From Tears to Singing and Dancing

In Kenya, a place of despair becomes a beacon of hope for Adventist education.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
From Tears to Singing and Dancing
[Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]

This is the sixth article in a series by Adventist Review news correspondent Marcos Paseggi on the Maranatha volunteer project at Kajiado Adventist School in Kajiado, Kenya. The project included several other initiatives across the country.—Enno Müller, news director, Adventist Review

The first time Maranatha Volunteers International Kenya country director Ron Kedas toured the campus of Kiutine Adventist Secondary School, he couldn’t hold back his tears. Due to lack of funds, the dilapidated place was in disarray. The school, begun in 2011 after several Adventist parents banded together with the dream of providing their children with Adventist education, had never taken off, and as it was, the school did not seem viable.

With tearful eyes, Kedas paced through the student dormitories — makeshift crumbling walls with the blue sky as their only roof — and the “showers” — a muddy corner with a few cups and a couple of buckets.

The challenges ahead seemed insurmountable, but Maranatha leaders soon contacted donors and supporters of Adventist education from North America and other places. Together, they cast a vision to transform Kiutine from the ground up to a campus that would make church members, leaders, faculty, and students proud of Adventist education and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. By faith, they anticipated what Kiutine could become if their leaders were given a chance.

And what has happened is just as they dreamed of and prayed for, leaders shared. Maranatha donors stepped up, and after years of ongoing improvements and hard work, the revamped campus eventually became a reality.

Northward Bound

Early on the morning of July 8, 2022, dozens of Maranatha volunteers traveled in two buses to beat the early morning traffic from a Nairobi suburban lodge to Wilson Airport, the city’s metropolitan airport. There, they boarded four Cessna Grand Caravan I charter planes north, flying by world famous Mount Kenya, to finally land on an isolated gravel airstrip at Meru National Park. Buses then took the volunteers outside Meru all the way to Kiutine for the official inauguration of several school buildings on campus.

The inauguration event was attended by regional church leaders, including Blasious Ruguri, president of the East-Central Africa Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “We are here today fulfilling the mission of our Lord,” Ruguri said as he thanked Maranatha. “It’s difficult to believe that things changed the way they did.”

The Maranatha-funded buildings include a new cafeteria, dorms, classrooms, offices, staff housing, and a new science laboratory. It also includes a deliberate landscaping effort that clearly stands out in a dry, dusty area of Kenya. With the help of a new water well outside the school gates (which is also available to the community), Kiutine is growing a vegetable garden to support the students’ dietary needs.

Official Inauguration

On July 8, after a group of Kiutine students welcomed the guests with celebratory singing and dancing, the youngest Maranatha volunteers in the group cut the ribbons and opened the main gate.

For the next couple of hours, students, faculty, church leaders, church members, and visitors rejoiced and thanked God for His mercies and abundant blessings at Kiutine. Songs and prayers of dedication complemented the unveiling of the major donors’ plaques.

The dedication event also included touring and cutting ribbons in several of the new buildings, and the exchange of gifts, including a calf and several goats, regional symbols of utmost respect and hospitality to visitors.

Kiutine student representatives thanked Maranatha for the donors’ support to Adventist education and committed to do their part to keep their campus beautiful. “We know it is now our duty to maintain [our campus],” a student said as she thanked Maranatha for their support. “We want to make sure we give it its proper use.”

Blessed to Be a Blessing

East Kenya Union Conference president Samuel Makori said that the Kiutine inauguration was the latest iteration of God’s command to Abram to be a blessing to others. “God told Abram that He would bless him,” Makori said. “Then Abram went and blessed others.”

Makori added, “I have seen Abram’s blessing come out of the Bible and bless Maranatha. In turn, Maranatha has blessed us too.”

Ruguri agreed, as he also addressed the various groups supporting Kiutine’s educational endeavor. “The Lord Himself must have been working in your hearts,” he told Maranatha donors.

He also addressed Kiutine’s dedicated Adventist teachers. “Thank you for making this place warm with the love of God,” Ruguri told them.

A Loftier Goal

Maranatha executive vice-president Kenneth Weiss emphasized he was happy to participate in the inauguration festivities. He also reminded the Kiutine community that beyond a manicured landscape and brand-new buildings, there is another, loftier goal.

“Remember that one day, all of these buildings will burn up, but we can choose to ascend to heaven instead of burning with them,” Weiss said. “In heaven, we will be able to build much better buildings, and enjoy much better schools.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review