Swept by the flood
Whether it bothered the people or not when they saw Noah grind cypress wood and pitch, making a shapeless structure, at least according to the Bible life moved on normally in the community; weddings continued to take place. People savored their barbeques served with chilly and grapes wine. Little did they know about the flood that would sweep them. After 150 days, even though Noah and his family had been saved, life was never the same again. (Genesis 5:32-10:1).
Walls came down tumbling
Similarly, the excitement to reach heaven by the people of Shiner would be cut short sooner than later. All they wanted was to make a name for themselves. God did not sweep them away but you needed to have witnessed the confusion that ensued God’s interruption. How painstakingly long would it have taken for a fundi at the top of the building to ask for one brick (which, abruptly had changed the name in line with new instituted languages) in order to continue with the project! God used the language barrier to interrupt the concerted arrogance of man (Genesis 11:1-9).
Unfortunately, for the fellows in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would never live to see the aftermath of their city, now reduced into a heap of ashes, too consumed by the fire of God’s wrath. They did not know their abominable sodomy had exceeded the elastic limit the night they harassed Lot’s visitors. It must have been a whole new experience for Lot who lost his wife in the process (Genesis 19). (more…)
One day, a teenage girl in a little town of Palestine was visited by a stranger in shining clothes. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” And that encounter, recorded in Matthew and Luke, is forever memorialized in the Nativity stories we see in Christmas Cantatas. More importantly, God entered human history to bring to the world his long-awaited blessing of salvation. Invariably, this story has inspired many works of literature and songs of celebration, not least the timeless Christmas Carol, “Joy to the World.” Written by pastor and hymn writer Isaac Watts in 1719, this cheerful song is a Christological interpretation of God’s final solution to the curse of the fall (Gen. 3:17-18), echoed in Israel’s messianic hope in Psalms 96:11-12 and 98. Understood in light of what God was accomplishing, indeed, the birth of Christ was “good news of great joy for all the people.”
However “kwa ground,” things were very different.
At this time, the people of Israel are living in anticipation of political emancipation from what Zechariah sees as “the hand of all who hate us” (Luke 1:71). The socio-economic inequalities between the poor and hungry commoners, and the rich and mighty elites needed divine intervention (Luke 1:53). Hearing prophetess Anna’s testimony, one could say that the collective longing for the “redemption of Jerusalem” is personified by this long-suffering widow (Luke 2:38). At the end of Luke, we find two disciples retreating to Emmaus, in a conversation reflecting their disillusionment with Jesus, for “[they] had hoped that he was the one to who was going to redeem Israel” (24:21). But soon, this hope is restored after their eyes are opened: the risen Christ and Lord is right before them (24:31). In an ensuing crash course on Old Testament 101, Jesus helps them understand that his incarnation was not merely to achieve a national aspiration of emancipation, important as that was in a time of Roman oppression. No. Jesus had a much bigger, more inclusive mission: to bring the Abrahamic blessing of salvation to “all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 2:30-31). This was truly a cause for rejoicing!
But–not everyone was rejoicing.
While the choirs of heaven praised God with their glorious melodies, the lowly Shepherds marveled and spread the news everywhere, and the Gentile Magi from the east worshipped and paid homage to the new born king, Herod himself “was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:7). But why? What was good news for the oppressed was a dangerous subversion, a “plague” of hope that threatened his illegitimate rule over Israel. Everyone knew he was not a true Davidic king; he was an ambitious puppet of Rome, bent on securing his own dynasty. His murderous campaign sought to stamp out any hope inspired by an alternative, rival king and kingdom. Unknown to him, the new born king was not interested in vying for president or governor in the next General Election; he didn’t need to. The time for the ultimate confrontation was not yet. In the meantime, Jesus had a greater mission of liberating the whole world from the grip of the curse of sin and evil, of which Herod’s regime was only a part. And he has invited us to be part of this great mission.
Or shall we rival him with our quest for personal kingdoms?
So, as animals lose their lives to garnish our festivities, let us not forget: Christ was born so he could lay down his life for us; for all people. Like Mary and Joseph, let us accept with courageous and obedient faith the honour of being channels of his blessing to the world. Like the Magi, let us unreservedly bow in worship and allegiance. Like Anna and Simeon, let us find consolation in him, as a foretaste of the ultimate fulfillment our hearts desire. And like the Shepherds, let us with a generous spirit and creativity spread the good news of God’s love everywhere. This is the real joy of Christmas.
Transiting from campus is not very certain for most people these days. As final year students leave schools, they have a mixture of ambitions and anxieties. Interestingly, every person takes a path so different from their counterparts. Some find their way into jobs and internships that are high profile and pick pace swiftly in life. Others find a strong footing in ministry and missions work and have a tremendous impact on the lives of other people. Others find better to pursue further education immediately after graduating to increase their knowledge and become authorities in different fields of research. Lately, a rising number of graduates employ their skills, talents and their endowment to pursue businesses of various natures.
Several fresh graduates have unfortunately been frustrated by the systems. To their dismay, what looked like promises of hope have become sources of discouragements. The experiences range from retrenchment, broken promises, undermining conditions, overwhelming expectations, or many other things that can warrant frustrations. The result has been depressed fresh graduates who are vulnerable to irrational reactions.
The pressure of ‘making it’ has not been evitable for many. Unspoken expectations of the families and friends especially those who were the first to experience university can push one to think they have disappointed them. Some feel ashamed to go back to their community ’empty-handed’. They end up pushing themselves hard, to do some unlikely things to win the approval of the community.
To those whose faith is in the Lord, the experiences that add and remove money from one’s reach don’t define them. There are many stories of people participating in the greater needs of society, regardless of their positions. There have been personal and group initiatives to enrich the society by many fresh graduates like volunteering to teach, leading youth groups, forming Bible study groups and helping them run, helping to create professional groups or offer pro-bono services, and many other things. There are countless opportunities for fresh graduates to participate in the life enrichment of themselves and others.
We all have different narratives because God works in our lives differently. If you managed to secure a job either immediately or after a few months of search, you have enough you need for life at this time, we thank God for this gift. My appeal to you would be to reach out to one who is still tracing their path. You can pray for your friends, share job opportunities, go out of your way and host another or even send airtime to another. Consider having meetups to just find out how another is doing. Like James would say, when a brother or sister is without clothing or lacks enough food for each day, do what is necessary for them at that time. Don’t just tell them to go in peace and that the Lord would bless them.
Finally, whether you have settled in a well-paying job or are still navigating through the hustles of life, we bless the Lord for you because it is He who sustains us. Whether you are paying rent or still living with your parents, we thank God for putting a roof above you. In any situation you are in, take that leap of faith and praise God in the storm. Move-in with a trustable friend or an aunt, take risks and be open to opportunities. Go out and whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your heart and strength as if unto the Lord.
From the FOCUS Kenya family, we pray that you will fight the good fight of faith and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called to.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
By Jacob Mugendi
At some point in campus/college, especially during your final months or semesters, you will need to start planning for life after school. It is a joy to finish and look forward to graduation, but there are also many moving parts involved that can rob you the joy of completing your studies. As you anticipate a life without assignments, CATs and Exams set by the devil himself, you also realize that it will be a life without HELB and possibly the close social gatherings you have enjoyed. By the way, HELB will still be there, but this time round like Santa Claus turned terrorist, asking you to repay your loan. Blessed is the one without HELB, for they will not be haunted! Sorry, I digressed.
What’s next after campus? I faced this question almost six years ago, and with so many uncertainties, I had to decide what to do next and how to shape my life at least in the short term. What makes this a significant decision in life is that a lot of things change, and your life will be altered significantly from how you have lived in the last 20 years. Some of the major changes to expect include:
- The increased cost of living, in terms of housing, food, travel, etc.
- Decreased support from the people you depended on.
- Increased expectations
- Finding a job in a jobless economy.
- Transition to a different town/location, new community, and friends, or a new Church.
- Another 300 challenges which I have no space to mention
One of these challenges is finding a job, and I would want to talk about it in the hope that I will help someone make the right decision. While in school, we work hard in the hope that we will land on a good job and possibly occupy the corner office. Even those who do not venture into employment hope to be successful as entrepreneurs. How can we make this a reality?
The reality of the job environment today
Once upon a time, there was some
Things have changed
Today, your career is probably going to take a lot of twists and turns. You’ll work, change jobs, tarmac, get a side hustle and a main hustle, become an employer, an employee, consultant… etc. With the exception of a few people whose career path will look like the straight path shown below, most of them will have a twisted, convoluted and mixed up career path as shown
With this in mind, how can one ensure that their career kicks off well? Jobs need experience, and experience needs jobs. This cyclic loop can keep you jobless forever. Some people are also not sure which job they want to do, and others are keen on changing their careers altogether. The other problem comes when you send hundreds of CVs and receive neither response nor regret. Other times you attend so many interviews that you start doubting your purpose in life because some do not even bother to send a regret. With such challenges, here are three considerations that will help you get relevant experience to land on the job of your choice in the long run.
Internships are loved and hated at the same time, majorly because you can easily get yourself one, and also because most of them do not pay. However, internships are one of the best ways to gain some experience in a specific field.
Internships give real time experience and exposure and work best if you are targeting to intern in small organizations as opposed to big corporates. This is because, in small firms, you are likely to be given more duties and responsibilities, as opposed to big corporates. In our start-up, an intern will get more experience and exposure in three months as a system administrator than they can get if they worked in the big Kenyan companies for one year. This is because we give you as much work as we give a senior system administrator, and you will have the guidance of the senior admin seated next to you all the time.
For networks, you are likely to get an internship through referral, because many times these opportunities may not be advertised. If you know someone in an organization or business that is doing what you want to do, that will be an ideal place for you. Consider cold applications to any firm you know, and also look out for advertisements.(more…)
It was a few weeks after my wedding. I looked back at the journey I had walked with my fiance, now my husband and all that went through my mind were mixed feelings. Feelings of triumph and joy that the Lord had walked with us to get us to where we had reached (in marriage) and at the same time the feeling that there were places I would have done better. As we started our journey, we had set our minds, painstakingly, above all else, to honor God. And that was our reason number one to walk the path we walked. And as I reflected on the journey that had been, I asked myself the same question, did we honor God in our walk?
Drawing the line
The question of sexual purity and how realistic we can get realizing we are flesh and blood is probably the biggest problem that many campus and high school students grapple with every day. As the valentine’s day is celebrated, many will be led to make decisions they are not proud of, in the name of celebrating love. Many will make decisions that may change the course of their lives drastically and maybe forever. The decisions will affect not only the social life but also the spiritual and all other aspects of life. Others, still through the ongoing mobilization and the efforts to influence people to pursue purity around this time, will heed the call and choose to be chaste. That will be a good decision, and the Lord is able to sustain his people to live sexually pure lives. What however will be the motivation behind the pursuit of purity?
Truth is, I was happy with many of the choices I made in my dating journey. Some though looked awkward fit for the age of the Ramapithecus and utterly unfit for the 21st century. I made them anyway, and if asked, I would make them once more if I were to. There were others that I was not very proud of and at times I do not understand how foolish I could have been. In the eyes of any man they look like sound decisions that any man would make would they be in my position. In my opinion, though, that is the problem of sin. It is deceptive, and many times we try to rationalize it as the only realistic way. Thinking of it though, who really determines how realistic my actions as a Christian are? Looking at these “realistic” decisions against the standards of God in sexual purity I can only say they are ways apart.
The pursuit of purity equally does not necessarily involve do’s and don’ts and that having followed them we are deemed to have overcome. I agree that there is a part we play in. It is our responsibility to walk in holiness as Paul readily reminds the church to flee from immorality and instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Peter also instructs the church to be holy just as the Lord is Holy. There are those practical measures we will take so that we guard our hearts against sin. Some of them may need to be radical decisions, but they are worth it in the long run.
The pursuit of purity is not merely a matter of our own personal victory and pride. I realize the Lord did not see us through the entire journey so that we may boast and show off our prowess and holiness as Christians. It is about God, whose heart is grieved by the sexual immorality. If for us it is about victories then the times we fail, we will have no place in our hearts for repentance. We will beat ourselves so hard, be broken and be disappointed in ourselves since we were unable to defeat a particular sin. We have to understand that as W. S Plumer rightly put it “all sin is against God in this sense that it is his law that is broken, his authority that is despised and his government that is set to naught.”
At times we are obsessed about other people’s opinion of us and about our inability to overcome sin when we sin. We stay caged in addictions and immorality and fail to repent and seek help. This should not be our focus in the circumstance that we already are struggling with sexual immorality. Because for God obedience to the call to repentance and fleeing from sexual immorality is more important than our personal pride.
I know there is the joy that comes as a result of overcoming sin, but that should not preoccupy us. It is and should be secondary. It should be primarily about honoring and obeying God’s word.
It never gets easy but with accountability and God’s Grace it is possible, many, by God’s grace have done it; we remained chaste till marriage, you surely can do it.
By a fresh graduate who participated in the 2016 Chastity Campaign
“August 7th, 2018, we left our motherland for a 10-month exchange program in Norway that would see us participate in student ministry work with the Norwegian International Fellowship of Evangelical Students movement called LAGET. The Norwegian word ‘laget’ means team. We got to Oslo; Norway’s capital on the morning of 8th August 2018 and were treated to a very pleasant surprise of meeting a Kenyan working at the airport. He helped us know our way around the busy Gardermoen airport.
On arrival at Kristiansand, we were received by 3 trainees from HALD Internasjonale Senter. This would be our home for 6 weeks as we take a course in Cross-Cultural Communication and International Work. HALD is without a doubt a multi-cultural haven, with students and volunteers from across the world.
We continue to make the most out of the rather rare opportunities to share the gospel. We met a Kenyan man who lives near HALD. He has lived here for about 6 years. Besides getting to share the gospel with him, we were glad to benefit from his hospitality which included the much-missed Kenyan food- pilau. He has taken time off his busy schedule and dropped by HALD several times to check on us. Even though he has heard the gospel, he has not believed it yet and we hope to keep sharing it with him and praying for him. We also share the gospel in many small talks we have with students here at HALD. Caleb, for instance, had a rare opportunity of hiking with two students who shared their story with him.
We had a gospel conversation with another student who grew up in a Christian family but later decided to be agnostic. By God’s grace, we were able to put meaning to many of the questions he asked, notably, the authenticity of the Bible. We agreed he would think about the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross and hopefully, start reading the Bible together. He is going on exchange to Uganda though, we hope this will be possible despite the distance. Pray for utterance for us as we seek to make known the mystery of the gospel and for him, that God would be pleased to draw him to Christ for salvation.
The context of Christianity is a bit different from that one at home. The stand of many Christians on some critical discipleship questions is interesting, at times worrying. We settled at being intentionally available in the common places and have conversations with our fellow students. Pray for us, that these opportunities will bear fruit.
On Friday 28th September, we moved to Bergen, a city on the southwestern coast of Norway where we are working with LAGET for 6 months. We are putting in efforts in introducing the work of LAGET to immigrant/international churches with the aim of having as many youths as possible participating in LAGET programs especially at school.” Caleb Lemayain and Ancent Mutua are the immediate former STEM SM staff. We continue to pray for strength as Ancent and Caleb continue with their mission in Norway.
FOCUS Leadership development strategy is strengthened by several partnerships with like-minded organizations. The Norwegian Christian Student Ministry (NKSS) is one of those organization that has enriched FOCUS Kenya’s work through an exchange program that has existed for 20 years. Through the partnership, At least 40 participants from Kenya have gone through the training in Norway with the same number of Norwegians in Kenya.
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Joining the university, as exciting as it is, can be very draining especially if one has no one holding their hand. On one end there is the feeling of ‘rushing’ the days so that one finds themselves in this highest institution of learning in the world, while on the other, uncertainties arise of exactly how life is going to turn out; mixed emotions!
I always looked forward to the time I would join the university. “Hadn’t all my teachers in high school told me that I was a university material?” I would at times contemplate. Well, they exuded confidence, and I had to live up to that, at the very least. I toiled, prayed, carefully sat my exams and finally the results were out. Things seemed to have run pretty fast since it was not long before the Joint Admissions Board (J.A.B), now Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) notified me of my admission to the university. I was elated. (more…)
In the past decade, 1st of March would find most of the public university students revising for their end-of-second-semester exams. Soon after, the first year students would enjoy a four months’ recess while the senior students would be busy in their industrial attachment. Such stories sound like old tales to the current crop of varsity learners. For two years in a row, the university students have been subjected hugely to disrupted learning. Consequently, students on campus have been like sheep without a shepherd because of the ongoing University Lecturers’ strike. Cumulatively, University learning halted for 142 days and counting for the past one and half years.
It is now a blame game between the government and the dons. As they say, when two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers. In the case of the perpetual lecturers’ strikes, the university students have become the highest casualties. Their agony ranges from uncertainty, fear, financial strain, emotional torture, to despair. The parents and guardians of these students bear the pain and the painful effects as well.
According to an online survey conducted among students in Fellowship of Christian Unions with a few outliers who are likely to complete a four-year course in six or seven years, nearly half of the students will complete their university education at least a year later than the anticipated time.
The implications of these strikes are graver than the face value effects frequently discussed on the media. To begin with, many students have expressed fear on when they will ever complete school. Most of the universities so far have never issued memos for closing the universities, even when learning is not happening. This makes the students be in conflict whether to go home or stay on campus. Therefore, students have been forced to spend “money for upkeep in school without any serious learning going on. The assumption is that students are in session!” laments a student at Moi University College of Health Science. His pain is shared across the board by the university students. The confusion among students is compounded by misrepresentation of the reality. For example, recently, a memo was issued by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Main Campus), informing the students that lectures were to resume on Monday 16th April 2018. Some of the students who had traveled home had to come back to the university only to find the issue of strike fully unresolved.
The stress levels as a result of these uncertainties are on the rise. Many students live on the little pocket money provided by their parents or guardians. Others hardly have enough resources for the semester, let alone paying for an extra month beyond the semester. A number of the students have admitted undergoing psychological torture: “It is frustrating, being that it is our final year of school and now it might not even be. I wonder what my purpose is if I can’t even finish school and graduate in time and start pursuing my dreams!” a bewildered student at the University of Nairobi wonders. To this end, besides the infamous “return-to-work formula” UASU should agitate for a strengthened counseling department in the Universities to debrief the students when normalcy is resumed. This article may not highlight some vices resulting from the idle and stressed students, but if the social media is anything to go by, revelry among the students might be the “interim university curriculum.” Once, when some students were interviewed on national television over the issue of strike, many echoed the phrase, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, pointing to the psychological and social implications of such prolonged disruptions. The prolonged strike may lead to production of “half-baked” graduates. Already, there is debate on the quality of our education. The disruptions might as well entrench the claim of minimum standards in implementation of education.
From history, the universities have tended to adopt the crash program to mitigate against time lost due to disruptions. Adopting a crash program by itself flies in the face of certain standards. For example, it downplays the ideals in learning with regard to contact hours, learning activities, assignments, and research. Each learning activity is supposed to build upon another within a specified period. When the learning momentum is interfered with, the desired learning goal is distorted.
Many students interviewed agree that it is always challenging to gain momentum once the learning tempo has been slowed down. Unfortunately, under the prevailing circumstances, the lecturers and the students alike will be concerned about passing the exams more than anything else. At times lecturers have casually responded to students concerns over uncovered syllabi with “do not worry about that, it won’t be covered in the exams” attitude. Those running photocopying businesses are likely to enjoy a boom, thanks to the many handouts and past papers likely to be recommended by the lecturers. With that kind of teaching, we are not likely to restore confidence in our education.
Economically, we shall never recover the loss. “The strike is a waste of time. For example, some students have other siblings still in primary or secondary school and the parents have always kept in mind the day their son or daughter would graduate to give way for the young ones, but due to the strike, the time increases,” a student from Moi University Annex narrates. Students could have lost career opportunities such as scholarships, internships, industrial attachments, and possible employment.
Resources have been wasted as a result of the strikes. Let us make some reserved estimation of house rent and food that has gone to waste. In 2017 and 2018 alone, cumulatively, at least four months have been lost. The average expenditure for a student on rent, food and upkeep are Ksh. 7000-10000. Considering the current university population of at least 500, 000 students, approximately, Ksh. 14-20 Billion has gone to waste on rent and food alone; money enough to build 60 of the just-completed Ultra-Modern Eye and Dental Centre at Tenwek Hospital. Or better still money enough to pay the lecturers and have change!
It is unfair for the students and parents when the dons will go smiling all the way to the bank yet no one is talking about compensating the other affected stakeholders. Of course, it is not possible to recover time lost; time cannot be renewed unless NATO discovers a way to rotate the earth anti-clockwise to reverse time. Extending the semester’s dates is not recovering the time lost. That is why we need to move away from the industrial strikes; they only lead to unrecoverable losses. Could it be time we went the United Kingdom way, where University Students Union Leaders demanded compensation for the wasted resources?(https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/feb/07/students-demand-compensation-from-universities-over-lecturer-strikes).
Luckily, some students have taken advantage of the time to develop in other skills. Some have enrolled in short courses while others have considered part-time jobs. A number of them are enjoying quality time with their parents and friends. A few are taking a breather from the otherwise busy academic schedule to read other materials other than academically related work. However, these are the minority of the student’s population.
Business cannot be as usual when learning is paralyzed in our institutions of higher learning. This could be the surest way of destroying Kenya. If a lasting solution is not found, we are in for trouble. More stray surgeries are on the way; and more buildings and bridges are yet to collapse if a solution is not found soon. Let us arrest the situation before we get to the point of no return. The government together with UASU must listen and act. Everyone must rise towards finding a lasting solution because the effects though invisible now, will affect everyone.
By Anthony Mjomba Mombo: A student at Kenyatta University Main Campus
Ezra 2016/2017 has come at such an appointed season in Kenya even as we are feeling the heat in a political season in our country Kenya. It is with certainty that this is ordained time……for the Spirit of the Lord is upon me for He anointed me to……do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. Having delegates from different parts of Kenya not forgetting the international scholars who pilgrim from their countries to here, give me a glimpse of the plan God has for our country. The strategic position of the university Christian students is meant to bring hope in all disillusionment we have and are experiencing today from leadership institutions in Kenya.
Looking at this elephant in the room reminds me of a writer who once said I may not stop the birds from flying above my head but I can stop them from building nest on my head. So, it is really wrong for us to die silently like sheep yet we know the true which it will only benefit when it has been spoken.
Looking at Micah who confronts the injustices in his society makes me draw lessons for which any delegate must surmount to be counted.
One is ones’ character. One of writers wrote `when wealth is lost nothing is lost, when health something is lost but when character is lost everything is lost`. Jesus said… you shall know them by their fruit. ` The three young men who stood their ground and did not eat defiled food nor did they bow to other gods are good examples of men of character. All this as Mr. Simon taught in the seminar on Holy Spirit are the outcome of persistent walk of obedience and submission on Him.
Second is counting the cost. It is out of this that we can match the Spartan warriors who either come back with the shield or on the shield. Let us prepare for situations like those for John the Baptist who was detained for speaking the truth and faced the gallons later on. Like Moses who choose to identify with his own Hebrews and not pharaohs’ even if it meant exile. As you do that look beyond counting the cost, there lies hope for seven areas of influence in Kenyan. Politics, religion, education, media, family, entertainment and judiciary shall be rescued from the hand of the slayer.
Finally, don’t be drank of the position and forget God. Yes, like Uzziah who was lifted by God in the beginning of his reigned but he abandoned Him was no more to be seen. You shall be accountable at the end.