Camp Moriah Brings Hope and Healing to Young Adults in Need
Out of the Slum
The Mathare Valley Slum is near the center of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, which claims a population of 4 million people. I remember visiting Mathare for the first time, and I couldn’t believe the way people lived there. We saw the poorest of the poor living in wall-to-wall, 6-by-8 foot shanties with dirt floors. The slum has some of the worst living conditions in the world. It's a place where hardship and trauma are commonplace, and hope and healing can be hard to find.
In 2009, when Chase Oaks first engaged in partnership with Bright Hope World and the Mathare Community Outreach and School, we provided scholarships for a portion of the primary and secondary students to attend the Christian school at the edge of the slum.
A Long Wait
But a problem emerged. At the end of Grade 12, students take their final exams and—based on their results—can apply for entry into higher education. However, it can be up to nine months before they receive their exam results, so students are often not able to immediately move to the next stage of their education.
These young people must live and wait in a squalid, unsafe environment. During the 9-month gap between taking their exams and starting their college work, many of them fall into trouble. Girls become pregnant, and boys frequently become involved in crime, drugs, and alcohol abuse. Many of the “good” church kids have had their lives messed up or have squandered their long-term potential during this in-between period.
Hope at Moriah
Enter Camp Moriah. In 2013, the staff at the Mathare School developed and conducted a 6-month discipleship program on farmland in Maseno. This small town near the Uganda border is a perfect place to get these idle students away from the potential harms of living in the slum with nothing to do.
During the program’s duration, each student is holistically engaged in dealing with spiritual, emotional, relational, and developmental issues. Each one is also given a plot of land to farm where they learn self-sustainable food growing and grounds maintenance. And they each participate in intensive Bible study classes, exercising, fasting, and outreach.
We like the fact that these young people get to leave the Mathare Valley. It is a very dangerous place for them. We hope they will see another world out there, that they will aspire to something outside the place where they were brought up.Changing the lives of the young people who come to the trainings is the immediate goal. The longer-term vision is for them to go back into their community as healthier citizens who can contribute to and inspire others.
The Discipleship Class of 2022
After a couple of challenging years due to the pandemic, this past year has been a good one for Moriah. The program was able to complete all of the planned trainings (including Lead, Small Business Development (SBD), and Discipleship). And key improvements have been made to the facilities. The primary challenge has been the need to make changes in the training schedule due to Covid.
This year, the Discipleship class had a total of 28 students who graduated from the program in July. Out of the 28 students, 23 gave their lives to Christ and 24 were baptized. The graduates had a 21-day mission field experience in the Migori and Home Bay counties, and they were able to reach 5,069 people with the gospel. As a result, 158 people gave their lives to Christ.
Trauma and Healing
This year, Moriah has introduced a new program called “Trauma Healing” which has had a positive effect on the students. Here are stories from just two of the students about the trauma they have experienced and healing they are beginning to experience.
Brian is 19 years old and is the second-born in his family of three children. His mother is single, and he has never met his father. He grew up in the sprawling Kibera slums in Nairobi, which is known as the biggest slum in east and central Africa. The slum is the home to many criminals, and he grew up watching people commit crimes. At the age of 14 his older brother got him involved in mugging people, mainly stealing phones. He began neglecting his education run by a faith-based organization in the slums as his focus turned to a life of crime. On one attempted burglary they were caught, and his brother was stoned to death in front of him. Brian was very traumatized after this experience and was never offered the proper counseling he needed. He was sent to boarding school to escape the slum environment.
Through the discipleship training and the trauma-healing program, he was able to share his story and give his life to Christ. He was baptized and is currently going through the healing process. He hopes to reach out to those in his community and other young people, encouraging them to step away from a life of criminal activity.
Faith’s father abandoned her family and started a family with another woman whom he is currently living with. Faith's mother struggled to provide for the children, and she was often turned away from school due to unpaid school fees. As a result, Faith’s education was affected, and she struggled with depression. A relative took advantage of her during this time and sexually abused her. She lost her faith in Christ and was unable to forgive those who had wronged her. During her time at Moriah, she was able to forgive her father for abandoning her and the relative for abusing her. She has also renewed her faith in Christ and has become very good at praise and worship.
The staff at Camp Moriah are grateful for a successful year and for each student who was commissioned this year. They praise God that lives are being transformed and healing is underway through the new Trauma Healing program. And they ask for continued prayers for the following:
- The recruitment of students for the next 2023 discipleship training program intake
- The recruitment of student mentors to support the students in the next training schedule
- The wellbeing of the staff and facilitators who handle the trainings
- The new Trauma Healing course, its facilitators and all those that attend
- Funds to improve the school facilities and construction of a store and manager's house
Chase Oaks Church has been the sole financial supporter of this program since 2013. For more information about our global outreach efforts, look here.