Welcome the Children
“Anyone who welcomes a child on my behalf welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5).
Helping Those Who Need It Most
Welcome the Children is a Pittsburgh-based foundation that combats the effects of extreme poverty through the power of the Gospel. We partner with organizations to give children a chance to be educated and to grow into individuals who make a positive impact in their community and the Kingdom of God.
In 2010, Shadi and Liz Arnita founded Welcome the Children as a 501(c)(3) organization. Rachel Belack had returned from a mission trip to Kenya and shared the struggles of the children in the Mathare slums with the Arnitas.
In 2011, Welcome the Children formed its first Board and added AIC Zion School as its first partnership. Since then, Welcome the Children has supported the growth of AIC Zion School from 180 students in grades K-5 to 680 students in grades K-10.
The funds we receive are used to break vicious cycles of poverty and to supply children with the means to thrive. We want to serve children who suffer from poverty by meeting essential needs that will benefit their spirit, mind, and body, equipping them with skills to become leaders and Christ followers.
Spirit, Mind, and Body
Meeting spiritual needs fills the gap between the mind and the body. It gives children hope through the transformative message of the Gospel, bringing purpose and joy that nothing else can offer. The students of AIC Zion School take a Christian and Religious Studies course as part of their curriculum, and they are surrounded by positive role models who emanate Jesus.
We fight poverty by giving children a chance to learn and grow into individuals who make a positive impact in their communities and their nation. Each and every year, AIC Zion School students gain national recognition by earning top scores on the Kenyan national exams. School administrators across Kenya admire the success that disadvantaged children can achieve with the power of Christian education promulgated by quality teachers.
Fulfilling the material needs of children in desperate situations provides the freedom to look to long-term futures instead of worrying about where their next meal will come from. By supplying meals, vaccinations, and medical care, students can focus on their studies instead of their survival.
Our Board of Directors
Wayne Johnson lived in Kenya for twenty-eight years as he taught at the Nairobi International School of Theology. One of his students was Johnson Wambua, the pastor of AIC Zion in the Mathare slum. Wayne was inspired by his student’s work, and he has been supporting Wambua to this day. Wayne holds Ph.D. and Th.M. degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an M.Div. degree from the International School of Theology, in addition to an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. He currently serves as Pastor for Spiritual Formation at The Bible Chapel in McMurray, Pennsylvania. Wayne is the Executive Director of Welcome the Children’s Board of Directors.
John Zanker was one of Welcome the Children’s original directors. He has visited AIC Zion School on several occasions. After John’s second trip to Kenya, it became apparent that God had a plan for him to impact the lives of children and young adults. Inspired by the Lord’s example, John strives to be a father to the fatherless, which led him and his wife to mentor a young man from Kenya who they now consider to be their son.
Earl Dean is an information technology professional who joined the Board of Directors after traveling to AIC Zion during a mission trip. He has been involved with missions in Brazil, Panama, and multiple regions of Africa. While serving at AIC Zion, he realized that he desired to continue caring for the students in any way possible, which led him to becoming a director. Earl has a manifest passion for missions, and he strives to meet the considerable needs of children around the globe.
Mike Rollage worked as a public accountant before retiring. Using his experience and knowledge of finance, he manages the funding of Welcome the Children and works behind the scenes to make the organization’s vision into reality. In addition to serving on the Board of Welcome the Children, he has worked with other nonprofits such as Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Church Army, USA.
Dee Johnson has been working with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for over forty-two years, twenty-eight of which were spent in Kenya, where she directed the Field Ministry Department at the Nairobi International School of Theology. Along with Wayne, her husband, Dee oversaw the field ministry training of Reverend Johnson Wambua. Dee continues to serve in ministry with Cru, preparing women for leadership roles in the church. She has been a director for one year, and she has been instrumental in organizing special events such as the annual gala.
Alan Booth has traveled to Kenya six times to serve at AIC Zion School. He is affectionately called “Mbuzi,” the Swahili word for “goat,” by the younger students. Alan is a music teacher at Baldwin-Whitehall School District and serves as the Worship Director at The Bible Chapel’s campus in Robinson. Alan has been a director since October 2017; he enjoys sharing his passion for Welcome the Children’s work via communicative relationships with supporters.
Amanda Beck currently serves in women’s ministry and children’s ministry at The Bible Chapel in Robinson. She enjoys launching and developing new programs at church and has been a part of several ministry teams, including Vacation Bible School and one-on-one discipleship programs. Amanda has worked at FedEx for her entire professional career in multiple roles, the latest being a consultant for consumer technologies. She has been a director since February 2018, and she is grateful and excited to be a part of God’s work through Welcome the Children.
Rachel Belack was pivotal in the launch of Welcome the Children by inspiring the Arnitas to file for nonprofit status. She is a marketing professional at ANSYS, and she brings her marketing and administrative talent to the Board. Rachel has been a director since July of 2019; she is thrilled to rejoin the mission of Welcome the Children.
Ben Zeisloft became involved with missions at the age of eight, when God used his lemonade stand profits to initiate the connection between Welcome the Children and AIC Zion. He is a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. In addition to visiting AIC Zion on two occasions, Ben has worked with missions in Panama. Ben has been a director since December 2017; he manages Welcome the Children’s website and marketing.