In less than five years, Living Hope High School has increased our support from 13 local United Methodist Churches to 38 UM churches in West Virginia, 75 individual United Methodists, and 22 United Methodist Ministers in the West Virginia Annual Conference. These United Methodists are aglow through the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst. They have become the only supportive arm for Living Hope High School in Bungoma, Kenya. We receive no other funding except through sponsorships and donations.
This 92 student Kenya Accredited residential Christian school serves impoverished teens. Some have lost one or both parents due to AIDS or desertion, and others through disease. Some have both parents but live in abject poverty. 87 of these undergraduate high school students are sponsored by members of churches in the United Methodist West Virginia Annual Conference! 23 college and training school students are sponsored by UM members. To what else can we, UMC members, attribute this miraculous outpouring, other than the Holy Spirit? GOD IS AT WORK!
The Lord has drawn us as a conference into this wonderful project. He has put a personal concern on our hearts for the physical and spiritual nurturing of these Christ believing young people. One of our own members, Marilyn Uhl, retired from teaching here in West Virginia and went to Kenya (unsponsored by any church) in 2009 to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead and to begin this mission project. She began with 24 orphans in a rented mud building, with no electricity or running water. The school now has its own property and five brick buildings being used as classrooms, a brick assembly hall, a newly wired computer lab, and a kitchen with a new cement wood stove and chimney. 8 donated cottage dormitories are completed and occupied. A new deep well, 10,000 liter holding tank, faucets throughout the campus, and a beautiful tiled hand washing station have improved our sanitation considerably. Electricity will be installed in all cottages within 2 years. The plans for a small hospital room and guest house are currently being drawn up and beds, bedding, and medicines are being procured. Electricity has been installed in all cottages and the office, in the computer lab, and in the dining hall. The school has expanded to almost 10 acres including a new soccer field, a volleyball court, and a permanent cow pasture and barn.
The students tend their own garden, milk cows, chickens, and banana grove while competing interscholastically in girls and boys volleyball, soccer, and track. A new track team has been formed because the Lord has sent us some outstanding runners. The male students still have time to make 1000 handmade bricks a month for future school buildings. 100% of the students obtain a B- grade on their country’s achievement tests and report cards in order to remain enrolled. This past year our school placed first in the district’s 291 high schools in Form I, Form II, and Form III.Freshmen-Sophomores-Juniors (27,000 students were involved in the testing))AND… Our 2014 graduates placed second overall in the district on their cumulative 4 year college entrance tests. The students and faculty members feel God’s benevolent hand on each of them. The students pray and worship with an intensity and dedication that inspires each of the sponsors to increase their prayer life and their dedication to follow Jesus Christ’s example to feed the hungry and clothe the naked!
The faculty at the high school has expanded from its original 2 to 13 college educated teachers. 10 local people are employed as full time service staff, cutting wood, cooking, etc. The wages of these permanent employees has definitely affected the economy in the local area. The number of construction workers who have been hired, and the supplies that have been purchased and used, has helped hundreds of families live at a higher standard. The school always uses local markets and suppliers for food, maintenance, construction, and supplies. We praise God for this opportunity!
Living Hope High School is now an official UMC Advance designation for mission giving. You may send your donations by check payable to your local Methodist church with the project name-LIVING HOPE HIGH SCHOOL and project number #3021425 on the check. Online gifts can be sent to:- advancinghope.org. Click on the “give now” tab and use the number #3021425.
We’re being blessed and drawn closer to our Lord as He uses us to bless others. If your church would like to join in this journey of sponsoring a student and be part of this blessing, call District Superintendent-Mike Estep at (304) 822-4191 or Helen Markwell (304) 567-2254
Join us and please pray that the Spirit continues to lead us and provide for us at Living Hope High School. We keep Jesus FIRST!