September 20, 2016
St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School was started in June 2007 by Fr. Methodios J.M Kariuki and his wife, Papadhia Everlyn Mwangi, who are Graduates from Makarios III Seminary and Orthodox Teachers College respectively. At this time, the community at Njabini did not know the meaning of “Orthodoxy” and more disturbing to them was “Orthodox Church”. Most of those who talked to us would ask “do you believe in God? And do you believe in Jesus? Is it a church and do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” These and many other peculiar questions were catalysts to the thought of a Mission Education Centre that would enable the Orthodox Faith to be accepted in this area. During discussions at my home, I made a phone call to H.E. Archbishop Makarios in Nairobi to ask for his blessings which he gave without hesitating.
We started by renting 4 rooms that served as a chapel and a catechetical classes.
We started St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School in a poverty scarred neighborhood and it impelled us to start learning about the challenges facing our neighbours especially their children.
We were in our 4th year in marriage with one son. By that time, I was employed in a Studio, earning 30 dollars a month. My wife was employed in an Academy, earning 50 dollars a month. I have come out openly about our earnings and financial standings to make you understand that the idea behind the establishment of St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School did not pop up as a way to spend but rather as a way to serve God and ask him to bless us in this noble course.
As the year 2009 ended, we had more than 60 children in the catechetical class.
During the great lent of the year 2010, I met the Late Fr. Evlogious Githingo (May the Lord rest his soul in eternal peace) at the Seminary. By the grace of God, he seemed interested in our Orphanage and School activities. He even made a date to come and celebrate the liturgy with us at the center. I do not know what transpired after that but he managed to come to the Mission Center in June 2010 and we altogether celebrated liturgy in the most exciting way. It was one of my life’s momentous events. He was very impressed by the number of catechumens and promised to request the Archbishop to come and see for himself what we were doing and the milestone we had carved out.
It did not take long before that happened. I went to meet the Bishop at Gilgil 120km away, where he was attending a burial. On arriving, at the Mission Education Center, we met more than 150 people waiting for us. H.E Makarios of Kenya visited St Barnabas Orthodox Orphanage and School for the first time on 3rd July 2010. And this was a historical visit that will never be forgotten in our lives and the generations to come.
As we escorted the Bishop’s Entourage out of the Mission Center, my wife made her request; “Your Eminence, kindly be sending us a priest even if it is twice a year.” I was shocked to see the Archbishop turn towards me and say “Papadhia, you don’t need a priest to come here, you already have a priest.” My wife looked behind me to see whom the Bishop was referring to. “Where are you looking Papadhia?” He asked her, “This one here.” He pointed at me. After 19 days, on 22nd of July at the memorial of the Late Bishop George Gathuna, I was Ordained to the order of deaconate and to the priesthood in November the same year. And I was appointed to Head the Mission Education Centre as the Director.
Later in the year, we formalized learning at the Mission Education Centre. We then started regular classes for ECDE and primary children.
We requested friends to support the Mission by bringing their children to our Education Center and more children enrolled for catechetical classes. And we even baptized more than 60 catechumens.
In partnership with the Orthodox Church of Kenya through the office of the Archbishop, we started a philanthropic wing which takes care of the vulnerable in the community.
We have an education and a feeding program for orphans and other vulnerable children that are jointly sponsored through kind donations from members of our community.
Our school has 117 pupils among whom 34 are in need of your kind and dire help.