GOYA Ministries has been active since 2006 when it’s founder and a small group of friends took a trip to Kenya, saw unspeakable poverty first-hand in a forgotten slum called Mitumba – a Swahili word meaning “cast off” or “worthless” – and decided to do something about it.
Chad Parker wasn’t looking to start a nonprofit organization when he was planning this trip; he just wanted to make an impact while he was there, and keep giving back, in some small way, when he got home. But when he crossed paths with a man named Pastor Shadrack Ogembo, something shifted.
Pastor Shadrack and his wife, Violet, are Kenyan nationals, with university-level education and work experience in the professional sphere. Years ago, they’d intentionally left the comforts of their middle-class lifestyle and started a ministry, Rural Evangelistic Ministries (REM). “God was calling us to not rely on our material items and start sharing our resources with slum people as a way to share Hope with them,” Violet remembers.
Slum life is not for the faint of heart. Dirt roadways are strewn with garbage, sewage running down their perimeters. Children run along roughly-carved walkways, often unsupervised, barefoot and with tattered clothing. Men urinate into ditches. And yet, the people make the best of what they have. Women beat colorful rugs to add beauty to their tin shack homes. Smells of home-cooked food, even if only rice and chipati (Kenyan flatbread), mask the scent of refuse. Kids work together to get to school, buy food for their families, and find ways to play.
Chad visited the Ogembos’ REM school in 2006, and that first day, he wrestled on the floor with the kids. They brushed his hair, fascinated by a “mzungu” (white person). They welcomed him in, and Chad knew he didn’t want to leave this fully behind when he went home.
Chad met again with Pastor Shadrack later that week, before departing from Kenya, and was struck by the strategic vision Pastor had for this ministry. This man had a dream, a dream that was clearly from God. “It’s my dream, that in ten years, we will have a high school for these children to continue their education, with biblical influence and training to be men and women of God.”
On the plane ride home, Chad couldn’t get Pastor’s words out of his head. His mind racing, he furiously scrawled out a business plan – a way to use his resources and connections in the U.S. to further this Kenyan man of God’s vision and ministry. His hope was to raise $50/month from his family and friends at college – but God had much bigger plans.
A lot has happened between then and now, but in 2016, ten years after their first conversation, Pastor Shadrack and Chad Parker, together with their ministry leaders and church partners, opened a high school for their slum children.
"Perhaps this is the moment you were created for." Esther 4:14