My aunt – mama E, was the first one to take me to a Pentecostal church. This was over two decades ago when I was still in primary school and our parents still decided where we went to church. Mama E was not Mama E at the time. She was just Auntie X. Church attendance was and still is a big deal in our family. We have grown up in church from a very early age. Right from interdenominational Sunday school in lecture halls at the Animal Health and & Industrial Training Institute – Ndomba. This is at Kutus in Kirinyaga County. The catholic was too many kilometers away from home so, we couldn’t walk all that way and had to learn within the institute until we grew older. On one of those Sundays when I cannot remember where Dad was, I managed to skip Catholic Sunday School and went to Christian Church International. – This was a few years later after moving to Kerugoya town.
The service was very exciting I remember, the songs were amazing, I cannot remember the sermon – of course, but I remember, the church had areas labelled with those Biblical towns, beautiful gates and lakes in the Bible like Bethsaida, – That is the only label I can remember. I don’t want to lie to make my article lengthy, ha ha ha… The other thing I remember was that when the altar call was made (I only learnt it’s called an altar call when I grew some beards) I raised my hand. Who wouldn’t want to give their life to Jesus really? I cannot remember anything else after that, or what I was told. But I remember the joy in Aunt X’s face. Wait till we got home. I really cannot remember what happened but I know Dad was mad. Super Mad. Like he was veeeeeeery angry at sonny here. I couldn’t understand where the problem was, in attending “Tunitha twa ahonoki” (Churches for the Saved). I even think I got a beating. My mum was just there watching me get a beating. I could not understand why, it was bad for a Catholic child to go to a Kigoocho church. I was enrolled to catechism classes a few weeks later. Mr Njeru, my Godfather did an amazing job in building my spiritual foundation from that point onward & it has guided the person I am to this point. After catechism I jumped right into ministry (Didn’t know that was ministry by then) by becoming an altar boy – the nice looking lads in white/ cream robes who lead the march towards the altar during mass and help around the altar. In high school I went to CU once. Maaan! That was a lively service… I believed them saying Catholic Masses are boring for a moment there… After high school, I became a Sunday school teacher & a youth leader. I loved God, I loved being in church, Saturdays and Sundays were spent in church. I once attended a youth seminar at People’s Church International – Kerugoya. Then, Military training happened (Life’s Miracle No 1)… 9 months, I cannot tell you even one sermon I ever fed my spirit on, over that period as a kurutu. I cannot remember a single sermon. I used to fall asleep (Black Out) immediately the padre went “In the name of the father…” I had my own Bible though. I am among the only countable recruits including Kamarei who had books in boot camp besides the normal field craft notebooks (Like 5 out of 3000 recruits). Kurutu anasoma asome nini? Kwa nini? Atoe wakati wapi?
After graduating, I regained my steps, super active at the home church, led the youth, resumed teaching Sunday school teacher at my local church, at Laikipia Air Base… Then back to Nairobi, weekend duties split me again from service, though still made it to evening services once in a while at the Holy Family Basilica. I used to think Six PM masses were cool.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine, let’s call her lady A. Her real nickname from now onward picked me out of a group of friends whose story I will tell one of these fine days started inviting me for discipleship classes and missionary support training. We met on the good old Facebook. I love reading and learning new things, so I naturally wanted to join these classes that were happening on weekends but by this time, I had become a very very bad soldier, the kind who the colonel used to send to logistics to file papers and haul food rations when the real team was out there shooting the bad guys in The Unit. My duties involved spending more of my free time working for the state and etc during the juiciest times of the week. I was not suuuuch a good soldier if you get what I mean. I really wanted to attend those weekend classes but I could not because, I was busy doing “state duties”. Ahem… So I kept postponing, she remained faithful and hopeful and continued sending me emails… then finally in 2014 during my transition, the email came again.
This time round, I was kinda free, so I accepted the invitation and I got to attend the classes. I committed to these classes. By this time, I was wondering where I would serve in the church I used to go to. St Veronica’s Umoja. Sijui Sunday school teacher – my specialty, or choir, or usher… I was confused. I enrolled to the STEP classes. Senders Training and Exposure Programme. It was postponed from the last quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015. I paid for the classes and waited for their commencement. I was patient. Once they started, I had the best time of my spiritual life. I was green, I was excited, I was partly confused, I was curious… For the first time, I read the New Testament cover to cover and I learnt things I would never have learnt from reading only from John 3:16, a few parables, and the crucifixion of Jesus.
I shared with my mother this progress of my life as had been the norm especially at a time that my parents thought I would be drifting into depression & some form of PTSD. When I told her about the program, she was always asking if that would mean, I change churches… I told her “Mum don’t worry, I cannot change churches”. She used to share her concern so many times, I am sure the statement above is one I repeated in all the languages we share… Kikuyu, Embu, Swahili, English… Among the things that happened to me is the daily Bible reading culture. Learning to meditate on the word came later. God does amazing things when you seek him. At the time, I had just started flying school and here I was believing that God was really making my dreams come true. I could read the Bible every day – Like a novel, and I used to encourage myself that there was no way, I could be reading over 40 books a year, and I never finished the Bible. By the way, reading the entire Bible is no big deal, neither is it a simple fete as well. But at the time, the idea was amazing. But I learnt the importance. – Daily Activity. I built a culture of reading the Bible. At the time, it was just “The Bible”. You are wondering what now (2017) it is right. It is still The Bible – but it is Gods Word. Alongside the daily Bible reading trend, I had also learnt to listen to recorded sermons because part of our assignments included seeking answers from recorded sermons.
Right before finishing the Bible, (I was struggling through Revelation at the time) Please note the key word struggling… I gave my life to Christ. There was no altar call; there were no drum rolls… I had thought about it for a while and I made that decision by myself. I requested the brothers and sister present that Saturday Afternoon at a hall within the Nairobi Baptist Compound on Ngong Road to pray for me. They led me through the salvation prayer, and my journey in & with Christ started.
The following day a Sunday, I attended mass at St Veronicas Catholic Church – Umoja.
“Mum usijali, mimi ni wa Catholic damu – Siendi Mahali.” – these words could not leave my mind.
To be continued…