scriptures, carries himself in humility, and is serious about serving the people of God and bringing up the children of that congregation in the ways of the Lord.
There are plans in the works to drill for a well on the property of the church and school. For now the nearest clean water source to Milimani is at a distance and needs to be carried to the church and school. In the dry season a long queue can form at the water source. They are awaiting an estimate from a rock quarry company who can assist in the drilling at a reduced price in exchange for keeping any rock that is turned up in the drilling process. This would be a great boon to the school, church, and community at large.
The goal is for the school to eventually become self-sustaining. The opportunity for this to happen grows very much as the school progresses, for the local communities and outlying areas see what a blessing the school is. With the school providing a quality, Christ-centered education, even more students will be drawn from other areas. As families get to know the school and staff better, that opens the door for them to begin attending the church as well.
There are folks who live a significant distance away who are talking about donating land and other resources with a view toward having a place of worship not so far away. The fields are white! The opportunities abound!
With a view toward helping the church and school becoming self-sustaining, consideration is being given to operating a bureau (photocopying, scanning, internet use) in the town of Matunda. This would double as an office and meeting place for Bible study, adult instruction classes, etc., while generating income.
During his time in Kenya, Missionary Gurath made monthly excursions to teach at the seminary. His intention is to continue with this. We have also asked the CLC Mission Board if there are any other areas where he could be of service to them in East Africa as time permits.