History And Vision Of Nairobi Great Commission School.

The vision for NAIROBI GREAT COMMISSION SCHOOL (NGCS) began in 1988 when national leaders of the Kenya Churches of Christ together with some of the missionaries saw the need for the further training of church leaders. Many people realized that the church could not move forward into the 21st century without well-trained and equipped leaders. Excellent training had been done on the local church level and in provincial areas. Nevertheless, it was time to move a step beyond that level into a higher program of education in Bible, Missions, Church Ministry and Leadership that would balance quality academics with practical experiential training. This training would give national church leaders credibility as well as equip them for the task of planting and maturing new churches in Kenya, East Africa, the continent, and beyond.

These national church leaders and missionaries spent the year of 1989 talking with other church leaders and missionaries throughout the country. From those meetings what is now NAIROBI GREAT COMMISSION SCHOOL (NGCS) was established and opened in January of 1990. NGCS legally registered in 1995 as a sub-branch of EAST AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT MINISTRIES (EADM) which is a Non-Governmental Organization. NGCS started term with ten full-time students and twenty-two part-time students. The dream of becoming international was a reality from the beginning with students from Kenya, Ethiopia and Zaire (Congo). By December 1999 NGCS added Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Sudan, South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania and the USA. In six graduations from January 1991 to December 1999 the school graduated more than 125 students from more than 25 tribes. Most NGCS graduates are working effectively for the church or in church related ministries as elders, deacons, preachers, counselors, leaders and teachers. With such a geographic, ethnic and linguistic spread combined with commitment to Christ, one can imagine the potential for the kingdom of God as NGCS endeavors to fulfill its dream of equipping “Africans Claiming Africa” for Christ.

Primary health care was added to the curriculum in 1998, when a collaborative effort took place with the Masters in International Nursing program at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, the NGCS primary health care courses and the street clinic and counseling services were offered at the Rainbow Church of Christ.

Since July 1998, NGCS and Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas offer the Masters in Biblical and related studies degree, accredited by ACU. During the month of July, students come to study from countries such as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and the USA Dr. Gailyn Van Rheenen of ACU and Dr. Willian (Bill) H. Searcy of NGCS coordinated this program for sometime. For some reasons the program stalled for some time.

However, in 2019, ACU Graduate School of Theology made some contacts with David Tonui and Evans Mochoni for a possibility of doing classes from NGCS. David Tonui is the president emeritus at NGCS and a graduate of ACU Graduate School of Theology just as Evans Mochoni. In 2019, the director of online studies at Graduate school of Theology, Dr. Melinda Thompson conducted condensed a class at NGCS. There were 8 students drawn from Kenya and Uganda enrolled for a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. This was a one week condensed class. We hope NGCS will be the ACU’s GST center in East Africa.

Imagine for a moment a church in Africa with no expatriate missionaries. Who will plant churches? Who will train others to do so? Who will evangelize the next tribe or the next country? The answer of course is INDIGENOUS NATIONAL CHURCH LEADERS. The next question then is: Where will they receive the training and equipping the carry out this task? It is the prayer of the Board of Directors that NGCS will provide such training.

The vision of NGCS is to see Africans Claiming Africa for Christ! In April of 1992 the school helped sponsor a missions conference with that title. 206 church leaders representing 16 African nations, containing 6,564 churches of Christ, me two weeks to discuss, pray and plan concerning the growth of the Kingdom or God on the continent of Africa. It was then that the International significance of NGCS was realized. The task of claiming the continent for Christ is still enormous. Much of “French Africa” and “Muslim Africa” have not been penetrated with the good news of Jesus. Who will go? It is the conviction of the NGCS board that it will not and should not be Western expatriate missionaries, but rather it will and should be African missionaries that carry on this task of claiming the content for Christ. It is the board’s dream that many of those missionaries will be trained and equipped at NGCS.

Many expatriate missionaries and board members see the vision of when we’re old and can hardly walk that we will hear the news our African brothers who were students at NGCS have faithfully spread the gospel throughout much of the continent because they obeyed their Lord’s command in the Great Commission. Yes, when we are old we want to hear of how they:

WENT…………… AND WENT …………… AND ……. WENT


We Have a School in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills

The main campus of Nairobi Great Commission School (Formerly Kimbilio Guest House) is located near the Ngong Hill and the and the Great Rift Valley at approximately 6,000ft above sea level. NGCS is eight miles outside Nairobi city centre in Karen/Langata beside the AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Species) Langata Giraffe Centre and the Giraffe Manor. At the giraffe centre visitors can stand in the pavilion and feed giraffes at eye-level. There are more than 180 species of birds in the surrounding forest. The manor across the road from NGCS is known by some people as the Rothschild Giraffe mansion. Originally it was built in 1932 for the coffee king Sir David Duncan. It appeared in the movies “ White Mischief” and Mighty Joe Young” In 1974 Jock Lesie Melville and his wife Betty bought the house. The popular book about raising a giraffe “Daisy” was written by Betty. Now the manor is a guest inn managed by Betty’s son. Many famous people stay(ed) in the mansion such as Margaret Mead, Walter Cronkite, Brooke Shields, Richard Chamberlain, Dick Clarke, Ethel & Bobby Kennedy, Hal Prince, Steve Sondheim Lee Remmick, Otto Preminger, Johhny Carson et al. giraffes roam about the estate clearly visible from the school. Students are warned about giraffes that sometimes wander out of the estate to run up and down the road in front of NGCS at night. Towering eucalyptus trees surround the NGCS campus creating a fresh smell rivaled only by the lemon fragrant aroma of flowers planted in the yard. Nearby is the Nairobi Game Park where lions, cheetahs, giraffes, hippos, rhinos and other animal orphanage and primate research center are closeby. horseback riders from one of several riding schools or private stables are frequently seen on the road and fields. Maasai herdsmen in their bright scarlet plaid skirts and ochre colored, braided hair frequent the area and can sometimes be seen mingling with whites, Asians and blacks in the Langata Grocery Store a couple of blocks from the school.

The town and area of Karen are named after the Danish Baroness Karen Blixen (1885 – 1962) whose pen name was Isak Dinesen. Based on her life and book by the same name, the movie “Out of Africa” starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford was filmed at her house just a few miles away from NGCS. The famous opening words in her book, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills” begin a marvelous description of this region in which she managed a 14,000 acre coffee plantation from 1914 – 1931. Hemingway, Huxley, the Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor), and the famous Leakey family were familiar faces in this neighborhood.

The physical facilities of NGCS consist of an L-shaped building built in 1992. There are five rooms which can hold up to 8 students, a maximum of 45 students. The library houses approximately 6,000 books. There are two classrooms; the larger for diploma classes and the smaller for certificate. A small reception area links the outer parking lot to the inner courtyard. Three offices and an apartment occupy one end of the building. The kitchen is linked to the larger classroom which is used as a cafeteria. Future plans are to enlarge the library, build another office wing and add classrooms and married students apartments.

Brief History of the NGCS Relocation

NGCS moved into the former Kimbilio Guest House in August 1997. Kimbilio Guest House was used primarily for Church of Christ and Christian Church (CMF) missionaries. “Kimbilio” is a Kiswahili word for “ a place of refuge.” In 1993 the Whites Ferry Road church of Christ in West Monroe, LA loaned the Kenya missionaries $100,000 to build a guest house for East African missionaries who come to Nairobi for business, rest, government, travel or religious work. Since the money was not originally contributed for a guest house but for evangelism and training, an agreement was made for the proceeds generated by the guest house operated well for a few years under able leadership. However, when a large number of missionaries left Kenya to other works around the globe the guest house was unused. By the summer of 1997 debts for utilities and maintenance began to accrue.

NGCS was established in 1990 under the visionary leadership of expatriate missionaries and national Kenyan church leaders. For about seven years NGCS was housed in the Rainbow Church of Christ building (former Rainbow Cinema) in the Nairobi west Shopping Center on Birongo Square near Nyayo Stadium and Uhuru Highway.

There were advantages to this arrangement because Rainbow is located in downtown Nairobi in an area known as “Little Hell”. There are more than a dozen bars around the building. Prostitution and drugs are rampant. Street children eat from trash heaps and sleep on the streets in the stupor of kerosene and glue-sniffed oblivion. This provided a venue for practical ministry for NGCS students. The Rainbow Church of Christ purchased the Rainbow Cinema complex in 1990. The theater which has a large stage and screen for overhead projection and films can seat 520 persons and has rooms in both the front and back of the auditorium. There is also a two-story building attached. Containing three kitchens and enough room for a library, medical clinic and counseling center, classrooms and offices. Additional floors can be added for more rooms. Nevertheless, the quarters were very crowded, especially as the school grew and the church planned more ministries which eventually needed the space occupied by NGCS. With plans at Rainbow for a street ministry, a medical clinic and counseling center, various support groups and 12 step programs, Christian concerts, etc both church and school realized that critical mass would be reached very soon.

Fortunately, Whites Ferry Road agreed upon a proposal by the missionaries for the guest house to be terminated and the whole facility given to NGCS at no cost. Since the proceeds from the guest house were to go to NGCS until the guest house was paid off, it made sense to give the school the guest house thereby pay off the loan at the same time. We believe that this has been God’s doing for which the school, missionaries, and national church members are thankful. Not often does an individual or church obtained a double blessing, even a ongoing blessing, from one investment.

NGCS Student Body.

At the NGCS Nairobi campus, church leaders (men and women ranging in age from 21 to 70 with at least a Form 4 or 12 grade education) are taught Bible, missions, anthropology, church growth, church history, community development and pastoral counseling at a bachelors level in a two year diploma program. Students who do not qualify academically for the diploma track can take courses leading to a two year advanced certificate.

NGCS Faculty And Administration.

All of the NGCS advanced diploma teachers have at least a masters degree. Charles Akumu, a Kenyan national and former elder at Rainbow Church of Christ, was the principal (1994 – 1999) and a professor from 1994 – 1997.He was succeeded by Dennis Okoth (1998-2006), Daniel Chengo (2007-2010), David Tonui (2010-2019). George Onchangwa Matangi is the current Principal. Dr. William (Bill) H. Searcy served the Chairperson of the board of directors (since 1997), Registrar and a professor (since 1995). Michael Mutai is the current board chair Other professor are several Kenyan nationals and missionaries with many years of experience in Africa. Teachers in the certificate program in Nairobi or the Extension Program have at lease a bachelors degree or they have completed the NGCS advanced diploma. A major goal of the school is to increase the number of qualified African professors a the masters and doctorate level.

Extension Program

One of the most important aspects of NGCS is the extension program which is directed by Dr. Bill Searcy. Not all who wish to have in-depth Bible and ministry studies can come to Nairobi for two or more years. Hence, the NGCS extension program helps to fill this need near home by providing studies leading to (1) a basic certificate for those who speak English well and have a high academic ranking (2) a basic certificate which is usually taught in Kiswahili or the tribal language of the area of the extension center for those who do not speak English well and/or are not qualified academically for the advanced certificate, and (3) an audit certificate for those who cannot read or write and are tested orally. Currently, missionaries and a few nationals teach in the extension schools. The 2000 -2005 plan is to cultivate graduates of the NGCS diploma program in Nairobi to teach the extension courses.

NGCS extension schools are located (in Uganda): Mbale, Jinja and Fort Portal; (in Kenya): Eldoret, Kisumu, Kitale, Malindi, Meru, Mt. Elgon, Ewaso Ngiru (Narok), South Nyanza and Sotik, Kisii, Mombasa, and Nyeri. These extension programs are widely scattered in East Africa among a multitude of tribes. At any given time there are 80 to 120 students in the extension program.