ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – A ministry led by Kentucky Baptists that started as a one-time fundraiser for missions in Uganda finishes its sixth year of operation in a month and with a big goal in sight.
Amy For Africa, which fully operates a primary and nursery school in Uganda and supports dozens of orphans in other parts of the country, has grown to the point of working toward building a $1.1 million academy in Njeru, Uganda.
“We have faith that God has already taken care of all the details,” said Amy Compston, a co-founder of AFA. “He has been faithful to this ministry for six years and now we are going to be faithful to Him.”
They are having to turn away students at the current El-Shaddai school because of a lack of space.
The new school will be 39,000 square feet – or about $28 per square foot. Upon competition, it will be able to house 1,000 students and board 200. It was designed by a Ugandan architect and will be built with Ugandan labor.
Groundbreaking on the first phase of the project, which is $520,000, will take place possibly this summer. The organization already has the 20 percent down to start the construction and is trusting, in faith, for the balance. Churches in Kentucky and other Kentucky Baptist individuals have already come alongside the organization, pledging support for the school and a five-acre farm that AFA purchased to feed the children.
The AFA board consists of only Kentucky Baptists, Amy and her husband Chris who are members of First Baptist Church of Russell and Mark and Beth Maynard who are members of Unity Baptist Church in Ashland.
Amy Compston is an accomplished marathon runner who six years ago this week participated in the bomb-marred 2013 Boston Marathon. She finished 30 minutes ahead of the bombs and it was after that incident that Amy decided to run for missions.
Amy For Africa started in May 2013. It was in the summer of 2012 that Amy surrendered her heart to Jesus after 14 years of drug and alcohol abuse. She speaks at churches, celebrate recovery centers, schools, civic organizations and anywhere God opens a door.
Amy’s youngest son, Jarek Compston, is the subject of a children’s book, Jarek’s Journey, that is the latest fundraising tool for the organization.Two years ago, Jarek ran a half marathon at the age of 6 to raise funds to transport Christmas gifts to children in Uganda. That’s the subject of the 20-page fully illustrated book.
“It’s a beautiful story, so perfectly written and illustrated,” said Jarek’s mother. “We want God to use this book in mighty ways.”
Mark Maynard, co-founder of AFA, wrote Jarek’s Journey and Brian Ashby did the illustration work.
“The first time Chris (Amy’s husband) read the book, he cried,” Amy said. “It’s such a sweet story and a true one. To see what God can do with a little boy is a great example of how anyone can be used.”
All the proceeds from Jarek’s Journey will go toward the new El-Shaddai Nursery and Primary School in Uganda.
Jarek, who turned 8 in January, conquered the Marshall half marathon in November 2017 and raised more than $11,000 for the Amy For Africa ministry. He later raised $17,000 in a half marathon the following spring in Indianapolis.
Jarek not only competed in the half marathon he finished in 2 hours, 17 minutes and 44 seconds – the second-fastest time ever recorded in the U.S. for a 6-year-old runner.
Jarek told his mother and father in August 2017 while riding home from church that he could run a half marathon and they decided to do it as a fundraiser for Amy For Africa.
His mother, a seasoned marathon runner who counts four Boston Marathons among the six world marathons to her credit, trained Jarek for 2½ months for his longest run to date. He had previously participated in several 5Ks and 10Ks, but the 13.1 miles was the most he’d done in practice or in a race. The strategy was to run and walk the course. But it was mostly run.
The book tells Jarek’s story, including the difficulty of training in child-like phrases. In the end, it shows how God can use anyone – even a 6-year-old boy – for His glory.
“It’s a page-turner and a tear-jerker,” his mother said. “We are so proud of Jarek.”
Little Jarek has since been on two mission trips to Uganda with his mother and father. He is beloved by many friends there.
Learn more about Amy For Africa at amyforafrica.com