Stuart G. Ross

Hi, my name is Stu Ross and I’m here in Kenya working for the Outreach Foundation. I’ve been here 25 years or so, keeping busy building churches, water projects, schools, micro loans, feeding programs, and just about anything we can do to help the people here in East Africa.

I was brought up a Presbyterian. I went to Sunday school. My mother was a church going person, my father wasn’t. We all went to church together with my mother. I never had a clear defining moment when I can say that I was born again. I grew up in the church and was always affiliated with church things.

As I got older, I got involved with Medical Benevolence Foundation, which is a Presbyterian medical organization. I volunteered with them for about 10, maybe 12 years. I was on the board as Financial Chair. As I retired from Novartis, I was asked by a very good missionary, Dr. Stan Topple, to go and help build a hospital in Kikuyu: Kikuyu Orthopedic Hospital.

My wife and I went (to Kenya) in 1996. We were going for three months. That was basically 25 years ago. We never really left.

So, we built the hospital, and the day we were leaving they put on a little luncheon for us.

It just so happened that a board member from the Outreach Foundation was there. He said, “What are going to do now?” I said that I’d like to build a church in Mai-I-Ihii, which is basically where we are right now. I said, “I don’t know how to do it, but I’m going to go home and try and raise some money and try to build this church.” The board member, Powell Jones, he’s on the board now with the Outreach Foundation, said go and see the Executive Director of the Outreach Foundation.

I did when I got back to the States, and he brought me and my wife on as volunteers. We were volunteers for about a year. We went back and forth to Kenya. Basically, we helped set up the computerization of the hospital and helped with the hiring. I helped set up the financials for the hospital, and we started working on building this church at Mai-I-Ihii.

We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on. Lots of things have happened; lots of great things and great people came across our paths.

All along I felt that we were called to Kenya. I have felt the Spirit guiding us, walking with us and protecting us.

I’ve been able to move in reasonably high places because of the church and because of what we do. One Saturday morning, I think I was still in bed, I got a call from Rev. Patrick Rukenya, who was a Minister with PCEA (Presbyterian Church of East Africa), and he was Deputy Secretary General at the time. He called me and said, “Stu, you need to come right away and meet me at the Shade Hotel,” which is a nice African place to have breakfast. He said we’ll be meeting with Saitoti, who was the Kenyan Minister of Education at the time. Very well thought of individual, and he said he has some things he wants to present to us.

So, I went. We talked. And basically the deal was that he was going to give the church 20 acres of land in Ngong town,* if we would put a school on that land and built it up over the years. I couldn’t refuse. We put two classes there in several months, and the title of the land passed to the church. Now there are around 400 girls at this school. Many classes. It’s a beautiful school and it all came from that one meeting with Saitoti. That land now is probably worth in the vicinity of 100 million shillings, which is about $1,000,000. It was just over a meeting and some great things happened. That land is now being developed by the church. Besides the school they want to put other buildings there, so that was a good outcome.

Many good things have happened, and some bad things. Like for example, about 15 years ago, we had a bunch of thugs in our house. They stole money, stole computers, cameras, that sort of thing. But God protected us. We weren’t hurt. We were traumatized and we recovered. All along the way, I see people, great people, come into my life, like Daniel Gakonyo, who’s my colleague. He has helped me tremendously.

Donors just come out of the woodwork. I’ve never had to trouble raising funds. They’ve always come. We bring work groups here, many groups, I would say maybe 150 groups have come. All these groups bring money for churches, schools, libraries, and other things. Over the years I think we’ve made a reasonable impact. We’ve built about 430 churches and 185 schools. We’re building huge schools now, which is a beautiful cap on the work we’re doing here.

I don’t know if I’m “born again,” but I believe I’m here because God wanted me to be here. I believe Jesus Christ is my personal Savior. All along, I’ve never had to worry about anything. I feel God has been with me along this journey, and I think He’ll continue to be with me. You know, I lost my wife seven years ago, very traumatically.  But I found another life partner, and we’ve been married five years last June. She has brought new energy into my life and our work. She’s a great person and partner in the work that we’re doing. So, I think God has always provided and protected us as we are working in His vineyard. That’s my faith story.

*Ngong (pronounced gong) Town was a huge, overcrowded slum that has improved over time with the addition of schools and churches.

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