Finding the land and the building? That was just the beginning.
Finding a Lawyer
As it turns out, there was a young woman from Nairobi who had actually attended Abundant Life Christian Center while going to law school in Syracuse, NY. Shortly after her arrival on campus at Syracuse University, another member of the church met her, helped her to adapt to the culture, and shortly after ministered to her and then brought her to visit the church. It wasn’t too long before she got involved, even served in the outreach ministries and the pantry, and yet, she never happened to meet Pastors Mark or Amy during her time in Syracuse.
After getting her degree, she then went back home to Nairobi to practice law. And, not just any law, but her area of focus was specifically… NGO law.
Evelyn Millanoy, a human rights lawyer with a focus on children and non-profits is now on the board for Reach International, providing legal counsel and also working as the treasurer. Even though she never met the leaders of the Reach team while in Syracuse, now she is working with them in Kenya. How about that?
Preparing the Property, NGO Application
Towards the latter part of 2016, into early 2017, a crew was sent to Kenya to complete construction on the wall around the property. This needed to be accomplished first so that they could prepare to purchase some things to get the house towards readiness. Construction had begun.
During this time, the team was under the expectation that before long, the NGO would be approved. Millanoy was brought in to the heavy lifting, and paperwork began. Reach had to provide a “constitution” (basically letters of corporation), to submit for approval. To their surprise, after they submitted the paperwork, it was rejected.
Rounds of revision were entered, and ultimately the paperwork was submitted multiple times… only to have it rejected multiple times. Unfortunately, this part of the process was going to be harder than expected.
Naming the House
Part of the reason the NGO was so complicated was due to the naming. The original name for the home was “My Father’s House.” (The thought was that when the boys were going home and anyone asked them where they were going, they could say “I’m going to My Father’s House.”) Unfortunately, this backfired because the government disallowed this, under the reasoning that it sounded like a church. They were concerned that was sounded like an NGO was actually a church in disguise. Instead, the final name was determined to be Reach International Children’s Center. After the name was made official and purchased, back and forths continued with the NGO board of Kenya for two years.
Why so long? For one, there was a political crisis in Kenya. There was a disputed election, and this put “the government” basically into shutdown mode for six months.