|Mission of Mercy|
|Family takes on task of helping Kenya's forgotten children|
CHIP AND KIM MAYE SPECIAL TO THE NEWS SENTINEL
June 8, 2005
Gethsemane International Inc. is a nonprofit organization run entirely on individual support. All monies raised go directly to the outreach projects. To learn more or to donate, visit www.gethsemaneinternational.org.
The Garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus went to pray, especially when he was troubled and sought comfort, support and strength from God.
So it was fitting that Chip and Kim Maye named their outreach organization Gethsemane International Inc., as it provides a safe haven for those who need guidance and direction.
"If you read all four Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ, especially in Luke, you'll see that the Garden of Gethsemane was a place Jesus often went in order to pray to God - not just that one night after the last supper," Chip Mayes said. " This was a place where Jesus would pray, seek out His heavenly father and take refuge. We want to make children's homes where the kids can also take refuge and seek their heavenly father, too."
While the Mayes realize that children everywhere need good homes and quality education, they chose to help the greatly impoverished children they encountered while living in Nairobi, Kenya. Chip worked as a managing director for Wycliffe Bible Translators, working directly with translators in the field. It was at Wycliffe that he met Sylvester Ondieki and his wife, Ruth.
"Ruth had a paid position as a teacher at a church school project," Chip said. "The project ran out of money; however, she continued to teach the children for an entire year with no salary. Sylvester brought this situation to my attention, and, after prayer and discussion with my wife, we decided to start a new school of our own. We rented the land and one 12-by-12 room, etc. We, as a family, paid Ruth a small salary and were the sole supporters of this school at that time."
Over the past two years, that one-room school in a Nairobi slum has grown into Gethsemane International, a full-fledged 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has expanded to a three-room school where lunches are provided, and a six-bedroom home so all 31 kids in the program have their very own bed to sleep in and three meals per day. The Mayes recently purchased 2 acres, where they plan to build a permanent home and a school, 30 miles outside Nairobi.
"The kids go to community schools right now," Kim said. "In Kenyan schools, there are usually 60 students per class. There are not enough textbooks, and the teachers can't get around to all the kids, so they mass-teach. There are usually five or six kids per textbook. We're trying to get textbooks for the home so they can study there. Now that they're not having to worry about where their next meal is coming from, their grades have improved. To see the difference in the children this year is phenomenal. We're so thankful for what God has provided for them."
Most of these children were orphaned because one or both of their parents died of AIDS. In African culture, when the parents die, it is the responsibility of the next of kin to take the orphaned child in. But most have children of their own and do not have the space or money to take care of more children. So the orphans end up on the street.
"While we were (living in Kenya), I couldn't help but notice the needs," Chip said. "You'd see the street kids fending for themselves. I used to see those commercials of the starving kids in Africa, and I'd immediately change the channel, because it was a little more than I could handle. But when you're living it, you can't change the channel. You see it everywhere. These children were put on my heart."
The Mayes have five children themselves, 16, 14, 11, 8 and 4, and they've actively made the organization a family affair. Their two oldest daughters traveled to Kenya with them a month ago to visit the home. Kim said their children often think of fund-raising ideas to benefit the children and the organization.
"Our kids spent a lot of time with the children there," Kim said. "They did games with them; it was neat for the kids to get to know them. Our kids pray for them. This isn't just our ministry. We've tried to include our family, and let them know that while they're very important to us, these kids in Kenya are also important."
Chip and Kim have seen situations with other charities where they help Kenya's impoverished people for only a week or a month, and then disappear. But they intend to help these children on a long-term basis.
"Our desire is to invest wholly in these kids," Kim said. "We don't see a lot of people in it for the long haul. People want to see immediate results, and it takes years. We're willing to invest the time needed. We want to raise godly men and women who can be beacons of light in their community."
When asked why they set up something like this when the needs are also great here in the United States, Chip said that he wanted to start out where he felt God was leading him. But establishing something similar Stateside is not outside the realm of possibility.
"We don't want to lose focus on what we're doing," Chip said. "We want to get this to the point where it's doing well on its own. Then we'll see where God wants us to go."
Angela Patterson may be reached at 865-342-6369
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