AIC Zion School
Light in the Darkness
AIC Zion School exists in the heart of the Mathare slums as a ministry of AIC Zion Church, which is affiliated with the African Inland Church of Kenya. Reverend Johnson Wambua became the pastor of AIC Zion Church in 2002. Since then, he has planted six sister churches in Mathare and beyond.
The Mathare Valley slum is the second largest in Nairobi and the third harshest in Africa. It is home to between 500,000 to 700,000 people, all living within a three square mile area.
Mathare has almost no running water, electricity, or toilet facilities. Open sewage runs between the homes of the slum. Entire families squeeze in small, one-room houses made of wooden poles, mud walls, and corrugated tin roofs. Unemployment is estimated at 80% and the majority of those who do work make the equivalent of $1 to $2 per day. It is estimated that 30% of adults are HIV positive and that 60% of children experience serious malnutrition at some point in their lives.
A short time after assuming his position, Reverend Wambua observed that there were many children who were not attending school and were often going without meals throughout the day. AIC Zion’s leadership agreed to Wambua’s initial proposal to start classes in order to provide meals, clothing, and teach basic literacy. In 2005, AIC Zion started the equivalent of a kindergarten and first grade.
Since 2005, AIC Zion School has expanded its property and added a grade level with each new school year. As of 2018, AIC Zion has expanded its property and added up to eleventh grade with a total of 680 students, providing each of them with breakfast and lunch. The school is only part of Wambua’s greater vision to educate children through twelfth grade.
Initially, AIC Zion Church was providing what limited funding it could to give its students an opportunity for education. During the summer of 2007, Ben Zeisloft sold lemonade from his front yard in Pittsburgh. His tithe was augmented by his second grade Sunday school class and sent to Wayne and Dee Johnson, missionaries who were working in Nairobi, Kenya. The Johnsons were led to offer this money to Reverend Wambua, who was then a student of theirs at the Nairobi International School of Theology. Later that same year, the Johnsons introduced Ron Moore, the senior pastor of The Bible Chapel, to AIC Zion while he was visiting Kenya on a mission trip. Welcome the Children has since collaborated with The Bible Chapel to fund AIC Zion School and to support its current growth. God has guided and influenced the entire process of Welcome the Children’s partnership with AIC Zion, from the lemonade stand to the present day.
In addition to AIC Zion School, Wambua has opened a medical clinic, which he hopes to expand into a hospital. He also plans to offer vocational classes to give residents of Mathare the opportunity to earn greater incomes.