Founded in 1971 by Allen & Alice Stickney, ACO has been investing in college students in East Africa for over 4 decades.
Allen & Alice, invested their lives in Faithful, Available, and Teachable young people on campuses throughout Kenya. Today, a handful of those students are now the backbone of the ministry that stretches across 4 countries in East Africa. With discipleship as the intentional foundation, African Christian Outreach continues to mold young men and women into change agents, with the mindset of investing their lives in those God puts them around.
In 2008, Allen Stickney ended his battle with cancer and joined the saints in heaven. The African Christian Outreach Board of Directors was left to orchestrate the next steps of the ministry. With a handful of volunteer indigenous staff in Kenya, the Board felt like the next generation of ACO leadership needed to come from just that, the next generation. They began approaching those that had a heartbeat for discipleship and a history with Allen and Alice on shorter mission experiences in Kenya.
Allen never pushed or prodded his son to take up the cause, but behind closed doors he shared with a select few that he wouldn’t mind it either. Tom recalls a time in a Dallas hospital when he told his father that he was considering more of a ministry role in Africa. “I told him I thought God might be calling me to work more specifically with an organization that worked in Africa”, Tom shared. Tom remembers Allen’s response, “you were made for it!”
The power of presence is Stickney’s approach to ministry. Tom and Kerry are graduates of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. They both quickly realized their shared desire to impact the lives of individuals by introducing them to Jesus and then, through a relationship, helping each person develop a life long, ALIVE, relationship with God. An open home, being a part of their families lives, seeing, hearing and talking through their faith as they live life each day, is what the Stickney’s really believe helps makes the difference in peoples’ spiritual lives the world over.
Three days before Allen passed away, Tom led a mission group from his church in Dallas to Kenya. Kerry and the kids followed, arriving the evening before Allen’s death. With his son, daughter in-law and two of his grandchildren standing on the soil he had toiled with for over 4 decades, Allen passed. Tom and Kerry remained in Kenya with the mission team and later realized that the experience is what confirmed the call for them to, after 17 years of US student ministry, pull up their roots and continue the Legacy.
Many savannah sunsets have dropped below the horizon since Allen and Alice left the ministry to Tom, Kerry and the ACO Staff. African Christian Outreach now employs full-time workers in 4 different countries, working on numerous campuses from the Indian Ocean to the thousands of hills in Rwanda. The ministry growth has not changed however from the foundations that Allen and Alice laid. Weekly evangelism in done by knocking on dorm room doors throughout East Africa. Small group Bible studies meet all over campuses during the week and one-on-one discipleship between staff and key students is the heartbeat of ACO. Community Investment Projects complete the circle of training for students. Local and international mission trips, working in orphanages, tutoring and mentoring in local schools, agricultural and medical ministry and many other avenues are made possible through ACO Mission Partnerships.
The passion to send graduates as well as support the indigenous missionary is now becoming a reality for ACO. In 2016, partnering with Rothemhouse began a new chapter for ACO. The Moser family represents the first missionary not to be named Stickney with ACO. Rothemhouse, stands to Equip, Refresh and Connect African missionaries.
Today the Stickney's spend time traveling in East Africa to each campus encouraging and equipping the National staff. They also spend time in the US raising awareness for ACO. Typically the Stickney family can be found in a car somewhere in the US traveling to stay connected with ACO Partners or heading back to East Africa to lead ACO's summer training program and interacting with staff and students.