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Rafiki Foundation  |  God's Word at Work

The History of Rafiki

Rosemary McEachern Jensen

The story of The Rafiki Foundation is inextricably woven with the life of its founder, Rosemary McEachern Jensen.

Rosemary McEachern Jensen, born July 20, 1929, is the fourth of six children born to Don and Mayhoward McEachern. Raised in a log house on the banks of the St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida, Rosemary knew at an early age that she wanted to tell others about God. In the summer of 1946 when a pastor challenged a group of youth to give their lives to the foreign mission field, Rosemary felt compelled to step forward and answer the call. That one step began a seven-decade journey in God’s service, first as a missionary to Tanzania, then as the executive director of Bible Study Fellowship International, and most recently as the president of The Rafiki Foundation, Inc.

The years from 1987 to 1991 saw the expansion of Rafiki’s work into Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. An increasing number of doctors, dentists, teachers, and business people answered God’s call to bring medical care, vocational assistance, and Bible teaching to the African people. Funding for these projects was borne by private donors and the biblical studies were provided by Bible Study Fellowship. By 1992, however, the African continent was overwhelmed with the needs of millions of orphans due to the AIDS epidemic. In response to pleas from government and church officials to help the children of Africa, Rosemary expanded the role of the Foundation from that of a sending organization to one that provided for the physical, spiritual, and educational needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Since then, the Foundation has established Rafiki Training Villages in ten of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa to help meet that need.

The Foundation has again responded to requests for help from African church and government leaders by providing educational curriculum for their schools. In 2009, Rafiki began to publish and distribute its school curriculum (including the Rafiki Bible Study) to African church schools. In countries where educational materials are in short supply, the curriculum is a tremendous gift and is another tangible way that Rafiki is befriending the children of Africa.

In 2015 the capstone piece of Rafiki's education came to fruition. The Rafiki Institute of Classical Education (RICE) is a teachers college founded to equip the next generation of classical educators. These colleges train students in math, science, history, philosophy, theology, pedagogy, and more. Graduates are integrated into local and church schools, supplied with Rafiki curriculum, and ultimately set to bring classical education to schools across Africa.

Malawi Village Ministries

A Letter From Rosemary

Dear Friends,

It makes me so happy to watch Rafiki on the move! You will be reading about the great plans Rafiki is making to increase the work God has called us to do. Personally, I am honored to still be able to participate in a little of it.

Getting Bibles and commentaries to Africa is where my heart is now. The Rosemary Jensen Bible Foundation (RJBF) anticipates working with Ligonier Ministries to send to Africa 60,000 more Reformation Study Bibles by 2028, making the total 100,000. We have great expectations of what God will do with these Bibles.

Having enough Bibles on hand now to give to children in schools as well as the adults in Africa has allowed the RJBF to supply Bible commentaries along with the Sunday school materials we send to Africa. The new Printing and Distribution (PAD) center at the Home Office has made this possible. Soon we will send out 10,000 packets (Sunday school materials with commentary) of Matthew and 10,000 packets of Acts. Next will be Romans and Genesis. We are expecting God to give us the funds to get these commentaries out in 2022.

I am also still sending out a blog every week. It’s fun for me and I hope some people like to read some of the lessons God has taught me in my life.

As I look forward to 2022, I expect great things from God through Rafiki. Why? Because he has given Rafiki the best Executive Director in Karen Elliott, because he has sent out dedicated missionaries to Africa, because people in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world want to study the Bible with our Rafiki Bible Study, because churches in Africa and the U.S.A. want Sunday school materials, and because many churches are starting schools throughout the world using the Rafiki Classical Christian Curriculum.

But most important, I expect great things in Rafiki because God has given us friends and donors like you who make GOD’S WORD AT WORK possible.

May God bless you richly in this new year.

Rosemary Jensen
President, Rafiki Foundation and RJBF