Ukarimu Ministries was founded by Chip and Chari Kingsbury in 2004, after having worked in Kenya for 24 years in traditional missionary work, and Chip having worked at Daystar University since 1997. It was during that time that the Kingsburys began to see a real need for a mentoring type of ministry among young adults and university students in particular, to help them grow in adult skills, in making good decisions in this important time of their lives, and in spiritual growth, all in the context of community.
In 1999, a group of families together (including the Kingsburys) purchased 10 acres of land only a 15-minute walk from Daystar University’s main Athi River campus. From that time, the Kingsburys began building Ukarimu House in stages, as funds came in. Ukarimu Ministries was founded in 2004 when the Kingsburys moved into the small 2 bedroom guest house which was built first. Not having any model to guide them, they founded the first student group, Praxis Fellowship – a mixed gender group of students who met to discuss important community issues, to reflect upon action which they, as students could engage in as members of that community, implement – in short, it was a fellowship to learn how to be salt and light in our communities.
Over the years, the student fellowships multiplied quickly to include gender based mentoring groups Serefatha Sisters and Iron Men. Ukarimu also hosted special student events such as Valentines Day events, end of semester parties, various community activities, and today includes student hikes and games days.
In 2008, while Chari was working on her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Daystar University, the Kingsburys were approached by a local pastor to work on a group marriage counseling/support group to help some couples who were struggling in their marriages. This was an innovative initiative for marriage counseling, but Chari procured permission from her head of department, and designed and together with Chip, executed the first marriage support group, which has morphed over time into the very popular Reality Check (see ministry tab for description), when they realized that working with young couples on issues early on would reduce the number of couples needing serious marriage counseling later on. Thus, the marriage and family arm of Ukarimu Ministries was born. This arm of ministry has rapidly expanded to include pre-marital counseling, marriage counseling, parenting seminars and marriage enrichment events. Most recently, marriage ministry training was added.
Ukarimu Ministries has also been quite involved in faculty development, starting with Daystar University where Chip founded and ran the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and spreading to the region wide AFELT (stands for what again?More on AFELT?). This is Chip’s specialty, as he holds a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies/Missions from Wheaton College Graduate School and a doctoral degree in Adult Education from Florida State University.
Over this time, the concept of Ukarimu Ministries matured and took more concrete form, as the Ukarimu House was being built, starting with ministry from small guest house where the Kingsburys used to live while the main building was under construction. They finally moved into Ukarimu House directors’ apartment in the main building in December 2020 and received the first residential students in early 2023.
As the ministry grew, it became clear that help was needed to run both arms of ministry, and the Kingsburys began to look for directors for the student ministry. In 2020, God sent Ian and Stella Orunga, who both have a passion and burden for student ministry and shared a vision for this kind of ministry so close to the Kingsburys’ that one could think they had grown up at Ukarimu House. The Orungas moved into the small guest house in February 2021 and quickly took over the directorship of student ministries. The ministry has flourished under their care.
Also in 2021, Chip retired from Daystar University in order to play a more active role at Ukarimu House as well as marriage and family ministry, and to concentrate on faculty development on a wider regional basis, with AFELT. Kingsburys remain marriage and family ministry directors.