A New School Opens in Kenya in Honor of Daniel R. Jackson

Donors and close friends of former North American Division leader funded the project.

Laura Tester, A Better World, for Canadian Adventist Messenger
A New School Opens in Kenya in Honor of Daniel R. Jackson
The late Daniel R. Jackson (center) interacting with orphaned children in Kenya during one of his trips with ABW in recent years. [Photo: A Better World]

In the wide-open plains of the Masai Mara, Kenya, a new elementary school recently opened its doors. The building can support up to 200 students in grades 1 through 8, who no longer have to gather under a tree to attend class. A Better World (ABW) opened the school in honor of the late Daniel R. Jackson, who served the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 49 years.

Jackson was president of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 10 years before retiring in July 2020. He died in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, on July 23, 2022, leaving behind his beloved wife, Donna, and three adult children.

Ngila ECD School is a fitting tribute to a man who was bigger-than-life to many, including ABW co-founder Eric Rajah. Jackson was well known for his love of the church and his passion to serve, as well as his courage, humility, and desire for inclusivity, Rajah said. Together with about 20 students from Parkview Adventist Academy in Lacombe, Alberta, Rajah visited the Kenyan school in March 2023.

Jackson’s journey with ABW began when he accepted the pastoral position at College Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lacombe. He became involved with ABW and was passionate about its humanitarian causes.

While serving as chair of ABW, Jackson contributed to the charity’s growth and traveled to many countries. He was a voice of compassion and commitment, ABW leaders said.

“He went to Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Haiti, India, and Sri Lanka, all during times when those countries were experiencing some very difficult challenges,” Rajah said. “He was in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. And [he did the same by visiting affected regions] after the genocide in Rwanda, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the earthquake in Haiti, and the post-election violence in Kenya.”

Following the 2004 tsunami that hit Sri Lanka, Jackson arrived with the ABW team to help. “His compassion came through to the people who were affected,” Rajah said in a video tribute. “He felt their pain and encouraged them to carry on.”

“Dan Jackson was a great mentor, and he lived his faith in very practical ways,” Rajah said. “His life centered on service. This school is a fitting tribute to his legacy.”

Rajah and other ABW leaders said they could easily see Jackson’s love of children and belief in providing young people with a future. When Jackson flew to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he met with schoolchildren and, as photos show, likely put a smile on many young faces.

Kenyan students are now smiling too, thanks to Jackson’s legacy. Donors, along with close friends, funded the school.

“The students don’t have to go home now when it’s raining or even when it’s too hot,” Rajah said. “Even wild animals would come around [when the students sat under the tree], and now they can be safe inside.”

The original version of this story appeared in the February 2024 issue of Canadian Adventist Messenger. A Better World is an independent supporting ministry and is not operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Laura Tester, A Better World, for Canadian Adventist Messenger