Our mission here at HOPE is to reclaim the lives of children to thrive
and flourish by sharing the love of Christ and providing food, education,
and job skills training.
HOPE is working with Christian Family Ministries Kenya (CFMK) to do just that with the children
in Nairobi, Kenya. Bishop Michael Omondi started CFMK many years ago to minister to people
in the slum called Korogocho. Through his church, he began the school to care for many orphaned
and vulnerable children in his area. HOPE and CFMK have been working together since 2009. HOPE's primary function is to partner with Bishop Michael's school so that they can gain an education and have their physical and spiritual needs met. In order for CFMK to be eligible to receive this partnership, they must comply with HOPE's standards for education, food, and spiritual teaching. In the future, we would like to partner with more schools in Kenya.
TRAINING & DEMONSTRATION CENTRE
HOPE has also established the Training and Demonstration Centre, or the TDC, about an hour south of Kajiado. This centre teaches students (18 and older) Biblical principles, entrepreneurial skills and trade skills to prepare them for a successful life.
The Origin of HOPE
In 2002, I (Cole Newman) had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with a class from Hardin-Simmons University. During that trip I met a young man named Japheth who was attending the University of Nairobi. We became friends and kept in touch. He later invited me to come back to Kenya to visit him at his home in Kitale. Two years passed before I was able to return to Kenya. As I was preparing for that trip I felt drawn to Isaiah, chapter 61. Specifically to the part that says "proclaim good news to the poor." I felt that this was why I was going back to Kenya.
During that second trip to Kenya in 2004, I had a great time getting to know Japheth better while staying with his friends and family. I learned the hard way that you don't eat beef stew from just any truck stop in Kenya. While staying in Kitale, he introduced me to a young girl named Agnes who attended his church. He told me that when she was only eight years old, her mother had sent her to a neighbor's home to work as a domestic servant. Because of that arrangement, she never went to school. Agnes' story touched my heart and I felt that I needed to help her. Japheth and I made arrangements for her to be tutored privately in order to catch her up with her peers academically. Our plan was that she would eventually go back to school and earn a degree.
After returning home, I sent money to Japheth, who in turn sent it to Agnes' tutor. Having assistance from an American created a lot of family and social pressure for Agnes. For that reason and many others, she stopped her schooling at about ninth grade.
In 2009, Cherith and I (married in 2006) traveled to Kenya so that I could introduce her to Agnes and Japheth. Japheth introduced us to another friend of his named Michael Oyiera. Michael was pastoring a small church in a slum area called Korogocho on the east side of Nairobi. During the week, he used the church as an informal school. Around 30 young children came to his school where they were fed a small snack and received very basic lessons from a volunteer teacher. Michael told us that most of those kids only ate a meal 3 or 4 times per week. Cherith and I were deeply moved by how much Michael was able to help with the little resources he had. We felt that we should support their efforts, so we donated the $200 love offering our church had sent with us. According to Michael, that donation enabled each child to eat two meals per day for the whole month!
After returning from Kenya, we continued to support them with the generosity of our friends, family, and church members. Every month we would send money via Western Union and each month we would watch, amazed, as God would prompt people to give us money for our Kenyan friends. By His grace we were able to send them $200 per month most months.
As more and more people were sending donations through us, we decided to form a non-profit organization called Hope Opportunity Purpose Eternity (HOPE). We began to actively speak in churches, asking others to join us in support of Michael's church and their work with the children of Korogocho. I began traveling to Kenya once per year, and each time I visited there were more children and teachers in Christian Family Ministry's school. Michael and his staff were actively preaching the Gospel as they educated Nairobi's most vulnerable children. By 2013, there were nearly 100 children in the school and about a dozen staff members.
At home our own family continued growing. Our fourth child was born in 2012 and Cherith and I had been praying about adopting a fifth child. One day, while I was praying about that, I believe God said we were supposed to sell our house. About that time, Tommy Hood (missions pastor at our church) and I had a discussion about missions in which I came to believe God was prompting me to move to Kenya with my family and work for HOPE full time. Cherith was a little surprised when I told her I thought we should move to Africa, but she and I both believe that Holy Spirit had been working in our hearts before that with little whispers and promptings about what was coming. We sold our house and most of our stuff, packed what was left into 14 trunks, and in August of 2014, we arrived in Kenya.
Our Time in Kenya (2014-2017)
We were not quite sure what we had just done, but we were determined to follow God the best we could. We worked to develop a sponsorship program for the kids in Michael's school who numbered 108 by the time we moved to Kenya. Debbie Clower was one of our founding board members who moved to Kenya with us for the first 6 months. She became a part of our family and worked very hard helping us develop the sponsorship program. She and Cherith spent a lot of time taking pictures, interviewing kids, recording birthdays, and family information on all 108 students. Over time, we were able to find a lot of people to partner with us by sponsoring a child.
Over the next three years, we were able to buy land and build a house about 3 hours south of Nairobi. Our plan was to start a school geared towards young adults who had finished high school and were trying to get started in their lives. The classes would teach them about God and His Kingdom, how to budget money, to develop a vision and a plan for their lives, a little farming, some computer skills, and some ideas about how to become an entrepreneur.
The Maasai welcomed us into their community with a celebration which included a couple hundred of our neighbors. I hired and trained several young men to help me build our house, a guest house, a tool shed, barn, and a building we use as a store. We built some of our buildings using earth bags and others using earth blocks. Earth bags are basically feed sacks full of dirt compacted and stacked up as you would stack bricks. Earth blocks are compressed adobe bricks which are dry stacked without mortar. We used solar panels in all of our buildings, since the power grid has not extended out to where the TDC is. We taught our employees about rotational grazing and using mulch to grow maize (corn) in a dry environment. We also brought some milk cows to the area, defying the local belief that they could not survive there.
In early 2017, we were becoming more aware that my mom's health was failing. At the same time we were having difficulty renewing our work visa. We were also becoming more concerned that our children did not have many friends their own age where we lived in the bush. They did get to interact with friends when we traveled to Nairobi every two weeks for groceries and to go to church, but it wasn't much. We decided it was time to return to Texas, and in May, our work permit expired so we had to leave Kenya. We spent about a month in Texas, mostly with my mom. We also made preparations to move back to Abilene. Towards the end of May, we returned to Kenya on tourist visas to host a missions team from Beltway Park Church and to get everything set for our final departure in August. On June 26th, I received word that my mom had passed away at her home and so I made another quick trip back to Texas. We hosted the group from our church and then moved back to Texas a couple of weeks later, almost exactly 3 years to the day from when we arrived in Kenya.
We left the TDC under the care of Romo, who continues to manage the operations very well. Christian Family Ministry now includes a primary school (elementary) and a secondary boarding school (high). There are a total of 315 children being ministered to by Michael and his staff. I travel to Kenya about every 6 months to see how things are going at Christian Family Ministry and to the TDC. It has been such a blessing to see what God is doing in Kenya and to be part of it in a small way.
WHO WE ARE