We serve the students who attend Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. RVA is a Christian boarding school and a branch of Africa Inland Mission International. It exists to provide a quality education in a nurturing environment for the children of missionaries serving in Africa. With over 100 years of rich history, RVA has played an instrumental role in the lives of countless MKs (missionary kids). The current student body of nearly 500 includes more than 30 different nationalities. The families these students represent serve with 80 mission organizations spanning 22 African countries.
I, Matt, have been teaching students at the 6th grade level, but we will soon be moving into a boys’ high school dorm to serve as dorm parents. I will soon be teaching Bible a the high school level. Both Eva and I spend time with the students who attend RVA, many of whom are boarding students, but some of whom are not. Missionaries who serve throughout Africa often cannot provide the breadth of education that they wish their child to receive. They entrust their children to the staff of RVA, knowing that they are in good hands with the teachers/missionaries there who will love them and be a family to them. Our job involves so much more than teaching. We are involved in creating and sustaining a loving community where children and youth, many separated from their parents, can experience the love of God and share it with others. This happens through a number of formal and informal fellowships, friendships, and mentoring relationships. We see ourselves helping to equip students to minister at RVA and with their parents when they leave school on break. We are excited to be following the Lord’s leading into this area of service.
We have also been moved by the testimonies of parents excerpted from letters written to the staff of the Rift Valley Academy. Below are some excerpts:
“Thank you for making yourself available for the Lord’s service. I believe you have been placed in a very strategic ministry that will have long-lasting results throughout many nations. The students in your care will soon be adults, many if them serving as missionaries in Africa and throughout the world.”
“When children came into our home there was no thought that one day, prior to adulthood, they would be under the care of someone other than us. The years that we have with our kids are short enough and now they have become small windows of time in between trimesters. We are not bitter because we know that it is God who has made this decision. We would not have designed our lives this way but we trust the fact that God loves our children more than we do.”
“The fact that our children have you is another source of comfort. Thank you for the great investment that you are making in their lives. We have no romantic notions that our kids are perfect or even easy to raise. Nonetheless, we would give anything, do anything, short of disobeying God, to have the time with our children that you have. Thank you for being there when we can not.”
“We were there when our children said their first words, took their first step, learned to ride a bicycle and went for the first day of school. Now they are in your care. Their firsts will be shared with you.”
“We would love to hear from you throughout the year regarding our children. We cannot be there to know when they are hurting, struggling, fearful or anxious. We don’t always hear when special occasions or awards are coming up. Often when we talk with our children on the phone there isn’t time to really find out how they are doing socially, spiritually, or emotionally. We would welcome your observations and would feel like we had current and specific ways to pray for our children.”
“We cannot place upon you the burden of parenting our children but we plead with you to guide our children with Godly wisdom. The standards and choices that our children make as they move into adulthood will be influenced immeasurably by you. Please warn them when they need to be warned, stop them when they need to be stopped and encourage them when they need encouragement. Don’t be afraid to stand up to adolescent emotions. Having done these things there will come a day, in heaven, when we will share together in the rewards for what their lives accomplish.”
“Our prayer for you is that the Lord will grant you wisdom, insight and His love as you minister at RVA. This isn’t an 8-5 job but rather 24-7. Whether you are officially “on duty” or not your life, attitudes and actions are being watched, evaluated and emulated. We pray that your spiritual life will cause our children to desire to know the Lord in an intimate way. As you lead our children in devotions, we pray that your up-to-date relationship and love for the Lord will be evident. We pray that your spiritual life will be an example worthy of emulation.”
“We ask that you would look at our children’s potential and encourage them to cultivate their areas of strength. God has a divine plan for our children but before they can achieve these purposes there are rough edges that have to be removed. Some of us have more rough edges than others, but underneath each one is a gem that God has plans to use for His purposes.”
“Our children were dedicated to the Lord as infants. We don’t pretend to know exactly what the future holds for them but we do know that you have become a large part of the process in preparing them for the future. May God empower you with His Holy Spirit to perform the talk He has given you to the fullest measure of His intentions.”